What Is Self Etching Primer – How Does Automotive Paint Work?

What Is Self Etching Primer – How Does Automotive Paint Work?

If you have been planning to paint your car and have it looking brand new, one of the most critical parts of the paint job is the primer. This is because metal is often not the easiest surface to paint on. You will need a self etching primer. But what is self etching primer?

Simply put the self-etching primer is the best primer for a quality car paint job.

Think of a self-etching primer as a combination product. It will not only etch the surface of your car but also act as a primer hence the name.

With a self etching primer, you can get a better quality paint job in just a few steps all while ensuring protection to the underlying materials.

Let’s take a closer look at a self-etching primer to find out what it’s all about.

Self Etching Primer

self etching primer

Many people wonder what is self etching primer. This is a primer made for use with both metals as well as fiberglass. It comprises materials such as phosphorus and zinc.

After applying the self etching primer these components will etch on the surface of the material that you are painting. This will result in a rougher surface which then means better paint adhesion.

There are instances when the self-etching primer will also prime the surface just like traditional primers.

Depending on the brand and the product that you choose, the surface that you are painting will get sufficient protection which will then prevent it from oxidation, and corrosion, and ultimately result in an ideal surface for applying our paint.

It Offers Great Protection

That said, there are self-etching primers that do not provide sufficient amounts of protection to the underlying surface or material.

Because of this, it could also function as a base coat on which you will apply a primer. This will provide better protection to the surface that you are painting.

The major benefit of a self-etching primer is you can avoid the strenuous sanding process. This results in a clean and ideal surface to apply either another primer or paint.

If you have been thinking of buying a used car that could use a bit of touch-up, then a self etching primer is a great component of a stunning paint job.

When it comes to applying the self-etching primer on metals, you will be able to use it regardless of the type of metal whether it is aluminum or even steel.

The self-etching primer mostly works well when the surface is flat. You can also use it on projects where it could prove challenging to sand edges or crevices.

For instance, let’s assume you want to paint a cast metal figure or even your entire car. There are crevices that you may not be able to reach with sandpaper. The self-etching primer will reach into these surfaces and ensure that the paint sticks.

There are brands of self-etching primers which are made to stick to hard and smooth plastic. Often plastics have a smooth and sleek surface which could prove difficult for the paint to stick.

By applying an etching primer, you will be able to rough up the surface which in turn will make it easy for the paint to stick.

Epoxy Primer Car

The epoxy primer comprises a sealer that features a non-porous finish. It’s used mainly as a base coat over bare steel.

This makes the epoxy primer a great choice if you plan on stripping the old paint down to bare metal and starting afresh on your project car. Plus this is one of those versatile primers. Whether it’s on a used Jeep Liberty that you’ve taken off-road one too many times or on any metal surface, the epoxy primer is a great choice.

The base coat can also work not just on the metal surface but also on plastic, iron as well as fiberglass. It can also be applied to black iron phosphate.

A Versatile Primer

There are a wide variety of materials to which the epoxy primer can be applied. This is thanks to the fact that they have strong adhesion and are durable. They can withstand a variety of weather conditions such as humid and wet weather.

The fact that epoxy primer can resist corrosion is thanks to its thickness. The higher the levels of thickness with the epoxy primers, the higher the ability to resist corrosion.

Furthermore, epoxy primers can also be used on cracks or where there are dents. This is because since it has a high bonding capacity, it also able to provide a smooth surface.

But adhesion is just one of the many great features of epoxy primers. They will also work as a great undercoat as well as a top coat.

Furthermore, you will also find epoxy primers used commonly on the surface of metal cans as well as containers such as those that contain foods like tomatoes which are acidic.

But let’s take a look at epoxy primers through the lens. They have chains of carbon that are also bonded to nitrogen, hydrogen, or even oxygen. This is why epoxy primers are often considered organic compounds.

The covalent bonds which hold all the elements together allow the elements to share two electrons.

Self Etch Primer Over Paint

primer over paint

If you love to do it yourself, then doing a great job often leaves you with a satisfying feeling of accomplishment. Furthermore, you can avoid paying plenty of money to a professional.

If you want the car to come out looking superb, it is important to first and foremost ensure that you use the right type of primer.

First off let’s look at the self-etching primer. You can apply this as a first coat which allows the surface to get a rough texture on which the paint will stick.

The self-etching primer could come in different mixtures. One of these is a compound mixture. This one will require you to mix it yourself.

