Paints & Coatings Resource Center

Ask the Expert Question-and-Answer Archive

by Ron Joseph

August, 2005

Mixing Paint Manufacturers

Q. Is it advisable to mix different suppliers of Primers & Top Coats in the MIL-DTL-53072C CARC System?

A. Usually we do not recommend using paints from different manufacturers primarily because if a paint failure develops down the road, the different manufacturers will point fingers at each other, and/or they will point fingers at your paint department.

If you are not concerned about that, you can purchase the mil-spec primer from one vendor and the mil-spec topcoat from another. In fact, the Army, Air Force, Navy and other DoD departments purchase off GSA contracts and often they select coatings based on price and not on vendor.

Because these mil-spec coatings are designed to work across vendors, I don't have so much concern. However, if you wish to purchase industrial coatings that are not covered by a government or universally accepted spec, then I would prefer to stick to a single vendor. Industrial and consumer architectural coatings are often formulated by a vendor so that they work as a system, in which case it would not be wise to spilt the system between more than one vendor.

In my opinion when it comes to the camouflage topcoat, either DTL-MIL-C-64159 or MIL-C-53039, you should not change vendors while you are painting a particular vehicle, as you can well expect to see a visual color difference. I would strongly advise you to select one vendor of the topcoat and stick with that vendor for a long enough period so that visual color matching does not become a problem. Also, if you paint the vehicle with Company A's topcoat and perform touch up with Company B's topcoat you should expect to see a color difference, even though both vendors have supplied their coatings to the same spec.

To be safe, I would take the same approach with the primer. Although you can use Company A's primer and Company's camouflage topcoat, I would prefer to stick to one company for the primer and not intermix two vendors. Here my reasoning is different. Primers often affect the degree of gloss of the topcoat that is ultimately applied over the primer. It is possible that the camouflage coating looks different over one primer than over another, even though all of the coatings meet their respective mil-specs.

Best wishes,

Ron Joseph

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