Car Paint is thin. How thin?
The majority of cars being manufactured today and starting since the 1980’s use what’s called a basecoat/clearcoat paint system. With this system, a clear layer of paint is sprayed over the top of the basecoat which is also the color coat or the layer of paint that has pigment in it. If the car has a metallic finish then the metallic flakes are also in the basecoat.
The basecoat doesn’t offer any gloss or shine and in fact it’s dull or matte looking after it’s sprayed. The basecoat gets it’s gloss, shine, depth and reflectivity by the spraying of the clearcoat layer of paint over the top of it. This is why if a person removes too much clearcoat when buffing and they expose the basecoat it will appear to be a dull round or oval spot on a body panel. The part of the paint system that adds beauty has been removed revealing the dull or matte basecoat layer of paint.
Just how thin is the clear layer of paint on a factory paint job?
The factory clearcoat on a new or modern car measures approximately 2 mils or 50 microns thin.
If you look carefully at this picture you will see that this BRAND NEW Mazda CX-9 has less than 50 microns of paint on the bonnet. Careful sleuths will also pick up the other significant damage of circular scratches on the paint.
The average post-it note is around 3 mils thin.
What does this mean?
This means the factory clearcoat on a new or modern car is thinner than a post-it note. The next time you have a post-it note in front of you, feel a single post-it note between your fingers. Like this…
This experience will drive home the point as to just how thin the clear layer of paint is on modern car with a factory paint job.
It should also drive home the importance of using the least aggressive pad, product and even tools to get the job done.
When I say, get the job done, the context of this usually means someone is polishing a car to remove paint defects like swirls, scratches, water spots and oxidation to make the paint and thus the car look better.
By using the least aggressive products you “get the job done” while leaving the most paint on the car to it will last over the mechanical service life of the car.
So this is top of mind when we are working on our customer’s cars. We take this professional approach on each and every customers cars.
If you’re reading this and you’re going to do the work yourself or hire a detailer then do some research and make sure you hire a detailer that knows this type of stuff because the factory clearcoat on your car is thin.
Big picture?At 2 mils or 50 microns thin I treat it all like it’s precious because it is…
Dr. David Ghodoussi (the chemist behind Opti-Coat Ceramic Coating) said that the UV protection used in car paint has a half-life of 5 years! This means if you bought your car in 2010 – by the year 2015 half of the UV protection originally used to make the clear layer of paint is now non-functioning.
To me, this is why you should always install a Ceramic Coating.
Don’t install just ANY Ceramic Coating.
Install the industries recognised most durable. Coatings that have a 10H pencil hardness.
There are currently 3 products on the market, and YES Adelaide Paint Protection is the only place you will find them in Adelaide.
You should also use the least aggressive product and process to get the job done because by doing this YOU LEAVE THE MOST PAINT ON THE CAR
1. Sanding removes paint.
2. Compounding removes paint.
3. Polishing removes a little paint.
You only have a limited amount of paint on the car and even the best in this industry, sooner or later will sand or buff through a factory clearcoat finish.
And if Dr. David Ghodoussi is correct, that is – if the long term testing the paint companies have conducted have shown that in order for the entire paint job to hold up over time the clear layer needs to be at least 2 mils in thickness, (actually thinness is a more accurate word), then the car manufacturers have gotten the science of the ecoat, primer and color coat down to less than 1 mil according to your readings.
Have your car prepared by experts like Adelaide Paint Protection.