ERA PAINTS (Basecoat) Spray Paint Instructions | Application

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Thank you for choosing ERA Paints! Customer service is our primary goal – we ask that you please contact us with any questions or concerns you may have at or (971)-770-2372 prior to leaving negative/neutral feedback. We want to make the car spray paint application as easy as possible!

Please thoroughly read and follow ALL of these instructions before beginning your paint project.
Improper preparation or application is the #1 issue for paint failure – it will result in paint adhesion issues, ‘fish eyes’, paint flaking, etc.  We are not liable for vehicle damage caused by improper prep/application.

These spray paint instructions assume you purchased a prep kit or have similar materials/tools to do the job.

Important: Before you do any work on your vehicle, it is critical that you test your paint (including applying clear coat – clear coat can change color perception!) on the enclosed color match test card for confirmation of correct color before applying paint to your vehicle.

Please do not rely on the color on the spray paint cap – Follow the directions on the back of the test card to color-compare with your vehicle.  Please be aware that we formulate OEM-spec paint, and our paint may appear a little darker than your vehicle’s as your vehicle’s paint typically fades over time.  Additionally, manufacturers routinely create multiple alternative paint code formulas which vary slightly in color (we formulate the most popular code).  We apologize that due to these circumstances sometimes we cannot formulate a perfect match to your vehicle’s paint.

We have an extensive library of “How-To” videos and helpful hints at Erapaints or on our YouTube Channel!

Learning how to use car spray paint can be very easy! 

BUT we cannot over-emphasize the importance of proper prep and application of primer/paint/clear coat
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE read and follow all of our instructions prior to starting your project!!!

Shop Towel:

how to use car spray paintWhen removing dust or cleaning from a paint surface it is important to use a quality towel: either a clean lint-free blue shop towel (we provide these in our kits), tack rag, or similar.  Do not use ordinary paper towels or cotton cloth. If any surface to be sprayed with aerosols has sat for more than 12 hours, you should wipe it down with a tack rag or shop towel w/light wax/grease remover prior to applying aerosol.

Wax/grease Remover:

spray paint instructionsAlways use a quality cleaning product approved for paint surfaces (we provide wax/grease remover with our kits) to clean wax, oils, fingers oils and other contaminates from paint surfaces (rubbing alcohol or similar can be used as a substitute).  Always apply wax/grease remover to the towel (never to the paint surface directly). Make sure newly coated surfaces are completely dry before applying wax/grease remover to them.  Let wax/grease remvr dry completely before applying aerosols.


Recommended ambient and panel temperature for painting is about 70-85 Fahrenheit.  Humidity should be no higher than 60%.  When applying paint to a vehicle, you should NEVER have the paint surface in the direct sunlight or wind.  Contaminated surfaces are guaranteed to cause problems.  The project area should not have any oil, wax, rust, tire dressing, water residue, etc on it.

Ensure no animals, dust or other contaminates can affect the quality of your project. Always pre-prep the project area to ensure the surface is free of loose dirt & road grime by thoroughly cleaning the area to be painted (as well as your hands – the dirt & oils in your hands are not compatible with paint products!) with kitchen dish soap (Dawn or similar) and water (rinse thoroughly, dry completely).  You are now ready to clean the surface with wax/grease remover:


Thoroughly clean the area using a towel & wax/grease remover (we provide wax/grease remover in our kits).

how to use car spray paintSanding: 

Use 320 grit sandpaper (or a scuffpad) to lightly dry-sand (rough up) the paint surface 3 inches beyond the damage area. Wrap 320 grit sandpaper around the bottom edge of your hand (pinky finger [non-thumb] side – see videos or use a sanding block) to sand out rust, scratches, etc. You can also ‘wet sand’ (see our website for more details on wet sanding).  Incidentally, 320-400 grit sandpaper is equivalent to a red scuffpad, while 600-800 is equivalent to a gray scuffpad.

how to use car putty instructionsPutty Application (if needed):

If deeper scratches exist after sanding, apply putty (we provide in our kits) lightly with spreader. Wait 5 minutes & sand with 320 grit sandpaper until flush and smooth with surrounding areas. Repeat process til smooth.


spray paint masking instructionsUse automotive grade masking tape and paper (masking paper, newspaper etc to mask off sanded or filled area (be sure to include the Blend area (see Blending below) – mask off the area far enough away so that you do NOT spray directly onto masking tape (you do not want a ‘hard’ line at the masking tape with paint and/or clearcoat).

Final Surface Preparation: Wipe clean with a towel and wax/grease remover.


Spray Nozzles & Spraying:  Prior to using ANY aerosol spray can, turn the can upside down and VIGOROUSLY shake can for 1 minute, and 10 seconds after every minute of spraying.  For the very FIRST basecoat spray, always tip the can upside down in order to evacuate air & liquid from the straw – then tip the can rightside up & continue to spray 1-2 seconds more until there is no ‘sputter’.

Always spray the first spray of a can onto something other than your vehicle.  We have included 2 spray nozzles with spray paint: a standard (white) nozzle, and a premium (black) nozzle (installed) that has an adjustable spray pattern (little yellow tip).  The factory setting for the premium nozzle is a ‘vertical’ spray which is used for horizontal side-to-side hand spray motion. In order for any nozzle to spray effectively, press straight down on the center of the nozzle with enough pressure so the paint/clear/primer doesn’t ‘sputter’ out.

