ATC Blog

3 Common Pearl Painting Mistakes

As cars are lasting longer and drivers look to add new-car shine to their old rides, car painting has increased in popularity. No paint type is more popular in this regard than pearl paint – the shimmering, metallic glint that gives a car a celebratory sheen that many drivers desire.

As a material, pearl paint is not a whole lot different from normal car painting. There are some common mistakes however, that you should be aware of and aim to avoid as you enter car painting school, or look to get your car repainted.

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Follow these tips and become a pro painter in no time:

1. Know how the color you’re creating will reflect in the sunlight: Since pearl paint uniquely reflects light, you must be careful about what colors and amounts to select. When using white as a base coat for the pearl paint job, remember that any red-based paint will have a tendency to gleam pink in the sunlight. The best colors to stick to when going with a white base coat are blue, silver, gold, orange, and violet.

When using a black base coat, it’s very important to remember that if you use too much of the pearl paint, it will force the color to take on more of the pearl, and render the use of a black base pretty much useless. To achieve the right color, the ratio of the pearl should be one teaspoon per quart of base. Once the ratio is right, the paint job will take on a midnight, color-changing effect.

If the base coat that you are using is red, orange, or burgundy then the most recommended pearl coat is gold. Other options are red, blue, or violet pearls. When using a blue base, stick with gold, violet, or green pearl. A yellow base coat tends to look best with a green or gold pearl paint. Orange, red, and gold typically turn out great on a green base. A pink base will look very nice with silver or even red as the pearl paint. The purple base paint goes well with silver, green, or red pearl paint.

The final step, applied after the base and pearl coats is a clear coat. It is important to note that the clear coat should only be placed over custom paint and not over faux finish, gel coating, or powder coating.

2. Spray a test panel: It’s highly recommended when making your own color mixes, to ALWAYS test a panel before taking on the entire project. This is a pretty obvious step that can save a lot of time and wasted product. Although the color that you have mixed may look great, it is always safest to test it before jumping in and applying it to the entire car.

3. Keep track of what you’re doing: This is another step that must be stressed. Make sure to watch the distance that you are spraying, the speed and pressure you are spraying, the number of full coats that have been applied, etc. By keeping a careful eye on things and being mindful of what you are doing, you have a greater chance of a flawless outcome and a beautiful paint job. It is important to stay focused and to be aware of what you are doing during the painting process. Consistency is the key here.

A little knowledge can go a long way. Apply these tips to your next pearl paint job at your car painting school or for your auto clients and you’ll be amazed by the awesome finish. And as always, please do not hesitate to Contact Us with any questions or comments that you may have.

Ready to learn more about automotive peal paint? Click below to download our free guide, The Car Lover’s Guide To Automotive Pearl Paint.

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For program disclosure information, please go to www.autotraining.edu/consumer-information.

19 thoughts on “3 Common Pearl Painting Mistakes

  1. Joe Louis

    I been wanting to paint my car so so bad but I am torn between a Midnight pearl paint job and a metallic Canadian blue metal flake job! I like the midnight pearl paint job but I want it to be midnight blue but I want my paint job to kinda be strong and glow especially when it hits the eye a bright midnight blue blue but turn dark at a certain angle, so I was thinkn maybe what if I use a chrome/silver base coat will it make my midnight blue shine strong piece right through the pearl. and the same with the Canadian blue metal flake? I just want a great paint job! I do not know if with white base coat would do great with a midnight blue pearl paint job just looking for some help.?? anybody

    1. Mohammed

      I m having the same issues right now I wanna paint my car with the midnight blue but I m wondering will it make a big difference the silver under the blue?

    2. Roger Garrison

      As a custom car buider and painter for 50 years,you must remember that metalflake and metallic paint are completely different. Metallic means it has colored or silver very tiny flecks of aluminum in it. MetalFLAKE has large flakes similar to glitter and needs many coats of clear and a finish color sanding and buffing when done. Flake will be very rough like #80 sandpaper when its sprayed. Pearls fall into the ‘metallic’ class. Lots of people ive met are confused that metakflake and metallic are the same thing. They are like sand and dirt.

      1. yassin alomary

        If we spray two fices of pearl or more. does this affect the color, I mean the color change, for example, have a dark or light and how you can adjust this color

  2. Terry Beasley

    Restoring my dads 1968 olds 442convertible going back with some type of red have decided yet but a dark red. Haven’t done any pearl paint yet but will on this I am wanting like almost black ghost style stripe on hood and sides. Don’t really want it really noticeable unless light or angle you look at it makes it show up. Any tips on best color/pearl combo to accomplish this. I have a test trunk to play with for color to see what works best. Thinking when done want overall color to turn out close to a black cherry Thanks for any help. Terry

    1. Roger Garrison

      Ive done ghost graphics on cars by painting a car a color then doing like grapics or flames with just the pearle midcoat. You can use a pearle the same color (say blue pearle on a blue car)or use another color to contrast (say red on a blue car). Either will be unoticeable unless light or sun strike it. Remember though the more coats of the pearle you add will make it stand out more. 1,2 light coats will be more ghosted than say 5. Try sample panels to see what effect you like.

