# Another paint question, flat vs. gloss?

Discussion in 'Finishing Techniques' started by TXFlyGuy, Jul 1, 2019.

1. Jul 1, 2019

### TXFlyGuy

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I am referring to the area on the plane from the windscreen to the nosebowl. Many aircraft have this finished in a flat finish, while others have a gloss finish.

For cosmetic reasons we think gloss would look nice. But some are telling me this needs to be a flat finish to cut down on glare from the sun.

What do you say?

2. Jul 1, 2019

### BJC

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The traditional answer is flat, but I would use gloss, even if not authentic, and use a good pair of sunglasses.

BJC

3. Jul 1, 2019

### TXFlyGuy

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Our original choice of finish was flat. But after learning about how difficult it is to maintain, we will go with a gloss clear coat on the entire plane.

Flat finished paints are easily damaged, by a simple hand rub or finger print. You cannot hand wash the bugs off the wing. And I did not even mention bird droppings. A pressure washer is called for. No towels, sponges or any had rubbing with rags.

For drying, you must use a leaf blower, as you cannot rub the flat finish as that will make it shiny.

Do some reading online about high end (BMW, Lexus, M-B, Audi) manufacturers flat finishes, and the restrictions with regards to care of the paint.

My worst fear is being at a show, and dozens of people coming up and rubbing their hands on the plane, or even just touching it with their fingers. It is almost impossible to repair.

Any rubbing of the finish will cause it to develop shiny spots...not what you want on a flat finish.

4. Jul 1, 2019

### Aerowerx

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I think the reason for the flat finish on the nose is to reduce reflections and glare.

Ever driven due south at local noon with the sun reflecting off the back window of the car in front of you? That hurts. No amount of sunglasses or window tint will eliminate it. They will only reduce the intensity.

Now think of being on final approach to runway 27 late in the afternoon. Will you be able to see through that glare off your "show-room finish"? My vote is a flat black finish on the cowling.

5. Jul 1, 2019

### TXFlyGuy

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Having made 100's of landings on 27 in the afternoon (IAH), yes the sun hurts.

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6. Jul 1, 2019

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Flat.

7. Jul 1, 2019

### bmcj

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What about vinyl? Seems like vinyl might not be as shiny as paint (and they may even offer a flat), and it’s probably resistant to touch more so than flat paint. It’s also easier to repair (replace).

8. Jul 1, 2019

### BBerson

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Quality flat paint needs no maintenance. Just put flattener in the quality gloss paint.

9. Jul 1, 2019

### Kyle Boatright

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Vinyl comes in all different lusters. Pick something you think you'll like and try it. You no like? Change it.

10. Jul 1, 2019

### Jerry Lytle

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Corrorect me if I am wrong, often am.
As a kid I never saw a military plane that was rubbed to a shine.
Years ago there was a surplus aviation sales company that advertized drums military paint, the caveat was it was Non-reflective. This non-reflective fiish was standard for all US WW2 aircraft and it doesn't rub. It was about $50 a drum, maybe less. They said that if you allowed the drums to sit for a period the flattening agent would go to the bottom and the rest could be used as standard paint (dope?). How long ago? Well, a wee bit back. A65 continental spark plugs were$1:00 and new R-985 engines were $200, the fine print said "tank continenal OK for your duster, have bosses to install a second set of plugs." On the same page B25s were listed for$5000 or offer.
I still have one of the spark plugs in it's government issued tube.
https://www.finishing.com/80/97.shtml

11. Jul 1, 2019

### Deuelly

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We've painted half the warbirds in our collection in flat paint. Thousands of people have run their hands across them over the years at air shows like Oshkosh. We've never had problems with them being hard to clean or getting glossy. We clean them with a spray cleaner called Eraser, or we use Windex and micro fibers.

12. Jul 2, 2019

### deskpilot

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If you can see the top of the engine cowl, or the nose of the fuselage in the case of a pusher type, FLAT, As said above,reflected sun light can be blinding.

If you can't see either, your choice, ie, gloss will be fine.

13. Jul 2, 2019

### pictsidhe

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Flat for glare.
Flat for realistic warbird appearance. They were never shiny.

14. Jul 2, 2019

### TXFlyGuy

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Gloss. A bunch of RV guys have responded, stating they have everything from ultra gloss black, to super gloss red on their cowling. No issues.

We will do this simply for the ease of care with a gloss finish. No, not period correct. But we can live with that.

BTW...they are saying the real problem with glare is when you have polished aluminum for a finish.

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15. Jul 2, 2019

### pictsidhe

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Ease of care, really? I find flat paint is easier to keep flat than gloss paint is to keep shiny. Gloss finishes tend to become increasingly flat with age.

16. Jul 2, 2019

### TXFlyGuy

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Yes, really. The paint shop demonstrated that simply touching/rubbing your fingers on flat paint will increase it's luster. I saw it first hand, with PPG base coat / clear coat automotive paint.

For more education on the difficulties of flat, and the "thou shall not touch" information, see this:

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/glo...h-the-extra-hassle-and-money/article32317159/

https://www.automobilemag.com/news/flat-finish-how-you-should-tend-to-matte-automotive-paint-161429/

https://www.detailxperts.net/blog/2016/01/04/car-paint-problems-5-things-know-matte-painted-cars/

17. Jul 2, 2019

### TFF

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Normally you would not be touching it. Cleaning on a plane that will be perfectly clean every day if it’s life will not be a big deal. Esthetics would be of trying to make it look like a war bird or 70s over restored show plane. I also think your paint shop does not want to do it because it’s a touch harder to do right and they don’t want a warranty claim.

18. Jul 2, 2019

### TXFlyGuy

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The paint shop does not care one way or another.

Note that you stated Normally. This is correct. But go to an airshow, with the Mustang on static display, with all of the kids, teenagers, and young adults there wandering around...

But read all of the info from the car manufacturers on flat paint, and paint care. Plus the info from the detail shops. No hand washing, no hand drying. Rubbing the paint will make it glossy. Sounds crazy, but I saw the effects.

How many people rub their hands on an airplane at an airshow? Many do. It's human nature. Just to "touch" it, see what it feels like...smooth, slick, ruff.

Like the nice people at Pacific Fighters told me, it is a matter of personal choice. They did recommend flat to be period correct, but they restore many P-51's in gloss finishes as well. It is up to the owner.

My actual question concerned flat vs. gloss on the upper cowl area. The boys on the Vans Forum pretty well put my concerns to rest.

Last edited: Jul 2, 2019
19. Jul 17, 2019

### Tantrum1

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I'm not to sure about what flat paint they're using. But we ran flat black on the top of the cowl on the DHC-2 Beaver I used to maintain, and we often hand washed it between flights, and then every 2 weeks by bucket and brush. (I work for a corporate flight department of a wealthy family who had the beaver for a toy). It lasted for 5 yrs like that. We sold it after that but the black was still as flat and pristine as the day we painted it.

I'm thinking that the problems that you paint shop is having has more to do with the product and not the fact that its a flat paint. I will try and dig up any records we might still have of the paint, and send it your way if you like.

20. Jul 19, 2019

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