Low Gloss “Hot Rod” Colors

Hot Rod Flatz and other low gloss or “hot rod” colors such as matte black, flat black, satin black continue to grow in popularity in the custom paint scene.  More and more cars are showing up in auto shows and crusin’ events across the country with cars and bikes sporting the low gloss look.  Black is by far the most popular low gloss color but more and more colors are becoming available as well as additional gloss sheens.  The movement towards low gloss sheen finishes was largely started by the emergence of the “rat rod”.  In short, the uniqueness of these finishes allows car owners to make their vehicle stand out in sea show vehicles.

Approaches for Hot Rod Finishes

There are several ways to achieve a low gloss efffect with paint including flattening a single stage finish with a flatting additive, buying a pre-flattened single stage finish, or using a low gloss 2 part clearcoat.  Which method works best really depends on your situation.  Generally speaking the most durable and versatile approach is to use a low gloss 2 part urethane clear over conventional basecoat.  This opens up thousands of color possibilities including pearl and metallic shades since essentially any basecoat color can be used (per manufacturer’s directions).  As with other base clear finishes, low gloss two stage systems commonly offer improved resistance to fading and cracking when compared to single stage approaches.  The disadvantage of base clear systems is a higher cost considering you have to apply two different products to achieve the desired color and gloss finish.  Pre-flattened single stage finishes are currently the most popular approach as it provides a more affordable approach than base/low gloss clears.  Pre-flattened single stage is commonly available in a durable 2k or “two part” urethane technology that offers very good resistance to fading, chalking, and cracking.  Enamels are also used to create low gloss effects but should not be used where long term durability is desired.  While some prefer to buy flatteners and mix their own low  gloss colors, it can often be more difficult to re-create the gloss sheen an color unless mixing is very precise.

Gloss Sheens

Many people do not realize it but there is actually a lot of variation in gloss when talking about low gloss finishes. We consider there to be 4 categories of gloss sheens available on the low gloss market, flat sheen, matte sheen, satin sheen, and semi-gloss.  Each sheen offers its own unique look and set of pros and cons.

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