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December 2014

Imagine you have two gallons of paint side by side. The gallons are not the same product, but they are both the same color and type of product. Would you know what information to look for to make an educated decision on which gallon is best for your operation?


If you answered “No” or often find yourself comparing two similar products you need to understand a few basic characteristics.


  • Volume solids
  • Performance
  • Color


Too often the final price of the product is discussed prior to understanding all of the capabilities. Grasping these three concepts will aid you in making future well-informed decisions that take price into consideration after learning about the products in question.   


Volume Solids


For any gallon of paint, there is only a percentage of the coating that remains on your substrate. That is known as your volume solids. The rest of the gallon evaporates, which transform the coating from wet to dry. The wet coating that is first applied shrinks in direct proportion to the volume solids of the paint.


For example, if you spray 6 mils wet and your coating is 50% solids, you end up with 3 mils dry.


This is important to understand when evaluating the adequate amount of paint needed to obtain the coverage and color you desire. If a coating has a higher volume solids, it will cover a greater area with fewer coats. That saves labor, time, and can increase your throughput.



The most durable coatings typically use new and more expensive resins, as well as additives, to provide increased protection against UV exposure, corrosion resistance and chemical exposure. Less expensive coatings often use older and cheaper technology.


Ask the suppliers of the two products questions about long-term durability and the testing completed on the product to validate their claims.


If the longevity of your coating is the most important factor in your decision the price will likely rise. In this situation, it is important to understand the implications of refinishing a vehicle vs. the up-front cost of a more expensive coating. More often than not, it is wise to pay for the more durable coating and avoid significant down time when refinishing a vehicle.



The last characteristic that is crucial to understand is the color you require. Bright reds, yellows and oranges are some of the most expensive pigments on the market. You could save money on these pigments (or any other) by using lower quality industrial versions, but those degrade much quicker with UV exposure and provide poor hiding.


Verify what grade of pigments are used in your coating options to determine the quality and palette of colors available.


Remember that not all characteristics are created equal! Usually a decision is made based on the combination of advantages a coating provides, but there are circumstances where one characteristic outweighs all others. The best thing you can do is prioritize the characteristics in order of importance to your operation - and then weigh the pros and cons of competing products.

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