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How to: Mix Car Paint Right

Want your car paint finish to look polished and professional? It starts by mixing your paint right. Simply follow these simple steps to ensure your paint is thoroughly mixed, so it goes on right.

Get the right supplies

Purchase a mixing pail or cup

Purchase a pail or cup made for mixing automotive paint. You can find one made to withstand harsh chemicals that comes with side-markings to help you correctly measure and mix your paint at KC Body Shop [LINK]

Choose your paint

You have two choices when it comes to paint: single-stage or two-stage.

Single-stage paint

Single-stage paints do not require a base or finishing layer. They’re recommended for primary colors such as red, blue, or yellow and should only be used for minor repairs. If you are new to painting, a single-stage paint might be best for you because it dries to a glossy finish and is easy to prepare.  

Two-stage paint

Two-stage paints require both a base coat and a clear coat. The base coat provides the color; the clear coat protects against scratches and wear and tear from weather, sunshine, and pollution.

Mixing paint

Things to remember when mixing paint:

Never mix paint types or brands. This can result in an uneven finish. If you are unsure which paint is best for your job, check your vehicle owner’s manual or ask an expert at KC Auto Body for advice.

Read the information on the paint can find out what other things you need to purchase in addition to the paint. This could include paint thinner and hardener. If you can’t find this information, contact the manufacturer.

Mixing single-stage paint

Get the ingredients you need.

Single-stage paints require mixing three different things:

  • The paint
  • Reducer or thinner (thins the paint to make it go on smoothly)
  • Hardener (helps the paint dry to a hard finish).

Pour the recommended amounts of ingredients into your mixing pail or cup

Review the mixing information on the paint can to find out how much of each ingredient to add to the pail.

Tip: If you find three numbers in your paint mixing instructions, the first number is the amount of paint to add. The second represents the amount of reducer or thinner. The third is the amount of hardener. For example, if the instructions say 8:1:1, for every eight parts of paint, add one part thinner and one part hardener.

Stir the paint

Use a paint stick to thoroughly mix the paint.

Test the mixed paint with your spray gun

It is always a good idea to test how well the paint sprays before painting a car. Use a piece of paper totes spray to see how well the paint flows from the gun. You may need to add thinner to increase the flow. If the paint is to

Mixing two-stage paints

Get the ingredients you need.

If you are using a two-stage paint, both the base coat AND the clear coat will require you to add ingredients.

  • The base coat must be mixed with a reducer or thinner.
  • The clear coat must be combined with a hardener.

Pour the correct ratio of ingredients into the mixing pail or cup

The information on the paint can will advise you on how much of each ingredient to use for each coat.

  • Base coats will usually be reduced or thinned at a 1:1 ratio.
  • Depending on the brand, clear coats will either be mixed at a ratio of 4:1 or 2:1 clear coat to hardener.

Mix the paint

Stir your mixture using a paint stick until it is smooth.

Test the mixed paint with your spray gun

Test the consistency of your mixed paint and clear coat by spraying it on paper. Check the base coat to ensure it’s the right consistency, not too thick or thin. Check that the clear coat is providing the right level of gloss or shine. If not, adjust the amount of hardener.  Both paint and clear coat should spray smoothly from the gun.

You’ll get an excellent paint finish if you follow these instructions for mixing paint.