Car Painting Guide

Car Painting Guide: A Complete Step-By-Step Approach

Car painting may seem like a super fun job, but it isn’t as simple as it sounds. With this car painting guide, you’ll find the laborious task a little simpler.

Painting a car is a process that you need to tackle in a proper sequence. It is a bad idea to skip any step- even if you’re excited to flaunt your new finish right away.

The first step towards painting a car is to familiarize yourself with what to do. That’s exactly what you’ll be understanding as you continue reading. So, dive in!


Before delving into the details, take a look at this quick overview of the steps to paint a car.

  • Gather all suitable supplies and find an appropriate workspace
  • Fix damaged parts and take care of rust spots 
  • Determine the kind of paint that you will use
  • Sand down your entire vehicle 
  • Wipe the car clean with thinners to remove debris and dust
  • Practice the spray-painting technique you will use
  • Prime your car
  • Sand it down once more until it is completely smooth
  • Apply three or four coats of the topcoat
  • Apply lacquer 
  • Use a buffer and buff the whole body of your car


It is highly time-consuming to paint a car. It can take from a few days to several weekends to get the job done. So, ensure you have plenty of time on your schedule.


Supplies and Equipment

First, you need to gather all the necessary supplies and proper equipment. Here is a general list of what most processes require:

  • 1200- and 2000-grit wet-and-dry sandpaper
  • Electric or powered sander
  • Masking tape 
  • Air compressor
  • Spray gun
  • Paint thinners
  • Primer
  • Acrylic topcoat
  • Clearcoat lacquer
  • Buffer

Additionally, it would help if you also geared up with safety equipment. Make sure you have safety glasses, gloves, and face masks. 

The amount of paint you’ll need depends on your car size and the total area you wish to cover. Moreover, it would be best if you determined the paint you’ll use. There are two broad types- Solventborne and Waterborne. 

If you want to repaint the car per the existing color, note the vehicle’s color code. The auto shop will be able to assist you. Sometimes, auto shops may also offer tips to add to your car painting guide instructions. 

If you have any attachments on your car, like rooftop cargo boxes, remove them too. 


Ensure that your car painting workspace is free from dust, debris, and moisture. A closed-off area like a garage or a covered shed with a dust extractor is ideal. If you need to work outside, then adopt the necessary precautions and monitor the weather. 

Address Damaged Parts and Rust

Before painting your car, you’ll have to pull out any dents with a repair kit. You may even need to use body filler putty to fill out gouges. Make sure you use sandpaper to smoothen it out!

Additionally, ensure the treatment of any rusty spots using a primer or a good rust converter. You can use sandpaper to tackle light rust, but heavier cases will require other treatments. 

Remove the Existing Finish

Once you have taken care of the preparations, you can start sanding your car down. Use an electric orbital sander to remove the existing paint from larger areas. Smaller areas will require a hand sander. 

You need to devote proper time to the sanding, at least two hours per panel. You’ll notice that every car painting guide suggests this. 

Your goal is to achieve a smooth, even surface. There should be no gloss on the car. 

After that, wipe your car down with thinners, making use of a clean cloth to get rid of dust and debris. Let it dry before you take the process further. 

Prime the Vehicle

Before you begin, use masking tape to cover the areas you don’t want the paint to affect. Wear proper safety gear before priming as well.

It is a tedious job to undo and redo paintwork that goes wrong. So, make sure you work on your spraying technique.

You can use scrap metal for this. Hold the spray gun six inches away from it, and spray in a side-to-side, continuous motion. Press the trigger only while the gun is moving. 

You’ll have to mix the primer along with thinners as per the paint directions. It depends upon your paint type.

Start spraying the primer from the roof. Two or three coats will be necessary for a smooth application. 

Allow the primer to dry fully before moving onto sanding your vehicle down once more with the 2000-grit sandpaper. Again, wipe the surfaces. 

The sandpaper type that works best differs, depending on what car painting guide you’re following! 

Apply the Paint

Here’s the main part of this car painting guide! However, painting is similar to priming. Mix the paint with thinner. After that, apply it to the primer.

Allow the paint to dry completely before applying more topcoats. You’ll need to apply three or four layers to cover every area well. 

Sand and wipe down the entire vehicle before applying the final layer of the paint. Wipe the car after it dries as well. 

Lacquer and Buff Your Car

Follow the priming and painting steps using the lacquer. Make sure you cover your car with two coats for the best results. 

While the clear coat is wet, remove the masking from the places you did not want to paint. Be very cautious since you do not want to create any blemishes. 

Once the lacquer has dried, check the body of your car for any errors or blemishes. If you find any, sand them down and reapply the layers.

The last phase is to buff your car using a buffer. You must make sure that you do not linger on the same spot for too long since it can burn the paint. 


Sometimes, mistakes and blemishes can occur despite your best efforts. There’s no need to feel upset, though, since these issues are all solvable! 

The process to paint a car does not have to be a drawn-out or painful process. With this car painting guide, you will be all set to give your vehicle a sleek, new finish! 



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