Frequently Asked Questions


What's the difference between single action and double action?

Single action is when the trigger is depressed and paint immediately comes out of the airbrush.dual action means first the trigger is depressed and air flows through the airbrush, then as you pull back on the trigger, you get to control exactly how much material will flow through the airbrush thus giving you much more control at your finger tips.

What types of paints can I use in my airbrush?

Basically you can use any type of paint or media as long as it can be reduced similar to the consistency of milk. Beginner airbrush artists may consider purchasing ready-to-spray airbrush paints or pre-reduced paints as reducing paints to the right consistency can be challenging.

When I try to spray my airbrush, I get bubbles back into paint and no paint comes out why?

There a few reasons for this. First, this is a tell-tale sign of a defective, bad or clogged nozzle.
If it cannot be cleaned, replace it. Also make sure to thoroughly clean the needle. Any dried paint on there will assist in not spraying.

Second, check the breather hole on the top of the bottle cap (bottom fed airbrushes) to make sure it is not clogged.
Lastly, make sure the feed tube inside the bottle is not resting on the very bottom of the bottle not allowing paint to go up the tube.

Can I run multiple airbrushes off one compressor?

Using multiple airbrushes simultaneously will require a compressor with enough C.F.M. (cubic feet per minute) rating. Dual head compressors are a good choice to hook up multiple airbrushes simply because of the higher C.F.M. rating they have. Manifolds are the key to hooking up more than one airbrush. Manifolds will vary as to how many ports you need. They range from two ports ups to ten ports.

What is the purpose of having a tank on the compressor?

Having a tank on the compressor helps in a few different ways. By having air in the tank, you automatically eliminate the possibility of any pulsating in the air- line generated by most compressors. Longevity of the compressor is another factor In that the compressor is not constantly running to keep up with the air demand. With a regulator on the tank you can have the advantage of dropping the air pressure to a minimum for those important high detail areas.

Should I get a gravity-fed or siphon-fed airbrush?

One version is not necessarily better than the other: different jobs require different tools. Siphon-fed airbrushes are great for spraying larger background areas for t-shirts, tanning etc. Gravity-fed airbrushes are great for all around airbrushing and especially for high detail areas mainly because there's no bottle on the bottom of the airbrush to get in the way.

I want to be able to airbrush fingernails, what type of airbrush do I need?

Airbrushing fingernails is delicate work requiring small amounts of paint at a time. You will want a gravity-fed dual-action airbrush with a small reservoir for the paint (1/32 oz instead of the larger 1/3 oz. cup with most other gravity-fed airbrushes). Airbrushes with the 1/32 oz reservoir can easily operate with just a single drop of paint.

How do I clean my airbrush without damaging it

If you are using waterbased paints, you can simply use water. Some manufacturers have their own cleaning solutions for this. Run some through the airbrush until it sprays clear. Remove the needle and wipe clean. You can also use a very small amount of airbrush lube on the first inch and a half of the tip of the needle as not to dry out the needle packing.
With solvent-based paints, you can use reducer or lacquer thinner. Make sure your airbrush is equipped with a needle packing before using solvent based paints. A standard rubber needle packing will not hold up to solvents. Again, spray thinner until it sprays clear. Remove needle and wipe clean and lube needle.
You never want to use solvents to clean waterbased paints and vise versa. You will end up with a gummy substance through out the airbrush. Also never soak and airbrush to clean it. This will ruin the o-rings and the valve assembly.

Can I use an airbrush to spray clear coat on my projects?

If you have small projects, like small models, then yes you can. Otherwise you will want to use at least a mini spray gun. The reasoning behind this is that the airbrush fan pattern is a mere 1-½ to 3 inches, not enough for a uniform coat that a spray gun will provide.

Can I use an airbrush for make-up and tanning?

Make-up artists like to use a gravity-fed dual-action airbrush with a 1/16 oz. medium sized cup on top. With make-up, your are not using a lot of material so a medium cup is preferred over the larger 1/3 oz. cup.

Airbrush tanning is usually done with a single-action siphon-fed airbrush since you're not having to deal with detail and you use about 3 ounces of material.


