Tips for Metallic Paint Jobs - BodyShop Business

Tips for Metallic Paint Jobs

There will always be metallic colors that are virtually impossible to blend out nicely, and "tracking" will always be a concern. But there are steps painters can take to make these colors as painless as possible.

Honda silver, you’ve got to have your head screwed on with your full focus on the job at hand.

Concentrating on good gun technique will greatly reduce your stress with tricky colors. Really try to pay attention to your paint gun’s overlap. Make sure your gun’s distance from the surface remains consistent. Be prepared to use some type of dropcoat to ensure no mottling sullies your hard work.

Apply the base in a nice, medium wet coat with plenty of flash time. I should note that wet means wet and is generally controlled using suitable reducers for the job at hand. Wet does not mean heavy. It does not mean pound on the color like you’re trying to bury something.


Achieving a beautiful, undetectable blend using a bear of a color is what separates the top-gun painters from those still learning and those who just don’t care. Making a flawless transition from new paint into old is truly a thing of beauty when you know that many others have failed.

If you feel you need to blend into an adjacent panel, don’t be ashamed to do it. Too many painters don’t do this, and a lot of times you’ll see their bad results driving next to you on the street. The name of the game is not to see how little room you need to do your blend but to make the car look right the first time.

I always use a colorless basecoat on my blend panels as a “wet bed” to help me see what’s going on a little better, which virtually eliminates any worry about metallic tracking.

Top-notch coordination between your eyes and your spray-pass is important as well. The more you can focus on what you’re doing, the better. Imagining yourself as a robot may sound corny, but it’s a good tactic.

On top surfaces, don’t try to be a hero doing a spot repair in the middle of the hood. Use bodylines to help lose your blend. In drastic situations, fully painting the hood and blending the fenders for a small repair is the only way to go.

No Angel Here

We’ve all experienced the nastiness of a halo when we’re trying our best to do a nice job. It’s even worse when you don’t notice it until after you clearcoat.

A halo can be caused by many different things. Generally, if you have the mindset that slower is faster, halos will not be something you need to worry about. If you slow down the speed of your sealer and use a tack rag, it’s unlikely you’ll experience a halo from your basecoat laying on top of a sealer’s dry overspray. The same goes for slowing down your basecoat reducers. It’s a big deal to keep your base nice and wet on your blends so you’re not putting subsequent coats on top of the previous coat’s dry edge. You should be religious about tacking your blend panels off between coats.

These basic steps won’t necessarily make blending brutal colors easy, but combine them with enhanced focus on the job and you could become
a master.

Do You Care?

I’ve spoken to a lot of painters about painting and blending tricky metallic colors. Some have felt my pain, yet others have told me they don’t ever have problems with these colors.

It’s really about care, I suppose. The painters who say they’ve never really had any issues with certain colors more than likely just don’t care. With all the bad paint jobs I’ve seen driving around, I’m tempted to think most customers don’t really care either.

But a whole lot of painters do care. They don’t want to clearcoat their jobs and have nasty halos pop out at them. They don’t want to do paint jobs that look great head-on but absolutely horrible from an angle. So let’s all keep on learning from our mistakes so that each paint job goes more smoothly than the next.

Most importantly, the battle with rough colors is never really over, so any advice sent to me will be tried and analyzed in due course.

Writer Nathan Tarr has been working in and around the collision repair industry for the last 14 years and admits to being “thoroughly addicted to auto body work. It’s my hobby as well as my job.” Sikkens certified and PPG certified, he has been working as a painter for the past five years. He can be reached at [email protected].

my first job of the week was this chevy tahoe: color code 391e, big rear door repair and a couple of blends.the first thing i do after i prime the job is refer to my test panel library. i have the variants of 391e already sprayed out and i don’t much care for them.after a little hand adjustment of the color, it’s closer but not perfect. the job’s all prepped and bagged up in the booth. it’s not uncommon for the painter to be checking color match at this point of the job, which is way too late.i’ve just sprayed a colorless basecoat on the tahoe as a wet bed. this helps me see my blending better, and it’s also a little insurance against metallic tracking.the first coat of base is on and i’m feeling pretty good about this point, i’ve just applied a dropcoat to the side of the truck. i over-reduced my basecoat and cut back my air pressure so i could really concentrate on getting everything nice and you can tell by my masking tape, i didn’t apply base to a whole lot of the fender. but by extending my blend to an extra panel, i was able to make a beautiful transition from new paint to old.After a couple coats of clear, this Tahoe’s ready to roll.

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