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Is Painting Your Car a Do It Yourself Project?

Updated on November 14, 2011

Technology makes it not such a good idea

Back in the day of street rods and oil-based machinery paints, a lot of people used to paint cars at home but the results weren't that good then. The automotive paint finish has advanced a lot since those days. You don't see old blue cars turning purple with oxidization and reds fading to a sort of orange and finishes becoming matte instead of glossy.

When acrylic lacquers and clear-coats hit the market, the result was a much better finish for the car but the do-it-yourself market just went away because who has a paint booth, ventilation system and airless spray equipment available in your backyard. This stuff in itself tells you why it is cost prohibitive to tackle this as a hobby.

Painting a car requires a lot of labour to get a smooth finish. Most people won't sand between coats when painting their house so it is unlikely that they will take the necessary time and care to ensure a quality and lasting paint job.

My advice would be to look at finding a reputable paint shop to do the job. You will have some recourse if the job isn't satisfactory unlike your only choice is to keep sanding and applying another coat in your own project. The amount of time in masking and other preparation doesn't make this job a lot of fun.

My last exposure to what approximates the do-it-yourself type painting project was in the forklift business where we repainted used forklifts. The problem was that in order to get a factory like finish, the labor costs were too high to make the sale profitable. Even more of a concern was the fact that the forklift would be scraped and scratched up in the first hour of use by the operator so a high quality automotive finish just wasn't practical. You also had little time for the paint to dry so we used fast-dry enamels which are cheaper and quick to set up. They make the product look good leaving the building but won't stand up over the years which is what you are looking for in repainting a car.

Save yourself a lot of aggravation and money and leave this task to the experts. Maybe you can find something you can actually repair on a car by yourself today as an alternative. The old hot rod days were remarkable. People actually built cars from the ground up in their garage. Accept the fact that some things just aren't the same anymore and find some other project to undertake. If you need some inspiration or an idea just ask your other half. They usually have lots of stuff to suggest on the "honey-do list".


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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I believe to let the experts do the job. They do it a proper job and the end result always looks better when they do the job as they do it all day everyday for a living


    • scaffolding tower profile image

      scaffolding tower 

      9 years ago from United Kingdom

      You're right, leave car painting to the experts. That way you don't have to worry about cleaning up and locking up your garage do the kids won't touch your tools.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I think anyone who attempts to paint their own car without having the right equipment is incredibly brave. This is an absolutely rare "do-it-yourself" project.

    • Nick B profile image

      Nick B 

      9 years ago from Normandy, France

      I have repaired several cars now and regret not having the right equipment.

      My first wasn't a total disaster, but wouldn't have won any prizes either. From then on, I'd learnt a valuable lesson and when I recently backed my car into someone else's and marked the plastic bumper, I quickly agreed to make it good myself.

      The result - thanks to an on-line spray-paint retailer was excellent, but I had good weather conditions. Since then, I have made repairs on two other cars and although passable, are not the finish I would prefer to have seen.

      I do have compressor and spray equipment although I don't have a booth, but then I would never attempt to respray an entire car either :)

      I would wholeheartedly recommend a proprietary finisher, but for those niggling dings and scrapes, it's often not cost-effective to spend that kind of money.

      I suspect it's down to the confidence of the person concerned, the value of the car and the amount of spraying required.

      Good hub :)

    • crazybeanrider profile image

      Boo McCourt 

      9 years ago from Washington MI

      Well that was a fast turn-a-round. And an excellent reply as well. It doesn't sound like an easy project at all. Not entirely sure if I want to tackle it. My father has the sprayer and the space. So I must do the research on paints and so forth.

      I am the only half. LOL! So no honeydew list for me. Great hub, thanks for the informed answer.


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