Automotive Three Stage Paint

Today’s automotive paint is durable and resistant to stains and has a high gloss. Vehicles of today primarily utilize a two stage paint process know as base coat, clear coat. There are a number of three stage colors that have become popular. The best example is the pearl white that General Motors uses on the Cadillac. When viewed from different angles the paint color appears to change. This is due to the mid coat, which is applied after the base coat and before the clear coat. The mid coat contains pearlescent powders that cover a broad color spectrum. If you look closely, you can see the small flakes of purple, reds, blues and other colors that give the pearl look to the finish. This type of refinishing is also known as” Tri Coat” with some paint manufactures.

This three stage process drove painters crazy when attempting to match colors. Typically, when a fender replacement was needed, blending the color back into the door to achieve a proper color match was required. In preparation for the blending operation all items are removed from the door such as handles, glass, moldings and trim. The base coat or first stage was applied to the fender and partially into the door. The second stage is the application of the clear coat, which is applied in two coats over the fender and complete door.With the addition of another spraying process after the base or first stage, the blending into the door did not produce an acceptable color match. The industry had to come up with a solution to this problem. The answer required a procedure known as zone refinishing.

The same type of damage that previously required blending into the door now includes the preparation and refinishing of additional undamaged panels along the same side as the repairs. Depending on the color and location, it may be necessary to paint the entire side of a vehicle in order to achieve a proper color match. There are also custom colors that appear to change drastically when viewed from different angles. One example is changing from a rust color to a deep purple and the car actually appears to undergo a change of color as it moves towards or away from you. This is due to the addition of special pearls and xirallic effects.

Xirallic effects are aluminum oxide platelets which are then coated with metal oxides. These platelets are manufactured synthetically using a new crystallization process. The cost of this type of additive is expensive compared to typical pearl type applications. The addition of the three stage refinishing process takes considerably more time to complete. In conclusion the three stage refinishing process is here to stay and adds pleasant visual affect to the cars of today.