Automotive Car Paint: Understanding The Different Kinds of Car Paint

January 27, 2012

Automotive car paint is available in a few different types. The type that you use will depend on the kind of finish you are looking for and how much you want to spend on repainting your vehicle. Here is a quick rundown of the various types of paints available.

Nitro-Cellulose Paint

This is a common type of paint, and it is also the oldest type of car paint. It is still popular with car manufacturers as well as body and repair shops, although many have switched to water based paints. It is low cost and very durable. While using a sprayer to apply nitro-cellulose paint will give you the best results, it is possible to apply it with a brush. Nitro-cellulose paint is dried through evaporation after it has been applied. It must be polished several times after drying to achieve the glossy finish common on new cars. While this paint is one of the cheapest options, it is also the most labor intensive. This type of paint is toxic, so care must be taken when working with it.

Two-Pack or Isocyanate Paint

Isocyanate paint, commonly known as two-pack paint, first started being used in the 1970s. It is extremely durable and requires much less application time than nitro-cellulose paint. It is sprayed on with a gun and immediately has a finish. It is does not require polishing. After the paint has dried, a layer of hardener is added. This paint is also toxic, highly poisonous and can cause death due to respiratory damage, so it is best to leave the application to a professional if you are not experienced with car paint. You must wear a mask when dealing with this type of paint.

Water Based Paint

Many manufacturers have switched to water based paints because they are much more environmentally friendly. This paint can be somewhat difficult to work with, and requires a more experienced painter. It is best to let a professional do the work. Water based paint requires a two-pack lacquer application in order to protect the paint.

General Tips

  • Apply paint to a car only on days when the sun is not shining directly onto the vehicle, to avoid streaks or smudges.
  • It is best to work indoors when painting a car.
  • Light colored paints tend to be more durable then dark paints.
  • Always use high quality car polishers when shining up your newly painted vehicle.
  • When working with car paint, be sure to read all directions thoroughly and follow all safety instructions that pertain to the different types of car paint.
  • If you are unsure about something, it may be best to leave the job to a pro.

Painting your vehicle not only makes it look better, but can add value to it as well. The first thing people will notice when looking at a car is its outside appearance, and a new coat of paint can go a long way toward making a great first impression.

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