Painting a car is an art of its own, which can take years to master, and just seconds worth of a small mistake to ruin everything. But when it's done right, you do gaze in wonderment at the masterful skills at work, as well as the technology and chemistry that goes into it in the first place. How could they make the paint look so good, and how could it be that paint touch-up repairs be this easy?
Even the plain novice can apply a touch-up kitto a poorly chipped paintwork in no time at all, and with a lot of ease to spare. Yet, we do have thoughts running in our minds while touching up the paint, such as whether or not it's necessary to put a clear coat layer on top. Does it really make your car look better once the whole touch-up process is complete? Well, we've got some answers.
What Is Clear Coat?
The first thing that we should address is answering the question of what a clear coat is. For this, we can explain it a bit better once you understand more about the many layers at play when spraying on paints, be it a simple touch-up or a full respray. Every single layer has its own role to play, such as smoothening out and protecting the bodywork, or giving your car its flashy colours...
Filler - Technically, this isn't paint, but is one optional step in painting a car. It's the bottom-most layer in some cases, acting as a body filler. As the name suggests, it fills in gaps within the bodywork of your car, such as smoothening out deep chips or scratches, ensuring that it's as smooth as possible before the first layer of paints go on top.
Primer - This is a pre-paint layer, and it goes straight on top of the bodywork or the filler. Once it's applied onto the metal or plastic bodywork, it has multiple functions. Primer can protect the body below from impacts or damage, preventing any excess corrosion from building up, as well as making sure that the succeeding layers of paint coats can stick properly.
Base Coat - Here is where your car gets its colours. The base coat represents the exact hue, shade, and effects that your car's paint colour represents, from the darkest of blues, the greys and blacks of monochrome, or the most vibrant of pastels. There can be several base coat layers sprayed on top of one another during the painting process, which is reflected during the touch-up.
Clear Coat - This is the final and top-most layer of your car's paint. The clear coat is transparent, and it has two primary goals. The first is to give your car a shiny and glossy look to top off the base coat. The other, meanwhile, is to act as a protective layer to the base coat below, thus preventing its appearance from being severely tarnished by stone chips, scratches, weathering, and so on.
Does Clear Coat Make Your Car Look Pretty?
As we've probably answered in our explainer up above, the answer is likely a 'Yes'. While it won't make a huge impact on the looks of your car's paint, the added glossy finish (not to underscore the importance of its protective properties) can make your car's paint pop more to the eyes. Mind you, it's not entirely necessary if you're only touching up a very small chipped area.
It might not even make that much, or at all of a difference to how it'll look. Some paint touch-up repair kits don't include a bottle of clear coat. However, while it can make your car look better with its glossy sheen, can it improve how the paint touch-up will match in its colours and subtle hues to the rest of your car? In short, clear coats can't magically match the paints on your car.
The Magic Of Blending
Perhaps the nuances might be more dampened once the sunlight hits the right spot to make the paint glow. However, the clear coat won't match the paint touch up paint perfectly right for you, even if you've picked the right colour for your car's make, model, and even the specific model year and production batch to get the best colour match possible?
But what can you do if the newly touched up area looks off in its colours to the rest of your car? To that, we can be thankful for the art of "blending " paint. Blending is a process where you're trying to make a seamless transition from the new paint that's just been touched up, to the old paint that was already there, in its colour and appearance as an illusion to make it seem like one whole piece.
Say, you're repainting a bumper after a repair, and thus blending the paint there to patch the panels around it, such as the bonnet, fenders, and so on. Blending is the go-to solution when it comes to matching your car's colours, and some touch-up kits do include a small prescription of blending solution to be added after the base coat has been left to dry, to finish off the look of the paint.
Answering that puzzling question we posed in the title, clear coats can't generally make your car's paint touch up match in appearance with the rest of the paintwork. Especially so if the paint is matched very poorly from the get-go. However, you can apply the art of blending to match the touch-up paint as closely as possible as to how it looks in your eyes.
The process starts with a bit of sanding to remove a bit of the old paint, before then reapplying the base coat with a new batch of paints that properly match. Layer by layer of base coat later, you can then top it off with a clear coat layer up top to round off the looks. Once that's done, there's a whole world of difference between how it would look before, and how it looks now that it matches, tone for tone.
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