What Is Candy Paint and How Does It Work?

Candy Paint Explained

Candy paints are unique colors created with dyes and/or ultra-transparent pigments that provide a higher degree of transparency than typical automotive finishes.  The result is a "richness" and "wet look" that stands out from typical automotive colors.
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Popular Candy Colors

Candy paint's unique look is created by layering the transparent candy layer over a reflective basecoat or sealer layer, and then protecting everything with a high quality clearcoat.
  • Light bounces off the reflective layer and is colored by the candy layer to create a rich color that almost seems to glow in good lighting.
  • This glowing effect often makes vehicles stand out resulting in thousands of "best paint" awards in car shows for decades.
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The Four Different Types of Modern Candy Paint

Through the years candy paint has evolved into different types that were better suited for various end uses including painting whole vehicles one color to painting smaller graphics and optimized to make them easier to apply and repair. The evolution of candy paints has lead to 4 main types of candy with each have a use it best suited for and weaknesses of each as well.The 4 main types of candy paint are:All four types of candy paint are available here at TheCoatingStore, with dozens of colors to choose from.  The chart below can help you understand which candy may be best suited for your projects.

Which Type of Candy Is Best?

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While there's never a "right" answer to questions like this, there are some things to think about:
  • Painter Skill Level?  All true candy paints are harder to apply evenly than normal automotive paint which can lead to "streaking" and "blotchy" effects in your finish if not applied evenly.  If you have a skilled painter with experience painting candy paints then choose the candy with the best look according to your preference.  If you have a painter with limited experience you might be best suited to choose the Pearlized candy paint which is more forgiving.
  • Graphics or Overall?  If you are looking to paint stripes with the candy itself you should stick to the pearlized candy basecoat or transparent candy basecoat.  The basecoat candys tape quicker and cleaner, and leave less of a tape line.  If you are painting your vehicle with all one color of candy the 2K Urethane candy or Pearlized candy works best.
  • Durability? One of the downsides to candy paint is that the dyes used to make a true candy paint do not hold up to sunlight as well as pigments used in typical automotive paints.  This depends highly on the amount of time spent outside and the clear coat and thickness of clear used.  For instance, a car that is painted in apple red candy that is left outside, and unprotected all the time in the Arizona sun may show significant fading in 2-3 years whereas the most similar color in a conventional automotive paint may take 10 years to show the same level of fading.  Candy painted cars stored in garages and used less often for cruising and car shows may take 10-20 years to fade substantially.  It just depends on the amount of time spent in the sun.  Of the candy types the 2K urethane candy is the most durable.  UreChem glamour clear is formulated with a much higher level of UV protection than the average collision repair clear which provides more protection for your candy.  In fact, the glamour clear has been shown to provide more protection than some clears costing 2-3 times as much.
  • Daily Driver or Show Star?. Another factor to consider is the possibility of repair.  If your project vehicle is a daily driver the likelyhood of it being damaged is much higher than your show car you baby and enjoy at shows and cruise-ins.  The pearlized candy basecoat is easier to repair with proper blending techniques than other varieties so if you are painting something that might get banged up from time to time then this is the way to go.
  • The Look! Each candy has a little different look so if you are set on a particular look you have seen this often over-rides all the other factors.  If you can love the way they all look, use the one that best fits your situation.
Choosing the right candy paint often comes down to a conversation with your painter, and as always it's a good idea to spray a test panel before applying.

Frequently Asked Questions About Candy Paint

Candy paint is typically offered in a relatively small number of colors because it's easily customized. For example, transparent candy paint is applied on top of a reflective basecoat that's typically silver or gold, but can be any color. By combining different basecoat colors with different transparent candy colors, an infinite number of colors are possible.

Likewise, with candy concentrates, any paint can be dyed to create a custom color.