A fresh coat of paint can make any car look new again. You can choose to paint your vehicle yourself or hire a professional. That said, how much will it cost you to paint your car?
It costs anywhere from a few hundred dollars to as high as $20,000 to paint a car. The cost of a paint job will depend on factors like the size of your vehicle and your choice of paint color and finish. You can save money with a DIY paint job, but the quality may not be of good quality.
In this article, I go deeper into the cost of professional auto painting and share some tips on how to get pro results if you decide to go the DIY route.
Factors That Influence the Cost of a Paint Job
Many factors influence the price of painting a car. Here are the main ones to consider.
The Size of Your Car
The cost of painting a compact car will be less than that of a larger car because the latter has more area to cover. Consequently, more paint and time are needed to get the job done. This will cost you extra in paint costs and, if employing the services of an auto painter, labor costs as well.
So if you drive a full-size or mid-size, you can expect to pay more than someone who owns a compact car.
The Paint Color, Finish, and Quality
Your choice of paint color can also affect the price of a paint job seeing as some colors cost more than others. Mainstream colors like black, white, and gray are cheaper. Some finishes—matte, in particular—are more expensive than others and will impact the cost of painting your car.
Nonetheless, choosing a costly paint color or finish won’t guarantee superb results if it’s not good quality.
High-quality, long-lasting brands are the way to go. Although such paints and finishes will add significantly to the cost of your project, they won’t require you to repaint your car as often—if ever. Consequently, this will save you money in the long run.
Whether You Paint Your Car Yourself or Take It to a Body Shop?
Painting your car yourself will save you some money as you won’t pay any automotive painter wages. However, a DIY auto paint job is not as simple as grabbing car paint and primer from a hardware store or auto shop. It requires various painting equipment, a well-ventilated area, and a lot of patience.
A bad paint job could take down the car’s value. So if you plan on reselling the vehicle you want to paint, you’re better off having a professional do it.
Why You’re Repainting Your Car?
If your reason for repainting your vehicle is to change the color, you only have to budget for the usual cost of painting a car. However, if your automobile has extensive surface damage that requires bodywork, you will pay more to have it painted. For minor damage, such as chips or scratches, car paint repair should cost just a few hundred dollars.
The Cost of Professional Car Painting
If you decide to take your car to a body shop for a paint job, there are three levels of auto painting services to choose from:
- Basic: this is the cheapest paint job, ranging between $300 to $1,000. It uses synthetic enamel paint—a single-stage paint—meaning the auto painter only paints a few coats as no clear coat is needed.
- Standard: this is a higher quality paint job that involves sanding the vehicle’s body and removing any rust before applying several coats of paint. A standard paint job can cost as much as $4,500.
- Showroom quality: this is the crème de la crème of paint jobs, involving the application of multiple (up to 24) coats of high-quality paint. The painters sand the bodywork down to the bare metal and repair surface damages, including rust and dents. This paint job can cost you anywhere between $5,000 and $20,000.
The Cost of DIY Car Painting
If you’re feeling up to the challenge, you can paint your car yourself and save hundreds of dollars, if not thousands, in the process. You only need the necessary painting supplies, which you can buy from a hardware or automotive store for as little as $200.
These materials and tools include:
- Masking tape
- Paint sprayer or foam brushes
- Paint trays
- Air compressor
- Paint thinners or mineral spirits for cleaning
- Personal protective equipment, including gloves, eye-wear, respirator, and coveralls
- Glossy paint
While a DIY paint job can save you a substantial amount of money, the likelihood of not getting satisfactory results is high. So in some cases, it might be better to go the professional route. For instance, if you’re planning to sell your car, a bad paint job can hurt its resale value.
How To Paint a Car?
Having gathered the items listed in the section above, clean your workspace to reduce contamination in your paint job. Do also declutter the area of anything that could get in your way, preventing the painting process from progressing smoothly.
Your workspace should also be well-ventilated since prolonged exposure to auto paint fumes can result in health effects.
Next, give your car a thorough scrub-down to remove any dirt or road grime that may get embedded into the paint, marring the paint job.
Once the car is clean, sand it down using sandpaper to create a smooth surface that’s ready to be painted on. Sanding also helps remove any scratches, chips, and rust that would otherwise harm your finish quality. If you like, you can sand the vehicle to bare metal.
Next, use paint thinner and a rag to wipe down the exterior. Allow for any residue from the paint thinner to dry before proceeding.
Apply 2-3 coats of primer to your car. Primer is a bonding agent that allows paint sprayed on top of it to adhere to the surface underneath it. I’d advise practicing your spraying technique first to ensure you apply smooth, even coats.
Following primer application, use wet and dry sandpaper to remove any powdery residue. Then wipe down the car surface again using a rag dampened with paint thinner.
With your car now prepped for paint, it’s time to start painting. Ensure to apply thin coats and remove excess paint from your brush to prevent paint runs. Wait for the first coat of paint to dry completely before applying the next ones. Apply at least three coats of paint.
Afterward, sand the powdery surface to regain a smooth, even surface. And wipe down the car with a microfiber cloth.
Once satisfied, apply a clear coat to protect your new paint job. A clear coat also enhances your car’s appearance by giving it a high-gloss finish.
Inspect the vehicle for imperfections, such as runs, scratches, and blemishes. If you find any, sand them down lightly and respray the affected area. Lastly, use a buffer to buff the paint without lingering on one spot for too long.
Tips for a Successful DIY Paint Job
Keep these pointers in mind when painting your car yourself:
- Use a tack cloth or a microfiber cloth to remove any dust before painting. Contaminants like dust can prevent a flawless finish.
- Use masking tape to protect areas that you don’t want to paint. These include your car’s windows, door handles, and headlights.
- Start at the top and work your way down. Doing this helps prevent paint drips and runs.
- Maintain the same pressure when painting. Consistent pressure helps create an even coat of paint.
- Avoid overdoing it with the paint. Applying too much paint causes the excess paint to run, which when it starts to dry congeals into visible drips.
- Leave six hours between coats. By doing this, you allow each coat of paint enough time to dry properly.
Painting a car makes it look new again and adds to its resale value. You can choose to paint yours yourself or get it done professionally.
A professional paint job will cost more but will produce high-quality results. You can pay hundreds or thousands of dollars depending on the size of your vehicle and paint color.
A DIY paint job will only cost you a few hundred dollars, but you may not get quality results. So consider why you want to paint your car to determine if it’s best to leave it to the professionals.