Whenever you move beyond a simple one or two color paint job, how your car looks becomes a combination of design and patience. To achieve that design, you'll have to mask off the body. Masking can seem like a daunting task, with so many materials, methods and products on the market. One of the best ways to start off masking is to use pre-cut masks like those from XXX-Main and Parma. Between them, they have dozens and dozens of masks, so you are sure to get a mask that will fit your design needs.
Before beginning any job it's a good idea to get your tools together. Here's a short list of everything you'll need to get going:
• A credit card
• Hair dryer
• Window cleaner
• Sharpie marker
• X-Acto-type knife with a sharp blade
• Transfer tape
• Masking tape
Let's Get Going!
Methods • There are two ways to use precut masks, the amateur way and the professional way. The amateur way is to yank the mask off the sheet and slap it down on the inside of body in the places you think look good and spray around them. The professional way takes more effort, but the results will yield professional looking results, even from the novice painter. The key is to work slowly, check your edges, alignment, and then spray light even coats.
You will need the masking tape to fill in the gaps the masking material leaves open. For example, if you are painting flames that you want to start at the bumper but your mask only goes to the grill, you will need to manually mask off the bumper. Transfer tape is a large sheet of masking tape-type material, that is used to pick up the masking off the masking sheet in one piece so you can place it back down without worrying about whether or not you lifted the entire mask. XXX-Main now includes transfer tape with all of the their masks; Parma does not, so make sure, if you get a Parma mask, that you also pick up the transfer tape as well. Ready to get started? Grab your favorite mask and follow along.
Prep your body as you normally would by washing it with a mild soap and drying it so it is free of debris.
If you are trying to align the masks symmetrically to the body, use your non-permanent Sharpie marker and either a ruler or a spare straight piece of Lexan to draw straight lines down each side of the body, and another directly down the middle on the top of the body. These 3 simple lines will help you align the masks making your finished work look more professional.
The first step in masking is to "weed" the mask. Basically, this means pulling up all of the excess, unusable, vinyl portions of the mask. You know the weeding process is over when all that's left on the sheet is the actual mask you want on your car. The X-Acto knife will come in handy for cutting areas of the mask that need trimming.
Find the first section of the mask you want to apply and cut a piece of transfer tape to suit that piece. Take the transfer tape and lay it down over the mask. Use a credit card or flat piece of plastic to rub the transfer tape down onto the mask. If it is critical that the mask be centered, draw a center line down the appropriate section of the transfer tape. You will be able to see the line through the tape and the body.
Peel the paint mask and transfer tape from the mask backing so you can apply it to the body.
Align the straight lines and apply the mask to the body. Apply the mask by pressing down from one end to the other. For masks that are centered on the hood, start in the center and press down working outward. For masks that go on the side of the car, start pressing down at the front wheel wells and work backwards making sure the entire mask is pressed down.
Use your fingernail or the blunt end of the Sharpie pen to make sure the mask is pressed down into the body's crevasses and contours. Peel away the transfer tape. Don't just toss it out since it can be reused for other mask sections.
Once all the masks are in place, it's time to fill in the gaps. The gaps are those sections of the body that the mask didn't completely cover. Lay the masking tape in place and then use your X-Acto knife to trim it into the precut mask.
Before you paint, use the hair dryer to go over any of the contours and push them down. Heating the mask will help make the mask more flexible. Now you are ready to spray.
Paint your main body color with 3 to 4 coats and then spray the appropriate backing color. You can use the hair dryer to speed up the painting process and then let the body air dry for an hour or two.
You will need to repeat this section for every mask on the body. Peel off the mask and spray it with the appropriate color. This may require you spray the masked area with multiple colors, such as orange, yellow and white for flames. Spray each area with a mask separately or you risk over-spraying. When you've finished all the masked areas, the body is complete!
Now You're Done!
As you can see, pre-cut masks are a great way to get professional results without having to go through the work of creating your own masks or going to the expense of getting a vinyl cutter. With the wide variety of masks available from XXX-Main and Parma, you should be able to find something that suits your ride perfectly. All that limits you is your creativity!