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How to mix automotive paint properly

car auto paint business
(© Andrey Popov –

Car painting involves certain techniques that aren’t too difficult to pick. If you have a little artistic flair, you can paint your car yourself and save some money on the paint job.

Modern automotive paints have been developed to be incredibly convenient with quicker drying time. Car paints may be water-based, solvent-based, or acrylic. The ratio of hardener and reducer to be mixed with the paint differs based on the type of automotive paint.

The key to a perfect paint finish lies in mixing the paint well keeping in mind the effect of adding hardeners and reducers to the paint. Usually the solvent-based metallic paint goes by the ratio of 2:1 for paint and reducer, meaning you’ll have to mix two parts of paint with one part reducer. Acrylic paints require the paint to be mixed with a hardener as well as a reducer. The ratio of acrylic paint, hardner and reducer is usually 2:1:1. It’s always advisable to follow the mixing ratio indicated in the information booklet that comes with the paint.

This information may sound technical, but the rest of the paint mixing process is fairly simple and straightforward. Let us introduce you to the essentials of the automotive paint mixing process, and you’ll know what we mean.

Automotive paint mixing: The step by step process

Step 1: Collect your tools

You’ll need a clean dry mixing pot or pail, cloth, paint measuring stick, a stirring stick, automotive paint, compatible hardener and compatible reducer.

Instead of having a separate measuring stick you may also buy a mixing pot with measurements marked along the inside. It will be more convenient to use this kind of setup and there is little room for error.

Step 2: Set up the arrangement for mixing

Lay down the mixing pot on a flat surface and place the paint measuring stick vertically upright in the pot. Be careful about the positioning of the measuring stick as even a slight angle can disturb the ratio mixing components.

Step 3: Assess the quantity of mixing components

The technical information with the automotive paint packaging would provide the details regarding the mixing ratio of the paint, hardner and reducer.

Step 4: Mixing the components

Open the paint tin and give the contents a stir. Fill up the paint in the mixing pot as per the indicated ratio. Follow up with the hardner and the reducer as per the indicated ratio. Let the mixture settle down for a few seconds before you finally stir all the ingredients together.

The automotive paint mixture is now ready for use.

Before you start spraying consider these final tips too

Now that you know the specifics of paint mixing, there are a few more pointers we’d like to bring to your attention.

  • The process mentioned is only a general guide for mixing automotive paint. Always read the set of instructions that comes along with the product for detailed information and any specific instructions. Most importantly, strictly follow the mixing ratio indicated in the guide.
  • Always buy the hardener or reducer which is compatible with the automotive paint you’re using. If you have a Nissan, you can also get the paint job done at a Nissan certified auto body shop to ensure your paint is done to perfection.
  • Always ensure that the paint, hardner and reducer are mixed well. You can also strain the mixture before you transfer the mixture to the spray gun to be doubly sure.
  • Don’t fill up the paint cup of the spray gun full up to the brim. It may become difficult to handle. Follow appropriate spraying techniques for best results.

Story by Gary Horner