How To Spray Metal Flake in 6 EASY Steps

One of the most searched custom paint questions on google is “how to spray metal flake”. So no you’re not alone in wondering how all those bright, sparkly paint jobs are done.

Metal flake paint jobs are a common option for cars and other equipment, like skateboards, tumblers or guitars. The question “How do I spray metal flake?” still remains. To create this type of paint, mix metal flake into a carrier (intercoat clear or 2k clear coat). Once you’ve poured this paint mixture into your paint gun, apply the mixture to your desired surface. Apply at least 2 coats of paint until you achieve your desired color!

.015" sirius silver metal flake
sirius silver metal flake 015

How much metal flake do I use?

This is entirely up to you or the person you’re painting for. A good rule of thumb for 100% coverage is 1 8th per quart of carrier. If you’re not after full coverage, 1 8th is enough to do a full car. Note this will result in much less sparkle and a subtle color on top of your basecoat.

How do I spray metal flake paint?

Once you’ve reduced your intercoat (or activated your 2k clear), dump in the amount of flake you want. Be sure to stir this mixture well as flake is heavy, so it will settle to the bottom.

  1. Spray your first coat over your dry basecoat. Using 50% overlap to ensure you get even coverage.
    • If not using a disposable cup system, empty your spray gun into the cup you mixed the flake in. Keep your spray gun upside down. This prevents the flake from settling to the bottom of your gun, resulting in a huge burst of flake coming on your next spray.
  2. Once you’ve given your carrier the time to flash off, stir the flake mixture again to evenly disperse the flake. Pour back into your spray gun.
  3. Spray your 2nd coat.
  4. Continue these steps until you get the desired coverage (should be no more than 4 coats).
  5. Allow your carrier to flash off before top coating with 2k clear to bury the flake.
  6. Once your top coat clear dries to sand, you sand the surface to remove all orange peel (texture) before laying out tape for graphics or simply re-clearing.

Below you’ll see a picture of our Holographic Gooch’s Beard Clippings sprayed on a helmet by Gooch Customs

Now that You know how to spray metal flake, buy some!

how to spray metal flake gooch's beard clippings helmet
sprayed by: ig @gooch_customs

How much flake do I use?

This is entirely up to you. The more flake you add, the more coverage you’ll get but also the bigger you’ll need the tip size of your gun to be.

What color base coat should I spray flake over?

Flake is typically sprayed over a black base coat (if going for full coverage) or a color matched base coat (to blend the flake in with the paint for subtle sparkle).

Do I have to spray clear coat over the flake?

Yes! Regardless of your plans after spraying flake, you’ll want to bury it in clear. This protects the flake from being nicked, which strips away the color.

What size tip do I need to spray metal flake?

gun size chart for metal flake

1.3 for .004″, 1.4 for .008″, 1.7 for .015″. These are general guidelines, you can always grab a 2.0 or 2.5 and spray even more without issues.

Can you put metal flake in base coat?

This is not advised. Especially if the base coat has any metallic or pearl in it as the flake will result in a texture that the pearl/metallic will sit on top of. Giving off an uneven look.

What do you mix metal flake with to spray?

You can mix metal flake with an intercoat clear, binder & balancer, or even a 2k clear. Just remember you’ll need to top coat the flake with more 2k clear coat once finished.

When did metal flake become popular?

Metal flake was first popularized in the 1950s and 1960s as a way to add sparkle and shine to custom paint jobs. Read more history of metal flake

What is Metal Flake?

Metal flake, also known as metalflake or flake, is a polyethylene film that is metalized, colored & then cleared. This allows it to be solvent proof, UV resistant & gives it the ability to last. Learn more about metal flake history by reading Metal Flake for Cars: History & 15 Things You Didn’t Know

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