What Causes Tiger Stripes in Paint?

Tiger Stripes or Mottling Can be A Painters Worst Nightmare!

It’s happened to all of us, you lay down a sweet, glossy paint job on a panel or a part and you stand back to admire your work and you can see your passes telegraphed into the panel! Tiger Stripes are a sure fire way to ruin a paint job and your day. We talk about what causes them and how to correct them below.

Tiger Stripes or Mottling is an uneven distribution of metallic or metal flake in the surface when applying paint. This is most common when doing a paint job with a color that has a lot of metallic in the color. This can most often be caused by the reasons below.

  1. Improper Paint Gun Pressure- If you have your paint gun pressure set to too high of a pressure it may be applying too much paint and causing an uneven amount of metallic as you travel across the panel. Always check your spray pattern and pressure on a test panel before spraying.
  2. Incorrect Spray Gun Technique- When spray metallics, candies, and metal flake you need to be very conscious of your paint gun angle, distance, and spray technique. If you gun is turned sideways, too close to the panel or held at an angle it can cause a build up of paint at the top or bottom of the spray pattern. Also make sure that you overlap on each pass is even as uneven coats or overlap can further magnify the striping effect.
  3. Incorrect 2k Paint Mixture- Adding too much thinner or reducer to get the paint to flow out can magnify tiger striping on a panel. If you’re having issues with getting the metallic paint to lay out nicely you may want to look at your gun settings and needle-nozzle combination.
  4. Painting Too Soon- If you’re first coats haven’t fully flashed off and reapply another coat you may find that mottling will occur as well. We suggest waiting the suggested flash time before reapplying.

Hopefully this tips will help you avoid tiger stripes in your paint in the future. Anytime you find major tiger stripes in your paint you will have to sand/scuff the surface and reapply paint to correct the defects.

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