Base Coat/Clear Coat Vs. Acrylic Enamel

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Choosing a paint for your car is not just a matter of picking colors. To get the most durable finish, the type of paint used must be considered. Two-stage base coat/clear coat and single-stage acrylic enamel use different methods for applying color and a finish to a car's surface. Before choosing the right one for your vehicle, consider the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Acrylic Enamel Advantages

  • Acrylic enamel paints are the easiest to apply because they only require one coat for total coverage and a finish. These paints do not require a separate hardening ingredient. As acrylic enamel cures, it will first dry through evaporation of its liquid ingredients. The resin in the acrylic enamel must remain in contact with air to oxidize and harden. Curing completes when a film forms on top of the paint. Sanding this coat for debris removal can damage the finish and require repainting.

Acrylic Enamel Disadvantages

  • Though the application of acrylic enamel is straightforward, this paint has its own issues that make people choose another option. Due to these problems, acrylic enamel paints are difficult to find today as many manufacturers have stopped producing them, according to Dennis Parks in "The Complete Guide to Auto Body Repair." Acrylic enamel is not as durable as a two-stage paint for a car. Repeated washing can wear the enamel finish away. If you want to paint designs on top of your car or use a lacquer over the paint, you cannot use acrylic enamel. Applying a lacquer on top will cause the enamel to peel. Unless you are doing a restoration project to replace the original acrylic enamel paint, you might want to choose another type of paint.

Base Coat/Clear Coat Advantages

  • Base coat/clear coat finishes are the most commonly applied paint today, according to James Duffy in "Auto Body Repair Technology." This uses a two-stage technique of covering the car with a color coat for the base and finishing it with a clear coat. This painting option lets you customize the car with multiple colors. The clear coat finish on the car seals the base color for a longer-lasting finish, and it adds a shine to the car you cannot achieve with a single-coat painting method.

Base Coat/Clear Coat Disadvantages

  • Two-stage painting systems are not perfect. Because they require two layers, they take longer to apply and dry. Pay attention to the curing time for the base coat applied to the car to avoid marring the finish by using the clear coat too soon. Request product information sheets for the type of base coat and clear coat paints used to know the flash and dry times and the pressure you need to use for application.

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References

  • Auto Body Repair Technology; James E. Duffy, et al.
  • How to Paint Your Car; Dennis W. Parks, et al.
  • The Complete Guide to Auto Body Repair; Dennis W. Parks
  • Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images
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