Paint Shop: Aerosol Advancements

Jan. 1, 2020
During the past decade or so, aerosol products have gained acceptance for minor damage repairs in collision repair shops. The driving forces behind this trend are the ease and convenience of use that aerosols offer. Aerosol cans are usually sold in s

During the past decade or so, aerosol products have gained acceptance for minor damage repairs in collision repair shops. The driving forces behind this trend are the ease and convenience of use that aerosols offer. Aerosol cans are usually sold in sizes ranging from about 16 oz. to 24 oz., about 5 percent to 25 percent of which is propellant, either butane or liquid gas.

“They’re extremely mobile,” says John Hall, of the Specialty Products Division of Valspar Corp., “and they’re ideal for doing small paint repairs almost anywhere, while keeping the spray booth open for the big jobs. There’s no prep time, no paint mixing and no gun cleaning. They’re also faster than a spray gun.”

Another advantage: greatly reduced overspray and, as a result, less masking is needed.

Aerosol products are evolving. Paint delivery recently has been enhanced by significant advances in spray nozzle technology, and painters can now apply a spray-gun-style oval pattern, not the small circular pattern common with earlier aerosols. Some products even feature a spray-gun-style swivel nozzle, which allows the painter to switch from a vertical to a horizontal pattern. 

Rick Brocklesby, owner of Braintree Town Line Collision in Holbrook, Mass., has noticed this improvement in container quality. “With some of the aerosols we used in the past,” he says, “the nozzle would clog and we were throwing them away when they were only half empty. We haven’t had that problem with the newer cans.”

Aerosols are used in place of spray-gun applied primers, cleaners, clears and other products. In addition to speed and convenience, they reduce waste because they eliminate the gun-cleaning step and there is no leftover paint in the cup. This is not an inconsequential consideration in light of waste disposal costs facing today’s shops.

Take Joe Chadwick, for instance. The manager of Plympton Cycle in Plympton, Mass., Chadwick began using Transtar aerosols several months ago. “They have definitely cut down on waste,” he says. “We use the texturized clear undercoat, the rubberized undercoat, the weld-through primer and an aerosol solvent to remove stickers.” Chadwick explains that the products produce excellent fill and build, “So I don’t have to go over the same spot 10 times.”

At Fine Lines Automotive in San Antonio, Texas, painter Mark Gomez sprays a two-component (2K) primer out of the spray gun. “Then,” he says, “I use Transtar’s 2-in-1 aerosol primer for small spots. That saves me from getting the gun dirty again,” which saves the gun-cleaning step.

Tyler Pullen, the painter at Arco’s Autobody in South San Francisco, Calif., saves time and material by using DuPont’s one-component (1K) Aerosol Clear when he checks color matches. He sprays the matching color on check-hiding cards until hiding is achieved, then he hits the color with the aerosol clear and compares it to the vehicle’s finish.

“The aerosol is so much quicker than using a spray gun to apply the clear, which is what I used to do,” says Pullen.

Brent Wallace, product manager of R-M and Limco Brands in the NAFTA Region of BASF, says aerosol products are often used to prevent small mistakes from delaying delivery of a vehicle. “They can take care of something like a sand-through while blocking, and of course they eliminate the need for gun cleaning—like for the plastic adhesion promoter. Overall it’s a cycle time reduction action.”

Marcel Blais, product specialist for DuPont Automotive Finishes, agrees. “A lot of the popularity of aerosols has to do with the finessing of a repair,” he says “The painter can pretty things up quickly with a spray can.”

2K products in a can

These products of convenience promise to become even more popular, and manufacturers will be responding with new offerings. In the near future, at least two paint makers plan to introduce 2K products, wherein the user presses a button on the aerosol can to mix the two components. Most current products are solvent-based and require fairly lengthy dry time, but more UV-cured products are in the offing. While primers, primer-surfacers and clears dominate today’s aerosols, more base colors will be introduced by some manufacturers this year.

A dozen or more paint makers currently market aerosol products—mainly surface cleaners, spot primers, etching primers, 1K clears and trim colors. Below are some offerings from the leading paint makers:

Akzo Nobel

With its Sikkens brand, Akzo has been in the aerosol business for about three years. Its primary products are a National Rule surface cleaner, an antistatic surface cleaner for plastic parts, and a gray spot primer. Last year Sikkens introduced Primer PO, an adhesion promoter for TPO (thermoplastic olefin) plastics.

David Bly, Sikkens product manager for North America, says the brand will introduce several new products soon. Those include corrosion protection primers in several colors, an adhesion promoter for urethane plastics, a 1K etching primer, a trim black with a matte, semi-gloss finish for trim pieces, and a solvent blending agent for clears.


BASF offers a number of aerosol products in both its R-M and Glasurit brands. Among them are the following:

Glasurit 185-10 UV Primer Filler is a 1K ready-to-use UV-cured coating offering fully cured fill, no dieback, improved chemical resistance and superior durability. It can be cured with sunlight as well as UV lights. Depending on the sun’s intensity, 5 to 20 minutes of exposure can cure 185-10 into a ready-to-sand coating.

Glasurit 325-1500 Spot Blender is California compliant and convenient for small repairs—e.g., when sanding causes a breakthrough in the basecoat.

Under its R-M brand, BASF offers the AERO-MAX system. This aerosol system features the following products: a spot blender, a Pre-Kleano for lifting contaminants from the surface, a plastic adhesion promoter, a UV flash-fill primer, a spot primer that is easy to sand, a prime etch, a satin black, a high gloss black and a cut-in clear. In the second quarter of 2005, R-M plans to introduce a fast 2K clear.


Go to the Bondo Web site and you’ll see 54 aerosols under three different brands: Bondo, Dynatron and Mar-Hyde. Many of these are aimed at do-it-yourselfers, but just as many are used in body shops.

