What Kind of Auto Body Paint is the Best?

Painting a car

Choosing to paint your own motor vehicle will raise the issue of selecting an appropriate auto body paint for the job. There are many different products available on the market, but many of these are now considered inferior compared to the latest formulations of color and clearcoats. Before painting your vehicle, it will be highly beneficial to make yourself aware of the options available. Most vehicles produced today are painted using a two tier system that sees the panels of the car painted with the relevant color before being covered in a clearcoat. While the color is usually laid to determine the visual appearance of a vehicle, the clearcoat is applied to add shine and a protective layer to the color itself.

Water-Based Paint

Water-based paint is the most commonly used material for the application of vehicle colors and this can come in a variety of styles. Water-based paint can include solid colors, metallic colors, two-stage pearls and metal-flakes.

Water-based paints have revolutionized the motor trade in recent years and are preferred by professionals because of their low VOC content. Although protective equipment should still be worn when using water-based paints, they are much safer than their predecessors and are relatively easy to work with.


Clearcoats should always be applied to water-based paints once they have cured. Clearcoats provide a flat, durable surface that serves as a protective layer for the vehicle color and also promotes an attractive visual appeal by making the flat tones of the color appear shiny once applied.

Clearcoats are still very much polyisocyanate-based and are particularly dangerous to use when inhaled. Try to seek out a low VOC option when purchasing clearcoats and always opt to buy a high-solid variety to provide optimum coverage. Protective respiratory equipment is essential when applying clearcoats.

Two-Pack Paints

Two-pack materials are becoming increasingly difficult to purchase for retail customers and should really be avoided wherever possible. However, two-pack materials remain one of the best options for painting a solid, non-metallic color as it can be applied directly to vehicle panels without the need for a clearcoat. Two-pack paints can usually be applied with just two coats and is formulated to produce its own shine without the use of a protective coating.


Synthetic auto body paint is remarkably rare these days and is usually only used in the paint refinishing aftermarket on large surfaces such as trucks, trailers or agricultural vehicles. Synthetic paint must be heated prior to use to allow it to flow through a spray gun although it can be applied with a brush to vehicles that don’t require a professional finish.


Primers play a vital role in the success an auto body repair job and should be given full consideration before a purchase is made. Repaired jobs with filler or large areas of treated rust should be primed with a suitable high-build two-pack primer. Small areas can be covered using a cellulose-based primer directly from an aerosol tin.

Plastic Primers

Always apply a coat of plastic primer prior to painting any plastic parts. Plastic primers are usually a one-pack material that can be used straight from the tin and are ideal for promoting adhesion and removing static prior to the painting process itself.