My spray gun pattern is not even and seems to be heavier in certain spots. What can I do to prevent this?

The first thing you should do is check to see if the problem is caused by the air cap or fluid tip. Follow this simple rule. Give the air cap a half turn. If you notice the heavier spot on the pattern moving in sync with your turn then your air cap needs to be cleaned or replaced. If your pattern does not change then your fluid tip needs cleaning and should be checked for wear and/or replaced.

How do I prevent/reduce the amount of orange peel?

There is a misconception that spray guns cause orange peel. The reality is that there are some important factors that cause 95% of the orange peel problems. The first and most common cause is using the incorrect reducer for the current shop temperature. Too fast of a reducer will not allow the paint to stay wet long enough to flow and lay out. Another common cause of orange peel texture is under reducing material. Even if you use the correct reducer but under reduce, then you will have the same problem of the paint drying too fast without proper flow. Finally the other common cause is gun technique. Moving too slow or too fast, too much distance, not enough fluid, all of these can be causes of texture.

What is the difference between a standard gravity-feed gun and an HVLP gravity-feed gun?

High Volume Low Pressure (HVLP) is a technology that increases transfer efficiency and reduces overspray as a result of it. The transfer rate of HVLP guns tend to be between 65-70%. This means that you are only "losing" about 30% of the material in your cup. HVLP guns have an exit psi of 4-10psi at the point of exit which is the air cap. You will notice that you will have slower gun passes with an HVLP but in reality you are achieving coverage much faster because your transfer efficiency is so high. You will also notice that you can spray closer to the surface than with a conventional. This gives a much better control feel during the application. Conventional guns are quite the opposite. They will take in about 30-50psi and have almost as much force at the point of exit. This translates into an inferior transfer rate when compared to an HVLP. Conventional spray guns have a transfer rate of about 25-40%. The high psi at the cap is what causes the large clouds of overspray which is typically about 60-75% of the paint material in your cup. The higher transfer efficiency rate means a savings of material and money.

What does CFM and PSI mean?

CFM (cubic feet per minute) rating is the most important factor in selecting a spray gun or compressor so that both can function together properly. PSI (pounds per square inch) is the term for the measurement air pressure. In order for a gun to spray and maintain proper airflow you need to have the appropriate amount of CFM while maintaining adequate PSI. All guns will have a CFM requirement that must be met by the compressor. If not you will not be able to provide enough air to either atomize your paint properly or provide enough air to complete your project without interruption. If your compressor provides less CFM than required for a gun then you will be able to spray fine for a small amount of time before you run out of air and your gun will begin to lose pressure and show the effects (poor atomization, spitting, streaming).

My gun seems to allow air from the fluid tip to escape while my trigger is closed. How do I prevent this?

The most common problem for this is usually found in the air valve. Air valves are usually composed of seals and packings as well. With use, small amounts of solvents can produce wear and cause these items to not sit properly, thus not allowing opening and closing off of air distribution properly. The best fix is replacing it with a complete air valve kit when available.

My gun keeps dripping fluid when I close my trigger. Why?

The biggest cause of this problem is the needle not sitting properly once the trigger is released. This can be either a small particle floating in the fluid tip or a small build up of material on your needle tip. This will keep the needle from sitting all the way into the fluid tip. You will also want to check to see if your fluid tip is worn and needs replacing. This will happen with time as the needle repeatedly hits the fluid tip during normal operation.

Why can't I go as fast with my HVLP than I used to with my conventional?

You will notice that you will have slower gun passes with an HVLP but in reality you are achieving coverage much faster because your transfer efficiency is so high. You will also notice that you can spray closer to the surface than with a conventional. This gives a much better control feel during the application. Now if you increase the distance between gun and surface you will need to go slower and you may also your fluid might need to increase for the paint to flow. If you are closer then you will need to move quicker and make sure your fluid is set according so that your may avoid too much concentration of fluid as you are moving down the panel. Too much fluid in spots ends up as sags and runs.

Is soaking in solvent the best and easiest way to clean my gun?

