How to Apply Metal Flake Paint Finishes

Written by carmen laboy
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How to Apply Metal Flake Paint Finishes
Use blue flake over a base coat like this green to create a turquoise effect. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Metal flake is an attractive finishing effect for cars. It is essentially a sort of glitter made from ground up, industrial-grade metals that can be mixed with a clear top coat and sprayed onto the vehicle. Although it may be tempting to use a cheap commercial glitter on your car, it is important that you splurge on flakes, since regular glitter will melt and damage your car's finish.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Metal flake (a ground up metal powder available online)
  • Clear coat paint
  • Airbrush machine

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  1. 1

    Wash, sand and paint your car as necessary. Before starting on your finish, you should have a dry, smoothly painted complementary base coat of paint. Use basic colour theory (and a colour wheel) to help you choose the base coat colour. Essentially, the glittery flakes will make your vehicle look a different colour so choose with that in mind. For example, a blue base coat with red flakes will look purple under the sun.

  2. 2

    Buy your metal flake and a metal flake spray tip from a reputable vendor. Since flakes come in different grades there are a variety of tips you can use, so ask the vendor which one will work best with the flakes you are using.

  3. 3

    Mix flakes into a liquid clear coat. Use the guidelines that come with your flakes to add the appropriate amount. If you want more shine you can do a second coat but too much glitter can block the small holes in your airbrush machine.

  4. 4

    Tape plastic to cover any section of the vehicle that shouldn't be painted.

  5. 5

    Put the glitter paint mixture in your airbrush machine and apply a thin first layer.

  6. 6

    Wait for the first layer to dry until tacky then apply a second, thicker coat. Double check your vehicle to ensure that your application was even. If necessary, you can wait for this coat to dry until tacky and then paint another coat.

  7. 7

    Apply a clear coat or sealant over the dried, glittery paint coat. Before this step you may need to buff or sand smooth the flake paint if you purchase a low-quality brand. To avoid this hassle buy an extremely fine, high-quality brand.

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