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How To Paint A Car

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Car owners can actually paint their own vehicles. As long as you have a good paint sprayer and proper knowledge, you can do it professionally. Moreover, a DIY car paint job will enable to save thousands of bucks. We all know how expensive a car painting service is if you will let the auto shops do it for you.

With the right preparation and proper tools, you can do this task by yourself! Of course, this skill will let you refurbish the color of your car whenever you want!

How To Paint A Car: The Process

Painting a car will take a couple of days to complete. You cannot complete it within a day as there are a lot of things that you need to prepare.

Before you start, make sure that you will work on a shed. The outdoor elements can interfere your work. Dust and debris can mix up with the paint. Moreover, the sudden downpour of rain will certainly ruin your job! However, you can still work outside. Just always be cautious always!

What You Need:
• 1,200 and 2,000-grit sandpaper (You need a lot of these)
• Electric powered sander
• Masking tape
• Newspapers (For masking)
• Air compressor
• Paint sprayer
• Buffer
• Paint thinners
• Topcoat enamel or acrylic paint
• Clear-coat lacquer
• Dust extractor (optional, if you want your area to be always clean)

Safety items
• Face mask
• Undercoat
• Safety glasses
• Gloves

If you have a medium-size car, you might need around three gallons of topcoat, three gallons of clear-coat, and one gallon of primer. If your car is big, then you will need four gallons of topcoat, four gallons of clear-coat lacquer, and one and a half gallon of base coat.

Professionals can use lesser amount than this. However, since you are still prone to mistakes and wastes, having more cans of paint is necessary.

Moreover, there is a way to retain the original color of your vehicle. You can look for the color code of your car on your compliance plate. Give this detail to an auto paint shop. The fellows there can find the exact color that you want. Now, let’s go on the steps of how to paint a car!


Before you start painting, you need to prepare your area first. If you will be working in a garage, try to expel all the dust there. If you are doing it outside, clean your area. Moreover, make sure that you will work under trees. Some foreign objects from the trees can fall and contaminate your paint.

After you secured your area, start cleaning your car thoroughly. Make sure that you can remove any road grime, dirt, and grease.

Aside from that, you have to think if you want to paint the inner door sills, trunk, and engine bay of your car. Adding them to your errand can will consume too much of your time. This is because you have to remove the engine and strip the car bare.

However, if you just want an exterior refurbishing, then you will just have to mask the parts that you don’t want to get painted. Of course, you will need to wear your protective gears before starting.

Stripping the Paint

The first step of painting your car is removing the old paint. You will need the sandpapers to sand the crevices and corners of your vehicle. You can achieve a quality output if you can be able to sand your car until no colors are left except the bare metal. Of course, the sanding should have a smooth finish, too!

This process is very time-consuming. Each panel can take up to two hours before you can sand them completely. This is the reason why you have to do this on a day in which you have no immediate schedules.

If you have a restricted time, then there is no need any more to sand it down to bare metal. The results can already be satisfactory once you can get an even and smooth surface. You can do this by finishing the car’s body with the use of wet-and-dry sandpaper.

Once you are done sanding, you will need to wipe the entire surface with thinners and a clean cloth. You should do this to remove the dust and debris. Afterwards, you need to wait for the thinner to evaporate before you can continue.

Priming the Car

In this part, you will need to mask the areas that you want to include in the spray. Use a masking tape and a bunch of newspaper to make a cover sheet. Do this carefully so that you can avoid over-spraying and unwanted mess.

You will have to mix the thinners and primer that you have. Make sure that you will follow the recommended ratio of your paint brand. Apparently, the ration varies from different types of paint.

Before spraying, you might need to practice with your paint sprayer. Take a metal scrap or spare car panel that you have. Aim the sprayer from the distances of around 6 inches. When spraying, you will have to do it on a vertical sweeping motion.

Moreover, only press the trigger when you are moving the paint sprayer. If you press the trigger continuously, the paint will be thick in some areas. This can cause runs and unwanted wastes.

Once you are confident with your skills, you can start spraying the primer. You have to start from the roof of your car. When applying, make sure that you can produce fine and even coating. Approximately, it would take around three runs before you can cover your entire car with primer. After applying, let the primer dry.

It will take an hour before you can recoat the primer to cure.

If you did process properly, you could expect the surface of your car to have a powder-like finish. Because of this, you will need a 2,000-grit wet-and-dry sandpaper to sand your car gently. Afterwards, wipe down the primed surface using a clean rag soaked in thinners. Moreover, do not apply too much thinner. Or else, it will remove the primer.


Same as the primer, you need to mix your paint with thinners based on the recommended ratios.

Applying the coat will require you to follow the same spraying patterns as you did with the primer. Each panel will take about 10 minutes to spray. Moreover, it will take an hour before you can recoat the paint to cure.

Approximately, you will need to spray four coats of paint to your car. In doing this, you should follow the suggested drying time of the paint you will use. Before you start applying the last coat, you will need to sand the surface first to remove the powder-like residues. After sanding, wipe it down with a clean rag.

You will have to repeat the last two process when you are applying the clear-coat lacquer.

Your job is finished when you reach this point. Once you are pretty satisfied, remove the mask from the car. Specifically, you will have to do it while the lacquer has not dried yet. Moreover, be careful not to get the newspapers or tapes into the paint!

After removing the mask, let the clear-coat lacquer cure. Do it on according to its recommended time.

If you can find any flaws, you need to sand that area right away so that you can re-spray immediately.


Learning how to paint a car is a useful skill for every vehicle owners. It gives them the flexibility to handle this errand on their pace and schedule. Moreover, it lets them save money, too!

As a piece of advice, you will need a good paint sprayer that can produce elegant and professional finishes. In this way, you can expect that your car will have a brand-new look!