It was back to the school of higher learning at Meguiars' Headquarters-literally. We spent the day in the classroom and listened with open ears to get the real gist of paint theory and practices with marketing director Mike Pennington playing teacher and leading the way. Pennington drilled us in the process of wet sanding and explained, "a lot of imperfections lie under the clear, between the paint." He went over evaluating the paint surface and deciding if wet sanding is right for you. Pennington didn't try to fool us; he told us wet sanding takes time-and patience-but moreover, just plain practice.
Pennington showed us what to look for and the process through which many paint shops go to get that high-end, show-car quality. Pennington even suggests visiting a local junkyard to practice the fine art of wet sanding. It's too easy to get carried away and end up burning right through your freshly painted sheetmetal. Practicing on a junk panel is a great idea. "It will give you a feel of what and what not to do." No big deal if the panel gets worse. Take it to a paint shop and have them respray it.
While we were at Meguiar's, through its two-liquid-stage cutting and polishing compounds, we achieved a show-car-like finish on even the most measly of paint jobs. This isn't a sure cure for the paint, as some jobs really do need to be repsrayed. But for most jobs, wet sanding and polishing can relieve you of those nasty swirl marks, orange peel, overspray, and fisheyes.
What it is
Meguiar's two-stage cut and polish compounds
It's not that hard to get a high-end, production finish.
Paint Depth Gauge
Although expensive, paint depth gauges can keep an eye on the thickness of paint. The gauges can guide you and display when the paint is too thin to continue wet sanding or even cutting with compound. Think about it: $400 for a depth gauge or the cost (not to mention labor) of repainting the panel that's too far gone to fix.