Is Tinting Sealer or Primer with the Top Coat Color a Good Idea?

Tags: Primer

Be Sociable, Share! few years ago body shops started tinting the color of their primers to match the color of their top coat. The more people that you ask about this practice the larger the number of answers as to why or if it is a good thing to do.

To understand why some shops started doing this you have to understand the basics behind painting.

When you paint a car there are a series of different layers of paint that may or may not be on the car depending if it came from the factory or if it was repaired.

You have the etch primer which is often green which is applied over bare metal. Many manufacturers use this coat but it is more often seen in body shops and more so in restoration shops where rust is a problem.

Then you have the primer surfacer if the vehicle has been repaired it needs a thick sandable product for leveling paint and bodywork transitions. This product is normally light or dark gray, red or black.

Then you have your primer sealers which can be applied over different paint surfaces to give a uniform holdout and reduce paint problems where one product reacts bad with the other. Manufacturers usually start with a thin sealer over their bare metal that has a rust inhibitor in it.

Now we already know that these products can be ordered in a variety of different paint types: synthetic, acrylic and urethane but also that they come in a variety of different colors.

Originally restoration shops would pick the primer surfacer color that best matched the top coat color.

Light gray for white or light colors. Dark Gray for blues and medium colors. Red for Reds and Black for Black or very dark paints.

You might want to use two different colors of primer on the same car as a guide coat . This is when your primary primer is a light gray and you spray a black primer over the repair area and sand until all the black is gone and supposedly the area should be level.


This is not why Auto Body shops use a tinted primer.

The reason Auto Body Shops use a Tinted Primer is because they want to skimp on the Base Coat / Color Coat.

Think about it if you have some mismatched blue urethane paint in a can that you will never use why not just pour it into a can of Primer.

You cut your loss on paint because you can actually use it up but also the top coat on the repairs you make can be a single full pass rather then 3 full wet coats. Especially if you are following up with a clear.

It is a pretty cheap thing to do.

The Reason Why I am against it is that you as a painter know that for good color matching and durability you need to pant full wet coats until the paint is uniform.

You could have Florescent Red primer or White Primer and if you are painting a car White it should not reduce the number of Top Coats that you apply just because you are using White Primer. .. Yes that is the technical reason but we all know that there are shops that depend on overcharging for materials and labor to stay in business or at least in a overly profitable business.

So, Should you use Tinted Primer?

In my opinion no you should not tint to match the color of the car to reduce your costs on Top Coats.

Should you use different color primer to check your work?

Yes this is a good thing to do but it has nothing to do with why some shops color tint primer.

Now I am sure someone would want to prove me wrong about how using a tinted primer helps maintain the complex color system designed by some manufacture… but that is pretty much BS because of the basic fact Top Coats need to be a certain mil thickness to be considered applied correctly…

And then there would be other people that might say .. use a tinted primer on spot repairs because it hides your overspray better.. and I would say then extend your top coat coverage better or learn how to use a scotch bright pad…

I think the only possible reason to do this would be that chips in top coats don’t look as bad if the primer matches the top coat.. but as a auto body technician I want customers to look at chips and say I need to get them fixed.. and not say I can live with that for another winter and then have a big rust repair.

These are my thoughts about the tinting of primer .. its mostly done by cheap shops but then again it caught on for a while and even some good shops might have done it for a while.. yea and kids wear their pants below their butt too but .. well thats another story.


Be Sociable, Share!