We all take great pride in our cars, similar to our houses. They cost a lot of money, so we want to keep them for as long as possible. To do this, we need to take our cars for regular services, and sometimes the body of the car might need a repaint. To have your car resprayed in the repair shop can cost you a small fortune, but why not try and do it yourself? In this article, we will be helping you find the best automotive paint brands for your prized possession.
Choosing the Right Car Paint
When you are thinking about repainting your car and doing the job yourself, it is not just a matter of changing the color, but it also involves applying a protective layer from rust and damage. So, whatever the reason you want to repaint your car, you need to ensure you choose the correct paint that will look great and also last a long time. All automotive painting experts agree that selecting the correct paint for cars can become complicated, as there are so many different features and aspects to consider. Some of these features and questions you should be asking include:
Is a primer coat necessary?
Do you use enamel or urethane paint?
Should you use a single or two-part format?
What color will sui your scheme?
Another thing to take into account is the paint you have chosen, is it of high quality, do you need to apply a base coat first and is it durable, easy to use, and cost-effective? So, again the same question arises, what is the best auto paint that you should use? Following this, we will try and help you to make the right choice by answering these questions for you.
Important Aspects to Consider Before Buying Your Auto Paint
Before you start to purchase your good car paint, the first thing you need to consider is how big the job is. This means you need to plan properly, whether you want to repair a few minor scratches which will only require a small amount of paint. Larger paint jobs like painting your wheel rims, you will require more paint than a few spray cans or a touch-up pen. When it comes to a full-body painting job, you will need a couple of gallons of paint to ensure you have enough to complete the job. This is especially true if you have the paint mixed to your desired color, which can be difficult to match later on if you run out of paint.
You will need to decide if you need to use a primer coat. This type of paint is the first coat you need to apply to your vehicle surface. Primer is normally supplied in black, white, or grey colors, and when selecting them you take a lighter shade for lighter base colors and darker shades for darker base colors. The primer prepares the car surface for painting which assists the paint to adhere to the metal.
If you apply your base coat onto the car surface without first applying a primer, then the paint will not bond properly with the metal surface. This could result in the paint peeling, chipping, or flaking, so the primer coat forms a binding layer on the car metal surface.
The primer not only prepares the surface for the basecoat but also assists in keeping moisture from forming on the bare metal surface, avoiding oxidation and rust. If you are doing this for the first time, it is important to remember that the primers are often porous. This means you will need to first sand the surface until it is perfectly flat and smooth. If you fail to do this, then the next paint layer may come out bumpy and not adhere properly. Paint primers are also available in spray options.
Choosing the color is important, as this is the color you will be stuck with. So, you need to make sure the color you choose is exactly what you want. The color you choose should not only be the color that suits your taste, but it should also be a color that is visible on the road. You might also want a color that will hide most of the dirt. Remember, you do not have to stick to the factory-made choices, but you can choose your color that can be mixed by the supplier.
The next question many users ask is, what is the best color to keep clean? The answer is quite simple, the darker the paint color, the more difficult it will be to keep clean. A solid black color is by far the worst to keep clean, and the champagne color is the easiest. Many people think that white is the easiest to keep clean, but this is not so, as champagne is the best. Following this is silver and then white, as the color white shows up all the dirt that you pick up from the road.
If you want to paint your car the same color as it is, then you need to match the exact color of your vehicle. Most vehicles manufactured after 1980 have an information sticker that is usually found on the inside of the front door, which reads EXT PNT with a code. Take this code to the suppliers and they will be able to get the same color for you. You can also refer to the car manual, which should also give you the exact match.
Types of Base Coats
Now that we have decided on the color we want, the fun part begins as we prepare to apply the base coat. The color paint is applied on top of the primer and does not contain any hardeners or strengtheners. This means that it is just a coat of raw paint that will not protect the metal framework of your vehicle. So, if you leave it like this, it will attract moisture and you will begin to see rust forming on the metal surface.
To avoid this situation, a clear coat is applied over the base coat or you can use a urethane base coat. This protective coat will protect the primer as well as the metal frame from the elements, and it also gives a shine due to the glossy effect of the clear coat. By applying a clear coat over the base coat, it will offer you protection from the elements as well as a shiny finish. The base coat you choose can be water-based or solvent-based, and you also have the option of pearlescent or a metallic finish. This brings us to the next question, should you use urethane or acrylic paint for your base coat?
