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Counterpoint: Split up paint and body work, materials during ‘feather, prime and block’

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Business Practices | Education | Repair Operations
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On Wednesday, we featured collision repair expert Mike Anderson and his discussion of who ought to do the feather, prime and block operation: the painter. Shortly after, another well-known collision repair expert contacted us with a counterpoint.

Larry Montanez of P&L Consulting suggested that while some of what is considered “feather, prime and block” was certainly refinishing — for example, a painter priming the car, as is typically required under EPA Rule 6H — but some of the work was a body technician’s domain — as were some of the materials.

“It is a partial paint, and a partial body” operation, he said. And as for the supplies necessary to do the work, he pointed out that it’s not a “paint and materials” rate, it’s “paint materials.” The other materials are just general materials.

Both men have debated this in the past, Montanez said. And they and others in the industry probably will continue to do so. But we thought we’d present both points for the newcomers evaluating the item for the first time. (For the record, all three IPs describe the procedure as a refinishing operation, according to the Database Enhancement Gateway.)

But first, a little context:

The 2016 refinish “Who Pays for What?” survey found shops frequently have a body technician paid at a body rate handling feather, prime and block.

Results were released May 17 for the Collision Advice-CRASH Network survey, and unlike other “Who Pays for What?” studies, the data is available for free to all shops. (Get it here.)

More than half of the hundreds of shops which responded to additional feather, prime and block questions received body labor for feather, prime and block, even though just 19 percent solely used body technicians for the work, the survey found. Another 10.6 percent used techs which perform both body and paint work.

Montanez’s case, and the new P-pages

For a comprehensive explanation of his point, Montanez directed auto body shops to a June 2011 Hammer & Dolly guest piece he co-wrote with Jeff Lange of Lange Technical Services. See it below; the article starts on Page 25.

NOTE: AudaExplore in 2015 overhauled their treatment of feather, prime and block from the version presented in the June 2011 Hammer & Dolly. CCC last year tweaked theirs to clarify that the procedure was a refinishing one, while Mitchell doesn’t appear to have materially changed theirs.

To avoid confusion, the newest obtainable versions of all three as of Friday afternoon can be found below the embedded magazine with minor spacing and text style edits; however, repairers should always consult the latest update of each IPs’ P-pages. It’s

Hammer & Dolly


From Page 154:

Audatex recognizes that Feather/Prime/Block are required operations when replacing welded-on panels. Time to perform this operation is included in the Audatex time for welded panel replacement in the seamed areas, to bring the panels to the condition of a new, undamaged panel for the purpose of refinish. Although the time is included, Audatex does not provide a material allowance for the Feather/Prime/Block process. If necessary, the determination and assessment for materials is best provided by the estimate preparer for consideration and allowance during the estimate preparation process.

Feather, Prime & Block are required operations in the panel repair process.

Audatex Estimating does not provide a labor time allowance for repaired panels, as the amount of time is subjective.

Audatex Estimating

• Is able to allocate a portion of the repair judgment time to Feather Prime & Block for any part with a refinish record attached.

• Displays Feather Prime & Block under refinish labor.

• Calculates Feather Prime & Block materials.

• Identifies Feather Prime & Block labor and materials on the estimate.

When the Feather, Prime & Block feature is enabled, and both Repair and Refinish operations are selected on the Part Edit window, the Repair operation expands to show the breakout of how much of the Repair operation is allocated to the Repair time, and how much is being allocated to FPB (Refinish).

Allocating Feather, Prime & Block On the Damage Page:

1) Verify that the Rates page has a labor rate for the Feather, Prime & Block Materials Rate.

2) Click Damage on the left side navigation.

3) Click a part to open the Part Edit window.


From CCC Page G34 (via Database Enhancement Gateway):

Prime & block (high build/primer-filler) is a required procedure that restores a repaired panel surface, including the joined areas of replaced welded panels, from 150-grit finish to NEW UNDAMAGED condition. It is MOTOR’s position that prime and block is a refinishing process best reserved for the judgment of an estimator/appraiser following a thorough on-the-spot evaluation of the specific vehicle and damage in question.


From Mitchell, Pages P3 and P16 (via DEG):

Welded Panels

Replacement labor times for new panels that are joined by welding include the necessary use of inserts and accepted sectioning guidelines developed by OEMs, I-CAR, and TECH-COR. The labor times for welded panels include grinding, filling and final sanding with up to 150 grit sandpaper to match the original panel contour. Labor times do Not-Include the Feather, Prime and Block refinish operation. See Procedure 28 in Procedure Explanation section, for information on Feather, Prime and Block. …

Feather, Prime & Block

Is the Not-Included refinish operation that completes bodywork repair from 150 grit smoothness to the condition of a new undamaged panel, and the point at which refinish labor time begins. The labor and materials associated with feather, prime and block may vary depending upon the size of the repair area, and should be evaluated when determining the work to be performed. See Welded Panels under Estimating Information.

More information:

“Understanding Featheredge, Prime & Block Sand”

Larry Montanez and Jeff Lange in Hammer & Dolly, June 2011

“Who Pays for What?” survey page

CRASH Network

“Results of refinish-related “Who Pays for What?” survey available online for free”

Collision Advice-CRASH Network, May 17, 2016

Featured image: You should probably feather, prime and block a drawing of a car before refinishing it. (ra2studio/iStock/Thinkstock)

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