How Hard Is It To Paint A Car?

Last Updated on January 16, 2023 by Leepu Da Maxim

Well, car painting is not a very difficult task but it is very time-consuming. Car painting is time-consuming because it requires preparation and attention to detail. Moreover, you will need specialized equipment to pan a car.

Key Takeaways

  • You should use a spray gun to paint a car because a spray gan makes the car painting job much easier
  • You must prime the vehicle before applying paint and it is physically very demanding
  • Before painting the car, you should clean the car properly, or the paint won’t last long
  • You should sand and use the random orbital to prepare the chassis of the vehicle

Paint A Car – Elements Required

Ventilated And Protected AreaA ventilated and protected area prevents the elements, such as rain or tree leaves, from falling on the wet paint and ruining the finish.
Spray Gun
A spray gun makes the job easier and saves time when applying the paint or primer to the vehicle.
Priming is necessary to obtain an excellent adhesion of the paint on the different parts of the vehicle.
Gloss Paint
A paint code is necessary when the user wants to match the new paint with the original paint of the vehicle
Sandpaper is used to remove the previous layers of paint to apply the primer and paint layers.
Specialized ToolsSome specialized tools are needed when the user wants to paint also the engine compartment, the trunk, or some more difficult places.

How To Paint A Car?

Contrary to what many hobbyists may believe, the process of painting a house and the process of painting a car are not the same. For each of these painting processes, different materials are needed. For a house, you simply need a can of paint and a paint roller to start the job.

For a car, you need some sprayers, primers, clear coats, and a litany of additional products. This is why a paint job for a car is usually much more expensive compared to the process of painting a house. Also, painting a car requires a certain amount of skill as it can be a very complex procedure for some people.

However, there are some very simple techniques that amateurs can implement to paint their cars. With the proper knowledge and tools painting a car is not very difficult after all. Of course, patience is required to be able to learn, as well as the tools and knowledge depending on the particular paint job.

1. Necessary Elements

As we have mentioned, the most important main element is perhaps time. Especially, if you are an amateur user, time is very important to be able to do a good quality job. Car painting jobs, in general, need some days or some weekends. That is why a person who has a job of several hours per week will have to organize himself properly.

Along with time, it is also important to have a garage, a shed, or a similar place to be able to protect the car at all times. So, the important thing is to keep the vehicle away from the outside so as not to suffer the consequences of rain. Once these items are available then it is time to find the rest of the items.

Of course, once this point is reached, it is necessary to organize the timing of the work correctly. The most important tools are the following:

1. An electric sander

2. Wet and dry sandpaper of 1200 and 2000 grit.

3. Adhesive tape

4. A spray gun or air compressor

5. Newspapers

6. Safety glasses

7. Face masks

8. Paint thinner

Additionally, people with a good budget may choose to incorporate a dust extractor. In this way, the air in the environment used to paint the car will be much cleaner and free of debris. At the same time, it is necessary to consider the size of the car to be painted.

Therefore, the size of the car will indicate the number of products you need. When it is a medium or small vehicle, 2 to 3 gallons of clear coat, 3 gallons of topcoat, and 1 gallon of base coat or primer will suffice.

On the other hand, if it is a large vehicle, three to four gallons of clear coat, 4 gallons of topcoat, and one and a half gallons of base coat are required. In this case, it is necessary to mention that professionals usually use a smaller amount of product than the quantities we have mentioned.

However, since this is an amateur painter this amount of elements will ensure a good job. Simply put, it is preferable to have too much paint rather than too little. When it comes to a partial paint job on a vehicle you will need to match the actual original color of your vehicle.

For that, it is possible to locate your car’s compliance plate to find the color code. On the contrary, when it comes to a complete paint job you will only need to choose the most pleasing color according to your pretensions. With these elements, you can start with the preparation.

2. Preparing The Vehicle

Once you have everything you need, you should start preparing the worksite. In principle, this means properly cleaning the place you have chosen to paint your vehicle. So, it is important to remove as much dirt as possible and to have enough space to work comfortably. The difficulty of the work is often related to obstacles in the way.

If you have chosen an outdoor place for this painting process, you should clean the whole area with water. In this way, you will be able to settle the dust and avoid major inconveniences.

However, it is not recommended to paint under an object such as a tree. Here, we want to avoid that something falling on the fresh paint and ruining some areas of the work on your vehicle. Even if there are bad weather and chances of rain this could ruin the wet paint and the finish you can get on your vehicle.

As a next step, you will also need to thoroughly clean the entire surface of the vehicle to be painted. So, you will need to remove any dirt from the vehicle such as grease and other contaminants.

You will also need to decide whether you want to paint only the vehicle chassis, the interior door sills, the trunk, or the engine compartment. Without a doubt, all of these latter parts only add to the difficulty, as this is a much more complex project. Even some knowledge is required since it is necessary to remove some parts of an engine to paint.

If you are only dealing with the exterior area, you must take care of covering or masking the areas that should not be painted. Here, the classic example is the windshield since it is not a part to be painted.

3. Stripping

Here, you can start by removing the clear coat by making circular movements with sandpaper. You should also take care of removing the topcoat and the base coat. All this work can be done with a sander, but it is also important to sand the cracks and corners with sandpaper and by hand.

To get a job worthy of a professional you should consider the metal to be stripped to get a better finish. In this way, you can obtain a smooth surface for the new coat of primer to have excellent adhesion. If on the other hand, you do not have enough time it will be enough to obtain a uniform and smooth surface as much as possible.

You can also use paint thinners and a clean rag once you have finished with the sander and sandpaper. In this way, you will be able to remove any residue and dust that remains after the sanding process. You should also wait for the thinners to evaporate completely before continuing. 

4. Priming

Applying a coat of primer to the surface of the vehicle is what will allow the paint to adhere successfully. To apply the exact proportion of each element, it is necessary to carefully read all the instructions. Here, it is highly recommended to practice this step using a cheap used car panel that is not part of the vehicle you want to paint.

In this way, you will be able to develop a proper technique to achieve a good finish. After each application of a coat of primer, it takes 20 minutes to an hour for the primer to set between coats. In general, two to three coats are needed to get a good job. Finally, use 2000-grit wet and dry sandpaper to smooth the surface. 

5. Painting

Finally, here you must have the proper proportions to be able to use the paint on the vehicle. In turn, applying the paint on each panel should take only 10 minutes. The paint to cure between paint applications need between 20 minutes and one hour. Three to four coats of paint will be sufficient to complete the job.

Dust residue can be removed using the same 2000-grit wet and dry sandpaper, along with a clean rag. You must also remember to apply the clear coat which is what provides great durability to the color of your vehicle. Once the clear coat is cured, then you can take care of looking for imperfections. This whole procedure requires your patience to do a good job.