Pros and Cons for Urethane vs Acrylic Auto Paints
Choosing the base coat is sometimes a personal choice, you might prefer the urethane option as it is easy to apply and is durable. On the other hand, you may want something that is less toxic. We will now help you make this choice by laying out all you need to know about both of these options.
Acrylic Lacquer Auto Paint
Acrylic paint is normally water-based, which means that the paint resin sticks to the metal frame by using water as its prime agent, unlike urethane that depends on a solvent. Because acrylic paint is water-based, they are a lot less toxic than urethane paints. With the use of acrylic paint, there is no need for hardeners or any other chemical additives, and the paint is ready to be used directly from the tin.
However, we need to be aware that the process of applying acrylic paint is slightly different from urethane, as acrylic paint tends to appear in the form of small droplets. Acrylic lacquer auto paints can cost more than your acrylic enamels. You will also find that the acrylic paints have a lot slower drying time than the urethane paints and need to be left for up to 48 hours to dry before applying the next coat. Maybe it sounds strange to use water-based paint for cars that are going to drive in the rain, but the use of a top-coat gives the paint the protection it needs.
PROS Dries to an attractive glossy finish
Is easy to apply
Provides an extremely hard and protective shell CONS Fades very easily
As soon as you start to paint you need to move very quickly
Is not easy to apply
Not as durable as some other paints
Urethane Auto Paint
Urethane automotive paints have been the normal standard for automotive paints over the years but have now been replaced by the use of acrylic lacquer paints as the preferred choice of auto spray painters. This change took place to try and help lower the environmental concerns regarding auto paint. Many of the users of urethane paint say that it gives a finer and smoother look and is also a lot more durable than acrylic paint. The urethane auto paint also offers you a chip-resistant option and if you maintain it properly, it will outlast acrylic paint by many years.
Urethane paints have higher chemical toxic levels, which can be dangerous if inhaled. So, wearing protective equipment when using them is important. These auto paints have urethane, enamel, or lacquer as their base, which all have their advantages and disadvantages. The solvents in these paint act as a curing agent that can attach the paint molecules to the metal surface of your vehicle.
Note: When using acrylic paint, you should carefully consider the type of primer you use as acrylic paint is much lighter than urethane paint. Because acrylic auto paint is a lot cheaper than urethane, it is the preferred option for quick fix-up jobs. When restoring older cars, urethane or solvent-based paints are still used to match the color correctly.
PROS Adheres easily
Does not fade easily
Can also be applied over lacquer
It is cost-effective
Can be sprayed over most other paints without causing any reactions
Is durable and long-lasting
Is also chip-resistant CONS It is toxic
Reasonably priced but there are other cheaper alternatives
Is not easy to apply with a spray gun
May appear to have a plastic look
The clear coat or top-coat is painted over the base coat. As the name indicates, it does not contain any color pigment. The clear coat offers protection and will leave you with an attractive shiny finish. You will find that these clear or top-coats have special chemicals added to them, which enables them to adhere to not only metal surfaces but also to plastic like your car’s bumper.
To keep your car’s paint job looking good for many years, it needs to be protected from the sun’s UV rays, which can cause the paint color to fade. This is why the clear coat contains UV inhibitors to prevent this from happening. The attractive high gloss effect is made possible by polyurethane or urethane contained in the top or finish coat, and it can stay like that for many years if you give it the proper attention.
Single-Stage or Two-Stage Auto Paint
After you have made up your mind to use an Acrylic lacquer or Urethane base coat, you now need to decide on a single or two-part type auto paint. Let us now explain what these terms mean, so you can decide which type to use for your paint job.
Single-Stage Auto Paint
The single-stage auto paints, as the name indicates, combines the clear coat and the base coat. So now you only have one product instead of two. This means that the single-stage auto paint has no activator in its composition. They are also easier to apply to your car’s bodywork, as the process is made simpler.
