How Much Does It Cost To Paint A Car?

While having a professional paint job done for you in an automotive body shop can be less risky than doing it yourself, it can cost you thousands of dollars. That is why many auto enthusiasts choose to paint a car themselves. It is important to note that you must have had prior experience with auto body work before choosing to paint an entire car yourself. Below we take a look at the supplies you will need and the overall cost of materials for painting your own car.

Paint Costs

There are a few questions you should ask yourself prior to obtaining paint materials like, “How big is my car?”, “How much paint do I need?” and “What kind of paint am I going to use?” First of all, if you are painting a small to mid-size car, you will obviously need less paint than if you are going to paint a van or a truck. Assuming you’re going to paint the entire outside of a vehicle, you will need between two quarts and a gallon kit of paint. What kind of paint? Well, the two primary auto body paint systems used to paint the outside of vehicles are either enamel or base coat/clear coat. Using the base coat/clear coat system will be more expensive, but it has the potential to yield smoother, longer-lasting coats. So, if you are using the enamel paint system, you will need about two to three quarts of enamel paint for a small to mid-size vehicle and about a gallon kit for a larger vehicle. If you are using the base coat-clear coat system for a small to mid-size vehicle, you will need two to three quarts of the base coat and three quarts to a gallon of the clear coat (it’s always good to have extra clear coat for other auto body repair work). For a larger vehicle, you will need about a gallon kit of base and a gallon kit of clear.

So, how much will paint run you for the whole job? Well, enamel paints are less expensive, ranging from about $100 per gallon to $250 per gallon. Base coat paint can be anywhere from $25 to $150 or more per quart, depending on the brand and color; whites are typically the least expensive and reds are the most expensive. Clear coat paint can cost between $100 and $250 per gallon. All together, using the acrylic method can cost you between $100 and $250 for the whole job, and the base coat-clear coat method averages from $250 to $500.

Materials You Need

The first step to painting your car is allotting yourself plenty of time to get the job done and planning out your steps. It is absolutely crucial that you have every single tool and material you will need before starting the painting process. Below is a comprehensive list of the tools and materials you will need, as well as their average costs:

  • Paint gun and air compressor – We recommend using a gravity-feed HVLP paint gun, which can range from around $80 to upwards of $300.
  • A moisture separator – This will ensure that your paint gun’s air supply is dry, ranging from about $20 to $50.
  • Painter coveralls – To keep paint from getting on your clothes, around $10.
  • Respirator and goggles – To prevent the paint fumes from entering your eyes and respiratory system, about $25.
  • Nitrile gloves – To keep your hands clean and dexterous, about $15.
  • Air sander and sandpaper – For prepping the body of the vehicle, between $25 and $60.
  • PRE Painting Prep – Solution that removes grease and grime from the surface of the vehicle after washing, $10.
  • Masking paper and tape – Used for covering windows and other areas of the car you do not wish to get paint on, between $30 and $60.
  • Paint – Typically either acrylic or base coat-clear coat paints, can range anywhere from $100 to $500

So, after all the expenses, you’re looking at paying between $300 and $1000 to paint your own vehicle. Often times, this is still much less expensive than bringing your vehicle to a shop to get done. Plus, you get the added satisfaction of knowing you painted the car yourself!

To learn more about auto body painting and for more DIY car tutorials, be sure to visit

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