How Much Does It Cost To Paint A Car

How Much Does It Cost To Paint A Car

If you have ever had to paint a car, you probably already realize that the cost can add up really quick. It also feels like if you get multiple quotes, each shop owner will tell you a different story. They have their own opinions on the quality of different types of paint and labor. With this information overload, how can you tell which option is the right one?

So, how much does it cost to paint a car?

Your costs can range anywhere between $250 to the tens of thousands. This heavily depends on the quality of the paint job that you are looking for. Showroom quality or custom paint jobs will reach the “tens of thousands” level. Most quality paint jobs are around one thousand to three thousand. Below, we will be digging into the details of the comparison between different qualities.

Different Types of Paint Jobs

Typically speaking, there are four different quality levels to be aware of when it comes to car painting. Each of them has their own concerns, which we will be getting into shortly.

Basic Paint Job and Touch-Ups

A low-quality paint job typically means the least expensive. It means that your chosen company will spend less effort checking into trouble spots. These include areas of damage and rust. A good company may make the suggestion of cleaning those out beforehand.

The biggest issue in picking this option comes from the lack of detail. Inexpensive paint jobs don’t paint interior spots, So miscolored dashboards and the inside of the hood will have no attention put to them. They also may simply spot paint locations or paint over damaged spots, which will draw attention to them.

Be sure to check with the company you choose before deciding on this. Costs on this tend to be under $1000. At this level, you may just want to do it yourself. We will circle back around to this later.

Standard Paint Jobs and Detailed Work

A standard paint job involves replacing the entirety of the outer coating of paint. As a result of this, companies tend to put in the effort to remove rust spots and damage they can address.

If you want to avoid paying the extra cost on rust, you may wish to take your own process. There is a below video on your own rust removal process if you want to consider it.

In the process of performing their work, these companies will also sand down the prior color. Some types of paint have the tendency to react with each other; this acts as an extra safety precaution. Expect the cost of this type of paint job to be no more than four thousand.

Showroom Quality Paint Jobs

The last section is specific to cars that you aren’t likely to drive: showroom quality paints. These are paints that are primarily for display purposes. If you are taking your vehicle to a car show and want to stand out amongst the competition, this is the type of paint job you might wish to.

Given the level of detail on this type of paint job, you may see over twenty coats of paint. This will cost up to tens of thousands. Once this is done, do not drive your vehicle. This is primarily done for showroom cars and display models and not meant to be on the open road.

Custom Paint Jobs

A custom paint job can be as high as showroom jobs, but that will depend on the quality of the project you are looking for. For example, a single racing stripe can cost as low as $150 depending on various factors. You will want to check with local entities to see the average cost of paint jobs.

Next, we will be getting into the cost of do-it-yourself paint jobs. In this case, you typically see the price of this go no higher than $1500. Expect the real investment to be your time.

How Much Does It Cost To Paint A Car Yourself?

Painting a car yourself will require you to own a couple of different tools first. After you get those tools, your next step will be to set aside the time to paint. Be sure you have ample time to complete this project before beginning.

What Do I Need To Paint A Car Myself?

The first thing you are going to need when painting a car is a paint gun. Cars are not painted the same way that you can paint a house. Painting a car with a brush usually leads to ugly, uneven results.

The next thing you will likely need is sandpaper and an electric sander. It is suggested to have wet and dry sandpaper with varying grit to evenly remove the paint. 1200 or 2000 grit sandpaper would do, speak to your local hardware store for details.

Finally, you are going to need paint and primer. There are many different types of paint that you can get, which we will be getting into shortly. Primer gives your color something to grip onto, which is typical for all types of painting.

Finally, you will need masking tape, newspaper, and protective gear. Paper and masking tape allows you to cover over the section of the car you don’t want to paint: typically the windows. Protective equipment prevents you from breathing in paint, which can lead to adverse effects.

Different Types of Paint

There are four significant types of paint you should think of looking for.

Acrylic Enamel

Acrylic enamel is typically limited to professional shops because they need to “bake” the paint on. It can be tricky, by provides a naturally protective shell that is great for longevity.

Acrylic Lacquer

Initially, this was the type of paint that was the most readily available. It is a high-gloss paint that is easy to apply, but prone to fading due to UV rays. You will still have to buy a separate primer.

Acrylic Urethane or Urethane

Urethane paint is tricky to handle because it is a type of paint you have to marry yourself to. This is because Lacquer paints cannot be painted over them due to the two colors not being chemically friendly with each other.

If you have urethane acrylic paints, they will have to be used right away due to drying out. A variant of urethane paints, aliphatic polyurethane, is illegal in most states.

Steps For Painting

Given that painting is a very visual process, we suggest checking out some online tutorials on YouTube. The video below is a great place to start.


Painting a car can be a costly process if you let it get out of hand. Knowing what to expect from your shop is essential, you will have an idea of what to ask for. It also means you can make price comparisons with some confidence.

If you want to do it yourself, be sure that you set aside some money and time for this sort of project. Be aware of what paint you are willing to put up with. Be sure to follow step-by-step instructions to ensure that your first paint job will be of good quality.

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