No it is not. This will give you the appearance of a clean gun on the outside but in reality you are slowly creating a problem in the inside. Gun washers are the optimum cleaning system to be used. This allows solvent to flow through the fluid passages without exposing other sensitive pieces of the gun to solvent (mainly packings and seals). If you soak a gun you are not only allowing solvent to affect all seals and packings but you are allowing contaminated solvent to end up in all areas of the gun. This contaminates will eventually dry and remain in areas not seen by the eye and will begin to effect your application. If a gunwasher is not available then using an airbrush cleaning kit and taking your gun apart is much better alternative than soaking a gun.

I have heard of turbine HVLP. Where would I use that?

A turbine is great alternative for compressed air where the ability to be mobile is huge factor. A turbine actually redirects air through the motor and through your hose to your gun. The electric motor allows you to plug it in to an electrical outlet. This is perfect for the painter who does a lot of interior work in different locations. Cabinets, doors, home, industrial and even mobile auto touch up and bumper repair are perfect applications for turbine systems. A big advantage of turbines is the fact that they will run continuously for long periods of time without the worry of running out of air.

Will a turbine spray automotive paint as well?

Yes it will. Turbines are the preferred choice for automotive touch up and bumper repair technicians. The key thing to remember is that turbine air is moisture free and is warmer than compressed air. Turbine air actually gets warmer as the motor runs for longer periods of time. This is very important because the slightly warmer air will make your paint flash a little quicker. A few quick adjustments in reducer will solve that problem for you. In all applications it is recommended to keep the turbine away from the overspray as this will dirty your filters and restrict airflow.


What type of paint should I use to repaint my car?

In today's standards Urethane Basecoat / Clear coat or Single stage urethane systems are by far superior than the older paint systems, i.e. lacquer and acrylic enamels. Today's Urethanes are much more durable and hold their colors longer in the elements. Also, since most all cars manufactured after the 1990's use the base/clear systems you will be able to get better match for repair / blending applications when using the same system.

What does medium, slow and fast mean when ordering paint?

Those terms refer to the temperature where you are painting your car.

FAST: 55 degrees - 70 degrees
MEDIUM: 70 degrees – 85 degrees
SLOW: 85 degrees to 95 degrees

Anything over 95 degrees you should use a retarder.

What primer do I use for bare metal?

Epoxy primers are the best for bare metal applications. They are the closest product that you can get to Factory E-coats. Epoxy primers give excellent protection from corrosion on properly prepared and cleaned metals. From there you can use your high build primer if you are going to block sand.

Can I use brand X paint or clear with brand A additives?

No, that is never recommended. You can do your own testing to see if it works but is not recommended from the paint manufactures.

Can I spray lacquer over Acrylic enamel or urethanes?

You can if the paint is sealed, but it is not recommend. A rule of thumb is lacquer can only be sprayed over lacquer.

Can I clear over acrylic enamel?

It is possible, however not recommended, if you're not familiar with acrylic enamels it will wrinkle up on you. It is better to use urethane base/clear system if you choose to clear coat your paint job.

Can you mix old/vintage car colors for me?

Yes, we have the most extensive auto color library around.When we produce original colors, we do not use offsets (colors selected that appear similar but lack the proper appearance in sunlight). We have a complete lab stocked with the correct toners and metallics to make the COLORS OF YESTERDAY come alive today.Colors are reproduced in our lab using original formulas and standards authentic to the era. Each color is CERTIFIED by our LAB to be correct to the OEM standard.

What is meant by a Three Stage Paint System?

A three stage paint system is usually a candy or pearl paint job. It is the same as a 2 stage, base clear system with an extra layer. A three stage system consists of a base color and "mid coat" which is your candy or pearl coat then clear coat.

What is the FLASH time?

The flash time is the time you need to wait in-between coats to allow the solvents to escape. This is necessary to prevent problems in the solvent pops or pinholes in the finish.

Can I paint over my existing finish?

Yes, as long as the paint is in decent condition. You will want to sand the existing finish with 220-320 grit sand paper and spray a sealer over the old paint, before top-coating. This will help prevent any negative reaction with the old paint, prevent any bleed through and give you a solid ground coat on which to build your color.

