Single-stage car paints were quite popular in the late 1970s. Surprisingly, they still hold a significant market share today, and there are several reasons for that!
To start, unlike 2-stage paints, they don’t degrade or pick up swirls/ scratches over time. Instead, you can easily restore them to a good shine with some simple detailing.
Even better, most modern single-stage paints have low VOC levels and come with different innovative technologies. And as the name implies, these paints only require a single coat to get the desired gloss, hardness, and color!
Unfortunately, due to these products’ increase in popularity, finding the best single-stage paint isn’t that easy. But, worry not! In this guide, we’ll take you through various single-stage car paints worth buying.
That way, you don’t have to spend money on expensive topcoats. Moreover, this will help you save the time of applying different coatings.
That said, let’s get into it!
In Hurry! Then Check Out Our Top 4 Picks:
5 Best Single Stage Paint Reviews
We’ll go through each of these products in detail and highlight their advantages and disadvantages.
1. RESTORATION SHOP Single Stage Paint Kit in Jet Black (Gloss)
Restoration Shop is well-known for manufacturing superior coating products using the highest-quality ingredients. Well, their Acrylic Enamel Single Stage car paint is no exception! So, with this product, you can rest assured that you’ll get consistent, professional-grade on your car painting project!
However, a car is not the only item you can use this coating on. Due to its versatility, this paint is safe to use on various surfaces you can think of.
As an example, you can apply it on bikes and marine transports like ships, boats, and fleets. Moreover, this paint can withstand harsh factory conditions, making it a great option for painting factories as well.
Besides, it’s ranked among the most durable single-stage paint out there. Thanks to its ability to resist chemicals, toxic solvents, and UV rays. As if that’s not enough, it resists cracking as well as chipping.
Moving on, this kit comes with everything you need to get started on your painting project. For instance, you’ll get stirring sticks, a hardener, and strainers.
To be precise, the kit comes with 1 pint/ 0.473 liters of hardener, 5 nylon strainers, and 5 mixing sticks. Each strainer has 190-micron screens, helping you filter out any impurities from the paint.
More importantly, the package includes 1 quart of paint, but you can also find it in the 1-gallon size option. The included formula is safe and legal to use in all states across the country since it has low VOC content.
Specifically, each gallon of this acrylic enamel contains just 2.8 pounds of VOC. Above all, this paint has a fast-drying formula that leaves a high-gloss & durable finish!
2. SPEEDOKOTE 2K Acrylic Urethane Single Stage Paint for Cars
Manufactured by SPEEDOKOTE, this acrylic urethane is another safe and acceptable car paint in all states in the USA. Thanks to its VOC levels, which are lower than 2.8 pounds per gallon. However, that’s not the only feature that makes it the best single-stage paint for automotive applications.
For starters, this paint kit comes with 1 gallon of acrylic urethane paint and 32 oz. of activator. In essence, the paint and activator should be mixed in a ratio of 3:1. Simply put, every portion of the activator requires thrice the amount of acrylic urethane paint.
When it comes to application, this single-stage (2-component) coating is simple to use, both for newbies and pros. Besides, the paint has a jet-black shade, which provides an appealing high gloss finish. Best of all, it forms an even coating and dries fast after being applied to the target surface.
Another interesting property is that the resulting coating can withstand various harsh weather elements. For instance, it has incredible weatherproof features such as UV-resistant.
For that reason, it’s a great option for painting surfaces that will be exposed to outdoor conditions.
More notable, like any other single-stage paint, this product doesn’t involve topcoat application. Instead, the paint will form a glossy and durable coating on its own. Also, it doesn’t require a reducer, but you can add 5% of a suitable reducer if necessary.
3. SPEEDOKOTE Hot Rod Black Single Stage Paint
At first glance, this single-stage paint from SPEEDOKOTE comes with a 32 oz. activator and 1 gallon can of paint. When mixed properly in a ratio of 4:1, these components provide a paint that you can apply in a single stage.
