How to Choose the Best Auto Paint For Your Car, Truck, or Motorcycle

freshly painted car

When it comes to painting your car, it’s a job that’s best done by the professionals. But, that doesn’t mean you don’t have any work to do! 

Before you can take your car in for a fresh paint job, you have to seriously consider what the best auto paint is for your vehicle. Think about the various kinds of auto paint, the many bases or forms that auto paint comes in, and the manufacturers of auto paint, too.

Here’s a closer look at everything you should consider when deciding on auto paint.

1. Know Your Type

There are three main types of auto paint available to choose from when painting your vehicle: urethane, acrylic, and lacquer. 

Urethane auto paint is known for its durability and shine. It’s a low-maintenance kind of paint that is likely to last you for many years. Plus, urethane paint dries the quickest of all auto paint types, so you can enjoy a quick turnaround (and low labor costs) for results you’ll be enjoying long after you leave the auto shop.

Acrylic auto pain takes about twice as long as urethane paint to apply and dry – prolonging work on a vehicle as multiple coats are applied. However, what this option lacks in speed, it makes up for in quality and safety. 

Many drivers think acrylic is well worth the extra wait to invest in something that has just as good of a visual appeal, but not as many safety concerns. Acrylic paint doesn’t use as many toxic chemicals in the painting process the way that urethane and lacquer do. It’s just as durable as urethane and has a nice look to it.

Speaking of toxic materials, be cautious about using lacquer auto paint. It has the most safety concerns of all paint types – so much that it’s banned in certain parts of the United States. It’s also hard to come by in other areas that aren’t as heavily regulated. 

2. Learn the Lingo

There’s much more to choosing the best auto paint than understanding the main kinds of paint out there. You also have to consider whether you’d like a single-stage or two-stage paint, and the base of the paint as well. 

Single-stage vs. Two-stage Paint

Single-stage paint is basically the quick, one-step solution to painting your car. It combines what would traditionally be a separate base coat and top coat into one kind of paint. This speeds up the process of painting your car by a significant amount, and it looks just as good as most two-step paint jobs. 

If you don’t mind the extra time, two-stage paint is also a good option. By keeping the base coat and top coat separate, you can ensure that the results last a bit longer than what a single-stage paint job may endure.

Keep in mind that two-stage paints require a few layers of clear coat to go on top of the color. This adds to the amount of time and money your car’s makeover will need, but it’s worth the investment.

Solvent-based vs. Water-based 

Another thing to think about is the base of the auto paints you’re interested in.

Solvent-based paints are made with chemicals meant to strongly adhere the paint to the car’s service. Unfortunately, these toxins are also strong in smell, which can be a serious downside. Solvent-based auto paints also don’t dry as quickly as water-based ones do. 

Not to mention, water-based auto paints are typically much safer. They don’t come with as many toxins in them and they actually spread and adhere to vehicles very well. This means you can do more with less and get a great final product

3. Research the Top Auto Paint Brands  

The final step in the auto paint selection process is to research the various manufacturers of auto paint. This may not seem like a big deal, but it’s well worth looking into – especially if you have a high-end car that requires specific tools and resources, or if you want the absolute best look even if you’re on a budget.  

The more you know about the different auto paint brands – their pros, cons, and what each brand specializes in – the more you can make a truly informed decision.

After all, you wouldn’t want to spend so much time researching auto paint only to buy a sub-par brand for your high-end car. Or, you may not need to splurge on a luxury brand if you’re just looking to give your old car a bit of love.

There’s also the chance that you end up looking into auto paints that are made specifically for motorcycles or trucks. If you do happen to have a bike sitting around, this complete guide can help you figure out all the ins and outs of motorcycle paint jobs. For a truck, you may want to consider an auto paint’s durability if you like to go off-roading or are typically doing tough jobs with it.

Whatever your goal is, it’s best to learn everything you can about the brands available to you before making your buying decision.

Tips for Finding the Best Auto Paint Color

Just when you think you’ve found the absolute best auto paint for your car, take a moment to think about the look and feel you’re going for! Whether you’re just refreshing the color that your car was originally made in or if you’re trying to transform it with a new look, seriously consider the style you want your car to have. 

Take a step back and try to imagine your car with a classic black or a fun red paint job before you start laying coats of paint on it. You may be surprised to find yourself leaning toward a new color than what you originally set out thinking your car would have.