CRR Blog

Paint Shading Essentials (aka Blending)


Repainting typically falls into three categories: touch-up repainting, partial repainting and total repainting. Here, we’ll focus on partial repainting, which is where paint shading/blending comes in. If you’ve ever repainted a door and didn’t blend in the paint, it was probably easy to see that the door had been repainted when the vehicle was in full sunlight because the repainted area didn’t match the original color. To properly restore paint to like-new condition, paint shading or paint blending is required.

Paint shading is important because no two paint jobs are alike. Even at the factory, there can be slight variations based on the conditions the day the vehicle was painted. Temperature, humidity, different paint brands used at different assembly plants, different types of equipment, and how long the paint had been flowing in the system—these factors all may affect the final color. Another element to take into consideration is the way your facility repaints a vehicle.

While Toyota primarily uses a waterborne paint process, many collision repair facilities (excluding those in states that mandate the use of waterborne) use solvent-borne paints. Each paint company may use different pigments, and their formulas will also vary in chemistry. Paint color also varies from batch to batch. Paint companies come up with their own proprietary formula for the standard color and then create alternate formulas to match known variations in the paint as it is produced. For example, Desert Sand Mica (4Q2) has a standard formula and 13 alternate formulas.

If you’ve ever repainted a door and didn’t blend in the paint, it was probably easy to see that the door had
been repainted when the vehicle was in full sunlight because the repainted area didn’t match the original
color. To properly restore paint to like-new condition, paint shading or paint blending is required.”

Other factors that impact the look of the final color include color or shade of primer sealer, metallic flake orientation, the number of layers of pearl or mid-coat used, the type of paint gun, mixing volume and air pressure at the spray nozzle—even the angle and distance at which the painter holds the spray gun has an impact. And finally, the viewing angle and light source can affect paint appearance—paint looks different under various lighting sources such as inside the shop versus in full daylight.

What’s the solution? Paint shading/blending, tricks the eye into seeing one continuous color—but you need to work at it to make it look just right.

Start with the paint: Once you mix the formulation, spray the paint on a card, clear-coat it, let it dry, and then head outside with the card and the vehicle to see how they compare. Keep modifying the formula, gun settings and techniques until the vehicle and the card look to be as close as possible to each other.

Once you have the formula that is the closest match, you must then shade, or blend the paint with the adjacent panels. Panel painting without shading or blending is extremely tedious, requires more time than shading/blending and isn’t cost effective because so much time is involved.

Repainting a vehicle after an accident can be tricky—getting the new paint to match the old requires skill and patience. The following tips can ensure that the end result is paint that’s as perfect as it was when new.

SPOT SHADING/BLENDING is done to correct relatively small scratches on fenders, door panels, etc. Apply paint carefully so the newly painted areas blend in with the adjacent areas in terms of color and texture and clear-coat to the nearest panel break. This technique is typically used for small damage and is usually done within the central part of a panel, such as a door, fender or bumper. These repairs are away from adjacent panels where a color difference can be easily seen. Shading makes color differences less noticeable; the shade area can be light sanded and polished in a short period of time because it only involves a small area.

BLOCK SHADING/BLENDING refers to the application of clear coat over an entire panel in which the base color is shaded partially by solid color, metallic, pearl or mid-coat application. This technique is typically used for front and rear doors and complete fenders. The shading area also includes the adjacent panels. This method requires relatively simple shading techniques so the color difference from the adjacent panels is not noticeable.

BLOCK REPAINTING is similar to refinishing a quarter panel section, and the cutoff point may be a distinct location under a body molding. This is done by removing molding, applying paint and clear coat, and then reattaching the molding, which will mask the repair. An example is the roof drip molding. The shade/blend area fades in a small area. Texture and gloss matching is easy because the entire area is clear coated. The bottom line: You need to be aware of what you’re painting and what you’re not painting, and make sure that all repaired areas
blend so the vehicle looks like new when finished.


Back in the ‘50s, two-tone paint was all the rage. Well, that trend is coming back, and to stand out in today’s competitive automotive marketplace, Toyota is using dramatic two-tone paint schemes on select Camry, Yaris and C-HR models.

If you have to repaint a vehicle with a two-tone roof, here are some tips:

• Start by referring to the paint codes to be sure you have the correct formulas for each color (keep in mind, there may be variations, so be sure you have the correct one to guarantee a perfect match).

• If only one side of the vehicle is damaged, refer to the undamaged side of the vehicle to see where the two colors are used or go to Toyota’s Technical Information System (TIS) site, (which requires a subscription). Some models have detailed two-tone repair information. As noted previously, paint color may vary from factory to factory, so paint blending is critical. In addition, on two-tone paint, the cut line between the two colors can vary from factory to factory, so be sure both sides match.

• If you have to completely repaint both sides, again refer to TIS or refer to a new vehicle on the showroom floor to determine the cut line where one color starts and the other stops, and then be consistent on both sides.


Why do people love Toyota Trucks? They’re tough! After exposure to abrasive road debris however, or if in an accident, the textured surface on the rocker panels can be damaged. These coatings need to be properly restored to ensure factory-like chip-resistance and finish durability. The good news—this surface is easy to repair by following these guidelines:

• Wash and clean the surface.

• Dry and inspect the areas that are affected—check for any rust.

• Scuff or sand the surface.

• Re-clean the surface using wax and tar remover.

• Mask off the damaged area.

• Prime the area.

• Apply the anti-chip coating. You can apply the coating with a brush or roller for small areas; you may need to spray the finish for larger areas.

• Apply two coats.

• Allow the surface to cure for 24 hours before light use.

That’s it—this tough, textured anti-chip coating is ready for another adventure.