The advantage of the single-stage auto paint is that once they have been applied, they dry instantly. They are also a lot more durable than two-stage paints. They may also need to be thinned a little to make them easier to spray with. However, the single-stage paint is inclined to breakdown prematurely. By using single-stage auto paints, you will be able to cut down on the number of layers you apply to your vehicle. Single-stage auto paints are used more for quick paint repair jobs and need to be applied over a primer.
Two-Stage Auto Paint
The two-stage auto paints are preferred, as they have a base color and a clear coat, which leaves you with a glossy shiny finish. However, they do take longer to dry, which means that you will have to wait longer in-between coats. For these two-stage paints to bond properly to the paint layers, they have a drying coat added that contains hardening chemicals in their formulation. These formulations are weather-proof and non-porous which gives them a longer shelf life.
The two-stage paints handle harsh weather conditions better than the single-stage paints. They need more layers than the single-stage paint, which means that you have your primer coat then you have to add four or five top-coats of paint. You then need to add a further three or four clear coats. It may seem like a lot of layers of paint, but it serves its purpose as it takes a lot longer to wear through these layers before it needs to be repainted. The extra layers also provide your car with a finish that is scratch and chip-free. The main disadvantage with the two-stage paints is that with all those layers, it takes a lot longer to apply as there are a greater number of steps to follow. The two-stage auto paints also require an activator to bond the layers properly together.
Note: When you use black, red, or yellow, you can use the single-stage auto paints which will save you some money. However, when painting with pearl or metallic colors, you need to use the two-stage system as it will require a base as well as a clear coat.
Other Important Aspects to Consider Before Painting Your Vehicle
Now that you have considered what paint you want to buy, now is the time to plan and consider what you are going to do. You first need to decide what the job entails, is it going to be a complete paint job, or are you just going to do touch-up work. This decision will also help you to know what type of paint to buy.
If you are going to do a complete respray, you will need a large area to work in, so a single garage space will not work. You need enough space under, over, and all around the vehicle to give you enough working space for spraying. Ensure there is sufficient space for your paint job before you start.
Before you start to paint, make sure you have all the necessary safety equipment. This will include coveralls, a high-quality respirator, gloves, and safety goggles. This is of paramount importance, as the paint you use may be toxic, and remember you need to work in a well-ventilated area as well.
Unless you are going to do a small touch-up job, you will have to do proper preparation if you want the paint job to be successful. You will have to sand, buff, wash and then paint a section at a time, and this you will need to do several times. You will also need to sand between coats until you feel as if you cannot sand anymore, but your effort will be rewarded in the end with a perfectly smooth shiny finish. This process of sanding and cleaning will require lots of tack cloths, these are needed to remove all the dust and debris before you apply the paint. You need to be prepared, as this process will take a lot of your time and needs to be done correctly.
During preparation and cleaning, you may find areas on the bodywork that needs repairing. You need to carry out these repairs first because if you leave them, your paintwork will peel, and crack and all your hard work will be lost.
Spray Paint Gun and Equipment
To do a good job, most paint sprayers make use of a gravity-feed airless spray gun system, or else a gravity feed High Volume Low Pressure (HVLP) system. You need to allow the spray gun to do the work, which means you set the flow rate, pressure, and airflow to their maximum level and allow the spray paint system to do the job. Once you have started, then you can ease up on the settings. Make sure you have a long enough hose with all the necessary fittings, an electric socket, and enough plastic sheeting to cover the floor or any other area you do not want the paint to land on.
Best Automotive Paint Brands
We have already covered most of the factors you need to consider when buying the best automotive paint. Now we will be helping you to choose the right brand that will work for you. As we have already seen, the most popular types of auto paint are acrylic or urethane, so we have found some best car paint brand recommendations for you.
Best Single-Stage Auto Paint: SPEEDOKOTE High Gloss 2K Acrylic Urethane
The Speedokote High Gloss Acrylic Urethane Paint is a single-stage high-quality urethane topcoat. It comes in a two-part system that makes use of acrylic urethane pigments that give it its color and a second compound that is an activator. It comprises 3/4 of a gallon of the urethane resin and is supplied with a 1/4 of a gallon of activator, giving you one full gallon of paint to spray with. The mixing ratio of the paint is 3:1 and it gives you the option of a five percent reduction if you use a urethane grade reducer.