  3. Andrew

    I am painting a white base and trying to get a matallic plus pearl look to the white. The first time the base buried the enhancers. Now doing a tri coat it seems the pearls yellow the white and still difficult to get a nice yet Suttle flake on the base white. I wanted to try a red pearl on the clear as well. Any thoughts to what I am doing wrong or different pearls that may make the white stand out?

    1. Roger Garrison

      All factory type pearle whites have a yellowish/golden hue. THAT is what gives it the pearle color. Look at the inside of an oyster or pearl shell. There is no actual pearl that is brite white. You CAN put another color pearle midcoat over a white base, but you have to be expert to keep from making it streaky or blotchy.

  4. dyllian

    wondering if its possible to do a pearl white paint job with a blue flake but also add in the glow in the dark paint additive

  5. LadyHotrodder

    Andrew, the easiest way to get a nice white pearl would be 2 stage. Use a white pearl basecoat over a light colored primer, and then clearcoat after the pearl. The Coating Store and TCP Global both have pearl basecoats. Its a nice way to go if you don’t want to mix powders into a mid coat clear and shoot over a silver base. However if you are set on doing a 3 stage paint job, first spray a couple coats of brilliant silver metallic over the primer, then a pearl basecoat on top, until full coverage, and then clear overall. Read the tech sheets carefully. More coats of product means more chance of solvent pop, or other possible issues. Good Luck!

  6. Anthony bland

    I have a 2003 white silverado. It’s being sanded and everything right now. I wanna go with a pearl paint, I really like the white pearl that comes on the Lexus but worry the pearl will turn dingy. I’ve seen a lot of pearl cars that look creamy color, yellowish or just dingy looking! Is this the color it was painted. The guy at the paint shop told me that a lot of times after a few years that pearl paint does turn a yellow or dingy color! What do I need to do to keep that white bright white pearl?

  7. Amanda

    We are trying to do color that looks black but in the light will be either a purple flake or blue flake. What is the best way to achieve this as we have had several ideas already and want to make the best decision.

    1. Jay kay

      I got a superdark blue flake and also purple hue at my descretion. I painted over my factory yamaha blue (a little lighter than the blue below that say `post comment`) ( black blue color from plastic dip (midnight blue slight purple ) two coats. 2. When i used blue metallic flake inside 3 rd 4th coat it was much more purple depending on my flake amount. Then clear. However, i wanted the DARK blue almost black, and medium flake metallic. By chance i actually used a plain silver metallic Not silver or any color so it went on like glitter. Total rainbow and brighter. I didn’t want that, but once it dried BAM, perfect. Lost the rainbow pop and stayed dark. Also yes the next time was a darker first blue coat and it didn’t get too purple which was more of a pearl effect before i used any metallic. The black does cut pearl down considerably. I only use non color metallic flake now. always. copper, brass, etc.

      1. Jay kay

        Also kids, MAKE SURE YOUR ROOM TEMPERATURE ISNT TOO COLD! The metallic especially will suck if your lower than around 65. It will partially harden mid air and leave a “furry” look and feel. You actualyl may like that, but it was flatter as well. This pearl problem mention in someone elses post can come from spraying a liitle too cold. Also warm your paint up in warm tap water to help

  8. yassin alomary

    If we spray two faces of pearl or more does this affect the color, I mean the color change, for example, have a dark or light and how we can adjust this color

  9. Gary George

    I’m wanting to have a midnite blue look. But I want the metallic blue in it, and then the blue pearl on top of that, then clear coat. Whats the process and what should be the basecoat. Any and all help will be greatly appreciated. Thanks

  10. Gary George

    I’m seeking the midnight blue look, with metallic, then the blue pearl on top of that, then the clear coat. What base coat should I have blue? Whats the proper procedures. Any and all help will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

  11. Openload Movies

    I have a 2003 white silverado. It’s being sanded and everything right now. I wanna go with a pearl paint, I really like the white pearl that comes on the Lexus but worry the pearl will turn dingy. I’ve seen a lot of pearl cars that look creamy color, yellowish or just dingy looking! Is this the color it was painted. The guy at the paint shop told me that a lot of times after a few years that pearl paint does turn a yellow or dingy color! What do I need to do to keep that white bright white pearl?

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