How Much Does a Pearl Paint Job Cost? | Expect to Pay This


Pearl and iridescent finishes have become increasingly trendy, particularly when it comes to selecting finishes for cars. Many car owners have flocked to this concept for dazzling up their ride with its mesmerizing interaction with light and semi-translucent appeal. But, just how much will a pearl paint job cost?

Most pearl paint jobs cost between 30% to 50% more than the average paint job, but the price of pearl paint jobs varies between models and lines. The average price can vary based on pearl paint choice and the model being painted, and high-quality jobs may cost $3000 to $5000 or more.

While it may seem like a great idea to cut costs and increase savings, your car’s paint job isn’t really somewhere to skimp out on. Stick around to find out everything you need to know about pearl paint costs so you can make an informed decision before pimping your ride.

Why Is Pearl White Paint More Expensive?

Pearl paint jobs amount to far more costs because of the increased labor and time that the job will take. Sparkly white or pearl white is accompanied by more steps in order to achieve the desired effect. Compared to silver or metallic coats, which have two layers following the primer, pearl or opalescent jobs typically include three layers above the primer.

In general, this can be described as a solvent-based undercoat, a water-based pearlescent color, and an acrylic clear coat. Simple pearl paint jobs requiring two layers are often comprised of flakes in the clear coat, which will interact with the light, followed by a clear coat for finishing.

High-quality pearl paint jobs that necessitate three layers are comprised of varying stages. Different layers are applied in turn to end up with the final pearly, sparkly, iridescent finish. First, the base coat of color is applied, followed by micro titanium dioxide, which establishes the luminescence, and then a layer of clear coat to finish the look.

It should be noted that each layer is baked between each step for proper curing, which also adds more time to the equation. Since the layers are transparent, the color and sheen appear to be one gleaming finish. Despite this intensified process, the price of cars with pearl paint jobs will vary greatly, even when models fall within the same class.

Vehicle Prepped to Paint

Most dealers will charge more for vehicles that have pearl finishes. Take a look at the comparative table below for some example of how the additional cost for white pearl painted cars can vary.

Motor Vehicle ModelPearl Paint FinishAverage Extra Price
Mazda 6 SedanSnowflake White$200
Toyota CamryBlizzard Pearl$395
Chevrolet MalibuIridescent Pearl Tricoat$995

That being said, it’s been estimated that in order to have a custom high-quality pearl paint job done privately, it will cost $3000 to $5000, but could cost even more.

How Long Does Pearl Paint Last?

While there is no exact expiration date on pearl paint, the sheen, glistening effect, and iridescent luster can fade over time without proper preservation. Pearl painted cars need to be waxed as recommended by the auto body technician in order to reduce the risk of scratching, peeling, and fading from direct sunlight since pearl paint is more vulnerable to marks and scratches.

Pro Tip: Just like normal paint jobs, the colors and hues of high-end pearl paint jobs will still fade or become uneven if left in the sun too much. And when a high-quality paint job fades, it simply won’t do. To mitigate this, you should park the car in the shade as much as possible. Better yet, keep it covered or in a garage.

I recommend picking up a basic inexpensive cover for your car. It’s better to replace it frequently rather than paying a lot of money for one that birds are going to pool on or that might get torn by careless neighbors trying to sneak a peak. Here is a quality inexpensive model found on Amazon that does the trick nicely.

Potential wear and tear is another reason for ensuring that the original paint job has been done correctly. As time goes on, it will be nearly impossible to match the exact job; therefore, the entire body will need to be redone. Therefore, getting a thorough pearl paint job that will last longer compared to low quality, cheaper pearl paint jobs will pay off in the long run – unless the car needs to have serious repairs done.

One of the great things about pearl paint jobs is that the paint is comprised of crystals that refract and reflect light simultaneously. This illusion of depth, ever-changing hues depending on light, and visual details within the paint make it more challenging to spot small blemishes, dents, or dings. This is often not the case the standard paint jobs, where flaws will be noticeable.

Pearl Paint Colors for Cars

Most manufacturers only offer a restricted quantity of pearlescent colors, but high-end brands usually have plenty of choices for clients. However, a wide range of colors are available overall, and auto body technicians use a balanced blend of colors to ensure that the undercoat color, the color of the sheen, and the hues that radiate from the paint in the sun all match up to the desired effect.

Colors are generally divided into those which are used for two-stage pearl paint and three-stage pearl paint.

What Is the Pearl Color in the Paint?

There are a few main types that are the most popular, regardless of color and shade. The ‘pearls’ within the paint are derived from various substrates that interact with light. The pearl is added to shades of medium paint to create varying results.

  • Mica Pearl: This is the most common pearl paint type and is comprised of a mica substrate. There are hundreds of Mica Pearl color variants, and this type is cheaper than others.
  • Xirallic Pearl: These pearls are comprised of proprietary synthetic aluminum oxide-based substrate. This is more expensive but is far more radiant.
  • Glass Pearl: These are comprised of glass or borosilicate platelets for an incredibly high level of glimmer and sheen for a unique, custom finish. This type is far more expensive.

What Is Ghost Pearl?

Ghost Pearls are pigments that appear to be white indirect light or when in direct view but can change to their secondary ‘ghost’ variant when the light conditions change. Popular ghost pearls include green, silk, silver, gold, red, violet, and blue.

Pearl paint is undoubtedly a stunningly unique way to make your ride stand out. But, attempting to have a pearl paint job done for low prices is mostly accompanied by incredibly low quality, and it’s better to save up for a thorough high-quality pearl paint job instead. Always consult a professional before making an informed decision.

Bottom Line

Having spent years as an auto appraiser along with having worked in a body shop, I have seen just about every color and type of paint job thousands of times. Among those I have had cring-worthy moments when you can tell someone tried to save a dime by getting cut-rate paint work.

My advice is to let you know that you definitely get what you pay for in the auto body and paint industry. Make sure you don’t cheap out when it comes to how your car looks. Depending on your car, be prepared to pay around $5,000 to get one of those show-quality paint jobs. Even well-done two-stage paint jobs typically cost $2,500 to $3,500. Add in one more stage and you can see where the cost comes from.

I hope this article has been helpful. Thanks for reading!

Main Photo Attribution: Robin Corps from Crowthorne, England, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Jim James

Hey, I'm Jim and the author of this website. I have always been interested in survival, fishing, camping, and anything in nature. In fact, while growing up I spent more time on the water than on land! I am also a best-selling author and have a degree in History, Anthropology, and Music. I hope you find value in the articles on this website. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or input!

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