Many popular colors today are what we call Tricoats. Pearl whites and candy reds are the usual examples, but there are some others as well. Tricoats add an effect to the color that cannot be achieved with a typical colorcoat/clearcoat system by adding an additional layer of color that is different, yet complimentary of the basecoat.
Tricoats add one more step to the standard painting process. With a typical paint job there is usually a primer, colorcoat, and then clearcoat. But a tricoat splits the colorcoat into two layers: basecoat and midcoat. It has the primer, basecoat, midcoat, and then the clearcoat. This midcoat has a transparency that affects the overall color and achieves a finish that could not be obtained otherwise. Even at the original factory, this is how the color is achieved. There is an additional layer of paint sprayed to create the color.
For example, the most common tricoats are pearl white colors. Most pearl whites are vibrant and have a wonderful sparkle to them. That sparkle comes from applying the separate midcoat which suspends reflective flakes in transparent pigments. When sprayed over a white basecoat, you achieve the look you see. If the sparkles were simply added to the white basecoat, they would be lost and the color would lose its attractiveness.
All tricoats work this way, even though the end results can vary from pearl to candy effects. If your color is a tricoat, you likely paid more for it from the factory and you’ll also have to pay a little more to touch it up. This is the only way to achieve a perfect match if your color is a tricoat.
Some tricoats have a urethane midcoat and you will receive a waterborne basecoat with a urethane midcoat. This is due to the urethane midcoat being able to suspend the pigments in the midcoat for a proper color match. Not all tricoats are formulated this way, but if you received one that is, it is by design and not an issue.