One thing that makes this paint stand out from the rest though is that it forms a luscious satin finish. To be precise, it leaves a silky satin black finish on drying. So, if you’re looking for the best black single-stage paint for your kit, this kit is such a great option!
Another impressive feature offered by this paint is that it has exceptional longevity and adhesion, provided the components are mixed properly. In addition, it has a fast drying time to ensure efficiency.
As if that’s not enough, it’s resistant to chemicals, solvents, UV rays, and running. Therefore, the formed coating will effectively prevent cracking, fading, as well as chipping.
Regarding the application, this paint can be applied using various spraying methods. However, we’d recommend the use of superior spraying guns with tips whose diameter is around 1.3 to 1.4mm. Doing so will leave your surface with a long-lasting, satin velvety black finish!
As a drawback, this paint isn’t allowed in states like California due to its VOC content level. Specifically, its formula contains 4.8 pounds of VOC per gallon. Although this content level is relatively low, the VOC limits in some states are lower.
Other than that, you’ll find this single-stage paint to be highly durable and easy to mix & apply. Moreover, unlike other paints, it doesn’t chip or come off with ease, making it simple to polish.
4. Dupli-Color BSP202 Paint Shop Automotive Lacquer Finish
Every single stage paint we’ve reviewed so far requires some mixing, seeing that they come with 2 components. Well, that’s not the case with this Paint shop from Dupli-Color.
Instead, the paint comes already reduced, and it comes in a single can of 32 ounces. Therefore, you can use it right away after purchasing it.
Also, compared to the products on our list, this single-stage paint has the lowest level of VOCs. Specifically, its formula contains just 0.82 pounds of VOCs per gallon. For that, it’s safe and legal to use in every state across the country.
In addition to being easy to apply, this paint dries very quickly. On top of that, you can easily wet-sand it on drying. This will allow you to achieve an appealing metallic shine in no time. However, make sure you prime the surface before you apply the paint to extend its longevity further!
In terms of applications, this high-quality lacquer system is ideal for use on motorcycles and cars. Moving on to the drawbacks, this paint isn’t resistant to peeling and chemicals. Not to forget that it requires a clear topcoat before application.
Apart from those issues, it’s a great single-stage paint for cars, especially when you want a silver metallic finish on the project.
5. EASTWOOD Interstate Black Single Stage Acrylic Paint
Despite being last on our list, this interstate topcoat paint from Eastwood is another incredible single-stage paint for cars. Besides, it’s crafted from superior ingredients and advanced composition coating technology.
As a result, it provides a high-quality topcoat system that is superior to the lacquer, alkyd as well as acrylic coatings!
That aside, this paint kit comes with 32 oz. of urethane activator and 92 oz of urethane paint. When combined in a ratio of 3:1, these components give you enough paint to cover an area of around 125 sq. ft.
However, make sure you mix the exact amount of paint you’ll be using for your project. This is because this single-stage urethane paint may start to gel after about 2 hours of mixing the components.
In terms of temperature resistance, this paint can maintain its chemical composition when exposed to a temperature of up to 300 deg F. However, its color may change when the temperature exceeds 170 deg F. For that reason, it’s good to apply this paint in a low-temperature setting.
Applying this paint to the desired surface can be done through various spraying methods. For instance, you can use a gravity spray gun, siphon spray gun, or HVLP spray gun. Just make sure you use the right setting depending on your preferred spray method.
As an example, the tip dimension range of High Volume Low Pressure (HVLP) should be 1.3- 1.5mm. While its inlet pressure should be between 25 and 30PSI. On the other hand, the tip dimension of a gravity gun should range from 1.3 – 1.6mm, with a pressure range of 45 – 50PSI.
Lastly, this paint can either be used in combination with clear coats or as a singular topcoat. Interestingly, when used as a single-stage topcoat, you can polish and wet sand it to increase its textural richness.
All in all, this product is highly resistant to chipping, UV rays, and chemicals, giving it unsurpassed longevity.
