We all know how expensive car repairs and paint jobs can be. So, that only makes someone else accidentally damaging your car even more painful. Even more so when your insurance doesn’t cover that kind of damage.
How would it make you feel if we told you the average American paint job cost close to $2500? Most people can’t afford to pay that kind of money, especially when it’s not going to be covered by their insurance.
So, what are your options if you can’t afford to have your car professionally repainted?
Well, you could do it yourself.
If you don’t have $2500 to spend, you might find that it’s better to invest one of your precious Saturday afternoons and get the job done yourself for a fraction of the price.
Don’t think you can do it? By the time you have finished reading this article, we’re sure you will have changed your mind on that one.
Why would you want to paint your bumper yourself?
Bumpers are the trickiest part of the car to keep looking good. It would shock us if car companies actually made those paint jobs to last.
Our bumpers can fall foul of many things on the roar from a sly curb during a parallel park in the city to an errant bramble while you’re steaming down a country road.
So, why would you want to paint your bumper yourself?
Let’s be honest the main reason you’re looking into painting your own bumper is that you want to save some money. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Not all of us have $2500 in our pocket to burn on a paint job.
Some of you may want to do this job yourself so that you can learn a new skill. Some of you might have an icon design in mind that no car painter but you could hope to capture.
Whatever your reason, we’re here to give you the confidence to get this job done yourself.
Before we dive into how to paint your own bumper, let’s take a quick look at how you could financially benefit from doing so.
Overall costs – professional vs DIY
The average cost of having your car professionally painted is around $2500. Having your bumper painted can account for between 15-20% of that cost.
When trying to estimate a total cost of a job you have to take a few things into account. You have to consider the cost of the supplies, the man-hours (which count as skilled labor), the prep work, the painting time, and the finish. The better the reputation of the shop the more they will be able to charge you.
Taking all of this into account having your bumper painted professionally can cost anywhere from $200-$400.
How does this compare to doing the job yourself?
Well, most guides online will tell you that when you are painting your bumper yourself you only need to pay for a primer, a base coat, and a clear finishing coat.
If this was all you have to pay for doing the job yourself would cost you around $60. And you would have leftover material to redo the job a few more times before you need to purchase new paint.
However, the calculation above doesn’t count two key components of the DIY bumper painting job.
- The tools
- Your time
Let’s deal with your time first. Obviously, you won’t be charging yourself for the time it takes to do this job. But you should be aware that this can be a very time-consuming process.
Especially the first time around. If you are really strapped for time then you may be happy to pay a shop to do it, for the convenience of outsourcing something so time-consuming.
Purchasing the tools needed for this would cause the price to rocket up. If you’re interested in continuing to paint your car bumper for a long time then investing in these tolls would be very worthwhile.
However, if you’re only thinking of doing this job in the short term then you may want to look into renting these tools rather than purchasing them.
Costs per Square foot – professional vs DIY
Some garages charge by the square foot. So we will also look at the costs of painting your bumper by square foot.
What is the average square footage of a car bumper?
Well, the average car is 6 feet wide, and the average bumper is one foot tall. So the average surface area of a bumper will be 6 square feet.
If you are looking to take your bumper to be professionally painted in a shop then it is going to cost you between $50-$75 per square foot.
However, if you are looking to do this job at home then it will cost you around $6-$7 per square foot. This estimate excludes tool cost or rental.
Painting your bumper yourself is considerably cheaper than sending it into the shop. Even if you had to purchase your own set of tools to do the job, you could still be saving up $200 every time you paint your own bumper.
Having your bumper painted professionally could cost you anywhere from $200-$400, coming in at around $65 per square foot.
Painting your bumper yourself will cost you around $40-$60, coming in at just over $6 per square foot.
How to Paint Your Bumper Yourself
Now that we have done all the math for you, we thought we would be extra helpful and talk you through the process of a DIY paint job.
In this section we will be covering all the paint and equipment you will need to perform this job. As well as giving out some tips on how to make this DIY job look like the professionals actually did it.
What paint will you need?
