Color changing paints seem to have made a bit of a come back in recent years with more affordable options on the market now. At one time, that average cost of the materials alone to do a color changing or “chameleon” paint job ran about $3700 dollars. In the beginning there was incredible interest in these type paint jobs until the customer heard the total cost. I don’t know how many times I heard (usually with vulgar expletives) how crazy I must be to think someone would pay that. Indeed most customers just couldn’t afford that but there were many that could and did. Once the new excitement kid of wore off in the late 90s and early 2000s chameleon colors were largely just a novelty item with the occasional paint job contracted. However, like most new technologies the cost has come down over time and now there are some amazingly affordable options out there. In fact, the average cost to do a nice color change paint job is now about the same as doing a higher price code OEM color depending on where you source your materials. Sure, there are still the ultra expensive options out there but many customers are now enquirying about substantially lower cost options they are finding primarily on the internet. We’ve tried quite a few of them and hear are some of our experiences.
It’s kind of hit or miss with so called “chameleon” powders. We’ve tried several that were clearly just normal pearls and we’ve tried some that worked pretty well for us. Generally you can find these on the internet or ebay for around $50 for a 25 gram bag which makes a quart at decent strength when mixed into intercoat clear. Some of these guys recommend mixing less than that but it just does not work very well if you get less than 25 grams per gallon. The powders are ok but you have the aggravation of blending in the powder itself. A nice drill with a paddle mixer worked well to prevent any clumping of the powder itself. The paint with pearl material was the best powder I tried. I used DBC 500 to mix it with and aside from the aggravation of blending in the powder I had no trouble.
I call it base but as we all know it’s really midcoat when it comes to the chameleon part. This is basically the type I was most familiar with working with which did not require adding any powder and using a drill to blend it up. Just add reducer and go. I was really pleased with the Kemfx material I purchased. Sprayed well and had a nice color change to it. They offer a kit with the base, chameleon clear, reducers, activators and all for a hell of a price. The first time I used it was with their MS clear and it worked well but I always preferred a HS clear particularly in the summer. They didn’t have a HS clear at first but added one just in time for a customer’s job and I loved it. The base handled a lot like House of Kolor which goes on kind of dry. If you are used to spraying a base real wet it takes some getting used to but once I quit trying to lay it so wet it worked very well.
Of the two types I preferred the chameleon basecoat and when I did the math it was the less expensive option as well. Total paint cost for a bike was 150 for the liquid set up and I calculated the powder cost at over $220 once you start buying intercoat in quarts and black, reducer, clear etc separately. You can get the Kemfx stuff in several places but I buy a lot on ebay so I just pick it up over here: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Quart-Custom-Chameleon-Flip-Flop-Color-Changing-Pearl-Motorcycle-n-Car-Paint-/281146792381
Hope this helps some of you guys make a little more money custom painting.