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Types of Car Paint Finishes

Posted by David Newton at

Different car paint finishes including pearlescent, metallic, matte, etc.

There are several different types of car paint finishes. These would be solid paint, metallic paint, pearlescent paint and matte paint. The most common, and most cost effective, of course, is solid paint. It is the least expensive and easiest to repair.  It is also unfortunately the most boring and won’t set your vehicle apart from other cars on the road. Metallic paint is an exciting option. It contains aluminum powder and gives the car a fantastic shine. Unfortunately, it is also more expensive and hard to match if a repair is needed.  Pearlescent paint contains ceramic crystals that reflect and refract light. It causes the paint job to look different from every angle. It’s dazzling and colorful but also more expensive and also hard to match if a repair is necessary. Matte paint is yet another option. It’s a more recent craze and is a bold alternative to glossy paint. It is expensive as well and maintenance and repair costs can be costly.

Why does factory paint last longer?

Nothing lasts forever. There are a variety of factors that could determine how long your paint job could last, ranging from environmental conditions to where and how your vehicle was stored. However, a factory paint job will generally last longer than a repair paint job because, quite frankly, the secondary painter will often use subpar products or use them improperly. Cutting costs are frequently high on their agenda and it’s hard to really know what corners have been cut until it’s too late.

What type of paint is on MY car?

It is important to determine the type of paint that is on your car before doing any type of repainting or repair job. Using the wrong type of paint can be a disaster, as certain types of paint just aren’t compatible and will cause a mismatch in color, or even worse, cause irreparable damage. Any local paint supply store should have that information readily available for you and can help you find the paint that should be a perfect match. There should also be a specific paint code listed on the vehicle’s ID tag. You can also find the exact original color and type of paint on the car’s VIN number, especially if it is an older vehicle. If the car has been repainted, this could be a bit trickier. Hopefully, there is a record of the paint code numbers used and you will have been given that information or be able to obtain it. If not, you will have to test a small area, preferably the area that needs to be repainted, to determine what type of paint was used. Usually, applying a small amount of lacquer thinner will be able give you the answers you need.

Buying a used car doesn’t have to be a scary proposition. With the proper tools, and a little knowledge, you can be confident that your decisions will be good ones. Knowing the difference between factory and secondary paint jobs is a step in the right direction.


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