What Kind of Paint to Use if You Spray Paint a Car

person holding a paint sprayer

When it becomes necessary to spray paint car bodywork, you will need to know what type of paint is the best to use. Having some knowledge about the materials will enable you to make sure that the car painting process is completed correctly.

1. Water-Based Paint

If you use a water-based paint to spray paint car bodywork, you can be assured that you are using the most environmentally friendly option. This does not mean that you should forgo protective wear when using it though, as fine droplets can still float in the air. This type of paint is widely used in the car industry and is also available for use to undertake the task at home. However, the process of mixing the paint can sometimes be difficult for those who are attempting car painting for the first time. This type of paint will require protection from a lacquer that can be applied atop the color.

2. Nitro-Cellulose Paint

To spray paint car bodywork of a classic car, nitro-cellulose paint is often used. It is the best option to choose for touch-ups, as well as complete repaints, to ensure that the car continues to look true to its original state. The chemicals that are used to create this type of paint are highly toxic, which makes it essential to use safety gear when using this paint. In addition to using it with a paint sprayer, it can also be applied with a paintbrush if necessary. Although it is a cheap and durable way to apply paint to a car, the process will not be complete after the application. The surface will then need to be polished in order to achieve a high-gloss finish.

3. Acrylic Enamel

can of red spray paint

Acrylic enamel is useful for spray paint car work since it can be used with a paint sprayer, but is also available in the form of an aerosol can for easy touch-ups. Enamel based paints dry to form a tough durable coating; when the work is undertaken at a garage, they are often treated with heat to prime the paint and improve the firmness of the paint. Depending on the color that you use, you may need to follow up the paint with the application of a clear sealant.

4. Acrylic Urethane

Urethane-based car paints are one of the most expensive ways to complete a spray paint task, but can create a surface coating that is as tough as enamel. However, it can be tricky for a first-time car painter to get to grips with, as the required mixing to get a spraying consistency is precise. It also requires the addition of a compound that will help it dry quickly. A top coat will be required for certain colors, which can be applied in the same way as the paint. This type of paint contains toxic chemicals, so effective protection is important while it is being used.