Pearl vs. Metallic vs. Non-Metallic Car Paint - All You Need to Know (2023)

With so many different types of automotive paints on the market, it can be quite confusing knowing which ones to choose to give your vehicle a makeover. It's just as overwhelming as choosing household paint - want a matte paint? Metallic? pearlescent? Default?

At the end of the selectiondifferent types of paintor refinements for your car, it depends on the desired effect. Automotive finish options like metallic or pearlescent reflect sunlight and create layers of color and shimmer. A matte finish is bold with a muted shine. A standard automotive finish can be varnished to achieve a high gloss finish.

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Let's break down the different types of car finishes, from metallic to pearlescent to matte to standard, and the differences between each.


Metallic-Autolackis essentially the same as standard automotive paint and can be applied as such, with one major difference being small bits of powdered metal and added aluminum that add a lot of shine and shine to the vehicle. The metallic effect depends on the size and type of metal added to the paint, which can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but for the most part, metallic paint is roughly 1 part metal powder to 50 parts paint.

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Advantages of metallic car paint:

  • Because it contains metal powder parts, metallic automotive paint reflects more light than a standard gloss automotive finish, adding a bit of shine and depth of color not available with a standard finish. Because of this, it tends to be better at hiding small vehicle flaws and dents.
  • Metallic car paint lasts better than a standard paint job. It resists fading or fading better and retains a beautiful shine longer than a standard finish.
  • A vehicle with a metallic finish tends to have a higher resale value than one with a standard finish. This is because metallic automotive paints are still considered a premium finish option.

Disadvantages of metallic car paint:

  • Larger scratches and dents are more difficult to repair. While minor blemishes can be concealed well, metallic automotive finishes can tend to be more difficult to touch up as the color tones are more difficult to match exactly. Not all manufacturers offer metallic colors and that can make it difficult to find more of the same shade.
  • While metallic automotive paints aren't super expensive, they tend to be a bit more expensive than standard paint, so not a great paint option if you're on a budget.
  • Metallic automotive paints are available in a much smaller range of colors than standard paints. So if you had plans for an amazing unique shade with metallic paint, it may not be possible.


Similar to metallic car paintwork,Perlmuttfarbeis generally standard automotive paint, but instead of adding metal powder, microscopic ceramic particles are added instead. The ceramic crystals or "mica" not only reflect light, like the metallic surface, but also refracts it - meaning the light is slowed down as it passes through the mica. As a result, the light is split into many different colors and vehicles with a pearlescent finish not only shine with a dazzling shine, but also with deep and different color nuances that change depending on the viewing angle. In direct sunlight, a pearlescent finish is a beautiful sight, as the curves of the vehicle body also result in subtle color transitions.

Advantages of Pearlescent Auto Paint:

  • The main advantage of pearlescent finish car paint is that it makes your vehicle look super cool. The mica breaking particles add an extra panache and rich color variance to what would otherwise have been a standard monotone finish.
  • Similar to metallic paint, pearlescent car paint conceals small blemishes better than standard paint. If your vehicle has small dents or dents, you probably won't even notice it.
  • And like a vehicle with a metallic finish, one with a pearlescent finish is likely to be viewed as more valuable to a potential buyer.

Cons of Pearlescent Auto Paint:

  • Once again, there are many similarities between metallic and pearlescent paint. While it's good for concealing minor scratches and dents because it can be expensive and difficult to match, vehicles with a pearlescent finish can be tedious to touch up or repaint.
  • It is expensive. Pearlescent car paint tends to cost even more than metallic paint, so it's difficult to get such a great finish on a budget when painting your car.
  • It's hard to find. Even authorized body shops or paint shops don't always stock the same shades, so repairing or repainting a pearlescent finish can be a real hassle.

Matter Autolack

While it's not often a popular choice for painting vehicles, it ismattes Auto-FinishIt's slowly making a comeback, and with wider availability comes greater affordability. Car paint with a matte finish has a "matte" appearance - not at all glossy, with a very muted, almost "matte" gloss. This is accomplished through the use of a high epoxy primer, adding a high level of PVC directly to the automotive finish, or adding a matting agent to the final paint topcoat.

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Benefits of Matte Auto Paint

  • Matte car paints tend to look expensive. And that's because, like all other automotive specialty paints, it's surprisingly possible. It looks fantastic and is usually a popular choice for gray or black colored vehicles.

Disadvantages of Matte Auto Paint

  • A matte car finish is difficult to apply as imperfections or flaws cannot be buffed out.
  • A matte car finish is not only difficult to touch up, but also cannot be buffed with a regular abrasive polisher as you will end up with shiny patches all over your car.

Non-metallic (solid) car paint

This is the type of paint used to paint all cars that are ever sold. Solid or standard automotive finishes are available in a wide range of colors. Its lustrous, uniform appearance is achieved through the layering of two coats of paint, which are finished with a high gloss coat of varnish that also serves as protection from the elements and from chipping or denting.

Many manufacturers have now moved to using so-called “two-component” paints – acrylic paint mixed with a hardener that contains isocyanates, eliminating the need for a top coat. Two-pack paint also cures much faster, making it perfect for home painting jobs with just a few heat lamps for extra speed.

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Pros of Solid Auto Paint:

  • Solid car paints are the best choice for home car painting projects and brand new vehicles alike. It holds up well and looks good.
  • Fixed car paints can also be touched up or reworked very easily. Small blemishes and chips can be written over with a pen of the same color, making it cheap and convenient to do small repairs at home.
  • Solid automotive paints are affordable and relatively easy to mix and match with the same shades if you need larger quantities for your repair. Even if you've taken your vehicle to a body shop for major body damage, it won't cost an arm and a leg to have it restored to the right color.
  • When using a shade of two-component automotive paint, the curing time is much faster, making it convenient for the home mechanic or DIY enthusiastPaint your own vehicle.

Disadvantages of Solid Auto Paint:

  • The only major downside to solid varnish is that many solid varnishes are prone to "orange peel" if not done properly - a term used to describe a slightly bubbly, raised imperfection in the paint. This can be avoided by DIYers as long as care is taken and you don't rush when painting. A steady, even flow is best.


The type of car paint you choose depends on what you are looking for, what you need and what your budget is. If cost is not an issue and you are looking for a unique and stunning finish, metallic or pearlescent finishes are truly beautiful to look at and can take any vehicle from drab to fabulous with just one coat of paint. The matte automotive finish tends to be the least practical, at least for do-it-yourselfers or those whose vehicle also serves a heavy-duty or work purpose. Standard/solid/non-metallic automotive paints are the best all-rounders when it comes to cost, weather protection and reparability.


Contact Auto Body Toolmart with additional questions. We're happy to point you in the right direction, and when you're ready, browse our full selectionCar paints and varnishes.


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