What is the difference between pearl & metallic paint?

Updated November 21, 2016

Metallic and pearl paints are commonly used in the auto industry. Both offer brilliance to the vehicle being coloured. Major differences lie in materials used to make the paints and their final finishes.


Miniature slivers of reflective substance, usually aluminium, are added to metallic paints. Tiny flecks of mica, a man-made substance that glows much like an innate pearl, are added to pearl paints.


Materials in metallic paints reflect light, giving the object painted an even, glittery appearance. Mica in pearl paints refracts light, creating a colour-shifting effect in the object coloured.


Metallic paint finishes are considered racy and are most often used on sports cars. Pearl paint finishes are deemed soft and are more commonly found on family or corporate vehicles.

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About the Author

Based in Defiance, Ohio, Becky Martinez has over seven years of reporting experience, having written numerous articles for two newspapers, "The Crescent News" and "The Bryan Times." She has a Master of Arts in English from Ohio University, Athens, Ohio, and has taken multiple creative writing courses since obtaining that degree.