Automotive paint types explained (2023)

Do you know how to distinguish your matte from your pearly? We're going to get past all the emulsions when we talk about the different types of automotive paint you can get.

Whether it's a petrol, diesel or electric car, equipment variant, special equipment or alloy wheels - when buying a car, there are countless options to choose from.

But whether your car is a small city car, an electric family car, a seven-seater SUV or something completely exotic, choosing your paint color will be one of the most important decisions you will make.

Different car paints have a big impact on a car's appearance, but it's not just the color you need to decide. Several color variants are offered today, from solid (i.e. non-metallic) to matte and pearlescent finishes, as well as special order options.

Here, we show you the different types of paint you might encounter when buying a car, and we also discuss whether different paints affect resale value.

Automotive paint types explained (1)

Setting up a Skoda Fabia with Corridarot Uni trim

What is Solid Automotive Paint?

The vast majority of cars come standard with a 'solid' finish, with metallic and pearlescent finishes for an additional cost (see below).

Solid paint is cheaper to produce and apply to a car as it is being built, and most manufacturers offer a limited range of free solid paint options with a new model. Options vary, but you may find that a car comes standard with three full paint options (although some cars only have one free paint option), with red, white, blue, and gray being common colors.

If you choose one of the standard paint options, there's absolutely no reason not to go for it - but a solid paint job doesn't turn out the way a metallic paint job does, and used-market buyers may prefer a car with a metallic finish. . to paint.

Solid surfaces are free because they are easy to make. Usually there are only three layers: primer, paint and varnish, for example, without adding metal chips. Many manufacturers now use a paint known as "two-component paint", which is simply a mix of paint and ink.

Cars with solid paint are easier to repair than cars with metallic or pearlescent paint. Flat colors with minor damage can usually be touched up with a touch-up pen in the corresponding shade, and the auto parts store (Halfords, etc.) can supply the right pen for little money. Even major repairs are comparatively easy as the paint dries quickly with the help of a simple heat lamp.

They may not be the most interesting, but solid finishes are certainly the cheapest and easiest to maintain.

What is metallic automotive paint?

Automotive paint types explained (2)

Find BMW 3 Series in Portimão metallic blue in stock

A metallic paint has small pieces of aluminum powder mixed in with the paint. The metal particles reflect light, hence the shine. Metallics look best in direct natural light, but still shine even on a dull day.

Metallic paint is often a budget option on new cars, adding upwards of £500 to the vehicle's price, although metallic paint tends to cost more on larger, more expensive cars. Black Sapphire metallic paint is £695 in oneBMW 3er, for example, but £795 in aBMW X5(Prices valid from August 2022). Same Color is a free option onBMW M3While the latest Range Rover comes with seven metallic paint finishes as free options (though there's also a range of 'premium' metallic paint finishes for £865), prices really depend on which car you're buying.

But while metallic paint can increase a car's list price, given that around 90% of new cars are purchased with finance, and PCP deals are a) by far the most popular financing package and b) based on depreciation of a car, you may find that Choosing a metallic paint job will not significantly increase your monthly payments, as a metallic car may be more desirable on the used market and therefore its depreciation may be slightly lower than a car with free solid painting.

Dirt is more visible on metallic paint than on solid surfaces, so you may need to clean your car more often. Be careful as the color will come off more easily. Use a shampoo suitable for cars - washing up liquid contains abrasive salts - and make sure the sponge is clean. Excessive polishing causes swirl marks, and car wash brushes can leave marks as well. But any markings can usually be carefully polished.

Metallic paint is harder to repair because it's hard to get an exact match. Even manufacturer-approved workshops do not give any guarantees.

Automotive paint types explained (3)

Like the Audi A6 Avant in Daytona Grey, pearl effect? Find out more

What is pearlescent car paint

Automotive paint types explained (4)

Pearlescent paints shine even brighter and deeper than metallic ones, but they tend to be more expensive and also require more automobiles.

Mainstream manufacturers often offer a limited selection of pearlescent colors, but high-end brands often offer dozens.

The pearlescent luster is created by ceramic crystals in the color reflecting and refracting light. This gives the color a depth that even metallics can't match. And in bright light, lighter shades become iridescent and appear as different colors from different angles, sometimes with spectacular effect.

On the other hand, pearlescent finishes are even more prone to tarnishing, are even more difficult to repair than metallic ones, and extra care needs to be taken when washing a pearlescent car, as they are relatively susceptible to damage from any tiny dirt that gets on. it could be in your car wash sponge.

