Has the paint job on your old car seen its better days? Maybe it’s starting to get faded from the sun, or perhaps it’s starting to peel away. Nobody wants to be seen driving around in an old clunker with horrible paint. A fresh coat of paint will make your car look great again, and your car will turn heads everywhere it goes with shiny new paint. Maybe you think that a new paint job will cost too much, but you might be surprised at the options available to you today. Keep reading as we tell you everything you need to know about painting a car, including how much it will cost and some tips for doing it yourself.
Table of Contents
Process For Completing A Car Paint Job
Before we discuss pricing, it is helpful to know exactly what is involved in car painting. It is not as simple as you might think. You cannot just spray the new paint over the old paint and be done. It is a fairly complicated process, and there are multiple steps involved. First, all the windows and trim must be covered to prevent overspray from getting onto them. Many professional painters will completely remove the windows and trim for an even better final quality. Next, body issues should be corrected. If there are rust problems, dents, or dings on the body panels on your vehicle, those need to be fixed before the paint job starts.
Once the body is smooth and free of defects, then the sanding process can begin. It is best to remove the old paint before repainting your vehicle. If the old paint is chipping or peeling, then the new paint will peel off with it as well. Sanding the vehicle down to the bare metal is the best option.
Next, the painter will go ahead and apply the primer and first coat of paint. Several coats are often required to get the best possible finish. Some wet sanding may be required in between coats. This ensures that the paint finish is completely smooth. Finally, a clear coat should be added for additional shine and protection. Once the final clear coat is added, then the windows and trim can be reinstalled on the vehicle. As you can see, this is a lengthy process that requires several hours of work from an experienced mechanic or car painter.
Factors Affecting The Price Of Your Car’s Paint Job
Prices for a quality paint job can vary significantly due to a few different factors. If you think that the price you were quoted seems unreasonable, make sure you look into the details. It could be in line with the going rate after all. Here are the most common things that will affect the price of getting your car painted.
— Size Of Your Vehicle
You might not realize it, but the size of your vehicle has a big impact on the cost of a paint job. Larger vehicles will be more expensive to paint. First, the cost of the paint itself is more. Car paint is not cheap, and some larger vehicles could require double the amount of paint that a smaller car requires. In addition, painting a larger vehicle takes more work. It takes longer to sand the vehicle, longer to remove trim, and longer to apply the paint. For these reasons, expect a larger bill if you want to have your large truck or SUV painted.
— Paint Color And Quality
Believe it or not, the type of paint and the quality of the paint you choose for your car can greatly affect your final price. Unlike paint for your house, different colors of automotive paint are different prices. This becomes even more evident in specialty paints that may have a glittery or shimmery finish, like metallic paint. In some cases, automotive paint can be several hundred dollars per gallon! Not all paint is created equal either. You can select different qualities of paint even within a single color. The better the quality of the paint, the higher the price tag will be. High-quality paint is not cheap!
— Experience Level Of Painter
The cost of automobile painting is often directly proportional to the experience level of the painter. If you want someone who has proven experience doing a great job, then you are going to have to pay a premium price. If you are willing to risk your car’s paint job to the work of a beginner, then you will probably be able to get the job done cheaper. It depends on your ultimate goal and how good the work needs to be. You might be painting an old car and be totally fine with a halfway good paint job. However, if you need showroom quality, then you only want the absolute best. In this case, you pay for experience and reputation.
— Amount Of Body Work Required
As we mentioned before, body issues on the vehicle need to be corrected before new paint is applied. Most auto body shops can correct the problems and perform the painting. However, the more that needs to be done to get the problems corrected, the more it is going to cost you. It might not cost a lot to get a couple of dings out, but expect a much higher bill if you have major rust problems. The auto repair shop might need to spend hours adding filler and using sandpaper to get the body panels perfectly straight. The more time the painter must spend on prep work, the more the paint job costs.
Average Cost To Repaint A Car
So, how much is it to paint a car? This may sound like a broken record, but the cost of auto painting depends heavily upon how good the quality of the job is. For a professional paint job, there are really three basic categories. The first is a bare minimum paint job. This type of paint job likely won’t correct any body issues, and the paint will likely be applied directly over the old paint. It will probably look decent when it’s finished, and the average cost is somewhere between $500 – $1,000.
The next category is what most people would consider a good paint job. Here, the painter would use higher quality paint and correct most body issues. He or she is likely to apply a base coat plus additional coats of paint as necessary. When it’s finished, most people would not be able to find any issues with the work. The cost for this quality of work will average $1,500 – $3,500.
