What is a Tack Cloth? – How To Use a Tack Cloth (as known as a Tack Rag)

What is a Tack Cloth?

Tack cloths are also known as (tack rags).

In a nut shell a tack rag is a sticky cotton rag that is used for wiping down panels that you plan to paint, varnish or clear coat. They’re not only used for automotive painting but for any work relating to refinishing.

Because we concentrate on auto body work here we will elaborate on automobiles. Before tacking your car down just be sure that you already wiped it down and cleaned the panel or panels with a wax and grease remover. Wax and grease remover is a solution that you spray on your primed and prepped surface just before a paint job. The goal is to spray it on and wipe it off with another rag as soon as possible. You do not want to let the solution to dry on your panel. Think of it as a “wax on, wax off” scenario, just like Mr. Miyagi said to Daniel San in the Karate Kid movie.


You never want to ever wax and grease over freshly painted base coat paint or in between coats. Wax and grease remover is only done once immediately before a paint job.

Basecoat Clearcoat Tacking – Tack Rag Tips and when To Do It.

When spraying basecoat clearcoat, you want to tack your vehicle before you start painting and in between your basecoats only. Be sure to flash your base. Make sure your base is DRY before you tack it down. This is a VERY important process that you must understand before moving on to the painting process.

When tacking, do not press too hard onto the panel. Open your tack rag entirely, then fold it up into a cloth a little bigger than your hand.

Start from the roof of the car and work your way down. Be sure to open up your rag and use a new clean area as your rag gets colored with overspray (if you’re tacking between basecoats). One tack rag will last you one entire basecoat clear coat paint job. If you’re spraying a single stage enamel system, all you would need to do is tack the entire vehicle once before your paint job and never between your coats.

I also have in-depth detailed videos plus more things that you MUST know before you start painting your project. Within our LABAP VIP area of the site we will show you the proper steps and give you access to cheat sheets and manuals that will greatly help you along the way.

what is a tack cloth

Using Tack Cloth on Single Stage Enamel

When tacking a single stage paint job the only time you will want to tack is right before you paint.

There is no tacking between your 2-3 coats of single stage paint.

Single stage is not like base coat and will remain tacky through your coats.

Just keep this in mind and you are all set!

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24 thoughts on “What is a Tack Cloth? – How To Use a Tack Cloth (as known as a Tack Rag)”

  1. Hey Tony, this is completely off subject. I live in Kaneohe and im totally new to this, I’m having a hard time finding a automotive paint supply store here. Where do you go to get your supplies or where would suggest to get paint? mahalo.

  2. Hi Tony, love your videos. I have a question I get your email notifications and for a while I couldnt get acess to the email address. So I missed on the great deal you had in febuary, are u gonna have it again?.Thank you. And sorry for being of subject.

    • Thanks Hector! Thanks for staying connected. As of now, I have no current plans for specials. If you are on our newsletter list which I think you are, if you do any specials for VIP you will be one of the forst to get an email notification. Be well man!

      • Hi Tony.I recently sprayed my bonnet.I picked up a some dust.I rub it down with a 2000 grit paper.Now do i need to rub the entire bonnet down again and respray.If so what grit sandpaper must i use and must be wetsanded.Thanks in advance

        • Hey Shiraz! Thanks for the feedback!

          I teach all of those in VIP! If you are not yet VIP, head on over to this link here to get comprehensive access to information on auto body work and paint: https://www.learnautobodyandpaint.com/vip-offer/

          Unfortunately, it is very difficult to answer your question here. You may sign up for our FREE forum at The Pub to post your questions and interact with other like minded individuals here: https://pub.learnautobodyandpaint.com/. Join me as well in my live streams through my YouTube channel and directly connect with me with your most burning questions on auto body work and paint. Subscribe to my YouTube channel to get notified of the live streams: https://www.youtube.com/user/HowToPaintYourCar​

  3. Hi Tony, sorry if I am repeating but English is not my first language. I used 2k paint, thus do I essentially just tack the primer? thanks for all your help.

    • hey Jan,

      Yes after your primer is on, you would wet sand it smooth with 400-600 grit paper, then tack it before painting. I explain it all on the video and the blog. If you are confused then I really recommend watching the video and reading the post again 🙂

  4. New VIP Member. I’m just a home shop car guy.. Been years since I painted cars,but its very easy to make a mistake. Your video are very motivating and helpful. my questions… some tack rags are dry out the package.. Even using the best brads, Is there a product to revive the tack rag?? Should the tack rag be spreed out completely or just folded to about 4-6″?? I refer to tack rags as wax on a rag…Are there new as in improved rags.? Recommendations?


  5. Hi Tony! I like to ask you If on a Tri-Coat paint job, am I to tack between the first basecoat? and then after the second coat before the first coat of clear? I also like to know If you can talk about Tri Coat painting and maybe give us some tips If need be. I have taken the challenge to paint my project and this is the first time painting a car. My problems is that the color that I really like for my project is a Tri Coat and is making me nervous. Hopefully I hear from you before I get to it, thanks for all the help, it’s really appreciated.

    • A tricoat is nothing complicated. You have your base, your mid and your clear. That’s it. All 50% overlay. You can tack all coats if you see a lot of dust overspray except for the clearcoat. If you’re doing a mid coat base, then you can tack that too. What color are you painting and what brand are you using? You should really take your time and check out the LABAP VIP section of this site before you waste a ton of time and money on mistakes. Good luck and stay cool!

  6. Hey tony question…
    I used to work in a body shop a couple years ago for about 5 years. In that shop we were using some pretty big compressors. I am beginning to buy what I need to do some body work and painting in my garage. My question is what kind of compressor do you recommend? my budget is between 200-400 bucks. Should it be non oil or oil based?


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