Types of Car Paint

Types of Car Paint
02 Oct 2019
By Ross Wild

Types of Car Paint

Coming to choose your new car can be one of the most stressful things you have to do in life; questions you have to ask yourself like… which manufacturer? Which body style? How much am I willing to spend? Am I going to lease or finance it? And most importantly, what colour do I want the car to be. Well, maybe not that one... but when you do come to build the car of your choice in a configurator, you may be confused by the number of different paint choices to choose from. Not only are there many different colours to choose, but there are also many different types to choose from. You may see the likes of Metallic, Solid and Special paint and have no idea what the difference is between them except cost! This blog has been created to distinguish the differences between them, and to aid you in choosing what’s best for you!


Solid Paint

Fiat 500 with solid paint

You guess it! The most common paint job on a vehicle is the choice of solid paint. Most vehicles except luxury cars usually offer solid paint as a free standard option, with the other variety of paints as cost options, making it the cheapest paint option to choose from. Usually, when the car has been ordered as a factory order from us, the customer will have a choice between white, black, red or blue as a non-cost option and they would have to spend more per month as a cost option to have a different paint finish such as Metallic. The real way of telling between solid paint and other types of paint is the fact that it is a straightforward, single application of a specific colour with a lacquer coating applied on top for protection which you can tell purely from the shine of the paint itself. Some drivers believe it is worth spending extra to have a shinier finish on the car with the likes of Metallic and Pearlescent paint, but solid still looks pretty cool on quite a lot of vehicles, especially with the likes of Audi in Nardo Grey! If you are umming and ahhing between solid and metallic, it would be best to go and find the car you are looking for in the dealership and have a look in the flesh at what you personally prefer.  

Benefits: 

  • Cheaper than alternatives 
  • Smaller stone chips can be fixed with a touch-up pen
  • Less expensive to fix scratches and chips
  • Better for those who prefer a more neutral look for their car (some cars look badass with solid paint)

Drawbacks: 

  • Solid paint does not increase a car's value like Metallic paint does  
  • Not as exciting as other paint types
  • Can sometimes be limited choice of colours


Metallic Paint



The real obvious difference with metallic paint is the fact that a small amount of powdered metal is added to the pain solution to give the vehicle a shinier and more expensive appearance; due to the way in which light reflects off of the paint. It is most commonly expected that having Metallic paint as an added cost option will usually incur a cost from between £500-£700, however, this can differ dependant upon the prestige of the car; which when broken down into monthly payments, isn’t particularly expensive. This is the reason as to why many customers tend to go for Metallic paint, especially when leasing because of the minimal costs and added luxury. Others may argue that the car will lose it’s shine anyway as soon as it gets dirty, so if you decide to go for metallic paint on your vehicle, remember to keep on top of keeping it clean at the same time! Opting for metallic paint can have it’s own drawbacks though, such as the cost element. Its more expensive to fix chips and scratches with this kind of paint, as it can be difficult to match the paint unlike solid paint, whilst also being more expensive straight up when purchasing. (Luckily, metallic tends to hide small scratches better than solid paint though…)

Benefits: 

  • More expensive look 
  • Hides scratches better than solid
  • Holds up better than solid paint

Drawbacks: 

  • More expensive 
  • Harder and more expensive to replace
  • Harder to hide dodgy polishing

Pearlescent (Special Paint)

Toyota Supra with Pearlescent paint

Pearlescent paint or ‘special paint’ in some cases, is another paint option which some manufacturers offer when coming to choose your car. It is a step beyond metallic paint in that pearlescent paint possesses ceramic crystals that refract light as well as reflect it, which can give some cars a ‘galaxy’ kind of look like the car above which looks absolutely beautiful; and another example is ‘metal flake’ paint. If you ever spot a car out and about with a pearlescent colourway, be sure to walk around the vehicle and notice the colour changing as the light reacts with it. For those who like their car to stand out and like attention, pearlescent paint is something to look out for, purely just because of how niche the paint is and how much it stands out, it can also hide scuffs in the chassis pretty well!

Benefits:  

  • Niche + Beautiful colour variations 
  • Makes your car stand out
  • Can hide scuffs in the chassis 

Drawbacks:

  • Expensive 
  • Draws attention (drawback for those who don’t like attention)
  • Hard to replace if damaged

Vinyl Wrap

BMW M4 Vinyl Wrapped

You may have heard the term ‘wrapping a car’ and had no idea what it meant in the past, but put simply, it’s a procedure where the car is literally wrapped in vinyl to give it a different colour/appearance. It is a common thing to do for those drivers who want a personalised vehicle, and common amongst celebrities due to it being pretty expensive to do; as it can end up costing anywhere between the regions of £2000-5000+. The beauty of vinyl wrap is that it is applied over the existing paint, and can be taken off quickly and easily so you can revert the car back to its original colours. It also shields against abrasions, weathering and stone chips, so when you come to take it off, your car will look good as new.

