How To Paint A Car: Step By Step Guide For DIY Car Painting

How to paint a car? If you have the same question then you are not the only one. Thousands of car owners take it upon themselves to paint their car. Let us clear this first, it’s not easy, but it’s not impossible as well. There are many moving parts and hard work involved in this. In this guide, we will explain how to prep a car for paint and how to paint a car in detail.

How to Paint a Car

If you want to paint a car yourself, then remember, this is more than a day project. That’s why those who are willing to move forward need to prepare themselves for a lot of hard work. Restoring an old car or just trying a new shade of paint on your car, the process is simple and straightforward. With a little bit of skill and preparation and after that your car will be good as new.

Tools for Painting a Car

Spray painting a car requires more than just paint. There are a few things you need in order to prep a car for paint as well. Here is a list of everything you need to paint a car.

  • 1,200 and 2,000-grit sandpaper
  • Electric powered sander
  • Masking tape and newspapers
  • Air compressor
  • Paint sprayer
  • Buffer
  • Paint thinners
  • Topcoat paint
  • Dust extractor 

Safety Checklist

How to Prep a Car for Paint

Preparation is the key to successfully execute a paint job. One of the reasons to prep your car for paintwork is to clean the area. The area where you will be painting a car needs to be clear from any dust or debris. Also, shading is important because rain may ruin everything. Ventilation is also part of it, as you will be working with lots of chemicals. Your garage is not a suitable place for more than one reason. The congested places are not suitable and most garages have heaters which are not suitable for paint fumes.  In the end, wash your car, make sure to clean all the areas you want to paint. 

Take it apart 

If you have decided to paint your car thoroughly then you need to dismantle those parts, such as a car door, engine, trunk and more. This will take a lot of time and a little bit of mechanical knowledge to take apart the engine out of the car. If you wish to paint on just outside the car body, then remove the antenna, review mirror, and other parts.

How to Sand a Car Before Painting

Sanding is one of the most important parts of painting a car. Sanding will remove the paint layer to the bare metal and smooth the surface for paint. This can be done with sandpaper and Electric powered sander. It’s important to remove the old paint so that it won’t flake after the new layer of paint. It will also remove any objects and smooth the surface.  This is a time-consuming task but it needs to be done properly. If you have limited time, then no need to remove the whole layer of old paint, just make sure that the surface is smooth enough to paint. Once you complete the sanding, wipe down the whole car body with paint thinner and rag. Make sure to wait until paint thinner evaporates. 

Car Paint Primer

Priming a car before painting is important and now you need to mask off those car parts where you don’t want to paint. Use the masking tape and newspaper to properly cover the area. 

Now mix the primer with thinner from the instruction. If you are new to this, then you should practice before painting a car. Find scrap metal and start spraying. You need to start from the roof to the bottom in a vertical motion. Keep the sprayer 6 inch away and always pull the trigger when the sprayer is moving. Otherwise, it will be thick on some of the areas where you continually sprayed. 

Once you learn how to use spray painting a car, now it’s time to paint a car. Start from the roof and make sure to apply a thin and leveled coat. It will take two or three coats to cover the full surface of the car. Mostly it takes around 10 minutes to apply the primer coat per panel and around 20 to one hour to cure the primer.

The finished primer has a powdered surface. It needs to be smooth by wet and dry sandpaper and clean. Use the paint thinner to soak a rag and clean the surface and make sure not to use too much thinner otherwise it will remove the primer.

Painting a Car

After all of the preparation to paint a car, we have reached the final stage of the actual painting. Mix paint with thinner as instructed on the paint can. Spray painting a car is the same as spraying primer. Use the vertical motion from the roof to the bottom for spraying and it will take around 10 minutes to spray one panel of the car. Then let it cure for 20 minutes to one hour and then apply another coat. 

Repeat this cycle four times, you need to apply a paint coat at least 4 times for perfect finishing. Remove any powdered surface with sandpaper and wipe it down with a clean cloth. Use the same technique with clear-coat lacquer.

Now its time to remove the tapes and newspaper from the car. Make sure you remove them before the coat dries and be careful about peeling them off and don’t let it stick to the paint. If you find any imperfection, use the sandpaper and then buffer to spray over it.


We hope that our DIY paint Job guide will help you with painting a car. We have provided answers to every question regarding how to paint a car.  Painting a car is all about rewarding yourself and increasing the life of a car. With this article, we have made sure to cover every aspect of car painting and it will definitely help those who need some guidance.

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