How Many Coats Of Paint Do I Need To Apply?

With color coats usually 2 to 3 coats depending on the color. And 3 to 4 coats of clear, 4 to 5 if you are planning on color sanding and buffing.


You have a very a wide selection of products and brands. Why do you have so many products?

Different markets require different packaging and more importantly, different formulas matched to their specific needs. We are one of a few companies that provide a comprehensive range of products to optimally satisfy every surface care need. This includes all types of current automotive paints and auto finishes from the past. Surface care challenges vary greatly depending on everything from the type and condition of the paint, to environmental and storage conditions, to appearance goals and time available for maintenance and restoration efforts

Why is it important to take care of my paint finish?

Your car is being constantly bombarded by contaminants each and every day. All of these contaminants take a toll on your car's paint if the finish is not frequently washed and waxed.Imagine what would happen if you only brushed your teeth once a year. The buildup could lead to costly dental repairs. And your teeth might never look as good as they did before.Your car's paint is constantly exposed to the elements and needs regular care to keep it looking its best at all times. If you neglect your car's finish for a long enough time, a quality repaint could easily cost $3,000. If you decide to sell your vehicle without a new paint job, it could cost you anywhere from $500 to $5,000 in lost trade-in value, depending upon the age and type of automobile you have.

There is no standard on how often you should wax. Many variables influence the life of the wax. Here are a few:

  • Type and condition of paint
  • Local environment (normal conditions and extraordinary events)
  • Number of hours exposed to outside conditions
  • Quality and type of wax applied
  • Quality of wash solution used to wash car

You have many products and applications to choose from and all will help to prolong your finish. Whichever product you decide to choose, the important point it is to begin a regular cycle of car care and stick to it.

What is the best way to apply the products?

You can ether use the traditional method of hand application or use a variety of different machines. Each method offers its own unique benefits and features. Machines like rotary buffers, dual-action polishers, and orbital buffers are simply tools. Depending on the surface condition and what you're trying to accomplish, one may be better suited for the task over another.
Back when traditional paints, like lacquers and enamels were used at both an OEM factory level and in the refinishing industry, the average person with average skills could perform all of the common detailing procedures by hand and get really good results. This is no longer true in light of today's modern, catalyzed base coat/clear coat paint systems.Modern paint technology, generally speaking, is much harder than traditional paints and requires special buffing pads and chemicals to remove defects where just a decade or so ago, a can of polishing compound, a rag and some elbow grease could accomplish the task satisfactorily.
While hand application of paint cleaners, cleaner/polishes, pure polishes and waxes can achieve brilliant results a majority of the time, professional painters and detailers prefer using a machine such as a rotary buffer, dual-action polisher or an orbital buffer for a number of different reasons.Here are a few:

  • Depending on the procedure, machines are nearly twice as fast as your hands.
  • Machines are much less fatiguing to your hands, arms, and back.
  • Dual-Action Polishers and Orbital buffers apply a thinner coat that's easier to wipe off.
  • Dual-Action Polishers and Orbital buffers spread polishes and waxes more evenly, for more uniform results.
  • Machines do a better job of cleaning deeper and removing surface defects and oxidation more thoroughly.
  • Machines are better at removing swirls.
  • Machines force more polishing oils into the surface, for deeper gloss and reflections.
  • Machines are more effective at removing serious defects than your hand.

What is the difference between Dual-action, Orbital or Rotary machines?

