Automotive Airbrushes & Paint for car airbrushing
Automotive paints are widely available across the world, but not all of these paints are suitable for airbrush use.
That because of viscosity and pigment size. Paints for cars designed to be sprayed with full size spray gun, 1.3 or 1.4mm nozzle size. Now, when we talk about airbrushes, most common nozzle size is .3mm, 4-5 times smaller than spray gun. And that's not the most precise airbrush.
In this paragraph we offer you a selection of paints suitable for automotive airbrushing and equipment to spray them.
Depending on the particular project, car painter dealing either with primed surface or old paint finish. Either of these would work fine for custom airbrush paint job. If type and age of primer is unknown, it's better to spray it with adhesion promoter first to make sure our paints stick nicely. Surface must be prepared for painting using sand paper of pads. P600 grid recommended. We have a good selection of abrasives in stock.
Once that step is done, the surface needs to be cleaned before paint laid over it. The rule here is to use opposite nature degreaser from the paint type used. If you airbrush with automotive water-based paint like Createx Wicked, solvent-based degreaser like Custom Creative 700 recommended for surface cleaning. Water-borne degreaser for solvent paints as you may guessed already.
Let the surface dry completely and get the automotive airbrush ready!
Don't forget that the whole preparation process can vary depending on the project you're dealing with. Feel free to contact SprayGunner with additional questions. If the design is simple, there's really no need to use a priming layer as it will require a lot more work and $$ on your end (you will have to color match the body color, prime the whole car body part and THEN begin your design). If you are simply looking to add in a design to your car and keep the same color scheme, then you don't need to go through all the extra work.
Airbrush for car painting
Choosing an airbrush for automotive painting is pretty forgiving as there isn't any one brush is better than another for this type of work. With that being said, there are a few things to keep in mind when making your decision that can save you some hassle and make the process easier. As a golden rule, make sure it is an airbrush that you can see yourself wielding for extended periods of time and one that will be comfortable for you.
The first element to consider is regarding the protective 'O-rings,' or seals that keep the airbrush insulated from the outside environment. Often times with automotive paint, solvent-based paints are used and these paints are harsher by material make-up on regular, rubber protective seals. You want to make sure that the seals and O-rings your brush is using are PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) seals, which are made to endure the most corrosive solvents. For reference, the Harder & Steenbeck features PTFE seals on every model in their range, same as Japanese airbrushes GSI Creos. GREX airbrush is another good choice for automotive paint, it also ready to become a workhorse! A lot of cheap brands still using rubber packing seals in their airbrushes so make sure to check!
Another great idea is to look for special kits, like 2-in-1 from Harder and Steenbeck will give you versatility in your work, having access to a wider needle size for coverage and a finer needle for detail work, GSI Creos PS-290 comes with 2 air caps for round and fan spray pattern which helps with custom designs, or GREX MF.TG sets well designed for automotive paint projects.
Paints for airbrushing on cars
This is a difficult topic to summarize or recommend as there are many different types of paints, for many different uses and results. Automotive paint projects can get very creative for a wide range of different possibilities ranging from pearlescent, metallic, color changing, the famous candy colors as well as many more options. With each of these types of projects, a different methodology is required.
Generally speaking, there are 2 camps of airbrush-ready automotive paints. Water-based paints, lead by USA manufacturer Createx Colors and solvent paints with much more options to choose from. We have a few of these to select from, like Custom Creative. Solvent paints preferred by many old-school painters, especially those who has access to a professional paint booth (because they produce much more smell and flammable vapor). Benefit of these paints is a bit faster overall work and ease of use.
Water-based paints are newer to automotive market and still making their way to hands of professionals (successfully, we should admit). These paints are more popular among hobby and DIY painters for their characteristics. Almost odorless, and cleanable with water, those paints can be shipped and stored with less restrictions. Color selection of water-based colors growing every year, making them more ad more competitive with solvents. In Createx series for automotive use we recommend looking at autoborne sealers, candy2o colors as well as wide selection of Wicked Colors. We also carry ChromaAir paints, which are automotive grade acrylic-urethane durable paints, as well as some other brands in water-based section.
Without diving too deep however, once you have prepared the surface of the auto body part you are working on you can begin applying your paint layers and coats until you have completed your design. The final step will be applying a clear coat as the final layer to protect the design and even out the layering of paint across the auto body part. 2K clear can be used over any type of paint. It creates the best hard shell for the project and can deliver the most shine of the finish when desired. Satin and matt look also available. Check out our selection here.
Compressor for automotive airbrush
If a big shop compressor available for you - that's perfectly good, no additional compressor needed. Just make sure that it has a decent pressure regulator and air filter. Additional moisture trap recommended on the airbrush. For additional pressure adjustment right on the airbrush, check out G-Mac - very useful add-on.
Need to get a new compressor for automotive airbrush use? The main thing to keep in mind when choosing a compressor is that it has a tank. When working on such sensitive projects where mistakes could be costly, both in financial terms and in time, using a compressor with a tank will reduce any chance of pulsation and ensure a higher quality stroke, without interruption.
Using an airbrush is limited to a certain interval of usable PSI, so after a certain point- the motor size or strength really shouldn't be too impactful on your decision. Typically, (for any type of airbrushing) the range of usable pressure when using an airbrush is anywhere between 15-50 PSI. Based on our experience, we operate between 15-40 PSI when working on any kind of automotive paint jobs, so as long as your compressor meets this range- you should be fine.
Another option is if you plan on using multiple airbrushes, you would want to get a compressor with a larger tank capacity so that you can comfortably attach multiple brushes and still experience a consistent pressure without pulsation. Our recommendations for compressors that meet this profile and will also save you a few bucks are from the NO-NAME line, the Tooty being the more cost-friendly one (and delivering full usability for any project in mind) and if you wanted to get something nice you can take a look at the master blaster which offers more protection to the unit, airbrush holders and a slightly larger motor and tank capacity. These would both be considered medium-to-high capacity compressors.