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Car Wash Business Owner: Why Knowing the Different Types of Paint Finishes Matters

Types of Paint Finishes Matters

Car Wash Business Owner: Why Knowing the Different Types of Paint Finishes Matters

As a car wash business owner, it is important for you to know and understand how to deal with different types of paint finishes. This is to avoid damaging your customers’ vehicles.  This would ruin the reputation of your car wash business and consequently cause car owners taking their business elsewhere. But if your car wash can perfectly clean and detail cars with any type of paint finish, your customers will keep on coming back. It’s because your customers know that your car wash can answer the specialized need of their cars.   Thus, they become loyal customers.

There are a lot types of paint finishes nowadays. You have to know how to handle each one so that your car wash can boast of expert cleaning and detailing. Car paint finish is commonly divided into 5 categories: solid paints, metallic paints, pearlescent paints, matte finish, and specialty paints.

Types of Paint Finishes

Solid Paint

Almost all cars are available in basic, solid colors.’s paint guide says the solid paint is one application of the color, followed by a lacquer coat (also called a clear coat) which serves to protect the paint from damage caused by various factors. Many manufacturers now use what’s called “two-pack” paint, in which the acrylic paint is mixed with a hardening agent to make a kind of colored superglue.  This means there will be no need for an additional coat.

Over time, dirt and particles of rail dust and other nasty stuff get embedded deeper in the paint, or more accurately the clear coat. This top clear coat is actually what needs to be cleaned. Of course, the car first needs to be washed using a reliable car shampoo. Once the car is as clean as possible, the paint can then be gently cleaned using a compound, a clay bar, glaze, or a polish, depending on the condition of the paint. For example, a polish will provide a smooth, deep look for the paint if it’s in good condition. But as explained by, swirl marks will require a glaze to level the paint surface.

Metallic and Pearlescent Paint

Most modern cars are available with pearlescent or metallic paint. Both paint types rely on flakes of material added to colored paint. Metallic paints are made up of tiny aluminum flakes while most pearlescent finishes consist of a solid base color, a translucent layer normally of a different color containing mica or what is referred to as “pearl” flakes. This will then go with clear top coats. A metallic finish reflects light while a pearlescent finish reflects and refracts light.

Both give a car a more appealing shine than solid paint. Cars that come in metallic or pearlescent paint are more expensive than cars in solid color. In addition, they are more expensive to maintain and harder to repair. So you have to be careful when washing or detailing metallic and pearlescent cars.  Their owners bought them at extra costs for their appearance and you don’t want to put a single scratch on their prized possession.

It would be bad for your car wash business. Remember to invest on essential supplies and waxes especially made for metallic and pearlescent cars. These waxes can enhance and protect the finish of metallic and pearlescent paint finishes. Car enthusiasts from car wash forums also recommend that lambs wool wash mitts for polishing metallic and pearlescent cars. They can prevent leaving marks on the paint finish which is a good match for the sensitive paint finishes mentioned.  It’s a good idea for your car wash business to have these supplies handy.

Matte Finish

Matte paint finishes have always been highlights in auto shows.  It gives a break from the glossy car paint finishes that abound. But it gained popularity among car owners only in recent years as mainstream automakers have brought matte colors to the general public. These non-reflective finishes don’t have the glossy appearance of most new cars but can look trendy on the right vehicle.

Matte finish needs more skill in applying than regular paint. You can’t just buff out any imperfections. As such, it naturally costs more than solid and glossy paints. It is a lot more work to maintain. If you get a small scratch on a glossy paint, you can literally just polish it out. But with matte, polishing an area haphazardly will make it glossy and lose the matte-effect. Meguiar’s has some useful tips for your car wash business.

According to Meguiar’s as published by, a conventional automatic car wash is an absolute no-no for cars with matte finishes. Hand washing with soap made for cars is recommended. You also have to be careful when waxing. Buffing should be done with extra care so the finish will not appear shiny. Once matte paint is accidentally shined or the paint gets a deep scratch, you will have no other option but to have it re-done. Like with the glossy paint, there are cleaners and waxes designed specifically for matte finishes. These may also be included in your must-have list for your car wash business.

Specialty Paints

There are various specialty paints available in the market today. mentions chameleon paints. These types of paints uses visual illusion that produces an effect of sparkly or changing colors.  You can visit car specialty paint stores to get more information about the newest car paint finishes available.


There will definitely be more new types of paint finishes in the market soon. It would do your car wash business well to keep abreast on special handling of cars with special finishes. Subscribe to our newsletter and you will always be in the loop with trends and updates straight from the experts.


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