top of page

Detailing basics: All about paint layers

If you've ever wondered what goes into achieving the beautiful shine on a car, it all starts with the layers of paint. In this post, we'll go through each layer step-by-step and explain what it does.



1. Body Metal

The first layer is the body metal. This is the metal framework of the car that forms the basic shape of the vehicle. Manufacturers apply a layer of anti-corrosion coating to the metal to prevent rust and other forms of corrosion.



2. Primer

The next layer is the primer. The primer is used to create a smooth surface for the paint to adhere to. It also helps to protect the metal from corrosion and provides a layer of insulation. Without the primer, the paint wouldn't adhere to the metal properly and would peel off quickly.


3. Paint Layer

After the primer comes the paint layer. The paint is what gives the car its color and adds a layer of protection to the primer. However, even after the paint is applied, the car still won't have that shiny look that we all love.




4. Clear Coat

That's where the clear coat comes in. The clear coat is a layer of transparent paint that goes over the color coat. It provides an extra layer of protection against the elements and gives the car its shine. Back in the 90s, manufacturers didn't use clear coats, so they polished the car until they achieved a shiny look.



When you polish a car, the polishing pad doesn't change color because the clear coat is very thin. The pad is essentially polishing away a very small layer of the clear coat, which doesn't change the color.

Scratches and oxidation can occur over time, which can make the car look dull and old. Scratches can be either shallow or deep, and deep scratches will need to be filled in with paint. Oxidation occurs when the clear coat breaks down, and the paint begins to fade. Both can be solved through various detailing techniques, such as polishing or buffing.



A detailer's job is to bring out the shine in a car through various techniques, such as polishing, waxing, and buffing. They also clean the car's interior and exterior, ensuring that it looks and feels brand new. A good detailer will know how to take care of scratches, oxidation, and other blemishes, leaving the car looking beautiful and shiny.


Final Note

The beautiful shine on a car comes from a combination of layers, including the body metal, primer, paint layer, and clear coat. Each layer plays a vital role in protecting the car from the elements and giving it its color and shine. While manufacturers didn't use clear coats in the past, they achieved a shiny look by polishing the car until it looked brand new. Detailers today use various techniques to bring out the shine in a car, such as polishing, waxing, and buffing. By understanding the basics of paint layers and taking care of scratches and oxidation, you can keep your car looking beautiful for years to come or trust a Mobile Detailing professional to maintain your vehicle looking new BEFORE it it gets dirty.




bottom of page