How Much Does It Cost To Paint a Car?

Man blowing dust from front quarter panel of car
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Scratches and dings in your car are a pain. Professional paint jobs can be expensive, so if you find yourself in a situation where you need to fix something on your vehicle, you might be considering doing it yourself. But should you?

How Much Does It Cost to Paint a Car Yourself?

The supplies to paint a car yourself can run from $100 to $1,500, depending on the materials needed. The biggest cost of painting a car yourself will likely be the headache that comes along with it. The pros often add several coats of primer, paint in your preferred color, and a topcoat to ensure a quality finish. Does that sound like something you have the time and energy to commit to?

If you want to do it yourself, you’ll need a well-ventilated area where dust and dirt won’t fly onto the wet car and ruin the new paint job while it’s drying. You’ll also need sandpaper to remove any grime or rust, masking tape to precisely outline the area you’re painting and to cover anything you don’t want to be painted. You’ll also need a spray gun, primer, and glossy car paint.

For a professional-looking job, you’ll need specialized tools and a lot of time and patience. Unless you’re just fixing a tiny scratch, or you already have the expertise, consider leaving this one to the pros.

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Professional to Paint Your Car?

You don’t have to spend a fortune just because you forego the DIY route. Most pro paint jobs come at different levels, and you can choose the one that fits your budget and your needs.

  • A basic paint job: A basic job will likely cost you less than $1,000. The process will involve a few coats of synthetic enamel paint and less attention to detail than higher levels of paint jobs.
  • A standard paint job: For a bit more, you can get a standard paint job that includes sanding down the body to ensure a smooth surface, removing impurities, and leaving you with a prettier finished product. This type of paint job costs $1,000 to $3,000, but it will last longer and look better than a basic paint job.
  • A showroom-quality job: If you have a car you like to show off, you may want to invest in a showroom-quality job. This process entails removing all of the paint on the metal frame, hammering out any dents, and carefully adding dozens of layers of paint. This type of paint job can cost $2,500 to $20,000 or more.

How Can I Get the Best Deal on a Paint Job?

Rather than paying attention to the name of the service offered, pay attention to what you are getting. If you have an older car and need to save time or money, you probably don’t need to invest in a paint job that requires any sanding down. Make sure to specify what you are looking for, and be prepared to say no if and when the auto shop tries to entice you with a more expensive offering.

You may want to get quotes from two or three professionals before you decide who to work with.

What Factors Should I Consider When Comparing DIY to Professional Rates?

Ultimately, you’re the only person who can decide if a professional paint job is worthwhile. Here are a few questions to consider to help you make a decision.

  • Cost: How much would the supplies of a DIY job cost? How much time would you spend trying to paint a car yourself? How much is your time worth? Are you being honest with yourself about how long a DIY job would take and how well you would be able to do it?
  • Quality: How long will a DIY paint job last? How will a DIY job look in comparison to a professional job?
  • Convenience: Is it more important to save time or money?

How Should I Choose the Best Place To Get a Professional Paint Job?

The best way to choose who to trust with a professional paint job is to ask people you know for recommendations. Friends, family, or your regular mechanic may be able to steer you in the right direction. You may also want to check review sites like Yelp.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What grit sandpaper should you use when painting a car?

You should use a variety of sandpaper types throughout the painting process. Coarser grits (40 to 180) can be used to fix major scratches before you start the paint job. Grits up to 800 can be used to sand down primer coats. Grits above 1,000 can help tackle imperfections during the final steps.

What size air compressor do you need for painting a car?

The most basic paint jobs could be done with an air compressor with 15 psi of air pressure and 10 horsepower that can paint roughly 20 cubic feet per minute (CFM). Stronger air compressors will be more efficient. Some colors depend on more air pressure or CFM, so check recommendations for the paint job you have in mind for more detail. As for tank size, you can paint with smaller tanks, but a 60-gallon tank will help ensure that you can paint the whole car without having to refill the tank.

Article Sources

  1. CostHelper. "Auto Painting Cost."

  2. Automotive Training Center. "Professional Car Painting Tips for the Automotive Collision Technician."

  3. Popular Mechanics. "How to Paint a Car."