The motors and drive units on Dual-Action polishers and Orbital buffersoscillate in an eccentric circular motion. This type of motion is much safer to the paint because it's virtually impossible to apply too much concentrated pressure in one place at one time. Chances are good that when too much pressure is applied, the oscillating action will come to a stop thereby protecting the finish. Because these types of machines oscillate instead of rotate, they will not instill the dreaded buffer swirls or holograms into your finish as long as you use the appropriate chemicals, buffing pads and bonnets. This safety feature makes these machines highly popular with enthusiasts who would like to use a machine but at the same time, are afraid of burning or inflicting swirls into their car's finish. Dual-action polishers and Orbital buffers do not have an aggressive enough action to remove small particles of paint in an effort to remove most defects, including sanding marks. This is the same reason dual-action polishers and orbital buffers are safe. Do not purchase a dual-action polisher or orbital buffer hoping to use these to remove major or even minor scratches, as they are just not aggressive enough. They can often be used to remove fine or shallow scratches and swirls, but they will not remove any scratch that is deep enough to place your fingernail into.
Rotary buffers are drastically different in the way they work compared to dual-action polishers and orbital buffers. The drive unit used in a rotary buffer is referred to as a direct drive. What this means is the auger, (the threaded part to which the backing plate attaches), is driven directly off the electric motor. This results in a powerful rotating motion. This rotating motion is typically clockwise as you look at the rotary buffer from behind, as though you were using it on a panel. Because the rotary buffer is a direct drive machine it can remove paint or clear and defects very quickly. If you use a rotary buffer and are not skilled in its use, you can easily apply too much pressure to the paint and burn right through it, requiring a new paint job. This same result can happen if you use a buffing pad attached to an electric drill.

I have heard a lot about detailing clay, what does it do?

After you wash and dry your car, run the palm and fingertips of your clean hand across the top surfaces. Don't be surprised if what you feel is rough and bumpy. The roughness you feel is the presence of harmful environmental bonded contaminants such as over-spay, fallout, brake dust, tree sap mist and more that have bonded to your paint finish. Most of these contaminants will wash right off if immediately addressed, however, others bond to the finish and week by week, if not dealt with, will gradually mask and blur the reflection. To remove these bonded contaminants and bring back that "smooth-as-glass" finish, this will require an extra step, prior to polishing and waxing, commonly referred to as "claying". Claying an entire vehicle is fast and easy and can be done in about 30 minutes. By doing this, your car will not only feel incredible, it will ensure the wax that you apply is able will be able to function properly.

What is the best and safest way to clean my wheels?

The best and safest way to remove brake dust, dirt, and road grime from wheels is to match the type of wheel cleaner to the type of wheel you're cleaning. Using the wrong wheel cleaner can lead to discoloring, dulling, and permanent staining. When in doubt, contact the wheel manufacture and ask them for their recommendations. When cleaning neglected or extremely dirty wheels with extra heavy build-up of brake dust and road grime, instead of relying solely on a chemical cleaner for its cleaning power, boost the power of your wheel cleaner by using either a soft wheel brush or quality household paint brush. When it comes to cleaning extremely dirty wheels, many people seek-out an extra strong wheel cleaner to do all of the work, when all the extra strength they really need can be found in their arms. Extra strength cleaners can potentially damage your wheels because they're too strong. Also avoice using common under the sink cleaners that were never intended for use on wheel surfaces.

Wax, paint sealant... what's the difference?

Waxes and paint sealants are protective coatings applied to the paint. Waxes can be made from a natural wax, usually Brazilian carnauba, or synthetically made using polymers or acrylic resins. Regardless of how they are made, waxes and paint sealants are both designed to protect your car's paint from oxidation and harmful elements that land on your car. Car waxes and sealants make the surface of a car reflect more light. As a result, the car looks vibrant. Carnauba-based car waxes add an element of depth and warmth to a car. Paint sealants offer more brilliance, sparkle and lasting protection.
Carnauba Car Wax is nature's hardest, purest and most transparent wax. Carnauba car waxes tend to produce a deeper, darker, richer shine that is often described as "three-dimensional."Many enthusiasts and show car owners prefer the shine of carnauba waxes, especially on black, red and other dark colors. Carnauba car waxes bead water nicely, absorb the acid content in rain, and hide minor swirls in the paint.
On the minus side, carnauba waxes are not as durable as synthetic waxes. Depending on your climate, a carnauba wax might last a few days or a few weeks. Additionally, some carnauba waxes can be temperamental, occasionally streaking under certain temperature or humidity conditions.
Made from modern polymers or acrylic resins, Synthetic Car Waxes (paint sealants) offer excellent durability and ease of application. Quality paint sealants last 6 months or longer and typically wipe on and off very easily with no buffing required.