If it appears to be too thick when opening the tin, you can thin it by using the reducer. The Speedokote High Gloss Paint requires a lot of layers or coats to give you that high gloss finish you want. This paint is also UV resistant and stands up well against harsh weather conditions. When using this paint, be careful to use your protective equipment as it has a sharp and strong smell
PROS Only takes a few hours to harden
Excellent resistance to harsh weather conditions
Is UV resistant CONS Has a strong smell
Best Easy to Use Auto Paint: DUPLI-COLOR Universal Gloss Perfect Match
This Dupli-Color Universal Gloss Auto Paint is an acrylic lacquer aerosol spray paint that dries very quickly. The formulation is such that it can match the factory color of your car. It is a one-part spray paint system and is used mainly for touch-up repair jobs on your car. The aerosol can is supplied with a 360-degree nozzle that gives you a wide, even, and smooth spray pattern.
The paint has a wide range of different matching colors that can be used on old, new, and imported vehicles. This makes it an ideal paint for restoring any scratch surface defects, as well as for painting any car accessories and motorcycles. If you need to have more protection from the elements, then their Dupli-Color clear topcoat is what you are looking for. Although it may be rather expensive for the quantity of paint you purchase, it will still give you a beautiful shiny smooth finish.
PROS Can match factory colors exact and precisely
Is a ready to use single-stage system auto paint CONS Can be rather expensive for the quantity of paint
Varying weathering finishes may not be a perfect color match
Best Durable and Weather Resistant Auto Paint: RUST-OLEUM Auto Body Paint
The Rust-Oleum Auto Body Paint has a special formulation that helps to prevent rust on your car’s bodywork. This formulation makes the paint ideal for application in wheel wells, undersides of a vehicle, or any other surface that is exposed to corrosive effects. It is also able to cover around 50 square feet of the body surface. Once opened, the paint can be used immediately without much mixing. There is no waiting period to apply a second and third coat, as it will dry within 30 minutes. The Rust-Oleum Auto Body Paint is an excellent high-quality basecoat, and together with its anti-rust properties, it will give you a perfect rust-free finish. This is one of the best car paint brands, as it is a durable and long-lasting road-resistant paint. When you buff it after it dries, it will bring out its brilliant shine.
RUST-OLEUM Automotive Auto Body Paint, Chrome Yellow Use on any vehicle to achieve a durable, professional, long-lasting finish
Stops rust Acrylic lacquer formulation provides protection from the elements
Dries to the touch in 30 minutes and covers up to 50 sq. ft. View on Amazon
PROS Dries very quickly within 30 minutes
Has an anti-rust formulation
Excellent resistance to harsh weather conditions CONS It is a little more expensive than other lacquer paints
Needs to have a clear or top-coat applied for that beautiful gloss finish
Best Primer Car Paint: SPEEDOKOTE Automotive High Build Urethane Primer
The Speedokote Automotive Urethane Primer is a very versatile paint primer, and although it looks thick, it can be thinned with any thinner you choose. It is supplied with 3/4 of a gallon of primer and is supplied with a quart of activator, giving you one full gallon of paint to spray with. It is a very fast drying paint which has made it the number one primer by many automobile repairers. It is also a high-build paint primer, which means it requires fewer layers. However, this may vary by the quality of the base-coat you are going to use. It helps if you get that bottom layer of paint nice and smooth, which will show up in the final finish. The primer has a low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) level and meets those strict rules governing volatile emissions. The primer has great adhesive properties and is very easy to sand down. The product has a grey color and is also fairly reasonably priced.
PROS Great adhesion
Easy to sand CONS Has a strong nasty smell
Best Auto Top Coat Paint: SPEEDOKOTE Automotive Clear Coat Urethane Paint
This Speedokote Auto Clear Coat Paint is an acrylic urethane clear or topcoat paint. The paint comes with a quart of activator, the formulation has been specifically designed to produce a fast curing time of around two hours as soon as it has been applied. It is also amazingly easy to apply as well as easy to buff, giving you a bright glossy finish within four to six hours after buffing. The acrylic urethane clear coat paint has been formulated to provide excellent UV and sun resistance. It has also been tested and proves to be resistant to dirt and chemicals. This best auto paint product can also be applied to any type of vehicle and is exceptionally durable and long-lasting.
