A car paint job might be necessary for one of several reasons. It may have got badly scratched in an accident.
Perhaps the worn-out paint has started peeling off? Or maybe you just feel it’s time for a color change.
In any case, you might wonder how much does it cost to paint a car yourself? The answer depends on several factors like paint type, repairs, the quality of job you want to get done, and so on. But on average, you can expect it to be somewhere between $300 and $1000.
But before you head to your nearest paint store with that budget, you’d better be asking yourself the following questions.
- Can you paint your own car yourself at home?
- How hard is it to paint a car yourself?
- What’s the average cost to paint a car yourself?
- How much does it cost to avail of a professional car paint job?
- How much does it cost to wrap your car instead of painting?
Throughout the remainder of this article, we’ll answer all these questions in detail.
Can You Paint Your Own Car Yourself at Home?
Well, conceptually, yes. The real deal, however, is another story.
Painting a car may be within your range of expertise, and you may have adequate experience with spray guns. If that sounds like you, you may have the skills necessary for this job.
But for most of us, these are not the skillsets that represent our resumes. Because of that, an ordinary person’s attempts at repainting a car often result in worse than before. In the end, this leads to wasted time and wasted money, with the end result looking like the work of a three-year-old. That isn’t what anyone would ever want.
Therefore, the following question usually arises.
How Hard Is It to Paint a Car Yourself?
Put simply, the answer is ‘Very Hard,’ if not impossible.
Stripping and prepping a car for painting is a complex, multi-step process, which includes sanding, cleaning, and filling. So the work will undoubtedly require time, labor, and skills.
Since an auto paint job isn’t your universal fixer, you may also need to do repairs on dents, gouges, pits, or rust spots. After all, it’s no less a job than to give your vehicle a new life.
Besides, before you can start your DIY car paint project, you’ll need to put a reasonable effort into arranging for quality paints and equipment. You must also have a suitable, ventilated, filtered environment where you can spray the car and heat it radiantly for a proper finish.
And that’s not all. Before you can even jump on to decide the paint color and costs, you must deal with some paperwork. The registration, insurance cards, and other related documents will need to be updated based on the color change.
What’s the Average Cost to Paint a Car Yourself?
As we’ve said earlier, the estimated cost of painting a car yourself can fit anywhere between $300 and $1000. It’ll depend on your chosen paint type, repairs, and materials you’ll need to buy beforehand. For example, you’ll have to purchase a paint sprayer if you don’t already have one.
DIYing will save you the labor cost, and the repair cost will depend on lots of other variables. So here, we’ll try to give you an approximate estimation of the paint and material cost.
Before purchasing paints, you need to ask yourself questions like, “What size car do I have?” “How much paint will I need?” as well as “What type of car paint should I use?”
First of all, when painting a small to a mid-sized car, you will need the least amount of paint, as opposed to a van or a truck.
Assuming you’re only going to paint your car’s exterior, which should measure somewhere between 50 and 150 square feet, you’ll need at least a gallon of paint kit. A whole kit of standard polyurethane-based paint costs around $150. If you do the math, here’s the equation you’ll likely get-
$150 total kit cost/ 100 square feet = $1.50 per square feet
In comparison to average auto body shop costs, which are rarely less than $20/Sq. Ft., this is astonishingly cheap if you’re willing to do the work yourself.
Let’s see how your paint selection may alter the equation.
Types of Paint
A typical automotive paint job requires three coats:
Two coats of primer/sealer, two coats of basecoat, and two coats of clear coat.
However, it may depend on the color you’re painting over. You will probably need to apply more primer and paint to cover an old red car when you paint it white.
So, keeping that in mind, you have to pick from the following-
Acrylic Lacquer: It’s usually viewed as soft paint due to its tendency to chip. As well as being chemically inert, this type of paint requires frequent repainting. A gallon of acrylic lacquer paint can cost somewhere between $30 and $40.