Among the most popular are several different types of Bondo Rubberized Undercoat. These act as both sound-deadening and rust proofing products on inner fender walls and rocker panels. There are also weld-through primers and lacquer primers. The Mar-Hyde line offers several different vinyl colors as well as an adhesion promoter and a rubberized undercoating. The Dynatron brand includes Dyna-Pro Rocker Panel Black Aerosol.

DuPont Automotive Finishes

With a plastic cleaner and plastic adhesion promoter, DuPont Automotive Finishes (DAF) introduced its first aerosols in 2002. Since then, it has added ultra-fast spot repair primers, a self-etching direct-to-metal primer that helps prevent corrosion and improves adhesion, a jambing clear, and a satin trim black for trim and moldings.

DuPont’s Blais reports that A47480, the 1K jambing clear, has been particularly well received, along with a 1K QuickPrime acrylic primer. The latter is formulated in three colors of DuPont’s ValueShade, an undercoat shading system designed to cover quickly.

The newest addition to the line is a UV primer-surfacer. Applied directly to metal, it dries in 30 seconds with a smooth surface that can be sanded immediately after cooling.

Under the Nason brand, DuPont Performance Coatings will introduce trim colors and white and black in various gloss levels.

Montana Products Inc.

Montana Products offers a line of aerosols to help with repair work in collision restoration facilities.  SA210 is a rubberized undercoating that helps retard rust and corrosion. SA220 is a paintable rubberized undercoating that dries to a tough, flexible coating that helps resist abrasion, eliminate noise and may be painted in one hour. SA680 is a specially formulated black satin flexible bumper coating that doesn’t require blending or added preparation with special adhesion promoters. SA5620 1K metal etch primer is an easy-to-use, corrosion-resistant primer that is compatible with today’s primers, sealers and may be directly topcoated.


Aerosol-applied, UV-cured primer-surfacers from PPG are designed for scratches and small dings and dents. They can be cured in just two minutes with the use of a PPG-approved UV lamp. PPG claims that by using this system, a shop can achieve topcoating in less than six minutes, or more than 45 minutes faster than conventional primer products. In some cases, when a shop uses the UV-cured primer, repairs can be made for customers while they wait.

Another aerosol, SUA4903 Advanced Plastic Bond, is a key component in PPG’s OneChoice Plastic Prep System, a three-step process to create superior adhesion for unprimed plastic surfaces.

The system starts with the SU4901 Clean and Scuff Sponge. Pre-saturated with a cleaning solution, it’s designed to lightly abrade the plastic part and remove contamination in a single step. Next, SU4902 Plastic Adhesion Wipe, also pre-saturated, applies a film-forming adhesive and anti-static material to unprimed plastic in a single step. Last comes the SUA4903 aerosol.

SEM Products Inc.

Charlotte, N.C., -based SEM Products, Inc., has a full line of prep products, primers (including high-build and self-etch), flexible coatings, sealers,  textured coatings and standard colors. SEM aerosols are on the shelves of most auto body shops. Their most popular products include Color Coat Aerosols, as well as Trim Black and Guide Coat.


While much of S-W’s Dupli-Color line of aerosols is aimed at do-it-yourselfers, it also markets spray cans designed for the professional

auto body painter. The line includes a wide range of colors in both enamel and lacquer, as well as primer sealers, a flexible primer, weld-through primer for galvanized surfaces, a self-etching primer, adhesion promoter, trim paint, an edging clear and a guide coat.

Spies Hecker

The most popular item in the Spies Hecker aerosol offering is its Priomat Primer 3255 Red Brown, which offers excellent corrosion protection and adhesion. It also can be used as a weld-through primer.

Other products in the Spies Hecker aerosol line include Priomat elastic primer and 1K primer surfacer, available in light gray and dark gray, and a silicone remover, a slowly evaporating solvent mixture to remove oil and grease residues.


A 1K adhesion primer red/brown also leads the Standox line of aerosols. It is chromate free and imparts excellent corrosion protection.

The line includes a 1K primer filler for metallic surfaces and a 1K primer for plastics that is wet-on-wet overcoatable with Standox 2K Nonstop primer filler. A silicone antistatic remover rounds out the line.


The Transtar line is extensive and includes two-in-one primers. They help prevent rust and seal out moisture while providing a smooth base for topcoat application on metal substrates. Available in gray, black and red, the primers can be applied to both flexible and rigid parts. The line also includes a self-etching 1K primer.

Another popular product is Tex Coat flexible protective coating. The texturized coating can be varied to match OEM textures found on rocker panels, valances, etc.

Transtar’s jambing clear is an acrylic designed for use when performing small spot and panel repairs. It’s ideal for replacement parts, door jambs, hood and trunk jambs and cut-ins.

Rounding out the line is a Melt Away Overspray, used where blends or spot repairs are being performed. This product melts the blend edge into the coating, thus reducing buffing and sanding once the coating has cured.


Tempo is the brand under which Valspar Corp. markets it professional-grade aerosols. The line includes wheel coatings in silver, gray and black, and trunk spatter finish in several shades of gray and black, as well as a trunk clear.

There is a Tempo sandable primer in red iron oxide, gray, black and white, and a spot filler and primer in several colors. The line also includes lacquer and enamel colors.

Tempo customers also can purchase the Universal Blend system, which includes a manual paint filler with rack and pinion gears and a 32-ounce paint reservoir. The system comes with aerosol cans pre-charged with propellant, into which custom colors can be loaded.

About the Author

Bob Yearick

Bob Yearick recently retired from the DuPont Company after 34 years of service. He was editor of DuPont Refinisher News for nearly 20 years.

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