Car Paint: The Ultimate Guide On Car Body Paint & Protection

car paint

If your car paint has seen better days, it might be time to consider a respray. Whether you’re looking to paint it yourself, get a professional to do the job or just take care of the paintwork, we’ve got you covered.

We’re looking at the dos and don’t of car paint, including car paint protection, car paint restoration and car paint repair. Let’s get started.

How To Spray Paint A Car

Car paint

When it comes to painting a car yourself, time is important. Whether it’s just a touch-up or a full respray, give yourself plenty of time as any rushed parts will be obvious in the final finish.

Find a sheltered place where you can store your car for a weekend or two. Typically, a car respray will take a full weekend if not more.

If you are looking forward to the challenge of a DIY paint job then make sure you have the right tools for the job.

You will need:

  • Electric sander
  • Masking tape
  • Air compressor
  • Spray gun
  • Dry wet and waterproof sandpaper
  • Newspapers
  • Masks
  • Safety glasses
  • Paint thinners

For a medium-sized car, you will require approximately five litres of primer, 13 litres of topcoat and another 13 litres of clear-coat lacquer. 

Finding a car paint shop isn’t too difficult as many stores like Halfords will offer what you need, additionally, there are plenty of other options online.


car paint

When it comes to painting a car, the amount of preparation you do can drastically improve the outcome. 

We recommend cleaning the working area before you bring your car in to get painted. You want to remove as much dust as possible and leave as clear a path around the vehicle as you can manage.

If you have to spray your car outside, hose down the ground to reduce the chances of dust kicking up and forcing you to start all over again.


Start by sanding in a circular motion to remove the clear coat, top coat and base down to the metal. 

An electric sander will do the majority of the panels but you will have to sand the corners and crevices by hand.

Wipe the surface with a cloth and paint thinner once you are happy with your handiwork.


car priming

The priming stage is required to ensure an even finish all over.

Before painting, mask off anything you don’t want to get paint on. Ideally, you will take off any removable parts to make life easier.

Mix the primer with thinners according to the instructions. It’s vital that you know how much to paint a car, and over or under spraying it will result in a poor quality finish.

Apply car spray paint in a continuous motion. Working from the roof down, typically it will take between two and three coats for priming.

The primer will appear powdery and you’ll have to smooth it with 2,000-grit sandpaper before moving on to the next stage.


car paint

It’s finally time to paint, but make sure you clean your spray gun to avoid mixing paints.

Follow the instructions to mix your paint correctly, applying as many coats as required.

To give you an idea of the timescale, it will typically take around 10 minutes to spray paint one panel of your car. It will then take up to an hour after that for the paint to properly cure.

Considering how many panels there are, car body painting times can begin to mount up.

Before you apply your final topcoat later, remove any roughness in the paint using the 2,000-grit sandpaper once more.

Once that final layer of topcoat has been applied, it’s time for the clear-coat. This process is similar to the previous two.

Ensure you remove your masking tape before the clear-coat dries on your final coat to ensure a smooth finish.

There may be some areas that need touching up, but the process is relatively simple. Sand the affected area using your sandpaper and respray. Once the coat has dried, use a buffer in circular motions, being careful not to burn the paint by holding it in one area for too long.

How Much Does It Cost To Paint A Car Professionally?

car paint

Now you know how to paint a car, perhaps seeing what’s involved might put the price for a professional into perspective. A lot of equipment is needed for a professional job and the process is a complex one.

If you have tried painting your car yourself, you’ll be aware that a certain level of skill is also required.

Generally, a respray can cost you anywhere between £1,000 and £10,000.

Any respray quotes that seem a little low may be a sign that the quality isn’t going to be the best.

We recommend getting a variety of quotes and asking any friends for suggestions based on their own respray experiences.


car paint

Like most things in life, there are dos and don’t when it comes to car paint.

If you are going for a DIY respray we suggest leaving an entire weekend free to get the job done.

Sanding is a critical stage of respraying your car and, really, you need to do it as much as possible. Whenever you feel like you have sanded enough, we suggest going over the bodywork one more time to make sure you haven’t missed a spot.

If you have the time, sand down to the bare metal. However, if you don’t, ensure that you have sanded the surface enough that it is smooth all over the area you are going to paint.

Wash Your Car By Hand Afterwards

Once you have resprayed your car, wash it by hand for at least three months after. Use cool water with a mild solution to prevent stripping any of your hard work away in a matter of minutes.

Taking this approach can ensure your paintwork will last a lifetime instead of just a summer.

Keep Your Car Covered

We also recommend keeping your car covered as much as possible following a respray.

The elements are out to attack your paintwork so cover it up to stop the weather, bird droppings and tree sap from destroying it.

When it comes to bird waste, the acidity will strip the paint and no amount of cleaning will fix it, so wash it off as quickly as possible.


car paint

If you want to avoid scratches, we recommend you put nothing at all on your paintwork. 

Scratches from drinks or shopping may not show up immediately, but over time they will worsen and become obvious.

The heating and cooling your car goes through will open up those scratches even more.

Don’t Sand Down Those Small Chips

It might work on your walls at home, but sanding down chips before respraying a car is a bad move. 

You actually need those hard edges of the chips to let the paint pool. This creates an even surface that can then be sanded down once resprayed.

Sanding will only damage the surrounding paint, making a car touch up paint job almost impossible and possibly destroying perfectly good paint for no reason. Knowing how to touch up car paint can save you a lot of time and money.

Don’t Spray Directly Onto The Car

Don’t begin to spray directly onto your car if you are painting it yourself. We suggest practising your technique first on a piece of scrap metal.

If you are a respraying novice we suggest holding the spray gun around six inches from the scrap metal and using a sweeping side-to-side motion. Only spray when moving as applying paint when stationary causes the paint to run.

Don’t wax or polish your freshly resprayed car for at least three months. Wait before applying any wax or polish as you may inadvertently cause discolouration or damage before the paint properly sets.

Don’t Ignore The Instructions

Don’t ignore the instructions on your paint.

There is a reason why the supplier has written them and it could be because the paint runs thicker or thinner than others.

It may dry faster or require fewer coats than other brands. This is because technology is always advancing, so while your friend’s advice is welcome, what they did five years ago may no longer apply.

How FairSquare Can Help

fairsquare logo

If you just don’t like the colour of your car, maybe look for a new or used one instead of respraying it.

At FairSquare, we have thousands of cars in many makes and models to suit your needs.

You can even filter by colour to make sure you don’t have to take it to be resprayed a better shade. Not only that, but you can choose from petrol or diesel models or find the ideal car that’s perfect for new drivers.

Browse our website today.

We hope that you enjoyed this article. If you’re the kind of driver that likes changing things up for cosmetic value, check out our article on Car Modifications!

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Check out new cars and used cars here to set the wheels in motion! Find your perfect car today…


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