How Much Does it Cost to Paint a Car?
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How Much Does it Cost to Paint a Car?

By Michael O'Connor | September 13, 2021

A fresh paint job can make your car look revitalized and give it a new life. By giving the outside a new look, you can customize your car and make it say something about who you are. It can also give it a few more years of life on the road. New paint will help protect your vehicle from rust, deterioration, and corrosion that any daily driver deals with.

A standard paint job for your car will usually cost somewhere between $1,000 and $4,500. This will cover the work needed for a decent paint job on an average-sized car. However, there are a lot of different factors when it comes to how much new paint costs. By understanding what these factors are, you can decide whether a new paint job is for you.

What’s the Price Range for Painting a Car?

New paint for a car will vary in price tremendously. The industry is fairly wide-ranging in quality, type of paint job, and craftsmanship. Because of this, you could end up paying very different amounts for different cars and at different auto painting shops. However, there are some general rules of thumb when it comes to the price.

No Repairs

An incredibly basic paint job using synthetic enamel paint will cost somewhere between $300 to $900. This usually will not include the removal of rust or any other repairs that you may want to get done first. If you have a used car that you are just trying to rejuvenate a bit, this could be the best option. It usually will not include unseen areas like the inside of the hood or doors.

With Repairs

If you want the body to be completely prepared, this would bring the price between $1,000 and $4,500. Body prep includes removing the old paint, dent repair, fillers, complete sanding, and rust removal. This is a good choice if you are restoring a vehicle and need to completely refinish the body.

High-End

For an entire showroom quality, professional paint job, you could be looking at upwards of $20,000. Most people won’t need this option unless they have a classic car or a vehicle they plan on showing. A paint job like this usually entails detailed bodywork and dozens of coats of paint.

What Determines the Price of a Car Paint Job?

It can be difficult to determine exactly how much a new paint job will cost. This is because there are many different factors and processes involved with painting. They are all very specific to the car and the situation. Knowing what determines the price of a new car paint job can help you be prepared for the actual cost.

Size of the Vehicle

The size of the car is one of the biggest factors at play with the cost of painting it. This is due to the amount of paint, the labor involved, and the prep time. If you have a small coupe, it could end up being much less expensive to paint than a full-size truck. The job can usually be done much quicker as well.

Type of Vehicle

Some vehicles will have more surface area that needs to be painted than others. For example, if your car has a lot of windows, you will have to pay for less paint and fewer materials. However, more labor may be required to mask them off and prevent overspray. This is why the price of painting a car is so variable.

Color

The color you choose to paint your car will have a lot to do with how much it costs. White or gray paint will be much less expensive than some more complex colors. If you are wanting to use metallic paint or paint with flakes, this will be reflected in the price. These paints require a lot more preparation and work.

Types of Paint

Not all paint types are the same. Higher quality paint will always be more expensive. For example, Lexus’ Structural Blue paint took 15 years to develop and is used on their high-end vehicles. Due to this development and what it is made of, it costs around $2,000 a gallon.

Repairs

If your vehicle needs any repairs done before the actual painting begins, this will cost extra. Any kind of bodywork or sanding will be reflected in the final price of the paint services. The extent to which this work needs to be done will also heavily affect what you end up paying. This is why some car painters will also double as automotive body shops. The two jobs are very similar and will usually be dependent on one another.

Clear Coats

There are different clear coats and finishes available for any kind of paint job. If you are looking to add a protective coat to your new paint, this will cost you extra. Some clear coats act as a sealer and will help resist cracking and peeling and others will help protect the paint job from debris. If you live in a hot or cold area, different clear coats can prevent deterioration from these elements.

Prep Work

No matter what kind of automotive paint job you are getting, there will be some prep work involved. Masking and taping off trim takes time to do properly and will cost you more in labor. Many vehicles will also need to have parts of the interior removed to do a thorough paint job as well. In some cases, the entire interior will need to be removed including the seats and the dashboard so the door jambs and other areas can be painted. This extra time will cost more money on your final bill.

Your State

Where you live plays a big part in how much a new paint job costs. In some states, there are environmental concerns about automobile painting. This means that the shops will have to pay more in taxes and operation procedures. These costs get handed down to you as the customer. If you live in a state with many environmental regulations, you could end up paying more for your car painting.

When to Get a Car Painted

Before you decide that the time has come to repaint, you should know what to look for. Oftentimes, all you need is a thorough detailing and touch-up instead of an entirely new coat of paint. However, if you plan on keeping your vehicle for many years, new paint can help revitalize it.

When thinking about getting new paint, knowing what the signs are can help. If you notice any of these tell-tale symptoms of a failing paint, it may be time to take the plunge. Of course, if you’re simply looking for a change and can afford it, that’s always a good enough reason.

Clear Coat is Peeling

Old clear coat on a vehicle has a tendency to peel, which is fairly unsightly. Heat is especially damaging to clear coat and will start to melt it. It is common to see peeling on the hood since there is so much heat generated in that area. This is one of the reasons why a heat-resistant clear coat is recommended if you live in a hot area.

Noticeable Scratches

Throughout your vehicle’s life, you may notice that scratches will start to appear. These can be from small impacts or scraping on branches or shrubs. After a while, these small scratches will add up and give a vehicle an old, damaged look. Smaller scratches can sometimes be removed with detailing. A new paint job will remove them thoroughly, though.

Faded Finish

Your paint job will eventually start to fade no matter how careful you are with it. Even if you cover your vehicle when it’s not in use, UV rays can damage the paint. A new coat of high-end UV-resistant paint can help keep the finish looking fresh and bold.

Can You Do a DIY Paint Job?

You might be wondering if you could potentially paint your vehicle yourself. If you’re itching for a new look for your car but don’t want to spend a lot, this might be a good option. However, it’s important to remember that repainting an entire car is a lot of work. There are reasons that professional shops charge quite a bit of money for this kind of job. If you don’t have the equipment or know-how, a quality paint job is going to be difficult to achieve.

Knowing what the pros and cons of a DIY paint job are can help you make your decision. Should you choose to paint your own car, be ready to do a lot of prep work. If you aren’t happy with the results, you can always take it in to be repainted at a professional shop.

Pros

Perhaps the most prominent advantage to a DIY paint job is the money you can save. For the cost of some sandpaper, spray paint, and urethane clear coat, you can rejuvenate your vehicle. If you are confident that you can do the job correctly, this could be the way to go. However, if you want your paint job to look as professional as possible, it is highly recommended that you get a spray gun. This will help you get a clean, even coat that will last a lot longer.
One of the other benefits of painting a car yourself is the experience. Doing a job like this on your own can be incredibly rewarding and if you are the type of person who likes learning experiences, this could be a good project.

Cons

The biggest downside of a DIY paint job is the fact that it will be very difficult to get a high-end result. Professional shops have years of experience and quality equipment that make it easy for them to get the final product you want. You might not be as happy with your DIY paint job or the quality of the paint itself as you would be with a professional one.

The other main drawback of a DIY paint job is the amount of work it takes. Researching, practicing and multiple coats can take a long time and you still may not end up with quality results like you would with a professional paint shop. Because of this, it may not be worth it to try and paint your car yourself.

Final Thoughts

Your car’s paint is an important part of its look and aesthetic. A different color can completely change how your vehicle looks and what it projects out to the world. Spending a little more on a high-quality paint job could be well worth it and give you many more years of a high-end finish.