A three-stage paint, commonly referred to as a tri-coat, is a color that requires two separate basecoat application steps. For instance, a three-stage white would require the application of a solid white first, once dry, a transparent pearl coat is applied over top to give the color a sparkling effect.  This transparent pearl coat is known as mid-coat, and in some colors such as candies, the mid-coat is a solid color rather than a pearl.

Since each application of mid-coat will change the color, a certain type of spray-out card called a “let-down” panel is required for matching purposes. A let-down panel can be broken into as many sections as you like, however it is usually more practical to limit it to three or four sections. To create a let-down panel, perform the following steps:

  1. Apply basecoat to your sprayout card and allow it to dry thoroughly.

2. Cover or mask off your sprayout card, leaving a small section of your sprayout card visible.

3. Apply a coat of basecoat over the exposed area.

4. Move your masked area down, exposing an additional section of the card and apply basecoat.

5. Continue this process until you reach the bottom, at which point you can remove the masking and apply basecoat over the entire card.

This will create a let-down panel that shows how your color will look after each application of mid-coat, this will assist you with color matching and ensuring application consistency. Be sure to clear your card and mark the amount of mid-coat applications on the back so you know how to reproduce it later.


Three Stage Paint - Creating a Let Down Panel

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