DIY Metal Flake Paint

Updated February 21, 2017

Metal flake paint is a paint used by auto painters during the 1950s and 1960s that added small square shapes of metal to a base or clear coat covering a vehicle. The flakes of metal were of varying colours and caught and reflected light so that the viewer of the vehicles would notice constant shifts of patterns in the paint. Most modern vehicles use more subtle metal flake paints, as the reflective nature of the paint reveals the shape of a vehicle, with the slight play of light across the surface of a vehicle becoming a shining feature most consumers expect. If you're building a custom car or hot rod though, you'll want to create your own metal flake paint. The DIY route allows you to recreate the stunning look of those old custom automobiles instead of the subtle look of a factory-painted sedan.

Choose the colour of metal flakes you wish to use in your paint. Purchase the metal flakes from a paint supply store or an auto body supply that sells auto paints. Buy flakes created using a solvent-resistant material, so that they will mix easily with paint without dissolving.

Mix the metal flakes with clear coat paint. A base clear is best, as the base will not contain elements that alter the appearance of reflective tendencies of the flakes. Create a mix consisting of one heaping tablespoon of flakes per quart of clear coat, mixing the flakes into the paint thoroughly using an electric drill with a paint mixing attachment.

Apply the metal flake paint using a paint sprayer. Spray three or four coats of the DIY flake paint onto a dry top coat of paint. Each additional coat of the flake paint makes the flake coverage denser, causing the light reflected by the paint to shift more often, intensifying the effect.


Flakes may overlap the edges of the surface. If this occurs, sand the flaked edge down until the surface is smooth.

Things You'll Need

  • Metal flakes
  • Base clear coat paint
  • Paint sprayer
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About the Author

Larry Simmons is a freelance writer and expert in the fusion of computer technology and business. He has a B.S. in economics, an M.S. in information systems, an M.S. in communications technology, as well as significant work towards an M.B.A. in finance. He's published several hundred articles with Demand Studios.