Cars undeniably shine brightly when it comes to easy transport without trading comfort and accessibility for lesser expenses, making life easier on a day-to-day basis.
Unfortunately, a car is not a one-time purchase since a recurring expenditure goes towards keeping it up and running. Most modern cities are filled to the brim with dust and smoke. If you add to them the random bumps, collisions, and weather phenomena that are unavoidable on the road, they are bound to do a number on your car’s external appearance.
Now, before you jump into in-depth repairs and tuning, maybe fresh paint is all you need to make it look brand new or to give it a more personalized makeover. Choosing paint can be tricky due to a slew of available options. Like any other field, companies bombard you with advertisements about why their product is the best choice.
But rest assured, we got you covered! This list not only includes the best automotive paints to beautify your car with but also expert opinions on various types of paints and how to tell them apart based on color, safety, longevity, and price.
- Dupli-Color EBFM03587 Exact-Match Automotive Paint
- Spray Max 2K High Gloss Finish Clear Coat Spray Paint
- Dupli-Color Epae11000 Premium Acrylic Enamel Spray Paint
- USC Spray Max 2k High Gloss Clear Coat Aerosol
- RUST BULLET – Automotive Rust Inhibitor Paint
- Spraymax 2K Clear Coat Aerosol Spray Can
- Rust-Oleum 272741-6PK Automotive Spray Paint
- Krylon Automotive Acrylic Enamel
Recommended Read: Best Clear Coat for Cars
Types of Automotive Paints
Modern-day automotive paints can be condensed into three types:
Lacquer-based paints – Lacquer-based paints such as Acrylic Lacquer are thin layered and smooth. They were used on older luxury cars such as Rolls Royce to give them their trademark glossy finish. But these paints offer very little UV protection and, due to environmental concerns, have been entirely replaced by better performing paints.
Enamel Paints – Synthetic enamels are seldom used for the lack of color choices and short lifespan. They have been superseded by water-based acrylic enamels, which are more durable, cheaper, and easier to apply. However, they suffer from their downsides like longer time to dry, discoloration over time, and so forth, which brings us to the third alternative.
Urethane Paints – They are the most durable in the bunch and offer the best longevity and protection against UV rays and elements. However, they are highly toxic and require professional care during their application, as it is pretty easy to mess it up and unsafe in novice hands.
Things to Consider when buying Automotive Paints
- Drying time – Whether they dry quickly or not plays a vital role in choosing the right paint for your car. Many prefer quick-drying paints because, in that case, the paint will have less time to catch dust.
- Resistance to corrosion and scratches – Now, this boils down to how often you use your car and how much stress the vehicle goes through on an average basis. Off-road cars require highly durable paints. But for a streetcar with minimal use, you can get away with acrylic paint.
- Longevity – Urethane paints last long, so it’s recommended to apply a layer of clear-coat urethane over your acrylic paint for the best lifespan.
- Toxicity and environmental concerns – Water-based paints are Eco-friendly when compared to solvent-based ones. Similarly, urethane paints are highly toxic as they release harmful particles into the air. Experts should only apply them with proper safety measures.
Detailed Automotive Painting Process
The entire painting process can be divided into three stages:
- A Primer to level the car surface and provide resistance against corrosion, heat, and UV rays from the sun. It acts as the first layer/coating of paint.
- A Base Coat to give the car its visual properties like color and shine. It usually comes in solid, metallic, or sparkly pearlescent paints.
- A Clear Coat to give the car its glossy feel. Since they are the outermost layer, they should be durable and resistant to UV light and scratches. They are usually water-based or solvent-based.
Top 8 Best Automotive Paints Reviewed
Dupli-Color EBFM03587 Exact-Match Automotive Paint
It is a versatile, easy-to-use, quick drying acrylic paint formulated especially for OEM paint surfaces.
- This paint perfectly matches the factory colors
- 360-degree nozzle with wide spray pattern for smooth painting
Spray Max 2K High Gloss Finish Clear Coat Spray Paint
This clear coat urethane paint is easy to use and self-activated.