There is also the option of getting the aerosol mixture. You can use this simply as spray paint. The great thing is that you can use the self-etching primer on surfaces such as aluminum, plastic, or even fiberglass.

What Is Self Etching Primer – How To Use The Self Etching Primer

Start by washing and then sanding the surface of the vehicle whenever you are working on it. Then you can apply the primer.

Often the self etching primer mainly works for metals that haven’t been primed before.

The self-etching primer contains components such as sulfuric acid. It can therefore prevent and counter the effects of oxidation which causes the iron to react with oxygen whenever the surface is moist. This is what results in rust.

What Is Self Etching Primer – The Acid Paint Primer

So we’ve known that the self-etching primer can clean not only rust but also gunk which is on the surface of the metal. This is because of the sulfuric ace.

Due to this ability, the self-etching primers aren’t the best choice for use on painted surfaces or finishes.

The main role of the primer is to get the surface of the car ready to accept the paint. This is through creating a textured surface where the paint will adhere.

Using The Self Etching Primer On Metal Surfaces

Can you use a self-etching primer on a metal surface? This is a question that many people often ask. However note that since it contains sulfuric acid, this could result in a less desirable outcome and damage the existing paint.

Furthermore, covering a painted surface with a self-etching primer could result in the surface paint chipping and even the metal surface rusting in certain areas.

This then causes extra work such as sanding to ensure that the surface of the metal is ready to take the primer again. Therefore always ensure that you avoid using the self-etching primer on metal surfaces with the existing paint.

What Is Self Etching Primer – Other Options

If you want to achieve a much better finish on top of a metal surface that already contains paint, you can try epoxy primer or pyroxylin.

Pyroxylin primers are nothing new and have been around for decades. Some people still use them today. The main challenge with this type of primer is that getting the right mixture isn’t always a walk in the park.

The other option is epoxy primers which many consider being the standard as you can apply the epoxy primer to the existing paint or the metal surface. Start by spraying, wait for about 30 minutes, and then sand.

Primer For Stainless Steel

self etching primer for stainless steel

When it comes to stainless steel, not all metal primers will do a great job and prove the right adhesion. If you are searching for the best primer to use on stainless steel, take a look at our recommendations below.

To be able to provide you with great results, the primers that we have mentioned here below will require a top coat or an intermediate coat.

Rust-Oleum 3333 Super Adhesion Primer

This is a common choice for people who want to apply paint on stainless steel. It creates a strong chemical bond without you having to etch before applying the products. You can also recoat it with another type of Rust-Oleum 2k Pain which makes it a great choice to use with different types of top coats

You can get the Rust-Oleum 3333 Super Adhesion primer with a packaging of 1 liter which makes it a good choice if you are working on small projects. With the now new 2-component packaging, you will be able to get the base as well as the activator which you will get in a single kit. You can also get the product in 5-liter packaging.

Moreover, you should use the Rust-Oleum 3333 Super Adhesion primer after you have taken out the grease and oil from the surface.  You can do this with the use of Rust-Oleum Mathys ND14 Cleaner Degreaser. You can also use a high-pressure cleaning or an alkaline cleaner.

Make sure that you store the individual components before you use them.

Tikkurila Temacoat GPL-S Primer

This is another great primer for stainless steel surfaces. You can also mainly use the product as an intermediate coat which you will apply on surfaces that have previously come into contact with chemical stress and abrasions.

This is because the paint will adhere to the steel well while also sticking to both the zinc as well as the aluminum surfaces. This then makes it a universal primer that can be used for different applications.

This primer comprises mainly two components and is also cured. It is a high-quality primer that also contains zinc phosphate and works well on steel masts, as well as haulage equipment, cranes as well as connectors.

Furthermore, this primer can also come in 1000s of different tints which allows the user to get their ideal tint for the overcoat.

If you want to prepare the stainless steel surface, you will need to begin by making the surface a bit rough through either sweep blasting or grinding with the use of nonmetallic abrasives. You need to remove both oils, grease as well as dirt through the use of appropriate means.

Galvanized Metal Etching Primer

If there is one thing about galvanized metal is that it is one of the most difficult surfaces to paint. This is because this type of metal has a surface coated with oil. This oil on the surface helps to prevent white rust.

You can try applying oil-based paint. This will stick at first but eventually, this oily layer will shed the paint.

Furthermore, the galvanized metal coating will also contain oil which then combines with the binder of the paint and result in a film which then causes the paint to eventually peel off.  It is therefore highly important to use the right procedure whenever you are looking to paint galvanized metal surfaces.

