Strip Automotive Paint | Norton Abrasives

How to Strip Automotive Paint Back to Bare Metal

Car bare metal

Maybe you’re a car enthusiast or work in the automotive industry restoring vehicles to their former beauty. If so, you’ll be wondering what’s the best way to strip automotive paint back to bare metal bodywork quickly. This guide will explain what you should consider when choosing how best to do this.

The easiest way to strip automotive paint back to bare metal bodywork is to use a versatile angle grinder. These hand-held tools make labour-intensive jobs quicker and easier. You can then choose the most suitable disc, depending on these three considerations:

Beetle1. Surface layer

For stripping heavy coatings, such as automotive paint from metal bodywork, you will need a disc to remove the layer without damaging the surface of the workpiece. Doing this will save time and additional costs on any rework.


2.  Grain

An excellent paint stripping disc is likely composed of ceramic or silicon carbide grain, providing an aggressive and rapid stripping experience. The ceramic structure is sharper than aluminium oxide, so it offers faster and consistent cut rates and lasts up to three times longer.

The open structure provides a consistent stripping process without clogging (even on soft materials) and offers the longevity that you need in your paint stripping disc. As a result, you’ll reduce labour time and cost as you’ll require fewer disc changes and remove more material in less time.

3. Grit

Depending on the condition and amount of paint to be removed, you could opt for a coarse abrasive. Starting with a coarse grit will allow you to strip the coating quickly and minimise loading of the disc. However, it may impart deep scratches on the surface. 


So, what paint stripping tool should you choose?

Blaze Rapid StripAfter considering these three factors, Norton Blaze Rapid Strip discs are the ideal choice to remove dried paint from cars. This non-woven abrasive disc aggressively removes layers of paint, as well as dirt, rust, scale, and corrosion with ease. Therefore, this is ideal if you’re wondering how to remove rust from cars as well, whether it’s rust from car paint, under the vehicle, or the car exhaust pipe.

The nylon fibre composition, impregnated with high-performance ceramic abrasive grain, provides flexibility, so the discs can conform to contours without gouging the work surface. As the fibres prevent clogging, it gives an excellent finish and leaves the surface thoroughly clean to ensure perfect adhesion in the next stage of the process. In fact, one of our customers used it to strip and clean an entire VW Beetle.

Not only is this the best paint removal tool for the job, but you can also use the versatile Norton Blaze Rapid Strip on other large and flat metal surfaces, such as steel beams, pipes, and metal furniture. 

Mini angle grinderIf you need to remove paint from hard-to-reach areas, use a Norton Blaze Rapid Strip Quick Change disc and back-up pad on the Norton Mini Angle Grinder. The compact and powerful mini angle grinder can get into curves and contours, which a conventional angle grinder cannot. 

An alternative option to reach tight corners is to use a narrow-width file belt on a pneumatic file belt sander. For example, Norton Rapid Prep Surface Conditioning File Belts are ideal for accessing tight spaces, as they use a strong synthetic and aluminium oxide abrasive with ClearBond technology. This file belt provides a tough cutting action without loading.

If you prefer to use something more gentle than the Blaze Rapid Strip, then the BearTex hand pads are ideal. The flexibility of BearTex ensures constant contact with the surface and prevents cutting or gouging when working.

Next steps

After stripping the automotive paint, you smooth the surface with the Norton Vortex Rapid Blend for a perfect finish. Take a look at how the Norton Blaze Rapid Strip and Norton Vortex Rapid Blend were used to make a Land Rover Defender log burner.

Before you get to work on your restoration project, ensure the room is well ventilated. You will also need to use suitable PPE, such as a dust mask, safety glasses, gloves, and ear defenders.

For more information about using Norton surface conditioning discs, visit our non-woven application guide.

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