Automotive Paint Finish
The color I am using is a pearl white used on the 2012-2017 Porsche 911 called Carrara White Metallic. Metallic is a bit of a misnomer as it is a true pearl with LOTS and LOTS of different pearl flakes added. As you can see from the photo the paint is ATX brand automotive paint from Sherwin Williams.
One thing to remember about automotive paint is that it is extremely toxic so safety measures must be followed including a high quality breathing mask and proper clothing to cover your skin. I’m using a SATA brand mask with replaceable filter cartridges and it works quite well at providing clean air to breathe.
Here you can see my base of operations. The plastic bucket is my catch station where used paint filters and stir sticks will be placed. It also doubles as a place to put my spray gun between coats. The spray gun is a gravity feed HVLP sprayer from Sharpe called the Finex FX3000. While you can get spray guns at Harbor Freight I wanted one that would last and allow me to rebuild and get accessory parts for. The FX3000 fit the bill and came with a 1.3mm spray tip. I’m using the smaller paint cup just to make things easy.
Automotive finishes also require mixing your own paint. Most solid or metal flake finish colors can be sprayed using a color and catalyst combo which is then thinned with reducer. Spraying a pearl is a little more complex and requires what they call a tri-stage paint finish.
Mixing paint is beyond the scope of this project but a three part paint finish is actually four layers of paint. The first is a primer/sealer that helps prep the surface. Since I am NOT doing any prep work to the panels (sanding, blasting, stripping etc) I’ll need to seal the existing pain finish off.
The first real coat is a solid basecoat which is usually white or tinted color to match the finished color. A midcoat which usually contains the primary paint color and any particles it may have. Given that I’ll be spraying a pearl white the basecoat is a bright white while the midcoat is 100% pearls suspended in a clear basecoat. That way the white can show while laying down sparkles on top. The final coat is a clear that bonds everything together and protects it from the environment.
As you can imagine spraying tri stage paint is also quite stressful giving you 3x the opportunity to introduce errors into your project and an error at any stage typically requires starting over.