One of the things I like the most about black paint is that it hides design features that I don’t like in an otherwise beautiful-looking car. But even the darkest factory paint doesn’t quite hide it all, but what about the blackest black paint you can put on a car?
Ever wondered what’s the blackest black paint you can put on a car? The answer is Vantablack, a paint so dark that it makes the black hole look like a fun family destination. Here’s all you need to know about the blackest black paint:
The Blackest Black Paint: Vantablack
The Vantablack is a brand name of not a paint, but rather, a coating of carbon nanotubes. From the name you know it’s incredibly cool yet complex, if not downright confusing. Vantablack is the darkest man-made material, and it was developed by Surrey NanoSystems, a UK-based industrial equipment supplier.
Vantablack is so dark that you can’t see the body lines of the car unless you look very closely. Here’s what it looks like on a 2020 BMW X6:
This might be a bit boring but I can’t explain this properly without giving you a quick science lesson: Vantablack achieves this by absorbing 99.965% of light by using those carbon nanotubes.
Our vision works by capturing light that either bounces, bends (refraction), or absorbs when it hit an object. If the light goes through an object without doing any of those things, it becomes invisible to our eyes.
A standard black paint will bounce most of the light back to our eyes. As a result, even the darkest black factory paint will still show the design features of the car.
Meanwhile, since Vantablack absorbs 99% of the light, it appears much darker than normal black paint. Since light is absorbed rather than going through it, our eyes can still perceive it. However, anything covered in it will likely look devoid of any 3D structure thanks to the massive amount of light it absorbs.
Wait, So It Isn’t Paint?
It isn’t, but there is a sprayable version which they call Vantablack S-VIS. This still isn’t a paint since it doesn’t use pigments, but rather randomly-aligning carbon nanotubes. All of this is a fancy way of saying it’s sprayable carbon nanotubes.
How does it work? We have no idea, we’re car experts here not MIT engineers. However, as you’ll learn later on, this sprayable version of Vantablack isn’t widely available.
How Is It Made?
As mentioned, Vantablack isn’t technically a paint, but a coating made from carbon nanotubes. Carbon nanotubes themselves are, as the name suggests, tubes made out of carbon that is so small that it’s measured in nanometers.
To make Vantablack, Surrey NanoSystems used a process known as chemical vapor deposition. Essentially a process of depositing layers of material on a solid surface at either an atom-by-atom or molecule-by-molecule level.
But let’s forget about that, we’re car enthusiasts, not scientists. The question is, can you put it in your car?
Blackest Black Paint: Is It Legal?
As far as we can tell, there are no laws regarding how dark your car’s paint can be. So, technically, you can paint your car in Vantablack without getting into trouble with the law. Although curious police officers may pull you over from time to time.
But hang on, don’t rush to call Surrey NanoSystems just yet. There are a few complications, but the bottom line is this: you can’t paint your car in Vantablack. Sorry.
First of all, a British sculptor by the name of Anish Kapoor owns the exclusive right for the artistic use of Vantablack. While technically painting your car in Vantablack isn’t purely artistic, getting into a lawsuit wouldn’t exactly be fun. Here’s more about the feud:
Secondly, even if he didn’t own the rights, Surrey NanoSystems isn’t selling Vantablack to normal civilians like you and me. And even if they did, you’ll have to ship your car all the way to the UK. They don’t want to deal with the headache of shipping carbon nanotubes through customs.
Finally, even if they did sell it, we imagine carbon nanotubes will be significantly more expensive than even a dealership-level paint job. There’s no word on how much it will cost, but some say it’ll cost 3.2 million US dollars. No thank you, we’d rather have a collection of supercars for that money.
What Is It For Then?
As mentioned, Surrey NanoSystems is an industrial equipment supplier. As you can imagine, they sell Vantablack to various industries, but it’s mostly for the aerospace industry.
Since Vantablack absorbs light, it helps to prevent light from getting to places where you don’t want it. Its usage includes preventing stray light from entering telescopes and improving infrared camera performance.
In the car industry, it helps to protect sensors from stray lights in cars with driving assistance systems. These sensors include LiDAR, radar, and image processing amongst other sensors.
Are There Alternatives?
For art applications, Stuart Semple – the artist who’s feuding with Anish Kapoor – made his own version of Vantablack. He calls it BLACK 3.0, but this is an acrylic paint meant for art usage. It costs $28 per can (150ml), and it’s not exactly ideal for cars.
But don’t fret, there is one last alternative if you want to make your car look as dark as Emperor Palpatine’s soul:
Blackest Black Paint: Musou Black
A company from Japan makes a paint called Musou Black, and it can absorb up to 99.4% of visible light. Not quite as high as Vantablack, but still very dark nonetheless.
Technically, the Musou Black paint is not exactly for cars either. However, there is a trick to using it. Additionally, it comes in 1L bottles rather than the 150ml spray can that BLACK 3.0 comes in, so it’s more practical.