To perform this job you will need three types of paint:
Primers are designed to extend the life of your paint job. However, there are a few other benefits for using a primer:
- Prevents rust
- Speeds up drying times of subsequent coats
- Can be smoothed down to create an even base
- Prevents the metal of your car from absorbing any of the base coat
- Basecoats will build better, and become more opaque on top of primers
2. Basecoat Paint
This coat is purely for color. A basecoat does not have any waterproofing, hardening, or strengtheners mixed in with its pigments. It is important that they are painted onto a smooth, dry layer of primer.
And sealed off with a finishing paint as soon as the basecoat has dried off. In moisture in this layer can cause blemishes and peeling.
3. Clear Finishing Paint
This will be the final paint that you apply to your car. This is the paint that brings the elements of protection to the paint job. This step cannot be skipped.
These clear paints even have UV protection in them. One of the most common causes of dull paintwork on cars is sun damage.
What equipment will you need?
The equipment list for this job is thankfully very short:
- Electric sander (if you don’t have one of these you can use sandpaper and a lot of elbow grease)
- Spray paint gun
- Air compressor (see tip below for an alternative)
- A hammer (if you have any dents)
- Car putty (if you need to fill in any scratches)
Tip – if you’re looking for a way to save on buying equipment, why not use a spray can? This is a great way to avoid having to invest in an air compressor and spray paint gun.
That being said, it can be difficult to source official colors in a spray can. However, if you don’t mind your bumper slightly not matching the rest of the then this could turn your DIY from a $60 job to a $25 job.
Once you have gathered your tools, it is time to start painting!
How to Paint Your Bumper – The DIY Way
Here is a guide to how to paint your bumper:
Step 1 – The Preparation
All the work that you put in at this stage will pay dividends at the end of this job. You should start by removing your bumper from your car.
Next, you will want to bang out any dents your bumper has with a small hammer. You will also want to use this time to fill in gashes or deep scratches with car putty.
After you have done this you will want to use your electric sander to remove the old paintwork from your bumper.
Step 2 – The Primer
Apply a coat of your primer. You will want to use the spray paint gun, or a spray can primer to do this. You want to aim to get as smooth a layer as possible when putting down this coat.
If there are areas that aren’t as smooth as they should be, get your sander back out and smooth them down.
Allow to dry.
Step 3 – The Basecoat
Once the layer of primer is dry you will want to start adding your basecoat. How many layers are required will depend on the quality of the paint. We would recommend doing at least two layers of your basecoat. This will give your paint job the best chance of lasting for a long time.
Remember to allow the paint to completely dry between each coat. The basecoat is very absorbent and moisture in this layer can lead to peeling, blotchiness, and uneven coloring.
Allow the basecoat to dry before moving onto the next stage.
Step 4 – The Finishing Touches
Now, it’s time to put the finishing layers on. Take your clear finishing paint and apply it all over the bumper. Again we would recommend doing multiple coats, allowing each coat to dry before applying the next.
After the final coat has dried, and you are satisfied with how your bumper looks, reattach it to your car.
Step 5 – Sit Back and Admire Your Handy Work
This is our favorite step. Give yourself a pat on the back because you have now successfully painted your own bumper.
The Pros and Cons of DIY Bumper Painting
Let’s sum up everything we’ve covered today in this handy pros and cons list:
Pros of DIY Bumper Painting
- You’ll save yourself a lot of money
- You can choose your own design
- You can create a mix of paints that will last a lot longer than a shop or factory job
- Did we mention that you will save a lot of money?
Cons of DIY Bumper Painting
- You’ll need to source the paints yourself
- You will need to buy or rent the tools
- This can be a time-consuming job
Summary – Why DIY is the Way to Go
Painting your own bumper is much easier than most people believe. The most difficult part is sourcing an air compressor and picking out a color that matches the rest of your car.
There are many great reasons to paint your own bumper. But we know you’re here because you want to know how much it will cost and if it will be cheaper than having the shop do it for you.
That is a perfectly good question and we have an answer for you.
It will cost you around $40-$60 to paint your bumper yourself. This means you could be saving up to $360 by doing the job yourself.