How Much Does it Cost to Paint A Car?

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A fresh paint job is one of the best ways to make your car look brand new again.

On top of enhancing its appearance, it protects your vehicle.

A fresh layer of paint protects the steel of your car from wear and tear that naturally occurs over time.

Learn more reasons why you should paint your car, what this typically costs, and whether or not you should DIY this job.

Reasons to Paint Your Car

There’s not really a rule as to whether or not your HAVE to paint your car.

But, painting your car can improve the appearance, making it more distinctive and attractive than before.

Certain colors can even increase the value of the vehicle.

Like waxing your car protects the paint, a fresh coat of paint will also protect your car from corrosive environments and rusting, which will increase its life.

Factors that Affect the Total Cost of a Paint Job

There are quite a few factors that will determine the total cost, including:

  • Quality of the paint job.
  • The size of your vehicle.
  • The color you choose.
  • The quality of the paint.
  • Repairs needed in the paint process.
  • Finishes.

Quality of the Paint Job

Though you may find some offers to complete this job for a low price, you are likely compromising the attention to detail.

A professional paint service will deliver professional results, whereas a cheap job will deliver cheap results.

Size of your Car

The bigger the vehicle, the more paint will be needed, and the more you will need to spend on a paint job.

A small sedan will cost significantly less to paint than a full-size SUV. 

Color

Not all paint colors are priced equally.

Commonly used car colors such as black, gray, and white are priced relatively low to more unique colors, like yellow or purple. 

Type & Quality of Paint

While synthetic paint is the industry standard, higher quality paint that will last longer costs more.

It’s typically worth splurging, as the results will last longer.

Repairs & Body Work

Your car may have imperfections, like scratches, that need to be addressed at the time of painting.

Some painters will include the cost of repairing imperfections in the initial quote – it’s important to check.

Finishes

An important factor in completing a fresh repaint of a car is the finish.

The finish can range from wax to more specialized materials like ceramic coating.

While a cheaper finish might be tempting, it is not recommended.

If you’re going to pay for a paint job, investing in a higher quality finish is a smart choice.

Average Professional Paint Job Costs

You can expect your local auto shop to offer many different tiers of paint jobs to cater to customers of all budgets and outcomes.

On average, the prices for paint jobs are as follows.

  • Basic paint job. This involves just a few layers of synthetic paint and leaving areas that are not commonly seen untouched (eg. the hood) and typically costs $300-$1,000. 
  • Standard paint job. This caters to people who are looking for a better finish, and includes sanding down the car to remove rust before painting it. It typically costs $1,000-$5,000. 
  • Showroom quality paint job. This is the most detailed job you can get—it involves fully sanding the entire body down to bare metal, carefully removing all dents and rust, and applying up to two dozen coats of high quality paint. This typically costs $5,000 to $20,000. 

Make sure you are asking questions about what each tier includes before committing to the lowest possible price.

You’ll want to understand the type of paint they use, how many layers they will complete in the job, and what type of finish is included.

It is also a good idea to ask for examples of their work.

Should You Try To Paint Your Car Yourself?

If you’re considering painting your car yourself, consider your experience, what kind of results you’re looking for, and what kind of car you’re restoring.

And, think about where you’ll actually be able to paint it. That’s a big one.

If you’re looking to paint the family car or a collector’s vehicle, it’s recommended you seek professional help. 

The upside to painting your own vehicle is you may be able to buy all needed materials for as little as $200.

If you have the patience, skills, tools, and workspace to complete the job, make sure to practice before starting on your vehicle.

The biggest obstacle many face when seeking to tackle this project is a location.

You’ll want an environment that is dirt and dust free—think a clean garage with good ventilation. 

Steps to Paint Your Car

From a high-level, here are the steps that you can follow to paint your car.

  1. Buy the proper materials.
  2. Secure a clean workplace.
  3. Sand down your car.
  4. Use thinners to wipe your car down and remove dust.
  5. Practice painting before you touch your car.
  6. Prime your car.
  7. Sand the primer.
  8. Apply the layers of topcoat.
  9. Apply the clear coat.
  10. Buff your car.

Materials Needed

You will need to pick up the following materials to paint your car.

  • Wet-and-dry sandpaper (100 up to 2000-grit).
  • A sander .
  • Masking tape.
  • Masking paper.
  • Spray gun.
  • Air compressor.
  • Paint.
  • Paint thinners.
  • Acrylic top coat.
  • Clear-coat lacquer.
  • A buffer.
  • Face mask and respirator.
  • Safety glasses.

Tips to Paint Your Car 

Follow these best practices for painting your vehicle to achieve optimal results.

  • Carefully choose what type of paint you want to use. The two most popular types of paints are Water-based and Solvent-based. While Solvent-based paint is the most traditionally used paint, Water-based has less volatile compounds, making it more environmentally friendly and popular these days. 
  • Make sure to treat all rust. A key to a successful paint job is to treat all areas of rust on your car’s surface. Easy areas can be treated with light sanding. More stubborn areas of rust will need to be treated with a rust converter.
  • Work top to bottom. Start by painting higher parts of the vehicle, like the roof, then work your way down to the lower parts of the car. 
  • Use consistent pressure. This is important to ensure all areas of the car are evenly painted.
  • Use less paint, not more. Too much paint all at once will likely cause dripping, which is not good for the final result. Apply multiple, even coats.
  • Practice patience. You’ll need to apply multiple layers of paint, allowing 6 hours for each coat to dry before applying the next.