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The differences between solid, metallic and pearlescent car paints

Car paintwork comes in many different finishes and we all have our favourite type - is it the simple solid, the sparkly metallic, or the mesmerising pearlescent? Whether you’re here for a fun, informative read, or if you want to know if you can use touch up paint to fix minor damage yourself, here’s our quick guide.

1. What is solid car paint?

Solid colour car paint is the most common and classic type available. It gives a consistent uniform colour across the vehicle at the manufacturing stage.

This is enhanced by a clear gloss lacquer, which gives additional protection to the paintwork, especially from minor scratches and damage from bird lime. However, typically, solid colours don’t absolutely NEED lacquer whereas metallics and pearlescents definitely DO).

Scratches in solid paint are easy to fix with a car paint touch-up pen or bottle. Larger areas of damage requiring a respray can be done with a car paint aerosol and it’s easy to get good results, especially when application of the colour coat (or coats) is followed by a coat of lacquer.

2. What is metallic car paint?

Metallic car paint has tiny aluminium particles that reflect more light than a simple solid colour. While the top layer of lacquer adds shine, metallic paint adds a shimmer or sparkle to the overall effect.

As well as being aesthetically pleasing, one benefit of metallic paints is that they are more forgiving when it comes to minor imperfections in the bodywork, like small dents and scuffs. They also disguise how dirty a car is - though we recommend regular washing.

Metallic touch-up paints are easy to use, easy to get good results with, and are available in a precision pen, bottle and aerosol.

3. What is pearlescent car paint?

Mica car paint creates a sophisticated colour effect that appears pearlescent. This effect is created by the addition of mica, made of silicate minerals, to the paint as it’s manufactured.

While the aluminium particles in metallic car paint that reflects light, pearlescent paint refracts light. The mica particles refract white light, splitting it into all the colours of the rainbow like a small glass prism would.

This refraction creates a different effect from all angles of the car, bringing the paintwork to life though the overall colour remains clear. Like metallic paint, pearlescent can disguise minor imperfections in your paintwork or bodywork. They can also mask how dirty your car is, though a layer of dirt will mute the stunning, colour-shifting effects.

If you do have damage to your paintwork, it’s as easy to fix as solid paint or metallics, using a touch-up pen, bottle or aerosol.

4. What is matte car paint?

This is a less common paint finish, often only seen on high value marques. Matte paint is harder to apply, even at the manufacturing stage.

Unfortunately, badly applied paint will show every imperfection on your bodywork and paintwork. We don’t currently stock touch-up car paint or lacquer in a matte finish as it’s more likely you’ll be after a professional application at a bodyshop.

Ready to order?

You can find your paint code using your reg, or make a note of it yourself - see how to do this.

Once you have your paint code, our website takes you to the products - precision pen, bottle or aerosol - so you can make your selection.

When you’ve added everything to your basket that you need - like primer and lacquer - click through to checkout. Here, you also have a choice of options for a delivery that suits you.

As always, don’t hesitate to email our team with any questions.

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