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Difference Between Metallic & Pearl Car Paint

Updated November 21, 2016

A fresh paint job can give new life and appeal to an older model car. Two of the most common types of auto paints are metallic and pearlescent paint. According to, they have important, yet subtle differences.

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Metallic paint contains small evenly-sized flakes of aluminium. This gives the auto paint its shiny appearance. Pearl paint uses flakes of mica, a synthesised, inorganic product whose addition produces a sheen-like finish.


Cars that are painted with metallic paint have a shine that remains the same no matter the angle from which it is viewed. Changing perspectives gives pearl paint the appearance that the shade of the car colour has changed. A car that is viewed from one direction may appear white, but more like gold from a different angle.


Metallic paint is used most often on sportier cars, while pearl paint usually is found on luxurious family vehicles. Both types of paint finishes are used commonly to create customised looks for auto consumers.

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