If your car was in an accident and you've decided to tackle the repairs on your own, one of the things you'll have to do is strip paint in the affected area. When it comes to paint removal, there's no single approach that's right for every situation. You'll have to evaluate each of your choices to determine which one is the best fit for the condition that your car is in.
Doing It All By Hand
Stripping paint by hand can be a painstaking process. It requires a time commitment, so it isn't the best option if you're in a hurry. However, doing the work by hand does allow you to target your efforts precisely where you want to work. There's no risk of over-spray or damaging the metal surface beneath.
To do the work by hand, you'll need a set of sanding blocks and different sandpaper grits. Start with coarse paper, then work your way down to the fine grit to smooth things out. Sometimes, wet sanding is easier, because it removes the clear coat and the paint while keeping the dust to a minimum.
Using Liquid Paint Remover
Liquid paint removal is an efficient choice for stripping paint from auto body panels. It removes the paint without risking any damage to the underlying body panel. You just apply a liquid paint removal product using a brush, then scrape the paint off the surface with a putty knife once the paint starts to loosen up and form bubbles.
The one thing to note about liquid paint removal is that it often works in layers. That means reapplying it a few times if you're stripping paint down to the body panel. Just keep in mind that you'll probably want to remove the panels from the car to work on them, because any errant drips can result in bubbling paint in places you didn't want it.
Speeding Things Up With Sandblasting
If you're working on a large-scale project like stripping the whole car, you may want to speed things up by renting a sandblaster. The pressure behind the sandblaster will remove the paint much faster, but you'll risk denting and other damage on the body panels. If you won't have time to deal with the pits and dents, you'll want a different method, but if you can fill in the surface divots and smooth things out after, you can get things done quickly.
These three methods are the most common ones for removing paint from auto body panels. If you're not confident doing the work yourself, you can work with a local auto body repair shop like Westside Fender/Body & Refinishing to do it instead.