Note that the company that makes this is from Japan, so you’ll have to ship it from there. But we’ll get into the cost later, take a look at this video from DipYourCar painting a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo in Musou Black:
DipYourCar is a company that makes Plasti Dip. If you didn’t know, Plasti Dip is a rubber-based liquid spray that you spray over the car to give it a new color. It’s kind of like wrapping the car, but Plasti Dip is liquid. So, rather than wrapping it with vinyl, you spray it like you spray paint a car.
Once the Plasti Dip settles, it turns into a rubber compound that covers the car in the color of your choice. And just like a car wrap, it preserves the car’s original paint and you can take it off anytime you like.
As the video shows, they already sprayed the car with Plasti Dip before applying the Musou Paint. This means the Musou paint settles on top of the Plasti Dip layer rather than your car’s original paint.
Why Not Spray It Directly?
Spraying it directly means you’re essentially repainting your car, which is a long and tedious process – if you want good results. A proper repaint requires you to sand the body to remove its clear coat and thin its paint. But ideally, you’ll want to remove the original paint entirely.
Simply spraying a new layer of paint on top of your existing paint will likely result in a very bad paint job, even with the darkness of Musou black. Additionally, you need to spray several layers of paint, so you’ll need a lot of it.
Of course, there’s also the fact that the Musou paint isn’t intended for cars in the first place as the video says. Car paint has a different pigments composition that is intended for a car’s metallic body. Not to mention, car paint usually have to be very durable.
Bottom line: it’s much safer to just spray it on top of a layer of Plasti Dip. This also means you can take off the Musou paint along with the Plasti Dip if you need or want to.
How Much Does It Cost?
You’ll need three things: a paint sprayer, Plasti Dip as the base, and the Musou Black paint itself. A paint sprayer from DipYourCar is $178, as for the Plasti Dip, it depends on the size of your car.
We’re assuming you just want a basic black color for the Plasti Dip, this will cost about $250 for smaller cars, but larger cars such as SUVs will set you back up to $700. Meanwhile, KoPro’s Musou Black paint costs 18,000 Japanese Yen per 1L bottle (33 fluid ounces), that’s $155 per bottle.
Unlike repainting a car, you don’t need multiple layers. So around two bottles should do the trick, which comes to $310. Meanwhile, shipping costs from Japan vary, but a quick search tells us it’ll be about $140 for up to 12kg. You can use shipping cost estimators to get a more accurate quote.
So, assuming you have a small car, that comes to a total of around $878 for this Musou Black project. Of course, there are other pieces of equipment that you will need, but they’re relatively cheap and we’ll get into that later.
Whether or not that’s worth it, we’ll leave it for you to decide. But it certainly is cheaper and more practical than shipping your car to the UK to be covered in carbon nanotubes.
Before we start, we’d like to remind you once again that Musou Black is NOT intended for cars. It wasn’t designed as car paint, and it is expensive and can be very fragile on cars.
Our guide is merely here because it’s feasible, and – as far as we can tell – the only way to achieve the blackest black paint on a car. However, we’re strongly against it, and against using any paint that isn’t intended for cars in the first place. This is a very risky project, so proceed at your own risk.
Blackest Black Paint: How To Apply It
So, how do you apply it? First, you’ll need to gather all the equipment. In addition to the sprayer, you’ll also need:
- Painting respirators. You can also use N95 masks, but we strongly recommend respirators when working with paint.
- Safety glasses.
- Masking tape and paper, which comes free from DYC if you purchase the vehicle kit.
- Several clean microfiber cloths.
- High-quality car shampoo.
With all that on hand, you can start preparing the car:
Prepping The Car For Plasti Dip
Prepping a car for Plasti Dip is much simpler than prepping it for a repaint. But you’ll need to prep it properly to ensure good adhesion between the car’s body and Plasti Dip so that it can last a long time, and it’ll be easy to take them off. Here’s what you need to do:
- Find a space for the project. We recommend doing it indoors in a well-ventilated garage.
- Clean and wash your car thoroughly. Make sure there is no debris that can scratch the car or ruin the Plasti Dip. Make sure the car is completely dry afterward.
- Apply PreDrip to your car, which is a solution from DYC to help with adhesion. Spray it onto a clean microfiber, then wipe the car with it. Do it panel by panel, and get every nook and cranny that’s going to be sprayed with Plasti Dip.
- Mask areas that aren’t going to be sprayed such as the grille, lights, and emblems.
With your car done, it’s time to prep the Plasti Dip itself:
- Setup the Dip Sprayer from DYC.
- Open the Plasti Dip gallon and blend the liquid. Slowly stir it until the liquid becomes more colorful.
- Pour the Plasti Dip into the spray gun, use a cone filter to prevent spilling.
- Wear your safety glasses, gloves, and respirators before you start.
- Open the garage door if you need ventilation.
Applying The Plasti Dip
- Practice on a piece of metal or cardboard if you’re not confident about your spraypainting skills. Hold the spray gun around 6 inches from the surface, and then spray in a side-to-side motion. The first rule of spray painting: only press the gun when it’s moving.