SPEEDOKOTE Automotive Clear Coat Fast Dry 2K Urethane Universal d urable clear, medium speed, 65 – 80 deg. F
Fast dry and cure, high gloss and DOI
UV resistant for excellent weathering, easy buffing View on Amazon
PROS Very fast curing time
Easy to apply and buff
Excellent UV, Dirt, Sun, and chemical resistance CONS Some of the users have had problems with the nozzle
Best Automotive Touch up Paint: DUPLI-COLOR Touch-Up Paint
This Dupli-Color Touch Up Paint is a very versatile and handy product to keep around for repairing those small nicks, scratches, and chips in the exterior paintwork on your car. It works and looks similar to a marker pen. You can easily restore the color of your paintwork where small scratches are involved. It is ideal for those exterior flaws, as it can be matched exactly to the color of your car paint, and it also includes a clear coat. Another great feature is that it has an abrasive tip that can remove any rust or lose paint. The product is designed with a pen tip for those small scratches on the one end, and on the other end, it has a brush for those larger chips and scratches.
DUPLI-COLOR All-in-1 Exact-Match Automotive Touch-Up Paint Abrasive tip removes loose paint and rust
One coat prime and paint formula
Pen tip for fine scratches, brush end for larger chips
Clearcoat to seal, protect and ensure a perfect factory matched finish View on Amazon
It’s a unique all-in-one formulation that applies the paint as well as the sealing or top-coat, to give you that factory-finished look. It is also very compact and can be carried around with you to use at anytime and anywhere. We found this to be the best automotive touch up paint available. Praised for its versatility and its uniqueness as the only touch-up paint that can be used on any make of vehicle.
PROS Topcoat and base-coat in one product
Able to match cars paint exactly
One end with a brush applicator for larger scratches
Pen tip on the other end for smaller dents
Supplied with an abrasive tip for removing rust and old paint CONS Some users found it difficult to unscrew the cap where the brush is
Some users complained that color was not a perfect match
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Paint Car Paint is required?
It all depends on the car’s size as well as the type of paint being used. A normal four-door sedan car will probably use one gallon of primer, and two to three gallons of base-coat for a single-stage paint job. A two-stage paint job will need one to two gallons of primer, and four to five gallons of top-coat.
Is it Possible to Paint over a Car’s Existing Paint?
Yes, you can but experience has taught us that painting over an existing paint job does not allow the paint to adhere properly to the car’s bodywork, which could cause the paint to flake. The best procedure to follow is first to remove the old paint entirely, leaving you with a bare metal surface. Then apply the primer, base-coat, and top-coat for a paint job that will last.
Are There Other Supplies that I Will Need?
Once you have bought the paint, you will also have to buy paint cups, coveralls, paint sticks for stirring, paint strainers, plastic sheeting, gloves, a lined trash can, and a paint respirator with a refill cartridge.
Is There a Difference Between Urethane and Acrylic Paints?
Urethane paints were used extensively in the past for their durability, but due to their high toxic levels, it is not recommended anymore. However, it is still used for older car repaint jobs. Acrylic Lacquer paints are now the best choice as they are a lot less toxic, but they do take a longer time to dry.
Is Painting Your Car Another Color Legal?
The original color of your car is recorded in all the official documents when the car was first manufactured, but it is not illegal to paint your car whatever color you choose. However, in many places, you may have to report any modifications you make to your car. Never alter or change the VIN identification number.
How Long Does the New Coat of Paint Last?
For a car that does not go out on the road often, the new paint job can last for 20 or 30 years However, for a car that drives daily, this period is shortened drastically.
Choosing good car paint is often a matter of individual likes and dislikes. The paint is supplied in various finishes and colors as well as different features. For example, is a primer necessary, or do I need to apply a top-coat? Each person needs to choose what they want to do before they even go out to buy the paint. Try to choose a paint that has a rust inhibitor included or some form of protection from rust, as rust is one of the biggest problems we face. It is also a good idea to look for a paint that has a fade-resistant feature because you want to keep your car looking great for many years.