Paint is essentially a mixture of binders, resins and pigments. It’s the pigments that give the paint its color and the rest to bind it all together. The usual paint on a production car is what is termed one Pac, which uses a basecoat and a clear coat together. The term Pac, or Pak, or PK, comes from the German words for paint components.
That’s why the most often used aftermarket paint is called two Pac – it is a base color plus a clear coat that goes on top.
House of Kolor
Then there are the really serious paints, such as the House of Kolor, which has hundreds of different finishes that can be layered in any order or way to achieve a unique appearance.
Here’s an example of how serious it gets – paint experts measure paint thickness in microns. On a standard everyday car this can be between 90 to 110 microns. Some House of Kolor multilayer paint jobs are in the 500 to 600 micron range. This costs a lot of money, because all the materials and products are the best available. They have to be, as the more basic paints cannot handle being layered too much before delaminating and cracking in the sunlight.
Some standard paint finishes fade out in a few years, either because the clear coat wasn’t suited to a countries weather conditions, or too much cutting polish has removed too much or all of the clear coat.
Spray Painting a Car
Paint is applied to a car’s panels through a spray gun, and these have to be set up exactly right for the best effect. Everything from air pressure to the spray heads used is important, especially if it is metal flaked paint, which requires a much larger spray head to actually let the flakes through.
But even after paint has been applied, the paint is still not finished. It’s cured and attached to the car properly, but it’s not actually dry. It takes between 30 and 60 days for the solvents in the paint to evaporate through the paint and dry properly. That’s why wax must not be applied to fresh paint for 60 days, or else the car could end up with soft paint, even years after it has been applied.
To maintain a paintjob the least aggressive method should be used first to repair scratches and swirls in the paint, and only if that doesn’t work to move up a step.
The best way to keep paint in good condition is to frequently use a detailing solution and a microfibre cloth to remove dust that accumulates on the car.
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