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Can I Touchup Tricolour Car Paint

Tricolour, or tri-coat paint is one of the most complex, and arguably among the most beautiful forms of paintwork that you can apply to any vehicle. The reason is in the name itself, "tri", or triple. There are essentially three different layers or coats of paint layered on top of one another. This stacking starts with the 'basecoat' at the bottom. After that, we have the often thinly applied 'midcoat'. The cherry on top is the 'clearcoat', the upper layer of the tri-coat finish.

The end result is mesmerising. Triple-layer paint gives any surface a richness and depth that a single layer might not afford. It can sometimes change colour or appearance depending on the lighting and the angle that you're looking at it. It can sparkle, glisten, and shine with a metallic warmth in the sun. However, for all its eye-candy, tricolour paints are incredibly expensive. So, you can imagine then the heartbreak to know that your triple-layer paint finish has been chipped off or scratched. 

Thankfully, advancements in repair tech have made this easier, and cheaper too! There are many different touch-up solution where you can have your tricolour fixed right at home. So, here's a quick guide on all the steps that you'll need to go through to touch-up tricolour paint...

Step 1: Pre-Painting Prep Work

Before we can get started, we'll need to get the paint ready and sorted. You could use sites like Chipex, where you can easily find the right colour using a paint code that's matched with your car. Once you have that delivered to your front door, it's important to have a good place to start working on your car. It's recommended that this be indoors like in a garage. The best conditions for the paint itself would be low humidity, and somewhere where there is no direct sunlight. 

Moreover, be sure that where ever you're painting has good ventilation, for your wellbeing. You should also have some rubber gloves handy while you're doing this, as well as some goggles. A chemical respirator or a mask would help a lot to prevent you from inhaling too much paint. Once this is done, you can start cleaning your car. More specifically, focus on the damaged part that you want to paint over. Use some soap or cleaning shampoo, and let it dry.

Step 2: Applying The Primer

Now, there's something very important to bear in mind before you get any paint on your car. This is simply called, practice. Once you've applied the paint onto your car, it'll be difficult to remove it again. To avoid mistakes being made down the line, practice your painting techniques beforehand. Do this on a piece of throwaway plastic or metal that you don't want. This practice is also good to make sure you have the right colour to match your car. 

Practice, practice, and practice again. If you think you already have the hang of how it all works, then you can start with the primer. This is technically the first pre-paint layer that goes on top of your car's metal or plastic body panels. It is a preparatory coating to ensure that the paint sticks on the body surface. Where there is bare metal or plastic underneath, slowly apply the primer. Be sure you coat only a thin layer of primer, and then let it dry for about 20 minutes. 

Step 3: Apply The Basecoat

Following the primer, you'll now need to start applying the basecoat. This is the main shade of paint that gives your tricoat finish its base colour. When you're touching up the basecoat (or any other succeeding layers), you'll need to do it slowly. Apply thin layers one at a time. If you're covering a large area - larger than an eraser's surface area, generally - you'll need to use a spray can instead of a simple paint pen. Though usually, the tricolour finish is best achieved using a spray can.

Apply one thin layer after the other, until it is level with the rest of the surrounding and undamaged paint. This should conclude the basecoat. Another key aspect of touching up paint is letting it dry. Every single coat needs to be sufficiently dried out before the next coat goes on top. Just like the primer, the basecoat should take at least 20 minutes to dry. But this does vary with temperature. Lower temperatures might require a few hours or leave it overnight to dry out properly.

Step 4: Apply The Midcoat

The process of applying the midcoat is no different than the basecoat. When the basecoat layer is adequately dry, you can start applying the midcoat. Remember, the midcoat is a very thin layer. This is crucial to ensure the end result of your finishing. Too much midcoat will make your paint darker than the rest of the body. On the flip side, too little will leave you with a lighter spot. This, once again, is why it's important for you to practice applying all three layers away from the car.

Usually, it's best that you spray the midcoat across a slightly larger surface area than the basecoat. This is to make sure you've covered every surface of the basecoat thoroughly. If you're worried about painting over the lines to other parts of the car, you could of course use masking tape to cover off sections of the paint that are already pristine. After that sparse layer of midcoat has been applied over, give it some time to dry, just like the basecoat.

Step 5: Apply The Clearcoat

The final layer of paint will be the clearcoat. This process will be a bit different than the other two. You start by applying a single thin layer of clearcoat on top of the midcoat. After this, you'll need to wait another 20 or so mins before it can dry. Once that's done, you can start with another thin layer of clearcoat on top of this. Repeat this for several layers until you get a satisfactory finish that matches how the paint should look elsewhere on the car. 

You'll also need to be careful about how you apply the clearcoat. It needs to be sprayed over steadily and without too much force or pressure. Otherwise, it might ruin the midcoat and basecoat under it. When this is done, let it dry for a few hours. You can take some extra steps after this just to improve the finish of it. After three or so days, you can apply some rubbing compound to the newly touched-up area to smoothen it and make the surface shine. After a month, you could start waxing it.

Conclusion

And there you have it, all the basic steps you need to know to get started with touching up a triple layer or a tricolour paint job on your car. No doubt, a tri-coat finish is definitely a lot harder to fix than more common paintwork that requires just the basecoat and a clearcoat on top. That midcoat is a tough one to get it right and balanced to round off the looks of the triple coating, but a bit of practice can get you there. In all, the keywords of the day here are practice, and patience.