Is there anything wrong with automated car places/carwashes?

There are plenty of things wrong with those places. The machine washes these days are not using "brushes" anymore, so they advertise "brushless washes," but they are using foam pads that collect dirt off of each car that goes through and then those dirty foam pads rub and batter your finish. After your vehicle goes through this "tunnel of death" there is usually someone at the other end waiting to use a dirty rag to clean what the carwash missed and dry your paint - inducing swirls and scratches at the same time. Avoid these places or use them as an absolute last resort.

What is acid rain?

The spots that you are noticing that look like water spots are actually the remnants of acid rain. When rain or snow falls it captures environmental pollutants such as Sulfloric and nitric acids from factory, automobile and truck exhaust. That rain, snow or even the morning dew contains pollutants that settle to the bottom of the water drop on your car's finish, when the sun heats and evaporates the water it leaves behind the concentrated acid that etches the clear coat paint finish. It leaves jagged edged spots that look similar to a water spot but it cannot be removed. In some cases this spot can be removed by a high speed buffing of the finish but in the majority of the cases it is not repairable. Prevention is the key here. Keep a good coat of wax on the finish and wash the car especially after a rain or snowstorm. New car manufactures have taken notice of the problem and have attempted to protect their cars; you may have noticed a protective white plastic sheet over the flat areas of a car that are exposed to the rain and sun.

What other steps can I take to protect my paint finish?

The best way to protect your finish is to keep the finish out of the elements. Storing your vehicle in a garage or under an overhang will give you a longer lasting finish. Another popular way to go would be to purchase a car cover. Quality car covers from reputable manufacturers keep a vehicle's re-sale value higher because the paint and interior will be in better condition when the vehicle is sold. Thieves and vandals will be less likely to attack a covered vehicle - they can't see what is inside, and they don't want to call attention to themselves while taking off the car cover. Also, in sunny climates, car covers will keep your vehicle cooler. Less money will be spent detailing a vehicle, because a good car cover will prevent water spots, damage from acid rain and bird droppings, and paint dulling by U.V. rays and blowing sand.

 General Questions

What can I use to tint the Tintable Truck Bed Liner?

Use a base coat or single stage automotive paint, without binders or reducers, to tint the bed liner resin. Do not use lacquer or water-based paints to tint.

Can I use Custom Shop pearls & flake with other paint systems?

Our flakes and pearls and can be used with any carrying binder (inter coat clear) or clear coat system. They are universal.

Can body filler be thinned?

Filler may be thinned with plastic honey to alter the consistency. No more than 10% resin by weight should be added. They can also be thinned by fiberglass resin and blending and spot putties.

What is the best way to prevent fisheyes?

The best way to prevent fisheyes from appearing is to make sure that you thoroughly clean the surface to be painted with detergent and hot water. Once you have completed the cleaning follow-up with the recommended solvent cleaner and wipe the area dry with a clean rag.A couple of other thing that will assist in assuring that you have a clean surface prior to spraying is to use fisheye eliminator that is specifically recommended by your material supplier for your topcoat as well as installing a air filtering system that removes and prevents oil and moisture contamination from getting onto your work surface. Click on the link below for additional information on clean air.

Can we use an automotive two-component Urethane clear on top of Zolatone 20 Series?

Yes, once Zolatone 20 Series is air dried for 24 hours or force dried for 60 minutes.

Does TCP GLOBAL ship internationally?

Yes! TCP GLOBAL serves customers worldwide. We ship via UPS, DHL AND USPS your order is delivered in 7-10 days or less. Shipping rates vary by country. We will receive discounts on multiple purchases before we ship an order. Pricing is in US Dollars and does not include duties and taxes as levied by your country.

Do you accept checks and money orders?

Money Order/Cashiers Checks: We gladly accept all money orders and cashiers checks from U.S. and Canadian banks. In most cases your item will be shipped within 24 hours of receipt of payment.

Personal Check: We gladly accept personal checks from U.S. banks. Please be aware that all personal checks require a minimum 10-day waiting period to allow for them to clear our bank.