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A simple guide to Cellulose – One for the Classic Car Fans

Classic Car Paint

This short guide is designed to help people with some of the most common questions we get asked about Cellulose paint.

Firstly despite many rumours flying around Cellulose is still available and is not illegal to use. The product can now only be used on certain applications, they include :

Industrial Use

Resoration of Classic & Vintage Vehicles


It is against the law for us to supply and for you to use Cellulose on modern vehicles or any other use that falls outside the 3 applications listed above. If you wish to paint anything other than these items you will need to use a compliant product, that is one which complies with EU Solvent regulations.

For the purpose of Classic/Vintage vehicles the legislation unfortunately doesn’t have an age but for our use we work to the Governments definition when it comes to your free tax disc, this is the 1st January 1973 at the last check.

Anything newer than this could still be a “Classic” but we all enter a grey area.

Cellulose is a favourite amongst the keen enthusiasts as it is easy to use, relatively cheap, doesn’t require Air Fed Mask (although we would always suggest you use them anyway) and polishes to a nice high gloss finish with the minimum of fuss.

Cellulose is generally supplied in 2 types :

A Primer form which is thinned at a ratio of 1 part Primer to 1 part Thinner. The Thinner for this stage can be Standard Cellulose Thinner or Anti-Bloom/High Gloss Thinners.

A Cellulose Topcoat which is again thinned at a ratio of approximately 1 part Cellulose to 1 part Thinner. The Thinner at this stage should always be a Virgin Anti-Bloom or High Gloss product to achieve the best possible finish. You could use Standard Thinners but it will affect the finish.

Generally speaking Cellulose dries very quickly about 15 minutes flash off and the next coat can be applied as soon as this has occurred. Coverage can be anywhere between 10-20 square metres per litre depending on colour and how the products is applied, we would normally suggest at least 2 good coats of the Topcoat.

Please remember Cellulose is an aggressive paint so if you are going over any existing paintwork and you are not sure what is there try a small area 1st as reactions can occur between Cellulose and some other paint types eg Synthetic. If this does happen then your options are to strip the existing paint or use and Isolator such as the excellent Upol Barcoat Sealer, this will stop the Cellulose attacking the existing paintwork.

We can offer a huge range of colours for all types of historic vehicles and can also provide a full colour matching service.

Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions and we hope we can help you again soon.

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