How to spray metallic paint step-by-step

Updated February 21, 2017

Metallic paint, often called metal flake, is a type of paint commonly used on hot rods to give the surface of the car a shiny finish. This paint is nicknamed metal flake because it contains flakes of metal that contribute to the shine. Spraying metallic paint properly is a matter of preparation, tools and patience. Metallic paint must be sprayed in several thin coats for best effect.

Load base colour into paint gun and spray first. Spray in long, even strokes from front to back without stopping. Apply a second coat of base paint once the first coat becomes tacky. Let the base dry.

Mix metallic paint with clearcoat. Different mix ratios will create different effects. 10 ml of metallic paint per litre of clear (approximately 2 teaspoons per quart) is a guideline recommended by Hot Rod.

Put your 1.8mm to 2mm paint gun tip on your paint gun. Load metallic paint and clearcoat mix into paint gun.

Set gun for 15 cm (6-inch) vertical spray pattern.

Hold gun 13 to 20 cm (5 to 8 inches) away from surface.

Spray a thin topcoat in long, even strokes. Shake gun frequently in between sprays to make sure the clearcoat and metallic paint stay evenly mixed.

Spray a second coat in the same fashion when the first becomes tacky.

Repeat Step 6 and Step 7 as many times as necessary to achieve your preferred look. Metallic paint is often applied with five to seven coats.

Disassemble your paint gun completely and wash out the metal flake paint. Metal flakes from the paint will get stuck in every crevice of the gun after use.

Load clearcoat into your paint gun. Spray a single layer of clearcoat over the metallic paint to finish.


If you have spare parts to experiment on, try different ratios of metal flake to clearcoat. Try different base colours underneath your metal flake. Every combination will have a different outcome.


Always wear a respirator when working with paint .

Things You'll Need

  • Respirator
  • Base colour to match metal flake
  • Metal flake paint
  • Clearcoat
  • Regular paint gun
  • 1.8mm to 2mm paint gun tips
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About the Author

Michael Monet has been writing professionally since 2006. At the San Francisco School of the Arts, he studied under writers Octavio Solis and Michelle Tea, performed his work in Bay Area theaters and was published in literary journals such as "Paradox," "Umlaut" and "Transfer." Monet also studied creative writing at Eugene Lang College in New York and Mills College in Oakland.