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Whether you just want to change the way your car looks, or it’s started to look a little old and faded and has acquired its own set of scratches and scars that you want to cover, sometimes you just want to freshen up your vehicle.
As the best way to do that is with a new coat of paint, you’ve probably started thinking about having your car painted, whether or not you want to change the color and how it’s going to look when it’s finished.
If you’ve started thinking about painting your car, you’ve almost certainly started thinking, wondering, and worrying about how much a new paint job is going to cost.
Well, there’s no need to wonder, and you can stop worrying about how much it will set you back, as we’re going to run through, and help you to put a price on, the entire process.
And the good news is, that it probably won’t cost you as much as you feared it would.
How Much Does It Cost?
There are two painting paths that you can follow to give your car a makeover and transform the way it looks.
If you pursue the more traditional route and take it to a professional body shop, depending on what you want them to do and how you want your car to look, the sky’s the limit on the final price you could end up paying.
However, we’re assuming that you’re not interested in a high specification custom paint job at the moment, and are just trying to figure out the cost of a partial or full body respray, which could cost you anywhere between five hundred and four thousand dollars.
There is, however, another painting route you could choose to follow that could end up saving you thousands of dollars. You could paint your car yourself.
Painting Your Car Yourself – The Financial Cost
While it can seem like a daunting process for most of us, there are a few benefits to painting your own car and almost all of them are financial.
Weighing the costs up might be the factor that makes you choose to either do it yourself or pursue the professional option, as if you elect to paint your own car, it’ll cost you somewhere in the region of two hundred to one thousand dollars and some spare change to do it.
And that cost depends entirely on how much of the equipment to do the job you already have and what you’ll need to purchase before you start.
The Checklist – What You’ll Need To Paint Your Car
The first thing you’ll need is room to work.
If you don’t have the sort of well-ventilated space that you’ll need to do the job properly, you’ll have to look into hiring a paint booth or workshop space for the duration of the job, and the best way to do that is by checking your local listings on the internet.
If you do have to rent some space to paint, it can be costly and could add anything from five hundred to one thousand dollars to the final bill, and if that is the case, it might be with choosing a reputable body shop to do the job for you instead.
Stripping and Sanding – Before you start applying the new paint, you’re going to need to remove the old paint, and depending on whether or not you want to do a bare metal respray (which, if you haven’t painted a car before isn’t advisable) you can either use an electric paint stripper – if you don’t have one, hire one, and paint stripping discs or automotive paint stripper
Tape and Film – You’ll also need masking tape and film to seal off the areas of your car such as the windows, windshield, head, and taillights, front grille, and wheel wells that you don’t want to paint, or want any paint getting into.
YouTube will be your best friend for the whole; painting process as it features plenty of tutorials that will show you which areas of your car you need to mask, and will also show you the best way, and how, to paint your car.
Face Mask – Safety is paramount, so as well as making sure that you have enough well-ventilated space to paint your car, you’re also going to need to keep yourself safe throughout the painting process, which means that you’ll need to wear a face mask.
Automotive paint can be dangerous, so you don’t want to take any unnecessary risks by not being prepared.
Spray Gun – If you don’t have one, you’ll also need the second most important part of the painting equation, an HVLP Spray Gun so that you can actually apply the paint smoothly and evenly to your car.
Drop Cloths – If you’re going to paint your car in an area where there are other vehicles present or anything that you don’t want to end up being the same color as the one that you’ve chosen for your car, you’ll need to use drop cloths to cover them up and keep them safe.
Before you start painting your vehicle, you need to know what you’re doing.
Painting a car is an art form and a precise and involving process so make sure you invest some of your time in watching at least a few of the hundreds and hundreds of video tutorials that are freely available on YouTube.
Don’t start the job until you’re completely sure that you know, and understand, what you’re doing and what every step of the painting process involves.
Estimating The Costs
Now that you have a fairly good idea of the equipment that you’ll need to do the job, it’s time to figure out how much paint you’ll need for your car.
This is where it gets slightly complicated, as you’ll need to know the square footage of your vehicle before purchasing your paint, as each can contains enough paint to cover a certain amount of area.
The surface area of a car that needs to be painted is typically between fifty and two hundred square feet, so you’ll need to know the exact dimensions of your car before you purchase your paint.
If you don’t already know them, head to the internet and do a quick search on the make, model, and year of your car and include the world’s “paintable area”. You’ll have the answer in next to no time and can use that number to choose the paint that you’ll need.
