What is 2k paint?

What is 2k paint

The term 2K paint sounds quite futuristic but actually, you will have come across this type of paint many times. It is a type of paint that has two components: the paint and a hardener which makes a chemical reaction when it is mixed with the paint to make it dry harder. 2K paints are quite different from 1k paints and are suitable for quite different uses.

Nearly all aerosol spray paints are 2k paints. Usually, the isocyanate hardener comes in a separate compartment with an activator that needs to be used before use so that the two components will mix.

2K paints are often used in car body shops and other situations where a more durable and hard-wearing paint is needed, which retain colour very well. You don't generally need 2K paint for general wear.

Difference between 1k and 2k paints

If you aren't sure which type of paint you need for your project, let's take a look at the major differences between 1k and 2k paint.


2k paint is a plastic system usually made with acrylic or polyurethane whereas 1k paint is either water-based, oil-based, solvent-based and contains pigments.

Drying time

1k paint will usually be dry to the touch after around 30 minutes whereas 2k spray paint can take 3-4 hours.

Drying method

2k spray paint is almost always dried due to the chemical reaction between the hardener and paint components (although some do air dry). 1k paint, on the other hand, air dries.


2k paints dry harder because of the separate hardener that chemically reacts with the paint. 1k paints don't dry as hard because they only contain the paint component.

Colour retention

Colour retention

2k paint tends to retain its colour better than 1k paint. It is resistant to UV rays so won't fade in the sun, and is also weather and chemical resistant.

Ease of use

There is no doubt that 2k paint is more difficult to work with than 1k paint. A 2k painting job is often best left to the professionals. It is more toxic than 1k paint so safety equipment is advised and it is harder to apply than 1k paint.


2k paint is ore suitable for industry and places where the sprayed surface is likely to be exposed to harsh weather, heavy traffic and use, chemicals, bright sunlight, and high temperatures. 1k paint, on the other hand, is more suitable for home and everyday use.

Without the hardener, it is less resistant to many of the harsher environments that 2k paint is fine with, but it often isn't necessary for the paint to be that durable in normal environments. Some people use a 2k clear coat on top of normal paint to give it some of the protective properties that a full 2k coat would have. A 2k clear coat isn't needed on top of a 2k paint coat and it can actually interfere with the hardener component, making the cure time longer and the paint softer and less durable.

The bottom line

2k paint always comes in aerosol spray paint cans. It has two components: paint and a hardener. Once the activator is used, the two components come together and create a chemical reaction which makes the paint dry very hard. The main difference between 1k and 2k paint is that 1k only has a single component (the paint), and it is also made of different substances. You can find 1k in the form of aerosols but it won't have an activator and it won't have the same hard-wearing properties as 2k. In many cases, however, 2k isn't necessary as the surface won't be in a harsh enough environment to warrant it. But, where it is necessary, it can make a big difference.

What is 2k paint

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