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Car paint jobs sound easy enough, just whip out the spray cans. But if you want a professional finish, you’ll want a professional painter. After all, trying to paint and maintain your car is complicated, time-consuming, and expensive.

There’s nothing “beginner” about painting your own car

Contrary to what the above video would have you think, painting your own car is no cakewalk. If you’re going to properly paint the car, you don’t just slap some color on the body and call it a day. In fact, you don’t even put a drop of paint on until you’ve disassembled the vehicle.

Now, you could repaint the outside of the car by simply covering up the headlights, taillights, and windows. Then, you’d proceed as normal. But that’ll leave the inside of the car, such as underneath the hood or in the door frames the original color. If you’re going from one color to another, or the shades don’t match, not disassembling the car will mean you have two different paint colors. Not only does it look funny, but that can tank a car’s resale value.

After tearing apart the car, door by door, you then need to sandblast it to remove all the paint and get it completely bare. In other words, to properly repaint the car, or even just a section, you have to scratch off all the paint. It’s a frightful amount of work, and wouldn’t be something an amateur knocks out in an afternoon.

But let’s say you did discipline yourself enough to remove the paint from your car. It’s not quite time to paint the thing because, before you do that, you need the right tools.

Getting the right tools for car painting car be expensive

Worker Uses Spray Paint Gun To Paint Vehicle Panel
Worker Uses Spray Paint Gun To Paint Vehicle Panel | Jan Woitas/picture alliance via Getty Images

Any auto detailing shop you visit will use a compressed air paint gun. Now, the nozzle itself can be had for $80, but for a good one, you’re looking at $300. And if you’re going to properly perform a car paint job, you’d want two of them, one for primer/clear coats and one for the color itself. Not to mention you’ll need an air compressor.

But that isn’t even half of it. You need sandpaper to sand the entire car (or panel that you’re repainting). And unless you want to sand by hand, you’ll want a power sander. You also need a metric ton of masking tape and automotive masking paper (so the paint doesn’t drip through).

There’s more according to Auto Body Toolmart, but you’re already looking at an extra $200 in equipment. And you’ll have to buy enough face protection to repel any variant of Covid-19, as the chemicals are harmful for your body as well.

If for some reason you’re still advocating to do it yourself, then more power to you. This is certainly possible to do at home, and cheaper than having someone else paint it. But after you’ve gathered all the supplies, now you need the paint.

How much paint to you need to paint a car?

Robotic Arms Spray Painting Car Body
Robotic Arms Spray Painting Car Body | Yuan Jingzhi/VCG via Getty Images

Depending on vehicle size, a medium-sized car needs a gallon of primer, three gallons of topcoat color, and then two to three gallons of clearcoat to protect the finished product. If you drive a larger car, you may need three and a half gallons of primer, four gallons of topcoat, and three to four gallons of clearcoat.

But wait, what’s a primer, and do I need it? The short answer is yes, it’s a glue that helps hold the paint on once you apply it. Likewise, the paint helps the clearcoat stick, and the first layer of clearcoat keeps the second layer of clearcoat on. Oh yeah, you’re going to be putting a lot of coats on the car.

And automotive paint is the least cheap of all the substances. If you want to paint your car a new color, you’re looking at $200 a gallon for the job. You’d better not be painting a big car, otherwise, that’s another $600. And if you’ve never painted anything before, then car paint jobs aren’t good to start with. The paints and substances need to be mixed in a certain way in order to be effective on your vehicle.

Rather than painting your car, try painting a portrait of your car. It’ll be a lot cheaper. And if you make a mistake, you don’t have to disassemble the painting.


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