How Much Paint Do You Need to Paint a Car?
How much paint does it take to paint a car? It’s a question that every DIY auto restoration enthusiast will eventually ask. After all, a quart of paint doesn’t do much good if it goes unused. Of course, being a quart short is even worse. Part of knowing how to spray paint a car professionally is being able to accurately estimate the amount of paint it will take to complete the job.
Which brings us back to the question you’re asking: how much paint do I need to paint a car or truck? There is no way to know exactly how much paint you need to paint every car; however, there are basic guidelines. Of course, the bigger the car, truck or van is, the more paint you will need. If you are spraying a base coat and clear coat, you will need both components. One good way to make a more accurate estimate, before spending money on the paint, is to spray a coat of primer over the whole car and see how much it takes to cover it. You were going to prime it anyway, right?
Here are some rules of thumb:
- Small Cars – Miata, Minis, Model A roadsters and the like typically take about two quarts of single stage paint to apply enough coats to cover them, plus the reducers and hardeners.
- Medium to Full-Size Cars – Your typical muscle car, modern sedan, or full-size car usually will use most of a gallon of single-stage paint. Usually it is best to buy a gallon kit and have extra than to try to save a little and buy three quarts. If you’re spraying base coat/clear coat, it may only take 2-3 quarts of base coat to cover completely.
- Trucks and Vans – Obviously, these are bigger and you will need more paint. Buy at least a gallon plus an extra quart of paint for regular sized trucks and two extra quarts for vans, full-sized SUVs and crew cab trucks. Don’t forget, you have to paint inside the bed too. If spraying base coat/clear coat, a gallon of color may be enough but buy more than a gallon of clear.
- Clear Coat – Always buy a full gallon kit of clear and mix as needed. You can always use leftover paint that has not been mixed with activator for spot repairs or small projects.
- Same Color Respray – If you are respraying a typical car the same color because the clear has failed or after collision repair, you likely will only need about two quarts of base coat color. You will still need a gallon of clear, though.
- Single-Stage vs. Base Coat/Clear Coat – You will use more single-stage paint then you will basecoat to cover any given car. But chances are you will use less total paint when you compare the amount of basecoat and clear coat applied compared to the single-stage paint.