Surface preparation is the key to success when airbrushing on metal and plastics.

Before painting on metal, the surface needs to be clean and rust-free. It should appear dull rather than shiny. The basic steps for surface prep are: cleaning, removing rust, sanding and or scuffing and priming.

Before you begin, read the labels on all products you’re using, making sure they are suitable for the type of metal and compatible with each other. Also, take note of and follow the manufacturer’s safety procedures.

Cleaning
Wash the metal thoroughly with a degreaser solution. Rinse, and let the metal dry. Use a tack cloth to remove any addition dust.

Rust Removal
Look for rusty areas on the surface and remove all rust down to the bare metal. For light rust and small areas, use steel wool and 80- to 120-grit sandpaper.

Scuffing, Sanding and Applying Primer
Sand the entire surface to smooth out uneven areas and dull the surface so the primer and paint can adhere. Start with 120-grit sandpaper and work to finer grade sandpapers, ending with 320-grit. For large, flat surfaces, use a sanding block to get even pressure. Wipe the surface with a tack cloth to remove the dust. Follow immediately with the first coat of primer.

Scuff pads and sand papers are available at your local automotive paint supply shop.

Clear Coating
Clear coat is that all-important barrier which protects your paint from the cruel world around it. When properly appliedt, clear coat will block harmful UV rays that can cause fading, protect against chips and scratches, and provide a glossier finish than any paint.

When it comes to applying clear coat, the most important thing to remember is that it’s more of a science than an art. It’s an often meticulous job, which requires a delicate environment, but the results are well worth the effort put into it.

You can use either a spray gun or a premixed aerosol. Do not not put clear coat into your airbrush!