Automotive Paint Mixing Facts – How To Mix Paint and Pot Life

Automotive Paint Mixing Facts – How To Mix Paint and Pot Life

Hey it’s Tony here… Thanks for watching this video and checking out the blog today.

I have a quick little Q&A for you here about mixing paints and the pot life for them.

I got a question in from a subscriber.  Actually, two of them, which is the reason why made me make this video.

So, the question was, “Tony, if I mix paints, base coats and stuff, how long can I wait?  Can I store it on the side for a little while and then use the paint?”

A LABAP subscriber is kind of getting confused with the storage of paints.

So here’s my answer:

In the above video, I have the Omni Plus, the regular base coat.  So if you’re doing any kind of base coat.  All you do is add reducer in base coats for the mixing ratio.

Because you’re not adding any catalyst or hardener or an activator, you don’t have to worry about hardening.

Base coats are always mixed with reducers, a 50:50 ratio.  The same as a (1:1) ratio. 1 pint of reducer and pint of base, mix it up and there’s your paint.  A paintable base coat.

If you have leftover, you could absolutely put that back in the can, store it and put it back on the shelf.  It will last another couple of years without a problem.

If you have it up there for a couple of years and you want to use it up again, you might just need to change the consistency.  You may need to add 5% more reducer, mix it up a little, then use it.

It’s a different story when it comes down to clear coats.  You have to mix clear coats with an activator and a reducer.  Sometimes just an activator.

When you do that, you have something called a pot life.  Pot life means the certain amount of time it remains usable before it goes bad.  After it’s pot life, it gets hard. It starts to catalyze, starts to crystallize and you can’t use it no more.

Watch the video as I show you a sample of clear which is a couple of days old. You could see it’s basically hard.

You can bang it on your head.  It’s hard, okay?  You can’t use it again.  You can’t add reducer, mix it up and re-spray it.  It’s just hard clear coat.

So, with clear coat, you have a pot life which could be from six to eight hours depending on the ambient temperature.  Enough time to paint your car and finish your job.

Be sure to clean out your gun after you’re done spraying the clear coat and get rid of the rest of the clear.  Don’t put it back in the unmixed clear container, because you’re going to mess it up.

Same thing for 2K primers.  Once you mix that up you can’t put it back in the can and save it for another day.

When you’re mixing clear coat for cars, you always want to mix extra because you don’t want to have to be in the middle of a clear coat job and not have any clear.

That happened to me a few times.

If you’re in the middle of the job and you have a half a cup of clear left, and you have to mix more, don’t use it all up and mix more and spray it.

What you do is mix your new batch, put what’s left from your spray gun cup, and then mix it up into the new batch. Then you fill your spray gun and finish the job.

You don’t want to have a totally new clear on the car midway as you’re painting.  Again, take what you have in your cup, put it in the mixed batch, mix it together and pour it back in the spray gun cup, then continue spraying.

So just a couple of tips to help you out here.  And I hope it did.

Check out LearnAutoBodyAndPaint VIP and I think you’re really going to like it a lot. You’re going to learn so much about auto body and paint that will make your head spin.

If you’re new to watching my videos, you can get the FREE 85-Page Auto Body And Paint manual here.

So download it, check it out and learn so much more about auto body.

I will see you soon!



Other Helpful Links:

What Is Best For Headlight Restoration – Buffing or Clearing?

How and Why You Need To Use Wax and Grease Remover Before a Paint Job

How To Paint a Car – Spray Gun PSI Settings and More!

DIY Auto Body Work And Painting Q&A – Paint Biting – Orange Peel – Rust Prevention

Can You Add Pearl In Base Coat? – Automotive Bodywork And Paint Tips

11 thoughts on “Automotive Paint Mixing Facts – How To Mix Paint and Pot Life”

  1. Ive been doing bodywork for over 30 years. I like this guy! Good to see someone share their knowledge and helping keep the art alive.

  2. Thanks for the info you really helped my husband and i, we are painting our 1997 dosge ram 1500 4×4. And we where having problems and where confused on a few things and apon doing research your website has really helped us out. THANKS SO MUCH

  3. Thanks for your info. I landed here today looking to refresh my memory on base coat mixing proportions. Thought it was 50/50.
    Novice painter here for only 2 years.
    Your info was instrumental, and I have finished a now red metallic dinghy.
    3 coats base. five coats clear. and it looks amazing!


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