What is a matte automotive paint?

Automotive paint types explained (5)

Non-glossy matte finishes aren't a common choice, as they usually only come in silver, gray, or black tones. And because they cost even more than pearlescent paints and require even more care than pearlescent paints.

There are several methods to achieve a matte finish: a high epoxy primer, a high PVC content in the paint itself, or a matting agent in the paint. Whichever method is used, the paint absorbs more light than it reflects, creating a matte sheen with a paint-specific texture that has appeal.

Matte surfaces require great care: they must be cleaned regularly with special shampoos and polishes. Bird droppings should be removed as soon as possible, as they contain acids that quickly corrode paintwork. When BMW sold a special edition M3 with a matte finish a few years ago, there was a warranty waiver that forced the owner to take care of it.

Predictably, dull surfaces are very difficult and expensive to repair properly.

You love matte surfaces or not. If you do, you may find the extra cost and effort well worth it. But don't be surprised if your car is a hard sell.

What is automotive painting with special paint?

Automotive paint types explained (6)

If none of the above keeps your boat afloat, various automakers use a variety of other techniques to achieve even brighter finishes in a seemingly endless spectrum of colors. But you pay for it, with special finishes often adding thousands of pounds to the cost of a car.

Layering lighter tones over darker colors - red on black, for example - can create a striking tonal effect. Or layering different mother-of-pearl colors can create a multifaceted effect that explodes in all sorts of colors at once when exposed to sunlight. Even just using a colored nail polish can have a dramatic effect.

Plus, most high-end automakers can make any color you want. If you want your car to match your goldfish or want an entirely new color, they are happy to accommodate you. For the privilege of taking tens of thousands of pounds from you.

There are even more options when you buy a carbon fiber car. Pagani, for example, can add a colorful tint to carbon fiber during the material's manufacturing process - for the price of a whole new Ferrari. Bugatti charges a similar amount to have no paint at all, just highly painted bare carbon fiber.

At the top of the market, the only limits are imagination and money. There are cars with real silver, gold and even diamonds mixed into the paint.

Current new vehicle offers

Does my car's finish affect its resale value?

Yes, to some extent. Specify a neon pink car in a special order and you can narrow the dealership buyer base. It's also fair to say that metallic cars tend to be more sought after than those with a solid paint finish. However, it could be that paint options for a new car are all pretty "safe" choices, in part because depreciation is such a big factor in a car's monthly return that automakers may not see the point in surface finishes. that a) are rarely chosen and b) can have a negative impact on a car's resale value and thus increase financing costs.

Frequently asked questions about types of automotive painting

how much does it cost to paint a car

The cost of factory painting a car varies from color to color, while a repaint can cost thousands of dollars, as components need to be removed or fully masked and a car often needs repairs or touchups before it's ready to be repainted. 🇧🇷 However, individual body panels can usually be repainted by the hundreds rather than the thousands.

How do I find my car's paint code?

Each car has a unique code that specifies exactly what color and type of paint it is done in; This color code is important information when you touch up, repair or repaint the paintwork. The color code is usually found on a sticker somewhere in the car, usually on the spare tire, under the trunk mat, on the driver's door jamb, or under the hood. Do an online search to find out where your car sticker is if you can't find it, as you're probably not the first person to want to know this information.

How to repaint my car?

It depends on how much restoration is needed. If you have some stone chips in an inconspicuous spot, consider applying a touch-up stick yourself. If you want to give the color a more general shine, it's best to give it a good wash and then apply a clay bar (read how to use it) before using a good quality wax. If your car needs a more serious paint job, we recommend hiring a reputable professional body restorer.

Swap cars with Carwow

looking for an easy waychange car🇧🇷 Then Carwow is for you. You maySell ​​your old carat a great price and get the best deals in oneone new🇧🇷 All through our network of trusted dealers and all from the comfort of your own home. Tap the button below to get started today.

Change your car easily

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Lilliana Bartoletti

Last Updated: 02/26/2023

Views: 6251

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (73 voted)

Reviews: 80% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Lilliana Bartoletti

Birthday: 1999-11-18

Address: 58866 Tricia Spurs, North Melvinberg, HI 91346-3774

Phone: +50616620367928

Job: Real-Estate Liaison

Hobby: Graffiti, Astronomy, Handball, Magic, Origami, Fashion, Foreign language learning

Introduction: My name is Lilliana Bartoletti, I am a adventurous, pleasant, shiny, beautiful, handsome, zealous, tasty person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.