- Once you’re confident, start by applying Plasti Dip on the roof and then work your way down.
- Work on one end of the roof and spray it to the middle. Once you can’t reach the middle part of the roof, move to the other side and spray that side.
- Once the roof is done, work your way down the car. You can start anywhere you like, but work on panel-by-panel.
- After the first layer is done, let the Plasti Dip rest for around 15 – 30 minutes.
- Once the first layer seems to have settled, repeat the process until your car is completely covered. DYC’s vehicle kit should be good for 4 layers.
- Some Plasti Dip colors will come with a gloss or pearl coat. You may apply this if you like, and the process is the same. However, since we’re focusing on the Musou Black paint, this isn’t necessary.
- Wait for around 4 hours before proceeding to the Musou Black paint.
The video above is a very helpful guide from DipYourCar. We recommend watching it if you want to get the best results. Now, to apply that Musou Black paint:
Applying Musou Black Paint
The process of applying the Musou Black paint is the same as any spraypainting process, which is the same as spraying Plasti Dip onto your car. You can rewatch the DYC Musou Black video to see how they did it, but here’s a quick guide:
- Pour the Musou Black paint into the DYC sprayer.
- Mix the paint before spraying to ensure that the pigments are well mixed.
- Spray the paint onto the car. Much like the Plasti Dip, start from the roof and work your way down.
- If the paint looks uneven, then spray another layer on top of it.
- Wait for a few hours for the paint to dry, then take off the masking tapes and papers.
After you finish, be sure to not leave your car outdoors or wash it for a couple of days to prevent any sort of damage or blemishes to the paint.
Going The Extra Mile: HyperShift Coat
If the blackest black paint isn’t enough to turn heads around, then maybe making your car look like it’s been wrapped by a galaxy will finally get your car the attention it deserves:
The HyperShift coat is DYC’s pearl coating intended for use on top of their Plasti Dip. As you can see in the video above, applying it on the Musou Black paint results in an effect that makes it look like a galaxy is wrapping the car.
As the video mentions, it’s quite complicated, and again, Musou Black paint is not meant for cars. It will be very easy to get it wrong if you don’t have a lot of experience with spray paint. But still, might be a fun weekend project.
Blackest Black Paint: Questions & Answers
Got any more questions? The answer you’re looking for might be down here:
1. Is Plasti Dip Safe?
Yes, Plasti Dip is safe. As long as you follow the instructions, they’re perfectly safe to use and won’t leave damage to your car’s paint. Keep in mind you should wait at least six months before applying Plasti Dip to a new paint job.
2. How Long Do They Last?
There’s been a lot of arguments about this. Some say it will last for up to three years, with very minor scuffs that can be disguised by simply spraying another layer of Plasti Dip.
However, the conservative estimate is that it will last for about a year. Possibly two years if applied correctly and you’re lucky.
3. How Do I Remove It?
Proper installation will allow you to remove the Plasti Dip by simply peeling it off. Start at a corner of a panel, and peel it off by hand. You can use WD-40 or paint thinner with the help of a drywall scraper if it’s a bit stubborn. And you can clean the remains with isopropyl alcohol.
Afterward, clean the car with a high-quality shampoo. You can learn more about how to apply and remove Plasti Dip in our complete Plasti Dip guide.
4. Can I Have Someone Do It For Me?
DipYourCar does not provide any services. DYC designs its product to be as easy as it can be to use at home. By purchasing their Vehicle Kit and watching their guide, you should be able to do it at home with decent results.
If you’re not confident, inquire with your local auto body shops and see if they’re willing to do this project for you. Of course, expect to pay for labor, which usually starts at around $50 per hour at an auto body shop.
5. Why Is It Called Vantablack?
The Vantablack name comes from the acronym VANTA, which stands for Vertically Aligned Nano Tube Arrays. And of course, the color black. It sounds cool and it describes the product very well. Kudos to whoever came up with the name.
6. Why Aren’t There Factory “Vantablack” Paint?
Vantablack itself requires a special license. Additionally, it needs a temperature of 100 – 280°C (212 – 536°F), and vacuum post-processing. While feasible, it’s hardly practical.
As for why paints like Musou Black haven’t taken off, we imagine a Vantablack-like paint is difficult and expensive to replicate. Certainly impractical to produce at a mass-production level.
Plus, if we’re being honest, it doesn’t look that great. So there probably isn’t that much demand for this kind of paint. It makes for a cool optical illusion and will certainly turn heads. But many cars, especially exotic cars, just look much better with brighter colors. The BMW M4 could certainly use it though to hide that hideous massive grille.
Blackest Black Paint: Wrap Up
So, the blackest black paint ever put on a car is Vantablack. Although, it’s technically not paint since it’s actually a vertically aligned nanotubes assembly that’s covering the car, hence the name Vantablack.
It works by trapping up to 99.965% of the light that hits it, resulting in very little reflection of light to our eyes. Unfortunately, this isn’t available to the general public, but you can achieve somewhat the same effect by using Plasti Dip and Musou Black paint from KoPro.