The Pros and Cons of Acrylic Car Paint

March 6, 2012

Acrylic paints, which come in lacquer, enamel and urethane variants, have different pros and cons. Learn when each type of acrylic paint should be used.

Appying Acrylic Car Paint

There are several types of acrylic car paint that can be used on a car including acrylic enamel, acrylic lacquer and acrylic urethane. Each type of paint has its own benefits and disadvantages. You need to think about the type of look you are aiming for and what is best for your car.

The Main Benefits of Acrylic Paint
Acrylic lacquer paint was used in the 1920's through to the 60's, though in some places it is illegal. This paint is easiest for those with little to no experience painting a car, as it is inexpensive and is easy to apply. You also get a nice high gloss on the finish.

Acrylic enamel paints last a lot longer, as they form a hard shell when they dry. When this paint is applied by a professional the paint is actually baked onto the car. There are two versions of enamel paint; one that requires a clear topcoat called a two stage system and one that does not, a single stage system.

The newest acrylic paints are acrylic urethane paints. These act like both enamel and lacquer paints as they are easy to apply like lacquer and last like enamel. You can use these types of paints by themselves or in a multi stage system. The most recommended version is a two stage system that uses the paint and clear coat.

Disadvantages
These paints all have some disadvantages. Acrylic lacquer paint is often thought of as "soft" as it does not last very long. If it is exposed to chemicals or UV then it wears very easily. Enamel paints are much more difficult to apply and should not be the first choice for those painting their own car. You also will need to do plenty of finish work as most need a clear topcoat.

Acrylic urethane paints are a mixture as they contain the color, a reducing element to make it the right consistency for the spray gun and a catalyst that makes it dry fast. Once the pain is mixed it needs to be used immediately. This paint is also very toxic and you need plenty of personal protection equipment when applying.

Choosing the Right Color
When choosing paint you need to think about which acrylic paint is best for your car as well as the best color. Not all colors work on every car. Most car manufacturers spend a lot of money determining the best color for each model. The different stage systems you choose will also affect the.

Think about what you want your paint color to achieve. Should it try to hide body lines or highlight specific features? Do you want the paint to help make the car look smaller? Never pick the color out of a chip book, as these are not paint but ink and will not be a close match to the color you want. You can find a car color you like and ask for color code. Then see if there are any variants or alternates of this color. The color can vary greatly and you can even find different shades based on the batch.

5 Acrylic Car Paint Techniques for a Professional Coat

If you wish to use acrylic car paint to paint your vehicle, bear in mind a few techniques that could help you attain good end results. Acrylic enamel paints are fast drying. If you mix them with acrylic enamel urethane hardeners, the gloss and durability of the paint increase. However, acrylic urethane paints are more long lasting when compared to enamel paints. Urethane paints have to be mixed with a urethane reducer and a urethane activator to get the right viscosity. When it comes to acrylic lacquer paints, they are fast drying formulas that provide a glossy finish. These paints are also resistant to chipping and fading. As a general guideline, they have to be mixed with a lacquer thinner so they're easier to spray. Although you may choose any of these paints to work with, make sure you wear the right protective gear to safeguard yourself from toxicity. Also follow the techniques listed below to get professional results.

Repair the Surface
Before you start painting the vehicle, you need to get rid of any dents and scratches that are present. To work on dents, remove any rust or paint on the affected area. Use an electric grinder to help. After applying body filler to the dent, you will have to wipe it off according to the instructions and then sand the surface to get an even finish.

Prepare and Prime the Car
If you're doing a full body paint job, you have to sand the entire vehicle before you start applying the primer. Work slowly when sanding the vehicle so you get good end results. Once you've finished sanding the surface of the car, apply good quality primer that's ideal for the type of paint you wish to use. Paints often react to certain primers. It's important to read the technical data sheets of the products you purchase.

Clean the Surface
After the primer has been applied, the surface has to be sanded again to make it smooth. Since this sanding process causes dust and particles to settle on the surface, use a grease remover to clean the metal.

Mix the Paint
One of the most important techniques used to get a paint job done properly is correct mixing of the paint. Follow the instructions listed on the paint package and use a paint mixing pail to help you attain the right viscosity. You may have to use a particular brand of thinner or reducer if required. Paint that's too thin will run lines, while paint that's too thick won't flow out easily from the spray gun.

Apply the Paint
The paint needs to be applied in thin coats and left to dry completely after each coat is sprayed on. You could also use a clear coat to finish off. It's important to follow these principles of painting in order to get a professional finish. If you're painting the car for the first time, practice using the spray gun on any other metallic surface before working on your vehicle.

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