What is the Difference Between Candy, Pearl, and Metallic Paint?

Posted: April 14, 2020 By: MattM

How does Candy and Pearls Differ from Metallic Paint?

Nothing makes a custom car pop more than a custom paint job that stands out in the show field on a sunny day. The kings of custom paint tend to use a mixture of pearl, candy, and metallic paint to give wild effects to their paint jobs. If you’re thinking about customizing your next paint job you likely will be looking at one of these types of paint for the finish and wondering what the differences are between them. We decided to break it down simply below. Just remember that while it may be easy to understand the differences applying them can take a bit of skill and practice so don’t be afraid to spray out some test panels before your next all over paint job!

What is Candy Paint?

Candy paint is a mid coat type of paint that is always applied over a base color. Put simply Candy Paint is basically a clear coat that is tinted with a color to give it translucent properties. This is why you need to apply a base coat down before a candy paint first. Generally a metallic silver or gold is applied first depending on how dark you want the candy to appear. As light shines through the translucent candy paint it reflects back through the layers off of the base color giving you that ultra-deep appearance. The great thing about candy paint is that you can change the hue or darkness of the color by adding more coats or in certain areas for custom effects. Candy paint is one of the hardest paints to get right and can take a lot of practice to get it to lay evenly and look all the same hue as inconsistencies in your spraying procedure or technique can cause modeling or abrupt changes in the candy paint.

What is Pearl Paint?

Pearl Paint jobs are extremely subtle and look best out in full sunlight. A lot of modern cars use a pearl coat on normal colors like white to give a little pop when the vehicle is out in the sun. Much like a candy paint job pearl paint is a midcoat that is applied over a base color (usually white). Pearl paint has tiny flecks of iridescent mica added to a clear coating that acts a binder for the pearl. When applied over white or in between a base coat and a top coat (or sometimes mixed with a top coat) it can give a beautiful glimmer to your paint that can change by the angle of the sun or how you view the car. Pearl paint is a little easier to apply than a candy but shares some of the difficulties when spraying as you want to make sure it is applied evenly to avoid blotchiness in the final finish.

What is Metallic Paint?

Metallic paint is probably the most common out of this group and definitely the oldest. Auto manufacturers have been using metallic paints since the late 1920’s to early 1930’s and started as a very very fine metallic flake in the paint. Over the years we’ve gotten more brazen with our metal flake added to paints and some new cars closely resemble a bass boat! Metallic paint you commonly see on factory vehicles is made with finely ground metallic powder that is added into the paint mixture causing the metal flakes or dust to float in the paint as you spray it. Once dry and trapped in the paint they provide additional shine to a paint job that causes the paint to shimmer. If you want more shimmer add larger or more metal flakes to the paint and you can go from mild to wild. Metallic paint can be difficult to spray and color match panels with. We suggest spraying panels all together or next to each other to avoid slight differences in the paint in the sun. If you want to further customize your paint you can also add metal flake directly into the paint or into a mid coat clear to add some shimmer to your paint job. Large flake rich paint or clears may require a larger tip than plain paint or clear coat due to the amount and size of flakes passing through the paint gun.

To see all of our automotive paints, clears, and custom additives visit our paint shop on the web HERE.

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