Waterborne paint is gaining traction in the auto industry, but is it worth repainting your car?

While a dragster may have killer mechanics, its paint job adds an extra layer that can be just as important – intimidating competitors and drawing the attention of fans. But, with the auto industry changing the way it applies paint to its signature models – switching to waterborne paints that contain less volatile organic compounds (VOCs), many racers and vintage car fans may be considering using this product when repainting their vehicles.

Though long used in Europe, waterborne paints are just now gaining popularity in America due in part to new state regulations. (A recent release from SEMA detailed some of the additional effects of these regulations on the aftermarket industry). For example, California requires automotive companies to use low-VOC technologies due to pollution concerns.

However, while every car fan has their own opinion of government regulations when it comes to vehicles, Car Craft Magazine conducted some research on its own that covers the pros and cons of the paint itself.

In 2009, the magazine put waterborne paint to the test, removing the quarter-panel of an old Camaro and sprucing it up with some new color. To begin, the magazine’s contributors sprayed the piece with four coats of primer. Then, after using surface-prep cleaners made especially for waterborne paint and adding 10 percent controller, the testers selected black DuPont Chrysler paint and began applying it to the part.

Overall, the magazine indicated that there were some tangible benefits to these low-VOC alternatives. For example, the source lauded the paint for its excellent coverage and ability to spread out effectively so that less product was used. In addition, because the paint can clean up with just water, the testers noted that the easy cleanup may be appealing, especially to car owners who don’t want their extended cleanup times interfering with their other plans.

But, while several positives were noted, the source indicated that waterborne paints may be a bit of a challenge to those who have used other paints in the past. Besides being more expensive, these products require a different spray and drying procedure and require a dedicated spray gun.

Have you use waterborne paints on your automobile? If not, would you be willing to try it the next time you paint your classic or racer? Share your thoughts and stories below.