Painting Galvanized Metal

To be able to paint galvanized metal, There are several steps involved each of which is as important as the next. This is what you will need to do.

  • Take hot and soapy water and use this to paint the metal.
  • Next, rinse off the metal and give it several hours to completely dry
  • You can use a solution of water and a little bit of ammonia to rinse the metal
  • Next, take over any handles as well as any other attachments that could be on the surface of the metal
  • Now you will need to sand the surface of the galvanized metal while ensuring you reach the crevices as well as the dents.
  • Now wipe the surface of the metal with a cloth.
  • Use primer and apply it as it is directed on the instructions while ensuring that you cover the entire metal surface. Start at the top and then go down while covering one section at a time.
  • As soon as you notice a drip of primer appearing, wipe this off quickly and instantly.
  • Now check the surface of the metal carefully and ensure it is covered completely with e primer.
  • Check the directions on the paint container.
  • Now you can apply the paint. Always ensure that the paint and the primer are both of the same brands.
  • Now give the paint some time and allow it to dry. Ensure that the entire surface is completely coated.

Best Paint For Galvanized Metal

Painting over galvanized metal is not the simplest task. Many people will often wonder about the type of paint that will stick to galvanized metal. After cleaning the galvanized metal, you will find that the acrylic paints will be able to stick to it without many problems.

If you want to get the best results, start by taking out the layer of white rust which will form on the surface of weathered galvanized metal over time.

What Is Self Etching Primer – Best Primer For Galvanized Metal

Start by using a primer that prevents rust if you want to ensure that there isn’t any corrosion and also ensures that the paint adheres to the galvanized metal.

There are several primers available in the market with the most popular brand being Rust-Oleum. This one will come with a spray can and is simple to use.

Many people will wonder if they can prime galvanized metal before they can paint it. And the answer to that is that spraying primer is important as it allows the paint to stick to the metal surface rather easily and fast.

And no, you should never think about painting the galvanized metal directly. This is because it is more likely to peel off as the layer of zinc that is on the coating will not be compatible with the paint.

Another question that many people ask is will galvanized paint work? This type of paint is quite popular and contains zinc which helps to keep the surfaces of the metal corrosion free.

Hot dip galvanizing paint as well as cold galvanizing paint are often used. However, it is the former that is more popular with professionals.

Bare Metal Primer

bare metal primer

When using epoxy primers on metal, they help to offer protection against rusting and corrosion as well as adding adhesion. This is a primer that requires no sanding.

Ultimately this primer creates a seal and you can use it on different types of surfaces. This helps to offer protection from the elements. It also helps to keep out contaminants.

That said epoxy primer is just one of the primers that you could use. With a good paint job, you could increase the value of your car in case you want to make the most of say, the Tesla trade-in program.

Etch primers are the other type of primer available on the market. They can be used for priming different types of metal surfaces. Furthermore, they have a short turnaround time.

Moreover, etch primers will need a thin coat which allows for etching the metal surface and result in a strong bond. The zinc phosphate will also help to prevent corrosion to a certain degree.

And the great part is that since it is so fast drying, the top coat can be applied after a short while after applying the etch primer.

Both the self-etch primers and the epoxy primers are best applied on bare metal. They both have the benefit of offering corrosion and rust protection. Furthermore, you can also top coat both with the primer surface.

This is great news if your SUV’s paint job is always bearing the brunt of off-roading.

That said, if you are planning on doing some body panting on your vehicle and there are surfaces with bare metal, you will need to avoid regular primer and choose between self-etching primer or epoxy primer.

So which one to choose between the epoxy primer and the self-etch primer?

It comes down to personal preference.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Self Etching Primer

The self-etching primer is a product that helps to prevent rust by creating a coat that both etches and primes. The self-etching primer has an advanced set feature that lets you use the primer regardless of the angle. You can even spray upside down to reach those hidden areas.

Can You Primer Over Paint

Yes, it is impossible to use a primer over paint and to cover old colors. You can then apply between one or two coats over the primer. This is one way to shorten the painting project and create an ideal paint job.

What Is The Purpose Of A Primer

Primes comprise other materials and elements such as zinc and hydroxides which help to combat rust and corrosion. You can use the primers on metal parts which will help to improve the condition of the metal surface and also serve to enhance the bonding process. Without first applying a primer, the paint can easily peel off.

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