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Learning how to paint pearl can be confusing at first.
If you ask 10 painters how they would paint with pearl or flake I think you’ll get 7 different answers.
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How To Paint Pearl Colors
There really is no right or wrong way. It’s all based on testing out what works for you and experience. When painting with pearl I usually mix my pearl right into my clear coat. Some guys mix in clear coat, some guys like to use an intercoat.
There are a few reasons why you may want spray one way VS the other. I’ll explain below.
Newbies: If you’re a beginner, you may want to use an intercoat like DBC or DBU 500 by PPG or one of House of Kolor products like the SG150 intercoat pearl and flake Karrier.
With an intercoat it’s a little different. Think of it as a clear base coat… you have more room for error.
It’s a lot tougher to run base coat than clear coat. When spraying base, you’re basically looking for coverage. Then it dries flat. I don’t think I’ve ever ran base coat. Even when I was first starting out.
If you run your intercoat, you’ll just have to respray your base coat. Then coat it with your pearl intercoat followed by a solid 2-3 coats of clear. You’re done.
On the other hand, with clear coats… when you’re spraying you’re not looking for coverage, your looking for gloss.
If you’re not used to spraying and have problems with gun flow and distance, you run the risk of running your clear coat with your pearl or flakes in it. If you sag or run your clear, thats it.
You’ll need to let it dry, sand your panels down, shoot new base coat and do it all over again.
When spraying clear coat, you want to make it glossy and have that wet look. This “wanting to get a wet look” will sorta make you want to lay it on heavy at times which can result in sags and runs immediately and anywhere from 1 min – 10 min after laying your clear (sags show up a little later) so be careful.
So if you’re not good with spraying clear coat yet or just not comfortable and afraid of runs, then I don’t recommend you using pearl or flake in your clear coat. If you do, you’ll have a pearl or flake run that will not buff out. You’ll end up sanding everything down and restarting the process over.
New base, intercoat with pearl, clear top coat.
So newbies try using an intercoat. It will help you lay it on easier and evenly. If you have the hang of spraying, adding pearl to your mid clear coat followed by some plain clear as a last coat is a great way to go.
I have also sprayed pearl in clear without an additional top coat of clear with amazing results. You can also safely color sand and buff out pearl or flake coats that don’t have additional clear over them. I’ve done that with beautiful results.
If you feel that you want some additional coverage, feel free to add 1-2 or even three coats of clear over that.
Dry Powder Pearl or Liquid Pearls (What To Use)
You can buy dry powder pearl (which I always get) or you can get the type that comes in a liquid. I love “House of Kolor” products. They have so many color variations of pearl, chameleon pearl and flakes to choose from. You will boggle your mind deciding on what colors to get.
Within the LABAP VIP training course I show you exactly how to mix and lay pearls so don’t worry if you’re thinking “well, what are my next steps” …we have you covered A-Z when it comes down to this stuff.
My suggestion, pick up a few bottles and hit the garage painting.
TIP: I would start spraying pearls over solid colors like; black or white just to see what it will do to your paint. Example, spraying a red pearl over a black will give you a deep plum purple look. Really neat. Spraying a blue pearl over a white base also looks awesome.
What’s more, the amount of pearl that you add to your clear coat and the numbers of clear or intercoat layers that you spray over your base coat will also affect your color and turn your pearl coat darker and totally change the color of your paint job.
Here’s a tech sheet download for House of Kolor products. It’s a big file so it may take a bit to download. Enjoy.
Micro Sequence Metal Flake VS Standard and Jumbo Metal Flake
Metal flake can be a topic on it’s own but for now I’ll just briefly touch on what size metal flake to use in your first coat of clear or in a intercoat layer.
Micro sequence is a very fine metal flake. That’s the kind that you want to use if you want a micro flake look. Very nice and the most easy to spray because of it being so fine. If you can spray with a 50% overlap, then you will have no problems with tiger stripes.
I talk about micro sequence in a few of my videos here’s one on it and on pearls. You can see video footage of me opening up bottles and showing you inside.
It’s a great video actually. Click below to see it.
Metal Flake Sizes – Smallest to Large
Micro sequence flake size can range from .004 – .008 The standard flake size can range from .012 – .015 then you move on to large .020 then finally jumbo will be at .025 or larger. Here are a few pictures and examples from House of Kolor.
When spraying large or jumbo flake be sure to take out your gun neck filter (if you have one). These larger flakes are usually sprayed in clear coat. They will pop out of the clear and give you a rough surface.
When I spray this kind of jumbo flake I like to coat the car with 2 coats of plain clear coat first, this way my flake can be buried in the soft clear coat. After spraying 2-3 coats of flake or until you get to your desired look, you can follow up by giving it another 2-3 coats of plain clear on top of that.
Most likely you’ll be color sanding that out flat and buffing if it came out smooth or you may want to wait 2 days and spray another 2-3 coats of solid clear coat over that and finishing off with some hard-core color sanding and buffing.
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