Types of Car Paint explained

Types of Car Paint explained

Nicholas Edwards

Car paint types come in a huge variety, and they range from simple eye-catching different colours to very expensive super sparkly shades. The finishes vary depending on the car manufacturer, car model, and exterior colour choice. There are varying types of car paint finishes that can alter your car's appearance, the main four being solid paint, metallic paint, pearlescent paint, and matte paint.

Here’s a little guide to the types of car paint:

1. Solid Paint

Solid car paint is considered to be the most traditional paint for cars and most vehicles come with this type of finish as standard. It's the most simple type of car paint and typically has excellent UV protection to keep it from fading. 

You should colour match a car spray paint to the original solid colour on your car. This solid colour can be identified by using a swatch of solid paint from your car manufacturer, if you do not have this then use an accurate solid paint reference guide or take pictures.


One of the main advantages of solid paint is that it is very durable.

It can withstand scratches and chips much better than other types of paint. his makes it a good choice for vehicles that are likely to be exposed to harsh conditions, such as off-road vehicles or trucks.

It is also easy to clean dirt and dust can be easily removed with a wet microfibre cloth, making it a good choice for vehicles that are regularly used.


A caveat with solid car paint is that it must be applied well or else it will look dull and uneven. This is because solid car paint doesn't have the protection of the clear coat layer, so if it's not applied properly, peeling and corrosion can happen. So make sure if you are choosing this type that you are going through a reputable body shop.

car paint upol trim 11

2. Metallic Paint

Metallic car paint is a type of car paint that uses metal flakes to create a metallic appearance. The metal flakes can be many different colours, but are usually silver or gold. Metallic paint is more expensive than solid paint, but it can make your car look more luxurious.


The added durability of metallic paint makes it a smart investment over solid car paint. Metallic paints are available in solid or pearl finishes, so you can choose whichever paint types best match your tastes.

An advantage of metallic paint is that it enhances the base colour of the car. It does this by reflecting light back off of its surface in different directions, creating more intense highlights and darker shadows. This helps solid colours appear deeper and brighter than they would otherwise be.


Metallic paint is also harder than solid colours to match properly, but it's easier to touch up metallic finishes when they get dinged. A disadvantage of metallic paint is that it can be difficult to keep clean. The tiny metal flakes can be dislodged and end up scratching the paint surface. In order to maintain a metallic finish, it is important to use high-quality car wax or car sealant.

metallic car paint

3. Pearlescent Paint

Pearlescent car paint is a type of paint that contains pearlescent pigments, which can give cars a pearlescent sheen. These car paint types are more expensive than the standard automotive paints on the market. This is because pearlescent paint uses metallic flakes, instead of ordinary solid colour particles, to create sheens and textures on the surface of the car.


The pearlescent paint tends to be much more reflective than other paints and gives a very elegant pearlescent sheen when added to any paint job. The pearlescent effect is the result of these flakes catching the light in a certain way, displaying a rainbow sheen or iridescence, or glowing when hit by the sun's rays.


A disadvantage of pearlescent paints is that the pearlescent flakes are not embedded in clearcoat, which can be chipped off if they come into contact with another object. When pearlescent paint is used on car body panels the car manufacturer usually has to produce a separate pearlescent version of each colour available, as pearlescent paint cannot be mixed by automotive paint suppliers.

4. Matte Paint

Matte car paint is a newer trend in the car painting industry. It has become more popular in recent years, as people have begun to appreciate its unique look and feel. But what is matte paint, and why is it becoming so popular?

This is a type of paint that does not have a glossy finish. It is often used on cars, bicycles, and motorcycles. Using matte the painted surface does not have a shiny finish that can reflect light or objects in its surroundings. The matte paints work by creating a rougher-than-normal matte finish on the painted surface.

When is it applied?

Matt is usually applied over solid paint. The matte finish gives the car a different look and can be interesting to look at. There are some people who believe that matte paint is less likely to show scratches and other blemishes. However, this is not always the case. In fact, it can be more difficult to maintain than regular paint.


A disadvantage of matte is that its matte surface loses colour vibrancy over time when the car is exposed to sunlight.

The matte paint itself has microscopic pores that may store dirt particles, which can affect the reflectivity of the matte finish; matte paint also results in considerable visual reflections (unless special anti-glare matte finishes are used).

Extra Info: Enamel Paint

Enamel paint is a type of paint that has a glossy finish. It is made up of oil and resin, which gives it its shine. This paint is often used on cars because it can withstand harsher weather conditions and is more durable than other types of paint.

An advantage of enamel paint is that it is very durable and resistant to weathering, making it a good choice for exterior applications. It also has a high gloss finish, which can give your car a show-car look.

However, it does have some drawbacks. Firstly, it's is more difficult to apply than other types of paint, and it can be tricky to get a smooth, even finish. This paint also takes longer to dry than other types of paint, which can delay your ability to drive your car.

Acrylic Enamel Paints

Acrylic enamel paint is a type of paint that has some advantages over traditional enamel. It is easier to apply than the former, so it is a good choice for novice painters. Second, it also dries faster than the usual type of paint, so you can get your car back on the road sooner. Finally, they are less expensive than the normal paint, making it a more affordable option.

Extra Info: Urethane Paint

Urethane car paint is made from urethane resins that have pigments, additives and solvents blended into it. It also contains additives to improve flow, levelling, adhesion, and chemical resistance.

Urethane paints are used on cars because they provide a great finish and are very durable. They are also more expensive than other types of paint.

Disadvantages to Urethane Paints

One downside to urethane paints is that they can be difficult to work with. They need to be applied in thin coats and must be allowed to dry completely between coats. If the paint is not applied correctly, it can peel or chip, especially on the edges.

Another problem with urethane is that it can be difficult to match colours. This means that you will need to take your car in to a professional if you want to repaint it or fix some damage.