The spray can should always be in motion (moving) anytime the nozzle is depressed and you are spraying paint. When finished spraying from a can, you should clear the spray tip by spraying the can upside down until the tip & straw have been emptied of paint; wipe excess paint off the nozzle. If you purchased a spray can trigger grip, this trigger only works with white (non-premium) nozzles. See our kit instructions on how to put on/take off our trigger grip.  All nozzles are interchangeable with all aerosol can products we sell. If one nozzle does not spray well, try another.

Primer Application:  

After roughing up surface with 320 grit sandpaper, apply multiple MEDIUM coats with nozzle 8-10 inches away from the panel to the damaged area until all exposed areas are covered. Let primer dry completely (1 hour), then sand with 600 grit paper until surface is flush with surrounding areas. Wipe clean with a towel and wax/grease remover.

How to Use Car Spray Paint (Basecoat) Application:

Spray at least 2 MEDIUM coats over the damaged area while blending paint into the blend area (see Blending below) with nozzle 8-10 inches away from panel. Allow 20 minutes drying between coats (not tacky).


Even though our paint is mixed to factory specifications, there are many reasons why our paint may not exactly match your vehicle’s paint.  The most common reason is paint fade of your vehicle’s paint, followed by differences between factories where vehicles are manufactured in. Blending between panels is typically required (even for autobody shops) in order to create an illusion to fool the eye to think that our OEM and your vehicle’s faded paint are the same.

There are two types of blending:
  1. Repainting part of (within) a panel (blending within a panel): When the damage is located away from the edge of a panel (were the area being sprayed with basecoat is NOT next to an adjacent panel), follow ‘To Blend’ instructions below.
  2. Replacing and painting an entire panel such as bumpers, fenders or doors (blending to adjacent panels): Here you are painting an ENTIRE panel, and you need to do the blending (see below) ON ALL ADJACENT PANELS to achieve a blended look that will not show color variation.

To Blend:

  1. Sand the damaged area and a 4-6 inch perimeter (the blend area) around the damaged area with 600 grit sandpaper.
  2. Lightly sand REMAINDER of the panel(s) with 600 or higher grit sandpaper. This is done to prep (rough up) the entire panel(s) for clear coat adhesion.
  3. Spray damaged area while blending spray paint (basecoat) 4-6 inches into the blend area, decreasing spray/paint volume as you ‘fan out’ (feathering) into the blend area from where the damaged area is.
  4. Spray clear coat over entire panel(s) (see below) which have had any spray paint applied to them (both damaged and blend areas). Remember:  All panels to be clear coated should be cleaned, then prepped (lightly rough-up the surface) with minimum 600-800 grit or gray scuff pad, then wiped with a towel prior to spraying clear coat.
Clear Coat Application (if you purchased clear coat – highly recommended): 

Before spraying your panel, spray clearcoat on a test surface to practice and to test application. After proper prep (see above) apply 2 light coats of clear coat, then 1 med (wet) coat.  Wait 10 minutes between coats.  Spray 8-10 inches away from paint surface in a sweeping motion, overlapping each stroke. Each coat should look wet and glossy, but not so thick that clear coat starts running – only light-medium coats!! If recoating is necessary, perform within 1 hour of original spraying, or wait 3 days.

Clear coat may appear to be slightly yellow or hazy until it is fully cured (1-2 days).  Light texture or orange peel may be lightly wet- or dry-sanded out with 1500/2000 grit paper & reapplied with clear coat after a minimum 10-20 minute wait (clear coat should feel dry). Wait 30 days before polishing (using polishing compound) and/or waxing.  Clear coating can be difficult to apply; you might try practicing?


We make custom ‘make-to-order’ paint based on the OEM paint code you send us.  You should realize that even if we mix paint EXACTLY as per original OEM specification (as we typically do!) IT IS SOMETIMES IMPOSSIBLE TO GET PAINT TO MATCH YOUR VEHICLE. This is a big issue in our industry, and is the leading cause of returns.

Why?  There are many reasons but the biggest one BY FAR is faded paint on your vehicle.  Many other issues can also contribute to non-match. Some examples are: repainted vehicles and auto manufacturer issues. i.e. (sealer/clear coat ‘colors’ can vary, application of insufficient or too much paint, paint baked too much or too little, etc), parts of vehicles painted at different plants using different paint variations.  Non-matching paint is such an issue for the auto body industry that it is common for paint manufacturers to provide alternate color formulas – many times up to 8 or10!!

Therefore this means is that the formula for a particular paint code can have many alternates. Note that your vehicle’s paint code sticker DOES NOT SPECIFY ALTERNATES. So you need to be aware that issues such as paint fading. Paint alternates and car repaints sometimes make it impossible to accurately match your paint.  Why is this important?  If you have a 5 or 10 year old vehicle that has had significant exposure to the elements (i.e. not parked in a garage). It is quite possible that our custom mix paint will not match your vehicle.


CALIFORNIA PROPOSITION 65 WARNING: Our paint and wax/grease remover products contain chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm. Use in a well-ventilated area and avoid contact with skin. Customers accept responsibility for using products in a safe and responsible manner. Exercise caution when using our products. Follow product instructions carefully. Keep paint and other paint products away from children. Please dispose of unused paint products carefully and respect local regulations.

Please dispose of unused paint products carefully and respect local regulations. Use protective equipment during application. Toxic chemicals that are found in spray can inhalants can pass into the bloodstream and eventually make their way to the brain. These chemicals represent a number of health risks and potentially fatal dangers. Someone who intentionally sniffs a large amount of the chemicals found in aerosols is at risk of brain, kidneys or liver damage, visual problems, seizures, loss of hearing, central nervous system damage, dementia, and even suffocation or Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome. Please be aware that spray can sniffing is fairly common among teenagers. MSDS sheets are available for all products upon request.

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