K.C. Body Shop Supply

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How to: Prevent and Fix Soft Film on a Paint Finish

My car paint finish is soft to the touch. How can I fix it?

After painting your car, you notice that the paint finish is soft to the touch, and you see fingerprints or water spots. This is known as soft film. Eliminate it by removing the paint and refinishing.

In this article, I’ll answer common questions about how to prevent soft film and eliminate it when it happens.

  • What is soft film?
  • What causes soft film?
  • How can I repair a surface showing signs of soft film?
  • How do I prevent soft film?

What is soft film?

Soft film (also called slow dry) is when your paint is still soft after it has dried, allowing for water spots and fingerprints to appear days after your paint job. 

What causes soft film?

There are several reasons soft film may happen, including:

  • The undercoat or finish was too wet.
  • You did not allow enough dry time between coats.
  • Your shop ventilation or heating was not strong enough.
  • You added too much or too little hardener to the paint.
  • You used the wrong thinner or reducer for the spray conditions.
  • You didn’t allow enough drying time for the enamel or urethane finish.

How can I repair a surface showing signs of soft film?

Here are three things you can do:

  1. Allow more drying time, maintaining a shop temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit or above. 
  2. Force dry, following the temperature and time recommended for the product
  3. Remove the soft paint and refinish

How do I prevent soft film?

There are several ways to prevent soft film:

  • Use the right spray gun, fluid tip, and air cap for the material being sprayed.
  • Allow enough flash time between coats.
  • Maintain the shop temperature at 70 degrees Fahrenheit or above for proper drying and curing.
  • Measure and use the correct amount of hardener.
  • Use the proper reducer based on the temperature, humidity, air movement, and size of the repair. Allow additional flash time when spraying in high temperature and high humidity or low temperature and high humidity.
  • Add the amount of drier ecoended in the color formulation.

Doing these things will help prevent and eliminate soft film on your car paint surface.