Lexus Infrared 3T5, Honda Andaro Blue Pearl B605P and Ford Ruby Red are just a few examples of the sophisticated colors that automakers are introducing to differentiate their vehicles from the competition. These new colors are highly chromatic with a translucence that portrays an exceptional level of depth, brilliance and clarity. For collision repair centers to accurately match and repair these new colors with maximum efficiency, it’s helpful to better understand the processes the OEM factories use. Some use standard gray undercoats for all colors; others employ different shades of gray, while others apply colored ground coats. But the end result is effectively the same—the translucent nature of the color pigments combine with the undercoat color and clearcoat to create the dramatic final color.

Using a waterborne refinish system offers the best opportunity for collision refinish technicians to accurately match these vibrant colors—PPG’s system effectively mirrors OEM coatings technology and their factory application processes. It’s an approach where PPG has taken the lead with the ENVIROBASE® High Performance waterborne basecoat system. This advanced refinish system keeps pace with the OEMs by combining 3rd-generation waterborne technology, the latest translucent pigments, and a proven spectral gray undercoat system to match the exotic styling effects of today’s original finishes.

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Translucent Toners and Spectral Gray Undercoats

In order to achieve the highly chromatic and eye-catching colors offered by competing OEM brands, PPG’s waterborne system incorporates the latest vibrant toners made with translucent pigments. However, the key to success is what lies underneath—scientifically aligned spectral gray (SG) undercoats provide the appropriate foundation to allow the basecoat layer to reflect its full chromatic effect. PPG has formulated five shades of spectral grays, giving users of the Envirobase High Performance system the complete range needed to match today’s emerging vibrant colors. All of PPG’s waterborne color formulas specify the optimal SG shade of undercoat, which can be retrieved from any of PPG’s color formula retrieval tools.

Spray to Color, Not Coverage

“Spray to full hiding” has long been the maxim for any paint technician applying color coats over primer to accurately match a vehicle color. This is no longer standard practice when repairing the newer translucent OEM finishes using the Envirobase High Performance system. Once the recommended spectral gray undercoat is applied, waterborne translucent color coats are sprayed to “perceived hiding,” allowing the sealer to play its role in creating the final match. Typically, this “spray to color” technique requires two to four coats of color, plus a lower-pressure control coat to create smooth metallic orientation.


Smoother, Easier Blending

Technicians accustomed to spraying opaque color to full hiding over a feather-edged surfacer will discover a significant advantage in blending when transitioning to the Envirobase High Performance system. Using the traditional “spray to full hiding” with products formulated to be opaque, painters can find it difficult to achieve both a good color match and a satisfactory blend into adjacent panels on newer translucent colors. In comparison, PPG’s waterborne toners, combined with blended SG undercoats, enable the painter to achieve a gradual blend that vanishes into the adjacent OEM finish. This easy-blending technique for spot repairs is often cited by collision centers as a major reason why they converted to the Envirobase High Performance system—and it’s an essential part of the curriculum on the latest techniques for matching the new, more exotic colors taught at PPG training centers.

Hands-on Color Training

Painters using the Envirobase High Performance system can enhance their skills for matching today’s vehicle colors by attending a host of training courses offered at each of PPG’s 16 Business Development Centers.

Color matching is a major focus of PPG’s Painter Certification Training for the Envirobase High Performance system. The two-day course includes both classroom education and hands-on training, covering all aspects of performing refinish repairs. Technicians are encouraged to take certification training every two years to stay abreast of the latest products, equipment, technologies and application procedures.

Further instruction on matching specialty finishes is provided at PPG’s Tri-Coat and Specialty Finishes training course. Topics covered include creating a tri-coat let-down panel, repairing tri-coat finishes, how to match low-gloss finishes, as well as the proper use of spectral gray undercoats for translucent finishes.

The art of tinting for difficult-to-match colors is the main objective of PPG’s Color Adjustment course. The comprehensive two-day course covers the science of color perception and its practical application in matching and tinting vehicle colors. Tailored to a specific PPG premium refinish system, attendees receive in-depth instruction covering color plotting, use of tint charts, light sources, flop adjustment, blending techniques and more.

For more information, visit or contact your local PPG distributor.



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