Are Today’s Colors Harder to Match?

Are Today’s Colors Harder to Match?

It appears we’re dealing with the most unique and difficult colors in the history of car painting ... or are we?

Courtesy of BodyShop Business, by Carl Wilson

Ask most painters if colors are becoming more difficult, and they’ll answer: yes. Colors are harder to match. Ask the same question 20 years ago, and you’d still get the same answer. You’d likely get the same answer if you asked it 40 years ago. Is this a case of “present-ism,” or the belief that the current generation of painters are dealing with problems and issues that were heretofore unknown? Maybe.

On a Mission

It does appear that the OEMs seem to be on a mission to give us the most unique and difficult colors in the history of car painting. Is this due to regulatory requirements such as eliminating lead from paint decades ago? Leaded paint covered unbelievably well — can you even conceive of yellow covering in a single coat? Or have these difficult colors resulted from a process and cost efficiency perspective from single-stage paint to two-stage paint? Single-stage paint required more color to achieve the film build necessary for protection and longevity. Two-stage BC/CC systems allowed less color and utilized the clearcoat for the required film build and protection — with the durability coming from the topcoat. Has this allowed for more adventurous color experimentation in the basecoat? Perhaps. It is certain that the BC/CC system has allowed for less color (generally the most expensive part of the film build) to be applied over the factory undercoat — to the point of transparency, in some cases. Try and match that!

Did BC/CC pave the way for three-stage factory paint? Four-stage paint? Will we see five-stage paint jobs become a regular offering? We’ve lately been challenged with matte finish paint from the OEMs, and it’s important to note that matte finishes are not universal in their degree of gloss (or lack of it), neither from various manufacturers nor within the same OEM’s products. It’s a moving target.

The current OEM offerings do seem to be more difficult. But haven’t the paint manufacturers kept pace with their color-matching tools?  Color cameras, digital color libraries and cloud-based data with real-time updates have all contributed to the tools available, but what about the things that haven’t changed? 

Let’s consider some of the challenges to color we’ve always dealt with. 

You May Also Like

Vehicle Scanning & Calibration Technology

Scan tools and calibration equipment have come a long way as far as ease of operation and ability to access the vehicle.

No matter where you look, change is happening in the automotive industry. There are so many forces at work to change tomorrow’s automobile. With all of these forces deciding if a vehicle will run on electricity, fossil fuels, hydrogen or pixie dust, let’s also add to the mix if a driver will be driving. Will we get to the autonomous vehicle that we keep hearing about? Will supply chains determine the direction or the availability of materials and what country provides them?

The Science Behind Vehicle Appearance Products

A clean car is worth more to the owner but also will preserve and maintain the vehicle longer.

Auto Refinish: Are You A Custom Painter?

What constitutes custom paint? And what’s the difference between custom painting and collision painting?

Proper Paint Prep: Foundational Integrity

Stay faithful to these paint prep fundamentals, and you’ll be able to avoid redos and comebacks.

Auto Body Welding: Check OEM Procedures and Test Weld

Don’t just grab and go; are you looking up the OEM procedures before welding?

Other Posts

Aluminum Panel Dent Repair

For a complete, safe and quality repair, it’s important to understand the considerations involved with repairing aluminum.

The Myth Of Scratches, Swirls And Carwashes

While an automatic carwash can get the blame, scratches actually form while the car is getting dirty.

Auto Refinish: Accepting The Challenge

In order to overcome refinishing challenges, one must first understand the issues encountered.

Understanding pH As Related To Carwash Chemicals

Ensuring the proper titration and application of chemistry boosts wash performance.