WHY SHOULD I USE LACQUER INSTEAD OF HOBBY PAINTS?
WHAT MAKES LACQUER MORE GLOSSY THAN HOBBY PAINTS?
Lacquer contains acrylic based polymers and resins that hobby paints don't have. Why? The special components in lacquers require stronger solvents and additives than hobby paints contain. These special acrylic components are chemically engineered to provide the durability that allows lacquer finishes to be buffed and polished to a much higher gloss.
Precautions you take while working with hobby paints are the same that apply with lacquer paints. Although lacquers are more toxic and flammable, these factors do not pose a hazard when lacquer is used with proper care. Please read the website disclaimer for more information.
The common myth of the lacquer painting process being more complicated than that of hobby paints simply isn't true. In fact, the steps taken while painting with either are the same - prepare the surface, apply primer, apply the color and clearcoat, then clean up. The advantages offered by lacquer's quick drying time means less chance for paint flaws like runs or sags to develop and less chance for airborne contaminants to be attracted. If problems do occur the painter can easily and quickly effect repairs during the painting process without much risk of damaging the finish.
Without naming any particular brand, a popular hobby enamel packaged in 1/2 ounce quantities retails for about $2.49 per jar which equals almost $80.00 for one pint of paint. That's about 3 times the cost of one pint of automotive lacquer. The thinner for this company's paint retails for about $6.99 per 1/2 pint which equals $111.84 per gallon - almost 6 times greater than a gallon of high quality automotive lacquer thinner! Compare the costs and see for yourself.
HOW MUCH USE WILL I GET OUT OF A 2 OUNCE JAR OF PAINT?
Usage varies depending on each individual's method and style of painting, but a 2 ounce jar is typically more than enough to cover a 1/20 to 1/25 scale car body. If you plan on applying a finish to a project that requires additional parts to be painted (such as the body, chassis, engine and wheels of a street rod or custom) you may need more paint than a 2 ounce jar can provide. Generally speaking, darker colors cover better than lighter colors. The darker the color, the less you'll need.
DO I NEED TO USE A BASECOAT?
No. With the exception of candy colors, a basecoat is not a requirement for lacquer paint so much as it is a personal preference. Color pigments in most lacquer formulas have outstanding coverage ability which resists light penetration, meaning that with a properly applied finish, light reflects from the colorcoat before it reaches the substrate level. Only the true color is displayed.
DO I NEED TO USE A CLEARCOAT?
That depends on what type of colorcoat you're using and how you want the finish to appear. Lacquer dries dull so if you don't plan on rubbing out your finish then a clearcoat is recommended. Metallic and pearl finishes may or may not be distorted by rubbing them out so again, a clearcoat is recommended. Solid colors can be rubbed out to a shine with no problems. For more detailed information please consult the Applying Automotive Clearcoat Tutorial.