Can I use car spray paint on my model kit?

The short answer to this is that yes you can use automotive spray paints on plastic scale models. The advantages of using car paints on your models including that the paints are available in a huge range of colours, often matched to authentic manufacturers samples. Also, given that they are designed for use on full size cars they have a tough finish that makes them very resilient to handling and they can be polished to a high shine with products such as T-Cut or even toothpaste.

Can I Use Spray Paint On My Models?

However, care must be taken to as the type of solvents used in automotive spray paints can easily damage the plastic used in model kits and this will have a disastrous effect on the final finish.

Firstly the parts should be cleaned to ensure that they are free of grease, dust and finger prints. Next a primer specifically designed for use on plastic should be applied in light coats to all the parts you intend to spray. Don’t forget to also prime the inside of the body. These primers are often found next to the colour spray paints but you should ensure that you are getting a suitable product. If you are unsure then it is a good idea to see what paints other modellers have tried and to experiment on a spare piece of sprue or similar.

This first coat of primer can the be rubbed down with a fine grade of abrasive to ensure a completely smooth surface before applying a second coat of primer if required.

The first coat of the top colour should be applied very thinly and is designed to give the next coat something to grip and should not be intended to completely cover the model. The body of the model should now be put aside somewhere warm, dry and dust free in order to fully dry before the next layer is added.

The top coats should be applied in even layers heavy enough to give good coverage but taking care not to go too heavy as this will cause excess paint to pool in corners and cause ‘runs’ in the paint. Each layer should also be given plenty of time to dry somewhere warm, dry and dust free. This is to allow all the solvent vapour to properly evaporate from the paint so that it doesn’t affect the subsequent paint coats.

Once a satisfactory finish has been achieved the model can be given a clear coat to protect the finish and give a suitable surface for any decals that are required.


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