Benefits: 

  • Exclusivity 
  • Protection from stone chips and weathering
  • You can restore the car to its original look!

Drawbacks: 

  • Very Expensive 
  • Orange Peel (can give it a funny looking texture sometimes)
  • Very rare but detailers could damage the vehicle by scratching original paint by mistake




Vantablack


Vantablack BMW

You may have never heard of Vantablack before and in all honesty, the likes of it becoming a legal car paint is very unlikely and questionable. Vantablack is a material, which to this day, is the darkest substance/colour known to mankind; it absorbs up to 99.96% of all visible light! It’s made from billions of tiny little carbon nanotubes which are thinner than human hair. These materials were recently used in a project to cover a BMW X6, and it looks pretty awesome! (see image above) The reason as to why this will most likely not be something you can have on your car in the future is because you genuinely can only see the rear lights, number plate and badge in the dark, so it would be incredibly dangerous to drive in the evening; plus imagine your rear lights decide to stop working, it would cost an arm and a leg repairing it. Nevertheless, it doesn’t stop us from appreciating it’s incredible looks! 





Matte

Lamborghini Aventador with Matte paint


Matte paint is another alternative paint you can have for your vehicle and whilst it’s rare to see on the roads, it’s becoming more popular every single day. Matte paint is essentially the finish on a car when a clear coat is applied whilst creating tiny dimples in the car’s base coat; which in-turn creates a smoother running surface. This finish also prevents the paint coat from reflecting light and presents the car with a hazier/flatter appearance. Most of the time though, you will see matte paint finishes on cars in the form of a vinyl wrap like above. One of the main issues with having matte paint, is the fact that paint defects are more likely to stand out and you will have a much tougher job looking after matte paint than the likes of solid and metallic. It would be best practice to steer clear from supermarket car washes due to the scratches it can cause and make sure to buy specific matte paint car cleaning products to look after the paint when washing it yourself!  

Benefits:  

  • Great looks 
  • Easy to remove if it is applied as a vinyl wrap instead of paint
  • Exclusivity

Drawbacks: 

  • Expensive 
  • Can be hard to maintain and look after
  • Damage to the paint will stand out




How are paints applied to a vehicle?

First off, back in the day, like all things in life; car paint was applied through human workers, where they would paint the car and leave it to dry for weeks on end at room temperature, and then dried in ovens as mass production of cars was necessary due to the increasing demand of motorized vehicles as the years went by.(In short) Because of advancements in technology, we have dropped this archaic way of painting coats by now using technological arms to paint the body and leave it to dry in heated enclosures, well, I suppose… it’s a little more confusing than that. 

What are the main layers of automotive paint? 

Phosphate coat - applied for anti-corrosion as well as preparation for the E-Coat. 

E- Coat - Where electrophoresis occurs. 

Primer - Protection against stone chips, bumps, corrosion, scratches and minor defects.

Base Coat - Colour - Solid/Metallic/Pearlescent

Clear-Coat - Glossy, transparent coat which gives the base coat its shine.

Step-by-Step 

1st - The car body is cleaned and degreased and a phosphate layer is applied as corrosive protection. 

2nd - A method called electrophoresis is used to apply the solid paint. Put simply, voltage is put through a water-based solution containing a paint emulsion to apply the paint onto the car chassis/body.

3rd - Primer is applied to the chassis via spray booth (Robot arms) which serve as a protective layer.

4th - The base coat is then sprayed on after, this is where either the solid or metallic paint comes into place, followed by a clear coat to give the vehicle its shiny look.

'After all of the coats have been applied to the vehicle, the thickness of the paint is usually around 0.1mm.' 


How to find car paint code with a VIN number

Confused man

Now it’s not every day that you need to find out exactly what your car paint code is, but at some point, you may actually need it. Whether that’s because you’ve scratched the body of your car on another car or scraped it on a wall getting out of a side street or you simply just want a refresh, it may come to that point where you need to find out. The first thing we advise is not to guess at what colour paint your car has, as even the slightest difference in tone could make the patch very noticeable. In most cars, you will find an information sticker which you will usually find in the door or the windscreen, which will include the VIN number. Some information stickers may already highlight the cars paint colour, and others you will have to scan the code to try and find out, by looking for a “C” code (colour) or “TR” (trim).

If you cannot find the VIN number within your car, you can also find it within the vehicle title document you receive when you purchase/lease/finance the vehicle, and are listed as the owner or from the vehicle registration certificate. It will feature a 17 character within which will be the VIN number.  

You can also contact your car dealership or the manufacturer to find out what the VIN number is, or they may be able to tell you what the car paint code is themselves.   

Once you know what your car paint code is, you can then ask your paint supplier to match this code, where you can then touch the scratches up.  


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