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Auto Restoration Paint Choices

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Restoring a car offers many choices. One of those is paint. To get modern hold out on paint alot of guys use PPG and Dupont which offers great quality paint lines but the prices tend to be a little high for a home DIYer like me. I am doing a frame off on a 1959 Buick hardtop by myself to save tens of thousands of bucks. I was thinking of using Duponts Chromobase line because that is what I can get locally but has anyone used TCP Globals paint line? I am going to use the epoxy primer, base, clear system but do not know how the paint holds up over time and the quality of the paint sold through TCP. Does anyone have experience with their paint?

Thank You


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Can't answer the TCP question but choosing paint by price point is exactly the wrong thing to do after spending God knows what in time and money on a restoration that presumably will be your pride and joy for years to come. ..................Bob

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I think I'd be more concerned with the TYPE of paint rather than the brand. Over the decades of dealing with body shops and such, I determined that EACH painter has their own preferences as to brand of paint. Each brand can have a particular "feel" to how it comes out of the gun, flows out, and then dries. NOT to forget about the fact that they also know the exact way to mix and "reduce" it for the ambient conditions they are shooting it in! I've seen some combinations of base paint material mixed with "stuff" it was not designed to be combined with (especially "no-name" or "blank label" thinners/reducers) and it all worked seemingly just as well as a name brand complete paint system (which hardly anybody used like that, back then!). Everybody was mixin' 'n matching brands to get what they wanted . . . and it seemed to work pretty well for them. Back when they knew that if they didn't do a good job, it could mean lost business in the future.

I have seen some budget chain body shop paint jobs that looked better than many "big shop" paint jobs. Surface prep is the key, but the less expensive paints used by the budget chains tended to chip more easily on the edges of panels (hoods, deck lids . . . which could have been a surface prep issue) and they held up reasonably well for a few years with little care other than washing. But when you pay for that paint job pretty much what materials would cost, by themselves, you can expect some of those mid-term durability issues. I suspect that little wax and such might have extended things a little longer, though, before the finish dulled-out.

Currently, there are LOTS of good paints out there. Sometimes, price is not particularly indicative of how they'll hold up, but it can be. Using "the system" might be more necessary than in prior times, too, but I always thought using "common chemistry" in that manner would be better than otherwise.

If you haven't already done it, you might enroll in a local/regioal junior college's auto body course. Plus contact the local/regional paint stores to see if they might be scheduling any paint seminars in the near future. In some metro areas, some brands even have regional training facilities!

Using what you can find locally can be really good . . . especially if there might be an issue with color match and such. Much better to drive a little to find a fix than to have to complain to or seek guidance from somebody on the other end of a long distance phone line (or email)! PLUS, you might be able to get a "single-stage" acrylic enamel mixed for your car locally rather than use the multi-stage product which can be MORE demanding as to paint area cleanliness and such. Plus having a end-shine more appropriate for the model of your vehicle! And which can be sprayed possibly without "haz-mat" breathing apparatus! DuPont Centauri acrylic enamel (possibly with "hardener") produced some of the hardest and shiniest and most durable paint jobs in their day.

ALSO be aware that the whole reason behind the use of "basecoat/clearcoat" paint systems was to use physically less color coats on the vehicle, using the clear to protect the base color and also end up with enough build thickness for good durability (including some UV protection in the mix, too). Back then, Ford and Chrysler used acrylic enamel, but GM used acrylic lacquer. Lacquer was less-picky about where it was shot, which also made it a favorite of body shops without spray booths back then. But if you had a clean enough spray area, you could shoot the slower-skinning over enamel for a harder shine and better durability than a similar lacquer paint job. But you had to wait longer for the enamel to cure whereas lacquer might have needed some additional fine-grit sanding or buffing to have the shine it needed to have.

There definitely ARE some ins 'n outs of shooting modern paints, especially bc/cc systems. A clean and fully-operational spray booths are completely necessary to do the job and achieve the desired results! Not to forget the dangerous fumes from the bc/cc system's chemistry! That you see painters suited-up in total "space suits" just to paint a car is no mistake, on the weekend morning car shows!

Shop wisely for products, use them wisely and carefully, in an area completely designed to paint vehicles, and you can have some great results. Also, if something doesn't go "to plan" with the paint, stop and seek qualified guidance before going farther . . . hopefully, such guidance will be nearby when the paint is flying.




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Hi Josh,

I am also a DIYer.

Here are some products that I have used on my restoration. I am very please with their service and support.

The primers I used are from

Southern Polyurethanes, Inc


Paint was Prospray which I purchased from Chad at Auto Rod Technologies/Chad's Paint and Audio Home Page.

Edited by Packin31 (see edit history)
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I've used and like Martin Senour acrylic enamel for most of my painting. It has a nice "period" gloss and is easy to spray. At one time you didn't have to use any hardner but I think now all acrylics require the use of a hardner. Might be harder to find today. There are several suppliers that sell different types of paint in colors specific for older cars like the Automotive Color Library and House Of Color.

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  • 3 months later...

Thank you all for your input. I read that Duponts Nason brand is about as good as the Chromo line, with the big difference being the flash time and color matching capability. I was a little nervous about using a paint line where there is little first hand options about it, so I am going to use Nason. Nason is a favorite around my part of the woods and have seen and heard alot of good stuff about the line. I am going to end up painting my car in a 'shelter' with wood plank floors. I am going to drape plastic around the car so I can seal out dirt and any impurities and filter air in so the fumes don't cause problems (along with a good respirator). The paint is a ways off still. My 59 has alot of rust issues. I already replaced several spots in the trunk, and am currently swapping the entire compartment floor from a donor car. Then there is the bottom of the doors, door skins, rockers, rear floor pans, trunk filler panel, and the bottom of the quarters before I am ready to media blast and prime. Wish me luck!

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I use PPG products because that is my ONLY local choice. HOWEVER, I can order and have used TCP products. ONLY the Urethane products. These are described by TCP as compatible with the PPG (which they also sell) BUT you can tell they are not the same when applying them. The TCP seems to take a bit more time to cure and requires more product application to get good coverage. Since I am in California, I can no longer get the "good stuff" so I am stuck with this water-base stuff that is not nice at all... Very toxic and needs to be done in its own special way.

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