Kevin Tetz
August 18, 2017

Automotive paint technology has come a very long way since Henry Ford coated his Model As with a cotton-derived nitrocellulose lacquer paint. Refinish technology changes regularly as EPA regulations get tighter, pollution and waste management mandates change, and technology simply progresses over time.

We got the chance to talk with Brian Smith of Single Source, Inc., in Nashville, Tennessee, one of America’s largest paint-supply retailers. Single Source handles many major lines of paint and body shop supplies, including PPG Paints, which is a favorite of ours for a number of reasons. Brian shared with us some of the new tools and equipment on the shelves of his Nashville store, and his insight based on his 20-plus years helping painters and restoration enthusiasts reach their goals with great customer service and the latest technology.

3M has come out with this Accuspray Kit, (PN 16580), which contains a single gun body and three interchangeable and disposable tips, as well as a PPS cup and liner, and inline pressure regulator. Production painters love them for the timesaving disposable tips, which are available through most paint-supply stores. Hobby guys love this set for the versatility of three guns in one. Everyone likes the price of $185 for the set. Several people clean the tips out and reuse them, making it an even better value.

With all the paint and restoration materials currently available on the internet, it’s nice to know that providing solid customer service is the most important thing to Brian and his Single Source team. Rumors persist about impending EPA regulations that will restrict hobbyists from buying what they need to resurrect a vintage Mustang, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. “Unless you’re generating an enormous amount of hazardous waste—100 gallons a year or more—the EPA doesn’t monitor small-waste generators,” Brian says.

That being said, it’s still important to know how to responsibly dispose of hazardous chemicals. This is another way Single Source and other body-shop jobbers like Brian Smith can help. You have to really understand how to properly use and handle today’s paint supplies. Education is critical, and Brian’s outlet offers regular certification classes as a service to their customers. Paint products are more expensive, and the toxins are more concentrated than in years past. You have to know how to safely use automotive paint, as well as how to responsibly dispose of the waste. Technically speaking, paint can be shipped—expensively—from state to state, but as end users we just can’t ship our cleanup thinner back to the internet when we’re done with our paintjob. Single Source and other local brick-and-mortar jobber stores can help with that, too.

SEM has been a paint supplier for many years for accent rattle-can paints, but it has recently introduced popular automotive basecoats in a rattle can. This is color only and can be coated with any automotive clearcoat, making repairs quick and inexpensive compared to custom-mixed factory colors.

If you want to educate yourself on restoration techniques, several training products are available either on DVD or streamed and downloaded from Paintucation.com and other online trainers. But Brian also let us know that PPG now has hot-rod and restoration focused hands-on classes for hobbyists and professional restorers available at several of their U.S. training center locations. PPG is one of the only major paint manufacturers to allow hobbyists into their standard certification classes, as well. So there are plenty of ways we as weekend warriors can learn how to use this new technology.

Sometimes progress comes at a price, and we have to readjust our techniques and adopt a new learning curve. When you embrace the fact that paint technology is constantly changing—and improving—then it’s easy to get excited about new innovations. The basic process of automotive painting hasn’t changed much over the past 60 years or so. Though, there are some new tools, products, and equipment that we wanted to share with you that will hopefully make your restoration project a little easier.

Proper air volume (CFM) is critical for modern HVLP equipment to work properly. Flexzilla hoses are kink-less, light, and easy to use. They feature the correct 3/8-inch inside diameter, as well as large diameter fittings to promote proper airflow.

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