How Much Paint Do You Need to Paint a Car?
There is no way to know exactly how much paint you need to paint every car, but there are basic guidelines. Of course the bigger the car, truck or van is the more paint you will need, and if you are spraying a basecoat/clearcoat 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 2 quarts of single stage paint to apply enough coats to cover, 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 3 quarts. If spraying basecoat clear coat it may only take 2-3 quarts of basecoat to cover completely.
- Trucks and Vans – Obviously these are bigger and you will need more paint. Buy at least a gallon and an extra quart for regular sized trucks, and 2 for vans, full sized SUVs and crew cab trucks. Don’t forget you have to paint inside the bed too. If spraying basecoat clear coat a gallon of color may be enough, but buy more than a gallon of clear.
- Clearcoat – 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 2 quarts of base coat color. You will still need a gallon of clear though.
- Single stage vs basecoat/clearcoat – 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 clearcoat applied compared to the single stage paint.