Posts Tagged ‘automotive paint’

Blending adjacent panels

Blending adjacent panels

A long time patron of our establishment who is a professional photographer came by our shop last week to show me his new vehicle, 2015 sparkling silver, grey Honda Odyssey. A proud father of three lovely, young girls he really needed this sleek minivan for his soccer mom duties. He came by to share the joy of this acquisition with his favorite body shop guy, but as soon as he got here, he started to look at his new Honda in a funny, confused way.

“Is there anything wrong with this picture?” he inquired looking intently at the back bumper of his van. Paying attention to details for a living the man noticed that the bumper on his vehicle was a shade darker than the rest of it.” How could this be?” he continued with concern in his eyes:” Did the dealer sell me a new car with a repaired bumper? Did I just buy a lemon car?”

“Take it easy,” I said:” let me see if I can shed some light on your problem.” Actually I found that one of the leading automotive paint manufacturers, PPG addressed this problem in their press release. They cite four causes for color variations.

A color can vary depending on the surface on which it is painted. For example, the evaporation rate for solvent varies over metal or plastic. A longer rate gives a flake pigment additional time to” float” and can darken the face of the color.

The body was painted on the production line at the factory while other parts such as bumpers were painted at another location using a different application method.

Slight adjustments can be made during application creating a darker or a lighter color or causing metallics to lay down differently.

Light reflects differently on curved and flat surfaces causing the appearance of a color shift.



Modern collision repair shops have to be very mindful of this problem because there is nothing like an unhappy customer who thinks he got short changed. Complaints range from – they didn’t use factory paint to paint my bumper to – these guys just don’t know how to match the paint.


In real life it is a complicated process to create a perfect match. At times the same formula paint code could be several different shades depending on where the vehicle was originally painted. Paint manufacturers recommend that paint technicians spend additional time to match colors and to use spray out test panels before spraying a bumper as well as blending adjacent panels to create a perfect match. For example to paint a rear bumper on a candy apple red Toyota we had to spray adjacent quarter panels to get desired match. Please refer to the photo.


Of course, recommended procedures generate additional cost. Consumers and Insurance companies often cringe at additional costs. We hear vehicle owners saying things like I just want to paint my bumper, not the whole car. And we hear insurance adjustors simply telling us that their company policy is not to pay for that.


So what is the solution to this problem? It is to keep everyone involved educated and informed and to let sophisticated 21st Century consumers make an informed decision on how to paint their vehicle based on facts. This article is a first step.