- 2 component aerosol spray that flows smoothly
- It is long-lasting with an excellent gloss finish
- Has fantastic weather and UV resistance
Dupli-Color Epae11000 Premium Acrylic Enamel Spray Paint
This is a no-sanding 2-in-one paint and primer with incredible rust resistance, ideal for all plastic, metallic surfaces, glass, concrete, and wood.
- No preparation or sanding is needed
- Dry-to-handle in 2 hours
- Suitable for both automobiles and home projects
USC Spray Max 2k High Gloss Clear Coat Aerosol
This is another easy-to-use 2k paint that dries to a high gloss finish, with a unique nozzle that gives spray gun-like results.
- Excellent weather and chemical resistance
- Long-lasting, durable finish
- Easy to apply and flows smoothly
- Prevents dust and scratches
RUST BULLET – Automotive Rust Inhibitor Paint
This rust-resistant paint is patented, having won two United States patents. It comes in metallic gray color and is suitable for painting small parts and frames.
- Highly resistant to rust
- It can be applied with a brush, oiler, or spray
- No Topcoat is needed since it’s UV resistant
Spraymax 2K Clear Coat Aerosol Spray Can
This clear coat paint comes with an included spray gun for easier application.
- Although it’s built for professionals, it’s easy to use by anyone
- 2k clear coat that leaves a hard gloss finish
- Offers maximum resistance to scratches and lasts long
Rust-Oleum 272741-6PK Automotive Spray Paint
This paint is especially useful in revitalizing rusted truck beds, but you can simultaneously use it on car bodies to increase their longevity.
- Premium quality finish
- Suitable for the long haul since it has excellent longevity
Krylon Automotive Acrylic Enamel
This paint is highly resistant to chipping, fading, and stains.
- While not ideal for full body paint, it’s great for touch-ups
- You can even use it on fiberglass
Comparison between acrylic and urethane paints
Now we come to the raging question: which one to go for?
Both Acrylic Enamel and Urethane paints give you plenty of reason to choose one over the other. Acrylics are known for their versatility, quicker times to dry, and the fact that they are not as toxic as urethane paints give them a slight edge over others.
Because of these attributes, acrylics are also convenient for people who are relatively inexperienced in the world of painting automobiles. But acrylic paints always last 5-10 years shorter than the urethane paints and are easily affected by scratches, dust, and the weather.
Fortunately, technology has brought us the best of both worlds. A mixture of both, often called Acrylic Polyurethane Enamel or 2K or 2-pack paint in colloquial terms, undermines the need to use either of the above individually.
Essentially, all you’ve got to do is apply a base coat of acrylic, followed by a clear coat of urethane to provide extra durability and longevity.
Benefits of using Automotive Paints
Paints basically keep your vehicle looking new for longer amounts of time, along with offering protection from the sun or the elements, like some sort of sunscreen.
Furthermore, you can avoid some surface-level damage with the usage of paints.
And if all these reasons are not convincing enough, paints can offer better resale value to your car if you ever decide to move on to a better model.
Challenges faced by the automotive paint industry
The automotive painting industry has gone through several breakdowns and rebuilding since many of the older methods have been found to be unhandy, harmful for the environment, or simply not feasible with increasing time and lesser available time due to the restlessness of today’s world.
Solvent-based lacquer paints were discontinued due to environmental concerns and health risks. Some water-based enamel paints are widely used because they are more Eco-friendly and release lesser amounts of particles that are harmful to the lungs or have negative environmental impacts.
True enamels have gone obsolete due to their toxicity and tendency to go yellow with age, and they were originally not meant to be automotive paints.
While we could provide a comprehensive list of the best automotive paints based on objective research and analysis, the final choice often boils down to personal preference and an individual’s unique way of using their vehicles.
For example, car owners may live in different regions under varied weather conditions, and their cars go through different amounts of daily usage. The state of roads, dust, smoke in the air, and handling and maintenance of the vehicle play their parts too.
All in all, we have found that choosing the right paint is not everything since its effectiveness depends on the painter’s skill, proper maintenance, and the use of good quality paint from reputed manufacturers. So if you want your car to look good, you might have to invest some time and money in it.