Color Matching Paint Jobs Requires Precise Attention to Detail
It comes as a surprise to those motorists who have not been in an accident that one of the most challenging tasks for an auto collision repair shop can be color matching a damaged paint job. However, many drivers that have endured sub-par paint work following an accident can tell you about it in graphic detail. Color matching requires skill on the part of the technician; it’s not as simple as plugging a color into a computer and waiting for results. But even with that understanding, the painstaking process of color matching is still often a mystery to those without firsthand experience.
The Slippery Nature of Standard Colors
Initially, a collision repair technician works to determine the precise color that was used as per the auto manufacturer standard. This may seem simple enough but the standard often has a myriad of variations in shade. This is because, though the manufacturer creates the standard, paint suppliers are actually the ones tasked with mass recreating the color. In most cases, the manufacturer will go with the most affordable option after consulting several suppliers, buying a large but obviously finite amount of that color from that specific chosen supplier. Now when that color eventually runs out, the process begins anew and this may result in the manufacturer finding a better deal from another paint supplier. The chances that the resulting paint produced by the second supplier would be identical to the paint produced by the first supplier are slim to none. But even if the manufacturer were to settle on the same supplier, shifting conditions such as humidity and temperature can impact the shade of the color, meaning it can alter slightly from day to day.
Variants Upon Variants
Fortunately, suppliers and manufacturers are well aware of this dilemma so they work to make varying degrees of paint formulas to account for the known variants. While this is a massive help to the collision repair tech, it’s still far from a perfect solution. After the technician has consulted the computer’s color matching algorithms, the real work begins. Not only are technicians working against unknown variants but also natural conditions that can impact your car’s paintjob over time (such as that bright Southern California sunshine). California collision repair shops benefit from restrictions that hold them to water-borne paints similar to what is used in the manufacturing process. Other states often rely on solvent-borne paints in collision repair processes which open up a potential host of other variant problems.
Color Matching Beyond the Computer
Card testing a proposed paint sample can allow a color matching technician to determine how the color looks in sunlight, which will obviously be different than how it appears in the shadows of the auto garage. The sun can illuminate all sorts of inconsistencies so the card test can really come in handy. A lot of motorists might be confused to see a collision repair specialist applying the newly mixed paint to areas of the vehicle that were not damaged by the incident. However, this is a necessary step in optically blending the new color with the existing color. No matter how accurate a color match, blending will undoubtedly be required to make the new paint appear seamless. A skilled technician knows to work with the contours of your car, using the light and shadow produced by bulges and dips to produce a natural look. If this step is done haphazardly, the differences between the new paint and the original paint will be glaringly obvious.
Other factors, such as paint texture, can come into play when repairing a paint job following a collision, but a well-trained, experienced technician will know how to handle these issues just as well as color matching variants. It always pays to consult a collision repair shop with experience in color matching since a botched paint matching job is an embarrassing eyesore to say the least. With the right skilled technician, no one will be able to notice a difference in paint whether in shade or sun, up close or afar.