DIY Painting Your Car At Home (2023)

There is nothing worse than a vehicle whose paint is prematurely deteriorating. Not only does it devalue the car when you go to sell it, but it just cheapens the overall look. You might be embarrassed to drive it or park it at your friends houses currently, but luckily there is a simple solution to your problem. Just repaint the car!

Painting a car when you have it done professionally can be extremely expensive. We’re talking thousands and thousands of dollars if you have it done right. Doing it yourself can save you a ton of money and it is something that you are completely capable of taking care of yourself.

Painting a car yourself can be an expense of its own, on average the cost of painting your own vehicle will run you around $200, but there are steps you can take to bring down that cost.

How Much Does It Cost To Paint Your Own Car

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Painting your own car, on average is going to cost you somewhere between $200 and $300 dollars. Which is around 10% of the cost of a professional paint job that is done well. You can save a ton of money painting your car yourself, but it will be a laborious job. If you want to do a professional quality job, the cost will be around $750 as the materials are more expensive.

How Much Exactly Does It Cost To Have A Car Painted Professionally

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The answer is going to vary based on what you need to have done, who you go to have it done, and the technique they use.

A professional paint job can cost you as little as $500 or as much as $20,000, but an average cost is around $2,500 for what most consumers are looking for. This will include sanding and rust removal which will give you the like new finish.

A Basic Professional Paint Job

This is going to be as few coats as possible and they aren’t going to do a super detailed job. They likely won’t take the time to do the door creases or inside the hood and they definitely won’t be sanding the existing paint down, but who is going to see those parts anyways, right? This style of paint job will cost you somewhere between $500 and $1000.

A Standard Professional Paint Job

This level of quality is going to be what you might expect, it’s going to look pretty good to the point that the naked eye likely won’t be able to tell the car has been repainted, but it isn’t going to be a fresh showroom quality paint job.

With a standard paint job, the company will sand down the vehicle and make sure there is no rust before they paint. They will do details like the inside of the hood and the door creases, but they aren’t going to remove the windows on the vehicle to make the paint completely seamless. This quality of professional paint job will cost somewhere between $1,500 and $4,500 dollars.

An Elite Professional Paint Job

This type of aftermarket paint job is typically only used on collector and exotic cars because it is extremely expensive. This is the best paint job that money can buy and the quality will show. The process will sand the vehicle down to bare metal and apply up to 20 coats of paint. The cost is very high ranging from $7,000 up to $20,000 dollars.

Are There Any Cheaper Alternatives To Paint

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The simple answer is no, there aren’t less expensive options than paint. There is the option of wrapping the car, but this isn’t that inexpensive of an options and in addition, a wrap is not permanent.

A professional wrap will start with a cost of around $2,000 dollars and go up from there. It can be less expensive if you just want one small section of the car wrapped like the hood, but it isn’t a permanent solution to bad paint.

Painting Your Own Car For Cheap– A How To Guide

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The bright side to having no good alternatives to painting a vehicle is that you can do it yourself on the cheap. All you need is a good enamel paint and some basic tools. You can use pretty much any enamel paint that you want, but some give better results than others. A lot of people like to use Rust-Oleum Protective Enamel Paint, which is not designed as a car paint, but does a great job of creating a gorgeous gloss coat at a less expensive price point than traditional at home car paints. In this guide we will use a spray on paint. Here are the supplies you need:

  • An enamel paint in a spray can
  • Painters or masking tape
  • Newspaper or other paper for covering
  • Large (bath size) towels you don’t mind destroying with paint
  • Small (wash cloth or hand sized) towel you don’t mind destroying
  • Primer (if the enamel paint you are using doesn’t have one built in)
  • Orbital sander
  • 320 grit sand paper rounds
  • Mineral Spirits
  • Gloves, goggles, safety glasses and protective clothing

Priming The Vehicle

In these next few steps we will prepare the car for painting by covering glass and tires to ensure we don’t get paint where we don’t want it. In addition we will prime the vehicle with a paint primer and sand down the car thoroughly to set ourselves up for a lovely professional looking finish.

For this process and for the painting of the vehicle you will want to work in a well ventilated area and you will want to wear a painter N95 mask for safety purposes. In addition you should wear clothes that protect your skin and safety goggles and gloves. Sanding a vehicle can be a bit of a grueling process and can kick up dust and paint scraps that you don’t want to get into your eyes or inhale. In addition the painting of the vehicle is a type of spray paint. You don’t want to be inhaling the airborne paint particles and solvents that reside within that can of paint, be sure to protect yourself by wearing a painters mask.

Step 1: Parking The Car In A Smart Location

The first thing you want to do is put the car in a location that is well ventilated. We recommend a garage with the door open or some form of car port, but you can park the car outside in a shaded spot if you choose. If you do decide to paint the car outside and not use a covered location you want to be cautious to avoid rainy days. This process will take a full 24 hours to fully set and dry and you will be unable to move the car.

