The Different Kinds of Auto Body Paint

Painting Your Car

all about automotive paintsAuto body paints comes in different types, and when you go to an auto body repair shop, you will be asked not only which color you would like (assuming that you’re going to have the whole car repainted) but also which type you prefer they use. Although not every shop will ask you this (in which case you’ll have to settle for what is available in their shop), it is still a good idea to familiarize yourself with the different types of auto body paint so you know what goes into (or in the outside) of your car.

Acrylic Lacquer

Acrylic lacquer, or lacquer, is the oldest form of auto body paint having been in use since the early 1900’s. Lacquer is also the cheapest type making it very popular in places where it is not illegal. It also has a high gloss finish which further makes it an appealing choice for many. However, because it is cheap, the durability of the paint is not very good since it chips easily. In addition, lacquer does not fare well against ultra-violet rays and exposure to some chemicals which can significantly damage the car’s paint job.

Acrylic Enamel

Enamel is much better than lacquer as far as durability is concerned because when enamels dry they give a hard finish. Because of this, they are one of the most recommended for use and are actually used by many professional car painters. After being sprayed on the vehicle, enamels require a clear coat over it after they dry. Because of the high quality, the durability, and the effort required in such paint jobs, they can be very expensive, and is only patronized by those who can afford it.


Polyurethane enamel paint, or simply referred to as urethane, are one of the newest forms and most expensive type of paint used in auto body painting. Like enamels, urethane also has a great finish and is durable but is easier to apply. However, this paint needs three components before they can be used namely the paint itself, the reducer or thinner, and catalyst which is used to speed up the drying process. After all these have been mixed together, they should be used immediately, and any leftover paint are discarded.

Water-Based Paint

Another new type of auto body paint is water-based paint. The main advantage of this type of auto body paint is that they are pretty easy to apply, and can even be applied over an existing paint job. They also have a great smooth finish. However, color choices for this type of auto body paint are pretty limited and a layer of clear urethane must be applied over it for protection.


  1. I am thinking about getting my car repainted, but I had no idea there were so many types of paints. I like your point about how wet-based paint can be applied over an existing paint job. I’ll have to look around town and see what shops can do this for me.

  2. Thanks for helping me understand that it is better to be aware of the type of paint that you will be using aside from the color that you want. I will share this information with my best friend to ensure that he will be getting the most out of his money. He just needs to get his car painted because it was scratched that caused a lot of damage.

  3. I wanted to thank you for helping me learn about different kinds of auto body paint. It’s nice to know that acrylic enamel is actually incredibly durable and used by a lot of painters. I’m interested to learn if this also means that this paint is ideal for cars that drive on dirt roads a lot.

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