A Review of Popular Auto Paint Types

Auto Painting
Professional auto painting
is done in conjunction with collision repair or whenever you simply want to freshen up your vehicle’s appearance. Before having your car painted, it may be helpful to understand your options. In the last few decades, four main types of auto body paint have dominated the industry. Although some have fallen out of favor with auto body professionals, lacquer, enamel, urethane and water-based acrylics are the main classifications of auto paint today, each with its own unique benefits and drawbacks. Ultimately, your satisfaction with your car’s finish will depend on the knowledge and experience of the auto painting professional you select.


Lacquer-Based Auto Paint


This product was widely used between the 1920s and 1960s. Although this formula is available in some areas, it is now banned in many locations. The main benefit of lacquer paint is its price and ease of application, making it a favorite for the inexperienced or DIY painter. It is also known for its high-gloss appearance, prized for classic cars. The down side of lacquer is its relatively soft consistency, making it prone to chips and fading. This finish is also vulnerable to UV rays and chemicals, making it a temporary finish at best. Due to its noxious fumes and short-lived finish, lacquer is not typically recommended by professional auto body shops.


Enamel Paints


These products are favored for their hard shell, making them tougher and longer lasting. When used by a professional body shop, enamels are often baked on in heated bays or paint ovens. For the do-it-yourself auto painter, enamels are also available in aerosol cans and spray guns. The downside is the higher viscosity of the paint, making a smooth finish more difficult to achieve. Enamels come in two varieties — single-stage systems can be used alone, while two-stage systems require a clear topcoat. Topcoats can change the tone of certain colors, so this must be to be taken into consideration when trying to match an existing color.


Urethane Paints


Urethane products are a bit newer than enamel. Urethane goes on easily, much like lacquer, and has the same tough, hard shell. It does, however, require a few extra steps. Urethane application requires three products: the color, a thinner and a catalyst. Thinner is used to achiever the proper consistency for the spray gun, and the catalyst is needed to accelerate the drying time. Urethane is known for its short life, however, and once mixed, the paint must be used quickly. Any leftover paint must be discarded, leading to waste that increases the cost of this product. Additionally, urethane is highly toxic, emitting a high dose of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). A face mask is standard gear for all paint work, but when working with urethane, it is also mandatory to wear gloves, coveralls and a respirator. Despite the environmental hazard, two-stage urethane paint finishes are still extremely common today.


Nontoxic Water-Based Paint.


This is the newest auto paint technology, and it’s proving to be the most versatile of all. Water-based paint can be applied to metal, primer or even an existing paint job. Its non-volatile nature means it doesn’t react with other solvents. Water-based paints are also EPA compliant, as they have a much lower VOC load. The lower VOC is good news for the painters and for the environment. In fact, this technologically advanced product has been the standard in Europe for more than a decade. Finally, water-based paint needs less clear coat, due to its thinner application. This saves time and costs less for the consumer. And the end result is a cleaner, brighter finish than solvent-based paint provides. It’s perfect for adding graphics to your vehicle as well as for full paint overhauls.


Contact Dent Master today for a perfect water-based paint job that will outshine the competition. Serving the Salt Lake City area, Dent Master provides a full range of auto body and collision damage repair services, as well as frame straightening and paintless dent repair. Contact Dent Master today for all your auto body and paint needs.