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How to Choose Between Different Kinds of Auto Paint

If you're painting your car yourself, you need to know the pros and cons of different kinds of auto paints. This is especially important for beginning do-it-yourselfers.


  • Step 1: Learn about urethane pros and cons. Urethane is not for beginners. It has a two-stage application system that protects custom paint jobs, like metal flake from UV rays.
  • Step 2: Know about water-based paints. Commonly used for adding custom painted graphics, water-based paints are non-toxic and easy to apply, but require a clear top coat.
  • Step 3: Learn about clear coat, a paint job's finishing layer. Clear coat adds gloss and reduces toxic emissions, but can be susceptible to cracking and peeling. Once you've made your decisions, go make your purchases, get out your painting tools, and get ready to hit the road.
  • FACT: In 2005, Nissan introduced a paint coat that repairs a scratched car surface to its original state within a week.
  • Step 4: Find out about enamel paints. While durable and inexpensive, beginner mistakes can be hard to correct because enamel dries to a hard shell.
  • TIP: Some manufacturers offer different versions of a particular paint to meet specific regional environmental regulations regarding paint toxicity.
  • TIP: For the sake of your paint job's durability, use paints from the same manufacturer in all stages.
  • Step 5: Know that primers vary according to auto body conditions. Epoxy primers fill uneven surfaces. Etching primers chemically clean bare metal and even surfaces.
  • Step 6: Be aware of common color paint types, including lacquer, enamel, urethane, and water-based paints.
  • Step 7: Discover lacquer. Although beginner mistakes are easily corrected with solvent-soaked rags, lacquers are less durable and more toxic than other paint types.
  • Step 8: Know common painting process stages: primer, color coat, and clear coat. Primers prep a car's surface for painting. Clear coat protects the color coat.

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