Paints (Enamels vs Clear Coat Base Coat)

©By: Tom O'Malley

Formatted for SOL's Morgan web page by John T. Blair

Last update: March 18, 2002

(ED. On one of the other lists I'm on had a discussion of Enamels vs Clear Coat Base Coat paints. I though I'd add this to the information I've provided on painting. I'm getting ready to paint my Bricklin and will be trying a lot of the newer paints such as: Evercoat's PolyEster Primer (feather fill), one of PPGs 2 part (activated - also called 2K) primers, and PPG's Acrylic Urethanes for the top coat. I'll try to report back later on these items. But don't hold your breath. :))

Some one wrote: "I wonder is enamel better than clear coat base coat?"

To which Tom O'Malley replied:

Acrylic enamel was probably original on most older cars (circa 50s-70s). Most repainters today will prefer not to use it because it can't be buffed as soon as more modern paints. It has the advantage of being inexpensive. Fairly durable. Not a good choice for metallics.

Single stage urethane will look pretty close to enamel but can be cut and buffed in just days. Very durable. Not a good choice for metallics. An excellent choice for a solid color though. Like solid color enamel, the solid pigment protects the paint better than the clears do. And you get that satisfying "colored towel" when you polish your car....just like God intended.

Base/clear will give you that "wet" look. Repainters like it because they only need to shoot the color once and then can re-work the clear if any mistakes should happen. Very durable and provides a much deeper gloss than the other choices. Most new cars today are done in base/clear and they hold up quite well. The failure mode for clear can get ugly though.

Lacquer is an excellent choice for a DIY paint job. No paint booth is required nor is supplied breathing equipment. Properly buffed the finish is gorgeous. But it's not particularly durable and most repainters are not permitted to use it because of VOC laws. Had I known it would remain available to the amateur for this long I probably would have used it myself.


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