A lot of people are talking about how you can paint your car or large sections of your vehicle with Spray Paint vs commercial grade paint that requires mixing and a professional gun and compressor so we thought we would look at what they are talking about and whether it actually works.
The first thing to realize is that although they are painting with spray paint cans they are actually painting with professionally mixed paint. Each can of color base coat is mixed and placed in a spray paint can at the auto body supply store. Unfortunately base coat is not the same as what you would mix yourself because it is not an activated or hardened paint. It is much better than synthetic enamel found in touch up paint cans you can get at your local auto parts store off a shelf and it is a much better match because it is mixed to match your exact vehicle.
The major drawback of Base Coat in a Spray can is as was said it is not activated but also it is not applied in the same way as a spray gun. The paint is not atomized and you can not tell if the metallics are sitting at the bottom of the can or suspended throughout the mixture before you start painting. Mixing by shaking can’t be performed in a paint shaker its all by hand.
Clear Coat in a Spray Can is it any Good?
The clear coat that you pick up at an automotive paint store in a spray can is really not the worst option. The reason is the can is a special can that has a small capsule on the bottom that you break to release the hardener. Unlike your base coat in a spray can once you crack that hardener / activator you only have a short period of time before the paint in the can hardens and you can not use it. Don’t expect to come back the next day and do some repairs if you have bugs in your paint.
Professional Grade Automotive Paint and its Advantage over Spray Cans
First you can expect that professional grade paint that is applied conventionally with a air compressor and professional paint gun is going to be the best bet for your repairs. The cost doesn’t have to be a lot even if you are doing a home repair vs a booth paint job because you can get a good quality spray gun for under $40 now and often much less. The compressor should be 5hp or better but you can often do smaller jobs with your average compressor that can run air tools if you take your time. Renting a compressor is also an option and I have done this a few times when I first started painting cars.
The main reason that your paint job will be better is the atomization of the paint and the amount of paint that you can apply in a single pass. It is also very even and controlled based on your ability to control the gun. This means that you can come very close to a factory finish by adjusting your gun and the reducer used in the paint. Metallics will lay down more even across your whole car and you won’t have dry spots.
When painting you will also have the option of single stage, base coat / clear coat or the new paint technologies that require a base coat and then either a perl on top or a tinted clear coat. Without the right application method you will never get your paint to match your original color.
What Results Can You Expect With Spray Can Paint
If you restrict your use of spray can automotive paint to professionally prepared and also clear with a hardener then you can expect pretty good results. I would not suggest that you try to paint a light gold or brown color or a rich cherry red color with lots of metallics but base colors will come out pretty good and if you are only doing a touch up to a bumper, door handle or molding then you should be fine with a better than it looks damaged repair. On the other hand if you are trying to paint a whole fender or door then the result probably won’t be very good. The reason for this is that there is too much paint to apply evenly to make such a large repair.
If you are making small repairs to parts that will end up seeing wear anyway then using a professional spray can full of professionally prepared paint is not the worst idea just so you can improve the look of your vehicle.
On the other hand if you are painting an area that is highly visible such as the drivers door then you really need to use professional equipment and paint and it needs to be applied with some care.
There actually is a reason that paint jobs cost so much today and that is the talent required to make repairs.
If you don’t have the experience then you are often better off painting the whole vehicle vs trying to make a large repair and blending and tinting paint. Just do an overall paint job if you need to paint a fender, hood and door and then you don’t have to worry about paint matching but on the other hand you do have more work to do.