Auto Refinish: Are You A Custom Painter?
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Paint / Body

Auto Refinish: Are You A Custom Painter?

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

Courtesy of Body Shop Business


If you’re reading this, you’re likely in the automotive industry. If you’re in the industry, you’re likely a gearhead. As a gearhead, you’ve probably seen all manner of “custom paint.”

Before we get into what constitutes custom paint, I think we first need to pay respect to the father of custom paint, Jon Kosmoski. Most of you have probably heard of House of Kolor as a supplier of custom colors and products — Mr. K started the business in 1956. Let that sink in for a minute. 

The year 1956 was when we developed the polio vaccine. It’s when President Eisenhower signed legislation from Congress making “In God We Trust” America’s national motto. Elvis Presley made his television debut in 1956. And I wasn’t even a glimmer in my father’s eye. 

But Jon Kosmoski was getting after it in the paint shop. Remarkably, he’s still involved with the House of Kolor brand to this day. It’s possible we would never have heard of Craig Fraser, Chip Foose, Ron Finch or a truckload of other custom painters and instructors, such as Paul Stoll, Marlene Spence and Gene Fenske, had it not been for Jon Kosmoski. (My apologies to all the great painters and instructors I failed to mention).

When we see the work of the greats, we know we’re looking at custom paint work, and these days it isn’t always House of Kolor products they’re using. PPG has Vibrance, Axalta has Hot Hues, BASF has Carizzma. Even aside from those “custom” offerings, we see “candy” type mid-coats in the standard paint lines from nearly every automobile manufacturer. It could be argued that yesteryear’s custom colors become tomorrow’s factory offerings. This is certainly true in regard to the three-stage pearls as well and the low- and no-gloss finishes. We’re even seeing some colors from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) that are reproduced in a four-stage process by some paint manufacturers on the refinish side. I would suggest that while it’s not what first comes to mind when we think of custom paint, it could be argued that those colors are custom paint work that have been standardized. 

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