What Is Candy Paint and How Does It Work?
Candy Paint Explained
Candy paints are unique colors created with dyes and/or ultra-transparent pigments that provide a higher degree of transparency than typical automotive finishes. The result is a "richness" and "wet look" that stands out from typical automotive colors. This unique look is created by layering the transparent candy layer over a reflective basecoat or sealer layer and then protected with a high quality clearcoat. Light bounces off the reflective layer and is colored by the candy layer to create a rich color that almost seems to glow in good lighting. This glowing effect often makes vehicles stand out resulting in thousands of "best paint" awards in car shows for decades.
The Four Different Types of Modern Candy Paint
Through the years candy paint has evolved into different types that were better suited for various end uses including painting whole vehicles one color to painting smaller graphics and optimized to make them easier to apply and repair. The evolution of candy paints has lead to 4 main types of candy with each have a use it best suited for and weaknesses of each as well.
The 4 main types of candy paint are:
- 2K Urethane Candy - candy dyes in a special 2K clear type binder. Dries glossy like clear.
- Transparent Candy Basecoat - candy dyes in a clear basecoat binder. Dries fast and dull like base.
- Pearlized Candy Basecoat - candy dyes plus pearl pigment in basecoat binder. Dries fast and dull.
- Candy Concentrates - candy dyes highly concentrated in a binder system compatible with base and clear.
All four types of candy paint are available here at TheCoatingStore, with dozens of colors to choose from. The chart below can help you understand which candy may be best suited for your projects.
Which Type of Candy Is Best?
While there's never a "right" answer to questions like this, there are some things to think about:
- Painter Skill Level? All true candy paints are harder to apply evenly than normal automotive paint which can lead to "streaking" and "blotchy" effects in your finish if not applied evenly. If you have a skilled painter with experience painting candy paints then choose the candy with the best look according to your preference. If you have a painter with limited experience you might be best suited to choose the Pearlized candy paint which is more forgiving.
- Graphics or Overall? If you are looking to paint stripes with the candy itself you should stick to the pearlized candy basecoat or transparent candy basecoat. The basecoat candys tape quicker and cleaner, and leave less of a tape line. If you are painting your vehicle with all one color of candy the 2K Urethane candy or Pearlized candy works best.
- Durability? One of the downsides to candy paint is that the dyes used to make a true candy paint do not hold up to sunlight as well as pigments used in typical automotive paints. This depends highly on the amount of time spent outside and the clear coat and thickness of clear used. For instance, a car that is painted in apple red candy that is left outside, and unprotected all the time in the Arizona sun may show significant fading in 2-3 years whereas the most similar color in a conventional automotive paint may take 10 years to show the same level of fading. Candy painted cars stored in garages and used less often for cruising and car shows may take 10-20 years to fade substantially. It just depends on the amount of time spent in the sun. Of the candy types the 2K urethane candy is the most durable. UreChem glamour clear is formulated with a much higher level of UV protection than the average collision repair clear which provides more protection for your candy. In fact, the glamour clear has been shown to provide more protection than some clears costing 2-3 times as much.
- Daily Driver or Show Star?. Another factor to consider is the possibility of repair. If your project vehicle is a daily driver the likelyhood of it being damaged is much higher than your show car you baby and enjoy at shows and cruise-ins. The pearlized candy basecoat is easier to repair with proper blending techniques than other varieties so if you are painting something that might get banged up from time to time then this is the way to go.
- The Look! Each candy has a little different look so if you are set on a particular look you have seen this often over-rides all the other factors. If you can love the way they all look, use the one that best fits your situation.
Choosing the right candy paint often comes down to a conversation with your painter, and as always it's a good idea to spray a test panel before applying.
Frequently Asked Questions About Candy Paint
Candy paint is typically offered in a relatively small number of colors because it's easily customized. For example, transparent candy paint is applied on top of a reflective basecoat that's typically silver or gold, but can be any color. By combining different basecoat colors with different transparent candy colors, an infinite number of colors are possible.
Likewise, with candy concentrates, any paint can be dyed to create a custom color.
The cost of a candy paint job is largely based on the application process: An artistic process that includes several layers of taping and painting along with graphic effects and customizations can easily cost $30-$50k dollars.
However, a good quality activated or pearlized candy paint job can cost anywhere from $2,500 to $15,000, depending on how much additional body work may need to be done and the availability in your market.
Of course, the best way to find out how much a paint job will cost is to get a quote from your local painter.
Finally, remember that buying quality paint from TheCoatingStore (instead of buying it thru your local painter) can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Like anything, the longevity of your paint job will come down to care. If you can keep your vehicle parked indoors, avoid weather, and keep the surface clean the paint will last longer. Candy paints are more sensistive to sun fading than typical automotive paints so keep them in a garage or covered with a UV blocking car cover when not in use to maximize life. Furthermore, using the UreChem glamour clear provides more protection than most other clear coats due to the high UV absorber content in the glamour clear.
Because candy paint is so popular, it's easy to buy from several places.
While we're obviously a little biased, our recommendations are:
- Buy direct from the manufacturer. Paint resellers and paint shops typically charge several hundred dollars more than manufacturers. Our site is the retail division of UreChem paint - when you buy from us you're buying manufacturer direct.
- Buy from a reputable company. If you're not sure about how reputable a company is, check out their reviews. Our reviews are excellent, and there are a few other companies with great reviews as well.
- Beware of marketplace paint retailers. Marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, and Walmart can be a great place to find good deals (we've been selling our products on eBay for years), but they're also rife with counterfeit or shoddy products, unfortunately. If the product you find on Amazon or eBay isn't sold by a reputable company, it's probably not worth the risk of a bad paint job.
There's an old expression that's especially true about paint: The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.
No one wants to spend thousands of dollars on a paint job that starts to look terrible in a few months.