How Much Does It Cost To Paint a Car

Car Painting

Whether you just got yourself a second hand car of you have been involved in an auto accident, you may be asking yourself the question “how much does it cost to paint a car“.

There are many factors to be considered in determining the costs of painting a car. The most significant considerations include quality of materials, level of labor involved, and size of car.

To help you figure out how much painting a car costs, consider the following:

The Car Painting Process

Depending on the quality of work done, the processes will generally start with the washing of the car. This will remove dust particles, mud, and any other foreign bodies from the surface of the car and make it easier to paint.

The original paint will then be sanded down and the garage may repair some of the uneven surfaces and scratches.

After that, the chromes and windows will be covered up or if it is a high end job they may be completely removed.

Once the preparation for painting the car is completed, the colorless primers will be applied to make the paint last longer. It is then that the application of paint will commence using spray guns. This will be followed by the application of a protective cover which is normally transparent.

Some of the cheaper places will not follow all these steps and some of the high end specialty shops will do much more.

Cost To Paint a Car

Cost of Materials

There are different materials and equipment used in painting a car. The primary cost to focus on is the cost of car paint, the cost of the primer, and the cost of the clear coatings. These can set you back from about $200 for the cheapest quality to over $5,000 for top shelf products.

However, the average costs range at between $1,000 and $1,500 for a decent job.

Different cars require different types of paint and this is also affected by the metallic qualities of the car, type of finish, shades, and patterns.

Depending on your needs and your budget, you may have to use one of the following most commonly used types of car paint.

Enamel Paint

Enamel paints are tougher than lacquer paints because of how they dry into a hard shell though they are not as easy to apply. Many enamel colors tend to require a two-stage process where a clear top coat is applied in addition to the paint.

Nevertheless, there are some enamel paints that only require a single step. Typical prices for a gallon of enamel auto paints are around $50.

Acrylic Lacquer

Perhaps the cheapest option you will have is the acrylic lacquer auto paints. It is easy to apply though it chips easier.

You may have to apply regular coats due to the chipping and because they are not chemical resistant. They cost between $30 and $40 per gallon.

Urethane-Based Paints

Urethane-based paints have qualities that fall between enamel and acrylic lacquer paints. They are easy to apply and are as strong as enamel paints.

Nevertheless, urethane-based paints have to be used with three other products for a complete finish. These are a reducer, a catalyst, and the color. They cost between $70 and $90 per gallon.

Water-Based Paints

Water-based paints are relatively new in the market though gaining a lot of popularity. They are the most versatile auto paints as they can be used on the existing paintwork, on metal, and on primer.

However, there are not many color choices yet and they are more expensive at around $120 per gallon.

Labor Costs

You can get a garage that charges $300 or less on labor for painting a car.

However, the paintwork will most likely be sloppy and uneven, and preparation will be nonexistent.

For a decent job, most mid range garages will charge between $1,500 and $3,000 for labor. The labor costs are also determined by quality of work, level of preparation, the need for body work, and size of car.

Total Costs

The total costs for painting a car will be determined by cost of labor and materials. It may range from just a few hundreds to many tens of thousands.

Low-End Prices

There are various national chains that offer prices as low as $200 for painting a regular-sized vehicle.

Typical service involves cleaning the surface of the car to remove dirt and old paint, masking some areas to reduce chances of overspray, and providing a heat-cured finish. They typically offer a one year warranty.

Mid Range Prices

Using better materials and more involved preparation and finishing, a mid range car paint may cost anywhere between $1,000 and $5,000.

It may also involve interior painting and areas near the engine getting re-colored. Typical warranties range from 2 to 5 years though may be more.

High End Prices

Car Painting ServiceHigh end car paint jobs cost between $4,000 and $10,000 though they may even go up to $80,000 for highly specialized services.

Paints used in this kind of services sell for even hundreds of dollars for one quart.

The preparation in these kinds of jobs involves complete removal of windows, mirrors, headlights, and bumpers before sanding begins.

Buffing and wet-sanding is also done after the paintwork is complete. High end jobs usually come with a lifetime guarantee.

Do-It-Yourself Costs

You can significantly cut down the costs of painting your car by doing it yourself. But you should know that the work is involving, may take very long, and will require a substantial investment in equipment.

For instance, you will need to purchase spray guns which do cost between $200 and $800. Sanding materials will also cost you another $50 to $200.

The good thing is that you get to choose your material and so you can decide to reduce your carbon footprint and use more environmental-friendly products.

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  1. The writer of this article makes some good points but is lacking on knowledge in some areas. The cost of auto refinishing quality paint is incredibly higher than what one may think. Primers, sealers, base coat, clear coat…all in all, they add up yo a healthy number. For a typical complete paint job, utilizing all these materials, I spend in my shop about $1750 to $2500 for materials alone. $1750 being on the low end, and $2500 being on the high end. The days of the $5000 quality paint job are over. For a complete paint job tha is “quality” expect to pay no less than $10,000.00.

    Check out some of the completes we have done. Nine of these cars were painted for less than $17,000.00.

  2. I agree with the last post . The cost are a lot higher . Also most all bodyshops have to use waterbourne base coat and its available in many thousands of colors to closely match factory colors

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