Step 2: Covering The Glass And Tires

It is crucial to take the time to do a thorough job covering parts of the vehicle you want to avoid getting paint on. You’ll use tape to cover the smaller parts and newspaper or tarps to cover larger areas like windshields, windows and sunroofs.

Tape the mirrors, headlights, and taillights being sure that the surface is sealed tightly and will not catch paint. In addition cover parts of the hood and the back bumper if there are components that shouldn’t be painted.

Use tape to secure newspaper over the larger sections of the car like the windshield. Finally, use large towels to cover the

Step 3: Priming The Vehicle

You are only going to follow the priming step if the paint you are using doesn’t already have a primer in it. We use primer to smooth any damage on the vehicle like scratches or other damaged surfaces. Obviously this isn’t going to fix dents or other large damage but it will help the paint get a flawless finish on minor scratches by filling them in.

We recommend using a spray on primer for convenience sake if the paint you are using doesn’t have a primer in it. Spray primer on the vehicle liberally using a traditional spray paint quick back and forth motion as to prevent pools and drips.

Primer will take a good chunk of time to dry before it can be sanded so if you are trying to complete your project in one day keep this in mind. You should allot at least 5 hours of drying time for the primer before moving on to step 4.

Step 4: Sanding The Vehicle

If you’ve never used one before, a round sander is a handy tool to have in your garage as it significantly decreases time and effort spent sanding. You will be hard pressed to complete this sanding task without an orbital sander so make sure you have this vital tool before you get started. You can buy an orbital sander for around $50 dollars, or you can rent one from a store like Home Depot or Lowes for less. Whether you rent or buy your sander, you’ll want to outfit it with a 320 grit sandpaper round.

We sand the surfaces of the car to produce a smooth and seamless surface to apply paint. If you want a professional looking paint job you cannot skip this step.

Outfit the sander with the piece of 320 grit sandpaper and turn the tool. Hold the sander to the surface of the car and slowly move the tool across the vehicle using a sweeping pattern. A thorough sanding job of a car can (and should) take up to two hours if you do it properly. You’ll obviously need to take breaks or tap in a partner to help you. Continue to sand until the entirety of the vehicle is completely smooth.

Step 5: Wiping Down The Vehicle With Mineral Spirits

This step is the final in the priming process. In step 5 you will be thoroughly cleaning the vehicle to ensure the paint has nothin to stick to other than your car. Acetone and mineral spirits are chemicals that you should wear eye and hand coverings when working with.

Dip your smaller cloth into either acetone or a mineral spirit and thoroughly wipe down every paintable surface of your vehicle. When you sand, you leave behind a layer of fine particles. This dusty later will need to be completely removed before you can paint the car.

Painting The Vehicle

Step 1: Getting The Right Paint Amount

You’ll want to get between 6 and 10 cans of whatever brand of car paint you are using. Be sure when choosing a paint that you get a high gloss version of your car’s paint color. Auto paints are traditionally glossy and this will look the most professional.

Step 2: Evenly Coating The Vehicle

Using a sweeping motion, you’ll coat the vehicle with the spray on paint one panel at a time. The proper technique is to hold the can about 6 inches away from the car and use fast motions back and forth across the car to prevent pooling or drips. The goal is for a thin and even coverage of paint.

Continue these steps until the entire vehicle has been coated. If desired, allow the vehicle to dry and add a second coat of paint.

Be sure to wear a painters mask when working with aerosol paints.

Step 3: Spot Removal

If you coated any parts of the car with paint unintentionally, you can buff off the paint using the same acetone that you used to clean the car. Pour a little bit on a rag and scrub away the excess paint before it dries.

Step 4: Let It Dry

The car should then be allowed to dry for a full 24 hours with no exceptions. The car may feel dry after several hours, but the paint is not set at that point. Do not drive the car, just leave it parked where you painted it. After spending a full day painting the car, the best thing to do now is be patient and not mess it up.

Once fully dry, remove all tape, paper and towels protecting various parts of the vehicle and enjoy your newly refurbished ride!

Never Get Yourself Into Debt Over Car Repairs Again

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Car repairs can be absurdly expensive, and you can expect those unexpected repairs before too long no matter what vehicle you drive.

If you have to replace the engine block it could cost you more than $10,000.

Depending on your vehicle it could cost you up to $10,000 dollars to make repairs to components like the transmission and suspension.

If that seems absurd to you, luckily you aren’t alone.

A vehicle service contract from Protect My Car can help cover the cost of these excessive repairs. In fact, you could pay as little as $100 dollars for that $5,000 engine replacement.

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When you walk into the repair shop with a coverage plan from PMC, you can rest assured that you will never pay for these repairs listed here. You pay a $100 deductible, just like insurance and we pay the rest.

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