Car painting isn’t as easy as the professionals in an auto body paint shop make it look. To begin, there are different levels of paint used to achieve the right finish on your Madison WI area vehicles. Getting the final finish just right usually involves a combination of paint – for proper bonding to metal and to achieve a classic shine. The science of paint selection becomes art when a professional painter begins the application process.
There are five basic categories for finishes used in an auto body paint shop, including:
- Preps, Primers, Undercoats – custom car painting prep finishes are basic car painting primers. Usually going on as black or gray they create a finish that helps additional paints to adhere to the surface. A binding layer that bonds with paint far more consistently than bare metal. Professional spray paint primers help keep moisture away from metal, protecting it from rust and oxidation.
- Base Coat Paint – The base coat is the actual colored paint. It doesn’t contain specialized hardeners and finish strengtheners and is not glossy. Base coats almost always are followed with a clear coat or additional coating to protect it from elements and to add the shine.
- Acrylic Lacquers – Few manufactures make this car painting mix and more, but it is still popular for use on antique and classic cars. It provides an extremely high gloss finish but is not recommended for vehicles in daily use because it doesn’t protect the surface from corrosion and damage like modern paints. This finish usually requires mixing with a lacquer thinner to make it easier to spray.
- Clear Coats – A clear coat finish is just paint that has no color pigment in it. Most are chemical preparations that provide easy, solid adherence to a variety of surfaces – including flexibility for parts like plastic bumpers that are designed to flex. Clear coats also include UV inhibitors to prevent the sun from fading the paint job. Many are formulations of urethane or polyurethane so they provide a truly high-gloss shine.
- Custom, Specialty Paints – In addition to the basics for car painting, there’s a variety of paints for specialized application. Among the options are:
- Acrylic enamel – a one-stage paint that can achieve a decent finish without base coat or clear coat. Not common in today’s auto body paint shop.
- Custom Metallic finishes
- Chameleon Paints – provide an illusion of changing color in different light
Car Painting – Follow-up to Keep Finish Perfect
If your new paint choice is more expensive than other options it will be more expensive to maintain and repair in the future. Not all car painting options are created equal. Researching your choices can make a big difference. Here’s an example of additional follow-up costs recommended for one of the worst offenders – the matte finish. Some car makers list these dos and don’t:
- Don’t use wax designed for standard paint
- Don’t put the vehicle through a commercial car wash
- Always hand-wash with specially-design soft tools – microfiber cloths
- Always use hose with special tip for soft application of water
Auto body paint shop pros also note that pearlescent and metallic finishes are generally more expensive to repair because of the multilayered applications required to restore the sparkling surface.
TIP FROM A PRO – Red paint can also be more difficult to repair and match because there are often more pigments used to create the red tint.
Auto Body Paint Shop Tips for a Clean Ride
The International Carwash Association keeps track of which paint options are the best choices to provide a clean look even when there’s plenty of grit and grime on the roads. No surprise, black is the worst color when it comes to showing dirt. More surprising, the new high-gloss white paints also show road dirt more than most. Midtone car painting options like pewter, gray and silver get the highest marks.
Choosing a paint color for your vehicle is often an emotional decision as well as a practical one. Some colors just fit personalities better than others. Consider the following thoughts on car painting choices:
- Classic Black – There’s nothing sharper than a freshly cleaned and polished black vehicle. And few choices that are as difficult to achieve and keep looking that way. Black is literally the hottest color for any vehicle – paint will heat up in the sun and bring the interior to a new high in a hurry. Black shows all the paint flaws and enhances superficial dirt, dust and debris.
- The New White Options – In many ways white is the easiest car color to take care of. It is forgiving when it comes to showing dust and requires less elbow grease to keep clean. White is one of the top three colors for new cars. White does show road grime tossed up from tires and other vehicles better than most. It is the most forgiving when it comes to heat transfer.
Those are the extremes when it comes to car painting choices. Among the many popular colors used for today’s cars and trucks, other color choices have their pros and cons, too. Consider the following before consulting the color charts:
- Silver – Silver is the No. 1 color choice for new vehicles. It is light enough that it doesn’t show dust but darker than white so it doesn’t show road grime as well. A good choice to avoid extreme heat buildup from sitting in the sun, too.
- Light Metallic Gray – An alternative to silver that’s about halfway between the light colors and the dark hues. Easy care and considered elegant.
- Champaign, Taupe, Tan – Additional midtone options that don’t show dirt and grime like darker paint choices. Basically the color of dust, they can go a long time between cleanup without people noticing.
- Dark Blue – Not as difficult to maintain as black but in the same neighborhood. All the same concerns as black – with all the same emotional response when it’s detailed and shining.
- Red – Red is the color of sports cars and speed (there’s no truth to the urban legend that red cars are pulled over more often than any other color). Red creates strong emotional response. It is easier to keep clean than black but still shows plenty of dust, swirl marks and road grime. Much better than most of the darker colors when it comes to heat transfer.
- Burgundy/Maroon – A deep metallic burgundy provides a classic look but also has the same drawbacks as most of the darker colors. Burgundy and maroon paint jobs absorb UV rays. The surface can easily show flaws in paint or surfaces. Very dramatic when it’s detailed to perfection.
- Light Blue – Not one of the really “hot” colors, light blue ranks between the extremes of light and dark (not too dark, not too light). Easy to care for and doesn’t heat up as fast when left in the sun.
There are dozens of colors with car makers coming out with more for each new model year – some have three or four names for white and black! Each will have its pros and cons – mostly based on depth of features. The differences between dark and light always applies.
Choose Car Painting Professionals for Quality Results
When you need reliable paint for your vehicles, call Auto Color. Visit either of our two complete auto body shop locations in the Madison WI area – West on Parmenter Road in Middleton and East on Stoughton Road. These professionally-equipped shops serve all of Dane County.
Call Auto Color Middleton at 608-831-9554 or Auto Color East Madison at 608-221-5041, or email us to explore all the benefits of our auto body paint shops for the highest-quality car painting in Madison WI.