Finally, a showroom quality paint job will be the most expensive. This is a high-quality paint job that is reserved for only the most high-end and valuable cars. This kind of work might require up to 20 coats of paint on the entire car, with wet sanding between each coat. The finish on this job will be flawless, and only the most experienced painters can even perform this work. This kind of paint job will cost you anywhere from $10,000 to $25,000.
There is also the DIY route for paint jobs. If you have the proper tools and can perform the work yourself, you can save a significant amount of money. A DIY paint job can be done for as little as a couple of hundred dollars if you have the know-how to pull it off. Even if you decide to use high-quality paint, the supplies can generally all be purchased for less than $1,000. You can even find car paint job estimators online that will help you determine the exact materials you need. Of course, you will still need the proper spray gun, a paint booth, and the correct sanding materials to do the job correctly.
A Cheaper Paint Job Is Not Always Better
Most people are always looking to save a buck. Since painting can be expensive, you might opt for a cheaper paint job to save a little money. Who can tell the difference in a basic paint job anyway, right? When it comes to paint services, there can be a ton of difference! A cheaper paint job is not always better. In fact, a cheaper paint job is almost always worse. There is a reason that the car paint shop you are visiting does not charge as much as others. Here are a few things to consider.
First, the auto paint shop might cut corners to save time and labor costs. They might not perform the necessary body work or prep work to give your paint job a good finish. They also may not remove the windows or trim. Hopefully, they will tape the edges, but that does not provide as good of a finish. Another reason for the lower cost might be low-quality paint. This kind of paint will start to fade quicker, and it might even peel quickly. You want your freshly painted vehicle to look like a new car for years, not just a few weeks. Be sure to ask about the warranty on your paint job as well. Cheaper shops might not offer one, but more reputable and expensive shops will typically provide a warranty that will include free touch-ups on any issues that arise within the first year or so.
DIY Tips For Painting A Car Yourself
First, you should know that painting your own car is not recommended unless you have some experience. You cannot simply get some spray paint and give your car a refresh. That will not end the way you expect! If you decide to go ahead and proceed on your own, then here are some tips that you can follow.
Make sure that you have all the necessary supplies before starting the job. You will need a drop cloth, primer, paint, plastic covering, painter’s tape, mineral spirits or lacquer, and a paint sprayer. While you can use a brush to paint your car, the finish will not be as smooth as you can achieve with a spray gun. Make sure that you properly calculate the amount of paint that you will need based on the size of the vehicle and the number of coats needed.
Get your car prepped by giving it a good wash and taping off everything so that only the metal is exposed. Start at the top of the vehicle and work your way down. If you notice any runs, then you will need to sand the area and respray to achieve a nice finish. If you use synthetic enamel paint, then you might not need a clear coat. However, one is still recommended even with the highest quality paint. Also, remember that a bad paint job can have an extremely negative impact on the resale value of your car. Saving a few dollars on your paint job can end up costing you thousands when it’s time to sell your vehicle.
The Bottom Line
Painting your car is something that should be generally left to a professional, and you will usually pay more for higher quality work. A good quality paint job will cost you around $2,500 in most cases. If you need a showroom finish on your vehicle, then the bill is likely to be over $10,000. While you can attempt this job yourself to save some money, it is not recommended unless you have experience painting vehicles.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is repainting a car worth it?
It depends on how much your car is worth and the type of quality that you expect from the paint job. If you have an old vehicle that is not worth much, then it does not make sense to pay for a showroom quality paint job on it. However, if the paint on that same vehicle is in bad shape, then it might make sense to spend $500 on a basic paint job for it. It really depends on the vehicle and your financial situation. Given the current scrap car prices, you might decide to paint that old clunker and keep driving it a little longer.
Is it cheaper to paint or wrap a car?
A very basic paint job is often cheaper than a wrap. On average, a wrap will cost about $2,000 to $2,500. But, how much does it cost to repaint a car? Anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000. If you want a very high-quality paint job, then the wrap will likely end up being cheaper. In most cases, the wrap and a mid-grade paint job are about the same price.
What is the difference between painting a car and wrapping it?
Painting a car involves prepping the surface and applying new paint. Wrapping, on the other hand, does not include paint at all. Wrapping a vehicle involves placing a vinyl wrapper around the entire car. It can have the appearance and effect of a new paint job, but a wrap allows you to choose some finishes that paint cannot achieve. Wraps are also a little more sensitive than paint. For example, you should never take a wrapped car through an automatic car wash. The mechanical brushes can damage the wrap in the process.