Differences when painting a car or a commercial vehicle

Are all paint jobs the same? It all depends on the type of vehicle you are working with: car or commercial vehicle.

After an object hits the bodywork of a vehicle, this causes a deformation that means the surface must be reshaped or the damaged part must be replaced, always aiming to restore the original appearance. After the repair, the painting work begins, and this is when the next question arises: Are all paint jobs the same? Although it may seem to be the case, in reality it is not true, since it all depends on the type of vehicle you are working with: car or commercial vehicle. For this reason, here are the main differences when painting a car or a commercial vehicle.

Difference between a car and a commercial vehicle?

The main difference between a car and a commercial vehicle is how it’s used. While the car is intended for personal and work travel and for people’s leisure and enjoyment, the commercial vehicle is a work tool that is subjected to more demanding and severe use (environmental salinity, contact with aggressive products, prolonged environmental exposure, etc.). This has meant that paints intended for refinishing commercial vehicles sometimes require products which provide a more resistant and durable coating, without placing a special emphasis on achieving an eye-catching finish. However, it should be noted that this trend has been changing in recent years and it is increasingly common to find a greater variety of colors and qualities in this sector.

In some cases, the trend in the paint sector has been for manufacturers to develop painting processes and create specific paints for each type of situation, resulting in a number of differences when painting a car or commercial vehicle.

Main differences when painting a car or a commercial vehicle

The main differences when painting a car or a commercial vehicle are determined by a series of variables that are listed and explained below.

1st Difference: Purpose of the paint used.

When painting cars, the main objective of the manufacturer is to provide paintwork that stands out for its attractiveness and color variety. With regards to color variety, it aims to connect with the customer to satisfy their personal tastes in this regard. They are also paints that demonstrate sufficient mechanical and chemical resistance and good durability. For this type of painting, cost is not a vital aspect.

With regard to commercial vehicles, the paint that is developed is focused on producing a product that shows a perfect balance between mechanical and chemical resistance, durability and cost. For this reason, sometimes the attractiveness and variety of colors offered is not particularly emphasized.

2nd Difference: Colors used.

The colors used for painting cars stand out due to their chromatic variety, where there are a multitude of metallic, pearlescent, plain and special effect colors (chameleon, candy, etc.). In commercial vehicles, however, the color palette is much more limited, since, as a general rule, a few solid colors predominate.

Diferencias a la hora de pintar un coche o un vehículo industrial

3rd Difference: Primers used.

The main difference in the primer products used in both types of vehicles lies in the use of anti-corrosive primers and filler materials. Although primers should be used on both types of vehicles, it is not as frequent as it should be in car painting, since the use of primers, which also provide corrosion protection, supplement this task. However, in heavy commercial vehicles, agricultural machinery and similar vehicles, the use of these products is widespread and standardized through UNE and ISO standards. The most commonly used types of anti-corrosive primers are as follows:

Furthermore, there are also differences in the filler materials used, so that in cars there is a varied range of fillers where the use of polyester fillers (standard, light, fine, etc.) and those specific for plastics predominate. Polyester putties are also used in commercial vehicles in combination with different formulations of glass fiber, reinforced filler putties, etc.

4th Difference: Topcoat paints used.

In this variable, car paints are much more sophisticated than those used in commercial vehicles, since the technology of the pigments used when creating them is very varied and they must provide exceptional levels of finish without reducing other features such as the ability to spread out, the protection offered or the resulting coat, among others. These coatings are of a water-based acrylic nature (the paint that provides the color) or solvent-based (lacquers and one-coats). Among them, the most commonly used are the two-coat systems (color plus clear coat), although the three-coat systems are becoming more and more important. One-coat topcoats (direct gloss) are also still marketed for painting plain colors.

When we talk about the types of topcoat paints for commercial vehicles, the objective is different and resistance and protection are more important than the appearance, as a consequence of the need to adapt the coating to how the vehicle in question is used. In addition, some of these topcoats are also standardized through UNE and ISO standards. These are the topcoats used according to the type of commercial vehicle:

  • Light commercial vehicles. Topcoats similar to cars are used. Specifically, the paint for plain colors is solvent-based in one-coat systems and two-coat for the rest of the colors, although this option is less frequent due to the typology of the most predominant colors in these vehicles.
  • Heavy commercial vehicles. There are different options for coating these types of vehicles, among which two-component acrylic polyurethane coats with solvent-based, and in some cases water-based, direct gloss, as well as single-component synthetic enamels and one-coat paints with anti-corrosive properties stand out.

Diferencias a la hora de pintar un coche o un vehículo industrial

5th Difference: Refinishing process

Generally the refinishing process is more thorough and detailed when working with cars, which requires more time spent on the job. On the other hand, for commercial vehicles, especially for agricultural and construction machinery, this process is carried out in a less precise manner. Finally, for cars, a certain amount of time is dedicated to correcting possible paint defects (specks of dust, dullness, etc.), while in commercial vehicles this is not very common.

6th Difference: Necessary facilities and equipment.

The main difference in terms of facilities and equipment is based on the size of the facilities and the number of material resources available. Generally, commercial vehicle refinishing facilities tend to be larger in size and scope, with the need to use lifting platforms and similar systems that allow access to the upper areas of the vehicle. This equipment is usually limited only to what is strictly necessary. On the other hand, for car refinishing, there is a greater number of bodyshops in terms of equipment and the number of paintwork accessories.

Refinishing of different types of vehicles: same essence, different variables.

The general criteria for refinishing cars and commercial vehicles are similar in both cases. Even so, these vehicles are designed and manufactured for different purposes, so it is necessary to adapt the working procedures and the type of paint to the vehicle in question. In this way, we respect the factory finishes and contribute to maintaining the original level of quality offered.

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