The one thing that you will save money on is the labor costs for painting your car. It’s a big job, and will probably take you anything up to fifty hours to prep, strip, and paint your car, but it’s your time so you won’t need to pay yourself for it.
If you used a professional do the same job, even though it will take them significantly less to do time to do it, by the time you factor in the square footage of your vehicle and their average hourly rate, you’ll begin to understand why having your car completely resprayed and painted by a professional will cost you anywhere between two and four thousand dollars.
Choosing Your Paint
Before you choose the paint for your job, it’s important to remember that if you’re completely repainting, or respraying, your car that you’ll need to take the number of coats that the job will need into account, and base your choice and budget on that figure.
An atypical complete body respray and paint job involves putting six coats of paint down on the car. That includes two coats of primer, two coats of the color that you’ve chosen, and two additional layers of clear coat.
Now that you have an idea of how much paint you’re going to need to lay down on your car, it’s time to start thinking about the type of paint that you want to use on, and for, your vehicle.
Urethane / Polyurethane – The most commonly used variety of car paint. It’s cheap, looks good when it’s applied, and dries quickly. It’s also easy to use and widely available in a huge range of colors.
Synthetic Enamel Paint – If you’re looking to go old school and are aiming for a retro finish, then you’ll be happier using an enamel paint.
It was the paint of choice for almost every car manufacturer right up until the turn of the millennium when environmental and cost concerns necessitated the switch to urethane-based paints.
Still widely used for custom paint jobs by hot rod shops, enamel is more expensive and far more difficult to apply evenly.
Primer and Clear Coat – Regardless of whether you choose enamel or urethane, you’ll need a primer and clear coat. The former to provide a surface for your base coat to adhere to, and the latter to protect it from sunlight and the elements.
There is, of course, always an alternative. If you want to avoid the expense, headaches, and hassle of painting your car, you can always choose a vinyl wrap.
A rubberized plastic coating that’s been designed to be applied straight to your car, vinyl wraps can change the color instantly, and as they are easily custom designed, they are a far more affordable way of giving your car an individual and completely distinct look.
Vinyl wraps can be applied by professionals, but with a little help from your new best friend, YouTube, there’s nothing to stop you from applying a wrap yourself. Think of it as a giant sticker that’ll cost you far more if you ask someone else to put it on your car.
If your budget is incredibly tight, you can always try searching the internet for paint-based bargains, as they’re often widely available and as long as you know what you’re looking for and need, easy to find.
It’s also worth checking out car forums to see if anyone is selling any left-over paint that you might be able to use.
And while we’re on the subject of left-overs, it might also be worth your while to spend some time on those forums after you’ve finished painting your car, as you might be able to sell any paint you have left and the equipment that you purchased to spray it with.
You might not get much for it, but every cent counts.
The Professional Touch
While we’ve talked at some length about the financial advantages of painting your car yourself, if you want a job done properly, the only person you can count on to do it is a professional.
Even though we don’t doubt your ability to do a good job, sometimes you need to turn to the people who make their living doing that job if you want to make sure that it’s done to an exceedingly, and excruciatingly, high level.
And there are a number of other advantages that go hand in hand with having your car painted by a body shop.
Details Matter – Much like the devil, the key to a great automotive paint job is in the detail.
All of the little things that you’ll probably miss, the minor imperfections in your car’s bodywork that need to be repaired before painting can begin, mixing and matching paint, and knowing exactly how much paint to apply and when to apply it are skills that take a lifetime to learn and master.
And all of those little details will be included in any paintwork that a body shop does for you.
Time – The amount of time, effort and worry that you’ll save by having a professional paint your car is worth every single extra dollar that you’ll pay for the job. And, it’ll take a professional a fraction of the time to paint your car that it would take you to do it.
License To Paint – Any professional will be fully licensed and if they’re licensed, they’ll also be fully insured.
So, in the incredibly unlikely event that something does go wrong with your paint job, you’ll be fully covered and can just step back and let the insurance company cover all of the additional costs that will be incurred while the mistakes are being corrected.
Looking Like It Just Rolled Out Of The Showroom – Professionals take great pride in their work and automobile artists, bodywork specialists and painters expect more from themselves than you ever could.
No matter what your car looks like when it goes into their shop, by the time they’ve finished working their paint-based magic on it, your car will look like it’s just rolled off the showroom floor.