What to Look Before Buying Single Stage Paint
If you’re still having a hard time choosing the best single stage paint for your project, consider the following factors;
The amount of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) in car paints is one of the most important factors you need to consider. One reason for this is that high VOC products release toxic fumes that are harmful to the user and the environment.
Besides, most states across the country have set the allowable VOC level limits.
In general, most states in the USA have set the limit to 4.6 pounds of VOC per gallon. However, the limit is much lower in some states like California and Delaware. So, make sure you choose a single paint with the lowest VOC levels possible, depending on where you live.
More importantly, always wear protective gear when applying single-stage paints for safety reasons. At the same time, ensure the workspace has adequate ventilation and is away from kids or pets.
Type of single stage paint
For our list above, it’s clear that single-stage paints are available in different types. More notably, each type has unique features that set it apart from the rest. With that in mind, understanding the different types available can help you choose the best product for your project.
That said, single-stage paints are grouped into the following types;
Acrylic urethane paints combine the benefits of enamel and lacquer. For instance, they’re easy to use as lacquers and possess the longevity of enamels. More notably, they have a relatively low level of VOCs, making them legal and safe to use in all states.
Urethane single stage is considered the most durable and expensive single-stage car paint. In essence, they last for many years, thanks to their exceptional ability to resist chipping and fading.
Besides, you can paint them over any kind of old paint and they’re easy to use. However, due to their fast-drying nature, they may not be the best option for beginners.
3. Acrylic Lacquer
Acrylic lacquer single stage paints offer an extra-shiny, appealing finish. And they’re extremely easy to work with. Unfortunately, they’re not as durable as urethane.
Moreover, they’re not resistant to UV rays, causing them to fade over time. Also, they’re illegal in some states since they usually have a high level of VOC content.
4. Acrylic enamel
Acrylic enamels form a strong and long-lasting coating all over the painted surfaces. More importantly, they’re available in both double-stage and single-stage categories. The only challenge with these paints is that they can be very hard to apply, especially for beginners.
Amount of Polyurethane
Most people have switched to single-stage paints from regular car paints because of polyurethane. This compound is responsible for ensuring enhanced durability of the coating and exceptional resistance against UV rays.
Better still, polyurethane gives the paint incredible adherence to the target surface. At the same time, polyurethane allows the paint to become rust-resistant, thus eliminating the need for applying a topcoat.
To sum things up, a single-stage paint with a high level of polyurethane will benefit you in all aspects.
Lastly, single-stage paints have different finishes. For instance, you can either choose pearl, gloss, metallic, high gloss, or satin. However, this option will be determined by your preference as well as the project type.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can you clear coat single-stage paint?
Although it’s not a must, you can apply a clear coat over single stage paints. This will give your color coat better protection since rubbing or cutting the surface will not affect the color.
2. What is color sanding?
Color sanding is the process of sanding the color of single-stage paints or the clear coat over its basecoat. Note, this process can either be done dry or wet.
3. What’s the easiest type of single-stage paint to apply to a car?
Acrylic urethane car paint is extremely easy to apply, compared to other types of single-stage paint. For that, it’s a great option for beginners and DIY car painters.
4. How do you wet sand single-stage paints?
Wrap 1000-grit sanding paper around a piece of a wooden block, then dip it in water. Spritz some water over the single paint with a small spray bottle. Now, run your wet sandpaper over the paint until you achieve a perfectly smooth finish.
5. What’s the difference between 2-stage and single-stage paints?
Single-stage paints require one direct application over the primed surfaces. More notably, it doesn’t require topcoats. On the contrary, 2-stage paints involve 2 steps.
That is; base coat and topcoat application. As a result, single-stage paints are faster and easier to apply than their 2-stage counterparts.
Single-stage paints are designed to make your car painting project easier than when using regular paints. However, with so many main types of paints available, choosing the best single-stage paint for your car will not always be easy.
On the bright side, this guide has everything you need to find the perfect single-stage paint for your car. Best of all, we’ve reviewed the top paints you can use to restore your car or even coat marine vessels.
So, check them out and carefully pick the best single-stage paint for your project!