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A Beginner’s Guide to Choosing Automotive Paint

Whether you are interested in taking on the long process of painting your own vehicle or simply want to school yourself on how to choose the best automotive paint for your project, Martin Auto Color has put together an outline to assist:

Learn About the Basics

There are basically three ingredients that make up all types of automotive paint. These are the carrier agent, the pigment and the binder. The carrier agent is the solution where the resin ingredient of the paint is suspended. It is what liquefies the resin until its application, when it bonds chemically to the car’s surface or evaporates into the air. The resin is otherwise known as the binder and it works like sap from a tree because it is that sticky and thick hydrocarbon liquid that toughens up when it comes in contact with air. The pigment also known as the tint is what is responsible for the color of the paint.

Knowing Urethane and Enamel

Resins in auto paint are typically made up of one of three elements namely urethane, enamel or lacquer. The first two come in different varieties; acrylic, synthetic and hybrids made up of the two resins. In general, though, enamel and urethane are the common terms for the chemical combination of hydrocarbon polymers that formulate the resins in paints. This chemical combination impacts the durability and look of a paint’s finish, the manner by which it is applied and its costs.

Go for Two-Parts or Single-Stage

As soon as you have decided between using urethane or enamel, there are still more options ahead of you. You will be asked if you want two-parts or just the single part or if you want a clear coat or base coat or a single-stage.

The One-Part Paint

The single/one or two part component paints are also known as 1K or 2K and these distinctions simply refer to the need or non-need of an activator for the paint to dry. You can spray one or single part products instantly, although they might need a solvent like thinner so it can go through a spray gun properly. However, this kind of paint is not usually used to paint a whole car.

The Two-Part Paint

Two-part paint products are those that need activators or hardeners to stimulate chemical bonding between the paint and the car’s surface, which is commonly known as drying or evaporating. Without activators, two-part paints have longer shelf life because they do not dry by themselves. They are also non-porous and weatherproof. You can actually just apply a 2K primer on your car and leave it without having to worry about the rusting of your sheet metal.

The Single-Stage or Basecoat/Clearcoat Paints

While basecoats or clearcoats dry to a semigloss or matte finish, single-stage paints result in a glossy finish even without the help of a clearcoat. What makes basecoats or clearcoats glossy are the additional coatings of clear paint. So, if you have to choose between single-stage and clearcoats or basecoats, you have to know that both are great in terms of quality. However, this will also depend on the color of your choice. Ask your Martin Auto Color expert to help you decide which is best for your project.

These are just a few basics you should learn about automotive paint whether you are starting a new project or are in the first stages of research. We recommend that while doing a paint job, you should pick a particular brand for your paints and stick to this with all your other painting products. This way, the compatibility of every layer won’t be compromised, right from the etching primer up to when you apply the topcoat.

For more helpful advice or a full list of our refinishing products, contact a Martin Auto Color location near you!

 

 

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