Mixing Urethane Colors and Clear
Our tech hotline answers lots of calls every day about everything we sell, and how best to use it. A lot of questions are about welding and technique, and a lot of questions concern paint and applying it. We are happy to answer those, and any other automotive related topics. If we don’t have an expert on the line immediately, we’ll be sure to find out the answer from one and get back to you.
Recently a customer called with a question about mixing single stage urethane paints with a urethane clear. Single stage paint already has plenty of gloss and is UV stabilized to be used as a top coat by itself. So, you may ask why mix a single stage color coat with a clear top coat? When people do this it is typically because they have been painting since the lacquer days, or the person who taught them was from that era.
Old School Lacquers
Lacquer paints are easy to spray, and dry to a hard, high gloss shine quickly. They used to be the standard paint if you were spraying candy, metal flake or pearl, and they would produce a finish that looked a mile deep. But, one of the big problems with lacquer is it is not very durable. The colors fade with UV exposure, and it is so hard it will crack and craze over time.
After laying out a killer lacquer color spray job, guys would spray several more coats mixing color with clear. It was though this would produce a deeper looking paint job, by having several semi-clear coats, and protect the underlying color from UV damages over time. Then several clear coats over the top. Many guys like to spray cars this way even to this day, no matter what paint they are using.
There is no need to use this method with modern urethane single stage paint. However, if you do want to do it this way because that is what you are comfortable with, you can. Eastwood’s single stage urethane paints are compatible with our urethane clear coats and can be mixed in any ratio you want.
Here is the most important thing to remember if mixing color and clear 2K urethanes. Make sure each paint and activator is thoroughly mixed in the correct ratio, before mixing the 2 different paints together. Just because the 2 paints are compatible does not mean you can just dump all 4 parts into a can and mix with good results. There is really no way to know exactly how an activator will react to a different paint.
Don’t worry about proper clear to color mixing ratios because there isn’t one. If you have done it in the past with lacquer, just follow your traditional mix. Some guys suggest spraying a 1:1, and finally a 1:3 with mostly clear, followed by pure clear.
The most important thing to remember is that if you are using a 2 stage paint, you must spray 2 good coats of pure clear over the top of any mixed coat to prevent the color from fading with time. Base coat paint has no weather or UV resistance and if it isn’t fully covered with pure clear the color will change and fade with time.
Because single stage urethanes and clear urethanes are compatible, you can spray clear over the top without mixing too. This will increase the depth of the gloss. More importantly, the clear over the top gives you a coat that can be cut and buffed without having to work about changing the color at all.
A Word from Kevin Tetz
Our resident paint and body expert, Kevin Tetz, who has literally written the book and stared in the how to video about painting cars, had this to say when asked the same question during an Eastwood live streaming video session:
Here’s a good trick for super deep looking single stage paint using clear coat paint over it. Spray your single stage color coat and get a nice solid coverage. Then mix 50% color and 50% compatible clear together (after activating each of them separately) and spray another coat. On top of that add a coat of 25% color and 75% clear, and top it off with a pure clear coat. What this does is makes the light refract as it penetrates the clear/color coats and softens it, so when it is reflected back you get a stellar, super deep, glossy paint job. This method also gives you a coat of pure clear paint to buff and rub without having to worry about affecting the color at all.
In conclusion, yes you can do it, no you don’t have to do it. Clear over the top of single stage does give you a coat of paint that is better for cutting and rubbing than the color coat because you won’t affect the color. And finally, paint and body expert Kevin Tetz still like the look the layers of mixed clear and color give you in a single stage paint job.