Enamel Auto Paint: It dries into a hard shell. The application of enamel paints often requires two stages. Meaning, an additional topcoat is used on top of the enamel paint. A gallon of enamel auto paint can cost about $100, based on the brand.
Urethane/Polyurethane-Based Paints: This type of paint combines the qualities of acrylic lacquer and enamel. Easy to apply, this beginner-friendly auto paint is as strong as enamel paint. However, urethane paint requires three additional products – a color, a catalyst, and a reducer for a complete finish. The cost of urethane auto paint can range from $90 to $2oo.
Water-Based Paint: Water-based paints are regarded as the most versatile, as they are suitable for existing projects as well as metal and primer. However, these paints currently do not come in a wide range of colors. It costs around $120 a gallon.
As for the primers and clear coats, they won’t cost you much. Epoxy primers and urethane primers are available in aerosol spray cans for $10 to $30, while standard ready-to-spray clear acrylic or polyurethane coat kits will cost anywhere from $15 to $50. However, you can cut this cost by going for a paint kit that includes both these components.
Getting your car painted requires putting in a lot of time and working out a plan beforehand. The painting process cannot begin until all the tools and materials are available. We’ve compiled a comprehensive list of materials and tools you’ll need, along with their average costs:
- Air compressor and Paint gun – We suggest getting a gravity-fed HVLP paint gun. You can expect to pay around $80 to $300 for it.
- Moisture separator – for about $20 to $50, this will ensure the air supply in your paint gun is dry.
- Respirator and goggles – For protecting your respiratory system and eyes from paint fumes, about $25.
- Painter coveralls – Saves your clothes from getting paint on them, around $10.
- Nitrile gloves – Help keep your hands clean and flexible, about $15.
- PRE Painting Prep – After washing the car, this solution will remove grease and grime, $10.
- Air sander and sandpaper – To prepare the vehicle’s body, between $30 and $60.
- Masking paper and tape – For covering windows or the areas, you don’t want to paint, between $30 and $60.
How Much Does It Cost to Avail of a Professional Car Paint Job?
You may want to consider availing of a professional auto paint service if all the work and costs seem overwhelming (which is likely, to be honest).
Several levels of service are available at most body shops that suit a variety of budgets and requirements. Such as:
Basic: The cheapest painting involves a few coats of synthetic enamel paint, applied as thinly as possible. A painter is unlikely to cover areas that aren’t typically visible, like the inside of a hood, when performing a basic painting job. These services cost between $300 and $900 on average.
Standard: Typically, a standard paint job involves sanding the car’s body and rust removal before painting. It gives the exterior a sleeker finish. The average cost is between $1,000 and $4,500.
Showroom Quality: This involves removing all rust and dents from the bodywork once it has been sanded down to bare metal before applying 24 coats of paint. Showroom quality may cost as much as $20,000 sometimes, and the process may take several weeks.
Related Topic: How Much Does It Cost To Paint A Bumper?
How Much Does It Cost to Wrap Your Car Instead of Painting?
The massive contrast in costs between professional vs. DIY car painting will surely tempt you to fall for the latter, but the potential labor it’ll take may still put you in a dilemma. In that case, wrapping can be somewhat of a solution.
Car wrapping costs about half what painting does. It’ll cost you approximately $500-$800 to do yourself. Undoubtedly, it’s cheaper, even when getting it done professionally, at around $1000 to $1500.
But is wrapping better than painting?
Long story short, wrapping is better for those who love to change their car’s aesthetics more often. As opposed to painting, it’s cheaper, easier to do, and comes in various styles and decors. When it comes to finish, though, wrapping barely measures up to painting.
So, Is the Cost of Painting a Car Yourself Worth It?
Considering all the expenses, you’re looking at spending anywhere between $300 and $1000 to paint your car yourself. It’s a much more affordable option than taking your car to an auto body shop. It’s also a good feeling knowing that you painted it yourself! Still, it’s worth it only when you did things right and loved the result.