Paint Tips

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What types of automotive paint applications are there? And what should I know?

With over 400k automotive paint colors available today, choosing the correct touch-up paint for your car’s exterior isn’t exactly as simple as picking out the closest color. Before you try to fix up any dents, scratches or rock chips, make sure to think about these key considerations so you know you’re using a quality paint product. The size of your project, paint application process and level of difficulty. All application types can be reached by the DIY’er. Here are some paint tips and information to try and help you decide which application is right for you.

Touch-Up Bottles

Touch up Bottles are the most common type of automotive touch-up paint applications out there. They are easy to use and typically mess free. Unlike touch-up pens which can scratch your vehicle, and dry out, touch up bottles usually come with a soft brush and supply a variety of techniques and tools that can be used to apply touch up paint effectively. Touch up paint bottles also have a longer shelf life and can last up to 2-3 years. Most car manufacturers make automotive paints in the exact colors of their vehicles, giving you a perfect match easily. The downside here is that the manufacturer prices are typically 3x the price and only provide a paint pen

Aerosol Paint Cans (a.k.a. Rattle Cans)

Aerosol cans are one of the most popular ways to repair a vehicle for small spot repairs. This handy and convenient ways to apply paint is extremely popular amongst the DIY audience. Some Aerosols can apply spotty so be sure that your aerosol can has a pro/adjustable nozzle. If you choose to use an aerosol, keep in mind that the spraying distance, temperature and conditions matters the most.

Overall, these work well when you use a professional grade type can with quality paint and the right spray nozzle. Most cans cover 2-3 sq ft. You can also buy an added spray handle grip for easier paint-gun-like spraying techniques. Be cautious of the type of paints used in these cans. You get what you pay for! Ask your paint supplier for Single Stage Aerosols as they do not need a Clear Coat but can cost more.

Professional Sizes

Professional size paints typically start at a Pint, Quart and Gallon Sizes. When calculating your project size, be sure to calculate for 2-3 coats of coverage. Professional size applications give you the most paint for your money and supply a high-quality OEM finish. The downside here is the equipment that go along with the application process can cost more than the actual paint itself, but still less than body shop price repairs. Professional sizes are typically applied with a HPLV Spray Gun needing a compressor, a controlled environment (such as a spray booth) as well as safety equipment.

What should I look for when shopping for my car’s paint

Color Match

When looking for the perfect car touch-up paint for your vehicle, it’s important to make sure the final outcome will match well with the factory paint. Several different companies make universal color matches for black, white, and silver cars that work well, but your best bet is to buy from a paint company that uses OEM formulas to find the perfect color match. Using companies that mix there product digitally to ensure the latest formula updates and accuracy in for color matching is highly recommended. When your paint is mixed digitally you can also guarantee you will receive an exact match to what was bought if you need to more in the future.

Type of Paint

As always, the applicator and the application matters. When selecting your paint, ensure you are using a professional automotive urethane paint for the best result for your project. Waterborne and water base type paints can appear to be a bit less expensive and effective however these paints typically take 3-4 more coats to cover your area for repair thus using more paint.

Application Process

Touch-up paints that come in kits with multiple steps is a good sign for a quality product and will leave you with the best results. Usually, these kits have a primer, a paint, and a clear coat along with dabbers (Touch up kits) to seal the deal. The finished product will look seamless than a one-step paint pen or single stage (1 step process) paint results could deliver.

Automotive Touch-Up Paint Pricing

Touch up paints typically start for around $20. For less than $50 you’ll find a few of easy-to-use repair options. The quality does vary, though, so watch out for over-promising color matches and under-performing paints. You can spend $20 to $30, and you’ll see a wide variety of options including kits, aerosols, touch up bottles and pens available.

Many of them do a decent job, but the more quality ones will have a multi-step process that including professional grade paint as well as a clear coat to seal in your work. And for $50 or more, you’ll shop the best paint kits out there, complete with masking tape and more. The quality of the paint and applicators for better priced kits tends to be better overall.

For more information about your project or automotive painting questions, please feel free to reach us at

Paint Tips

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Stephen Vitrano