Should you use Single Stage Paint for a More Accurate Restoration?

Tags: Classic Car Restoration · Enamel · Urethane

Be Sociable, Share! paint today is base coat color without any protection which is covered by a clear coat but what if you are restoring a vehicle that was originally painted with a single stage enamel?

Single stage enamels were popular until the mid 1980’s when they were enhanced with a clear coat protective coating and more extensive use of hardeners which brought them into the urethane mix.

Eventually we will probably see most single stage paints removed from the market because they are mainly available only in solvent based formulas. They do however give a finished job without the need of a clear.

The problem with single stage paints is that even if they are enhanced with hardeners they are still pretty weak when it comes to durability. This problem shows its head when you are dealing with heavy metallic paints.

If you were to paint a single stage paint you can not expect it to last as long as a paint that is covered with clear because the color coat comes in direct contact with the elements and it is less resistive to UV light. You can probably expect 3 to 5 years life out of a Single Stage paint where clear if applied over the same paint will add double its lifespan.

The difference between clear over base coat vs clear over single stage is not that great and the formulation of the paints would be the factor as to extended life rather then the actual process.

What does this mean for hard core restoration jobs?

You must consider the owner and what they want to achieve from their investment when selecting any type of paint.

If you are restoring a vehicle to factory specs so it appears as if it just came off the line then you can go with products that are available to reach that goal.

On the other hand you should inform the owner that the products used will not last as well as finishes on today’s vehicles.

Inform them that minor scratches and polishing of the vehicle may result in the need for touch ups or repaints rather then a sanding and buff.

If they consider all of the factors they may decide that a clear coat over a single stage or even just a base coat / clear coat finish will give them reasonable resemblance while preserving their restoration for many more years.

Final Note

The fact is the paints that were formulated a few decades ago will never perform the same way that current paints do. But in some cases it is worth using older technology to get desired results.

If you are painting a farm vehicle that is used for utility and not comfort then painting it with $800 worth of materials vs a $60 gallon of paint makes a big difference.

However I would personally steer a customer to a finish with a clear today even if they are looking to restore a vehicle to its factory appearance. This is unless it would remove value from the finished product and the vehicle is a high dollar restoration.

If you are restoring a 1986 cutlas well.. I would just reject that idea anyway but … the customer is always right.. and remember lesser quality paint will get you more work in a couple years.





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