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Type of paint for hand painted art on a vehicle

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Q. Looking for best paint for a mural on a car. Can I use regular acrylics if I seal it with a clear coat?

Mrs macc
Artist - Victoria Australia
July 1, 2023

Q. I'm looking for the same info -- hoping you may have found out by now!

I had a go and used System 3 acrylic [affil link] (white) to paint-out the bonnet (hood) of the car before starting.

... but a couple of days later it rained very lightly and the paint bubbled and peeled.

Not sure if I didn't do enough surface prep -- I was loathe to sand it down first as I liked the original paint protecting the metalwork, but maybe I need to bite the bullet and do that?

Tab Wheeler
- UK
September 11, 2023

↓ Closely related postings, oldest first ↓

Q. I am going to hand paint a mural on a bus that has been primed and has a standard automotive base coat paint on it. What type of paint should I use for the art work and what kind of clear coat should I use to cover the painted art work?


Ken Sutherland
muralist - Dallas, Texas

A. Ken: It depends on the surface. If it is metal, standard enamel automotive paint will do the trick. And a couple shots of poly-enamel clear-coat to finish up. If you're working on a plastic or fiberglass vehicle, you may want to spend a bit more and use a poly-based acrylic and an acrylic clear coat. And you didn't mention, are you HAND painting, with brushes, or air-brushing/spraying? If hand painting, you'll need to acquire specific brushes, meant to handle those types of paints. Natural bristle brushes don't hold up well with auto paint. And some of the less expensive Chinese or Korean artificial brushes, though excellent for traditional watercolors or oils, tend to gum up, and even melt, when using auto paints and the thinners used.
These paints and such can be purchased at most auto parts stores, but your best bet is to visit an auto repair shop, bring donuts, and pal up with the finisher.
Good luck, and happy painting!

Tim Mooney
- Talbott, Tennessee, US
July 28, 2009

Q. Hi
I'm a muralist and have been asked to paint detailed murals on vehicles.
I am not practiced in airbrush so I plan on hand painting these projects. What kind of paint should I use?
Sometimes it's not the entirety of the vehicle. Do I need to clear coat it?

Sarah Gallahan
- Winchester Virginia
July 28, 2020

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