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Understanding and Protecting Yourself When using Model Craft kits : Acrylics, Enamels, and Lacquers

Understanding and Protecting Yourself When using Model Craft kits : Acrylics, Enamels, and Lacquers

20th Jun 2024

Understanding and Protecting Yourself When using Model Craft kits : Acrylics, Enamels, and Lacquers

When engaging in painting, whether for personal enjoyment or professional applications, it’s crucial to choose the right type of paint and follow the correct safety measures. 

This guide will help you learn about the features of three common types of paint.—acrylics, enamels, and lacquers—along with detailed recommendations for respiratory protection. 

Brands in Model Craft Painting:

Model crafting is a hobby that combines precision, creativity, and an eye for detail, transforming simple kits into intricate, lifelike replicas. 

For enthusiasts looking to paint model crafts, the choice of paint can significantly impact the final appearance and durability of the model. High-quality paints are essential for achieving the best results, delivering vivid colours, smooth application, and long-lasting finishes.

Among the variety of brands available, a few stand out for their reputation, quality, and the trust they have earned from hobbyists around the world. 

Brands like AirfixRevellTamiya, and Italeri are not only closely associated with model kits themselves but also offer a range of specialised paints tailored for model crafting. 

Each of these brands brings unique strengths and specialties to the table, catering to various aspects of the modelling process from beginner kits to detailed professional-grade projects. Here’s an introduction to these key players in the model craft paint market, highlighting what makes each brand a favourite among modelling enthusiasts.

Acrylics: Versatility in a Bottle

What is it? 

Acrylic paint is celebrated for its versatility and ease of use. This water-based paint is composed of pigment suspended in an acrylic polymer emulsion. Its water solubility, while wet, allows for easy clean-up with water, yet once dry, it becomes water-resistant. This quick-drying paint can adhere to a wide array of surfaces, making it popular among artists, craft enthusiasts, and DIY home decorators for everything from canvas art to upcycled furniture.

Unlike other paints, acrylics are less toxic and generally do not emit harmful vapours. The main risk associated with acrylic paint arises during processes like sanding or spraying, where fine particles can become airborne.

What brand is preferred?

As previously mentioned Tamiya plays a big role in the world of acrylic paint. They are known for their quick drying time and smooth application. Their paints can either be thinned for airbrushing or applied directly from the pot. 

Another brand known for their dedication to scale model paints is AK interactive. They offer acrylics that are highly pigmented and designed especially for models.   

What protection do I need from this? 

For general painting with acrylics, the vapours produced are not typically hazardous; however, adequate ventilation is always recommended. Protective gear is required for tasks like airbrushing and heavy sanding of dried paint that expose you to paint that sprays into the air. A half-face mask equipped with an A2 filter will provide ample protection against any minor vapours and particulates released during these activities.

Enamels: A Durable Choice

What is it? 

Enamel paints are solvent-based coatings known for their lustrous finish and durability. These paints are often used on surfaces that are exposed to harsh conditions, such as outdoor environments or high-traffic areas. The finish provided by enamel paint is not only glossy but also extremely resistant to wear, making it ideal for projects like automotive painting, outdoor furniture, and door trim.

What brand is preferred?

When working with enamel paints Revell and Humbrol are in the top favourites. 

Revell is a brand that is particularly well-known in the European region. Both plastic and metal models can benefit from their high gloss surfaces and excellent adhesive capabilities, which makes them acceptable for use in both types of models. This makes them an excellent option because they come in a number of different colours to pick from.

Humbrol is a brand that is based in the United Kingdom but is incredibly popular all over the world. Their enamel paints are well-known for their high quality products, which provide more than 150 shades with a choice of finishes including matte to glossy. Additionally, you may use either a brush or an airbrush to paint with these paints, making them quite versatile.

What protection do I need from this? 

Given their solvent base, enamels can release more potent vapours that may pose health risks if inhaled. Protection from these vapours, as well as any aerosolised particulates during application, is crucial.

An A2/P3 filter fitted on a half-mask respirator offers protection against both the organic vapours and particulates typical of enamel painting environments. This level of protection is generally adequate for most hobbyist and professional applications involving enamel paints.

Lacquers: Achieving a Flawless Finish

What is it? 

Lacquer is a solvent-based paint that provides an exceptionally hard and shiny finish. It dries by solvent evaporation, creating a smooth, durable coat that is highly valued in fine furniture finishing, musical instruments, and automotive surfaces. The clarity and glossiness of a lacquer finish are unmatched, making it a favourite for high-end decorative work.

What brand is preferred?

Tamiya and AK Interactive are the two brands that are most commonly used for lacquer paints, much like they are for acrylic coats. However, there is also a competitor who has not yet been mentioned, and that is Mr. Colour.

Tamiya's laquer range is ideal for maintaining a constant level of quality since it provides short drying times and excellent coverage. 

Lacquers with exceptional performance and durability are available from Ak Interactive in a variety of shades.

Gunze Sangyo (Mr Hobby) is the company that produces the Mr. Colour brand. Modellers choose Mr. Colour as a contender due of the excellent finish and extensive colour selection that they offer. Due to the fact that these materials have the capacity to dry in a short amount of time and provide a finish that is both smooth and long-lasting, they are particularly well-liked in the community among scale modellers.

What protection do I need from this? 

Lacquers contain volatile solvents that can emit intense and potentially harmful fumes. To safely work with lacquers, especially in enclosed spaces or during large-scale applications, more stringent protective measures are required. A half-mask respirator with an A2P3 filter is recommended, providing a higher level of particulate filtration to safeguard against the fine mists and strong organic vapours typical of lacquer application.

Combined Protection Strategy

If your project involves using a combination of these three paint types, opting for the highest level of protection to accommodate the most hazardous paint is wise. A half-mask with an A2P3 filter effectively covers the requirements for all three paint types. This ensures that you are shielded from the significant vapours of lacquers as well as any particulates from sanding acrylics or applying enamels.

We suggest these as a type A protects against organic vapours and gases with boiling point of 65°C or higher. The class 2 is for average/medium capacity and suitable for a pollutant concentration of < 0.5%, or up to 5000 ppm (part per million). 

P3 filters are capable of trapping at least 99.95% of airborne particles that are 0.3 microns or larger in diameter. Although P3 filters provide excellent protection against particulates, they do not protect against gases or chemical vapours. For protection against these types of hazards, a combined filter (such as A2P3) is necessary. 

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Selecting the appropriate paint involves more than just picking the right colour

or finish; understanding the chemical properties and associated risks is equally crucial. Whether you’re a novice painter or a seasoned professional, always prioritize your health and safety by using suitable protective gear and maintaining good ventilation. This approach will not only ensure a successful painting project but also a safe and enjoyable experience in exploring the vibrant world of model painting.


The information in this blog is for general guidance only and should not be taken as professional advice. We recommend consulting directly with manufacturers for specific details related to your needs. We do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information provided. Use of this information is at your own risk.