Show Car Restoration and Preservation

Perfect Touchups

Touching up paint is meant to be quick and dirty. If you talk to anyone about it, the primary purpose is to make a scratch or chip less visible and this can be done with even a Sharpie pen and viewed from more than a few feet away. But coloring in a chip isn’t permanent nor is it the best way to conceal a defect.

Think about the characteristics of the perfect paint finish. If you have a flaw in the paint, it stands out. It might be because the flaw reveals a change in color. Or it might be that it disturbs the flow in a reflection. Most touchup strives to satisfy only one characteristic and that is color match. Color matching is an art form and even the best color match when applied improperly is not guaranteed to look its best.

One way to think of this is with metallic flakes. If you have a car with metallic flakes, anytime you apply touchup, the paint is darker than the rest of the paint. It often looks worse. Why does this happen? Think of how the paint is viewed. These metallic flakes are evenly distributed across a surface by a paint gun. They catch light from all angles. If you take a tube of metallic paint, even with the same color, and glob it on the paint, chances are those metallic flakes will be concentrated in a single area and will catch light from many different angles instead of blending in with the existing paint. That is why body shops will always suggest an entire panel to be repainted to fix a small flaw in the paint.

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