Metal flake has long been a popular style of paint, especially for use on classic cars and hot rods. Spraying is the most effective way to get a smooth coat of paint on a car, but there are some tricks that are specific to metal flake spraying that will help you get the results you're looking for.
Get the Right Tip
A standard paint sprayer is typically fitted with a spray tip designed to handle the perfect amount of regular paint. The holes are small to reduce the amount of overspray and to allow maximum control over how much paint you shoot onto an area.
When using metal flake in your paint, it is necessary to fit the spray gun with a special tip that has larger holes. The flakes will get lodged in the holes of a standard spray tip. The metal flake fitting will allow the flakes and the rest of the coat to pass through without clogging problems.
Paint your surface with a base coat before you begin shooting the metal flake on. The best results happen when you choose a metallic coloured base coat that matches the colour of the flake. For example, a silver metal flake car should have a coat of metallic silver paint sprayed on before the metal flake, which is mixed with a clear coat, is added. This will bring out the typically desired appearance.
When you load up a paint sprayer, the reservoir attached to the spray gun allows the metal flake to settle to the bottom. This may lead to inconsistent results on the actual painted surface. To keep the sprayer shooting consistent metal flake paint, give the gun a shake every minute or so to keep the flake from settling. This will result in an even coat of metal flake, which will make your surface much more attractive.
Let It Flash
Let each coat of metal flake paint get tacky to the touch, but not stringy before applying the next coat. This is a process called "flashing" the coat. Once the paint has dried just enough to be slightly sticky when you touch it, you are ready to add another coat. You may need to apply four or five coats to get the desired results. Also, remember to keep the spray gun pressure turned down low to avoid bouncing the flakes off the paint.
Once you complete the coats of metal flake paint, you'll need to add several layers of urethane clear coat on top to seal it all in.
Disassemble the Gun
Meal flake paint can be a mess. You will need to disassemble the spray gun so it can be thoroughly cleaned out after each use. The flakes can get into places you wouldn't expect, so be prepared to go over the gun closely to make sure you don't have any metal flake paint hiding out inside.