DIY Car Paint Overview

Yes, you can perform a professional-level DIY car paint job at your home workshop! However, a superior car paint job begins with selecting the ideal supplies. At Paint For Cars, we offer everything essential to paint your car and achieve top-notch results.

From simple car touch-ups to complete refinishing starting from scratch, Paint For Cars supports DIY car paint enthusiasts in accomplishing the task correctly.

If you’re looking to invest in your own DIY paint car project, let the professionals Paint For Cars help!

Read More: Ultimate Guide to Auto Paint: Choosing, Applying, & Exploring Automotive Paints


Table of Contents

Step 1: Choosing the Right Auto Paint

Choosing the Right Auto Paint


Paint For Car’s extensive inventory encompasses a variety of automotive finishes. This range includes both original equipment manufacturer (OEM)-style paints and unique hues for any project – even for beginner car paint DIY enthusiasts!

Don’t forget to apply a reliable car primer for a solid foundation before beginning your paint work:


Primer is important for your DIY car paint project since it serves as the initial layer in the painting process, acting as a preparatory coating before the application of paint. Its primary function is to provide adhesion between the vehicle’s surface and the paint layers to follow. Additionally, primer helps to seal and protect the substrate, ensuring a smooth and even surface for the paint application. Depending on the specific requirements of the project, different types of primer may be used, including etching primer for bare metal surfaces or high-build primer for filling imperfections and creating a uniform base.


Once a popular choice in the early days of vehicle painting, lacquer has fallen out of favor with many manufacturers due to the availability of newer paints offering superior shine and surface protection. Despite its discontinuation by most brands, enthusiasts of antique and classic cars sometimes seek out lacquer paint for restoration projects, aiming to recreate the original aesthetic.

Single-Stage Paint

Characterized by its integration of color and gloss in a single formula, single stage paint made from acrylic enamel or urethane is commonly utilized in commercial vehicles and trucks. Typically available in solid colors, such as red or white, single-stage paint may also be found in metallic hues. Application techniques vary depending on whether a metallic or non-metallic shade is chosen.

Basecoat Clear Coat Paint

Utilizing a two-stage paint system, basecoat clear coat paint involves applying a layer of colored paint (solid or metallic) followed by a separate clear coat. While this process is more intricate, it offers both brilliance and safeguarding for the vehicle. The clear coat is engineered for durability, ensuring a glossy finish while preserving the integrity of the underlying paint. Components such as UV inhibitors are incorporated to prevent oxidation and fading.

Tri-Coat or Multi-Stage Paint

Commonly used for high-end vehicles, the tri-coat or multi-stage paint system begins with a base coat, followed by a translucent mid-coat infused with pearls or other additives to enrich the underlying solid color. Finally, a clear coat is administered to safeguard the color and impart a luxurious sheen. With Paint For Cars quality DIY car paints, you can enhance the primary finish with a high-quality clear coat for added protection and distinctiveness!

Planning to detail under the hood? Our selection includes paints that mimic different metal finishes and high-temperature coatings that replicate OEM colors and sheens.

Read More: Important Things to Know About Auto Painting

Step 2: Make Sure You Have the Right Auto Painting Equipment

DIY Car Paint & Paint Equipment

Paint Application Tools

Even the finest paint requires proper automotive paint application tools. At Paint For Cars, find all the necessary auto painting equipment including:

  • Spray gun and air compressor
  • 1200-grit and 2000 grit wet-and-dry sandpaper 
  • Powered sander for larger areas of your car
  • Masking tape and masking paper
  • Paint thinners
  • Buffer

If the thought of using a beginner’s painting gun is overwhelming, our car spray paint offers a quality comparable to HVLP. For further reading about DIY car painting, please check out our article about how to paint a car in 6 professional steps.

Safety Equipment

Safety equipment is also available to protect your clothes, skin, and lungs during the process. For those working with older sheet metal, our rust solutions restore parts to a paintable condition. Safety equipment you should invest in includes:

  • Face masks
  • Safety glasses
  • Respirators

Take a look at all our auto paint supplies here. We detail all the auto paint equipment you’ll need in our article on different paint supplies you may need for your car.

DIY Car Paint FAQs

Car Paint Equipment - Painting a Red Car

How soon after painting can you drive your car?

Ideally, wait a few weeks post-painting to drive your car to avoid texture issues, cracking, or peeling. Although it’s tempting to showcase your vehicle immediately, exposure to the elements too soon can compromise the paint job.

Realistically, your car is also a mode of transportation. While a month-long garage stay is ideal, occasional outings may be necessary.

Key considerations include:

  • Initial Application: Please allow the new paint to cure for at least 24 hours post-application before exposure.
  • Cure Time: Recognize that auto paint fully cures and adheres over 30 to 60 days. Limit outings to fair weather and short trips during this time.
  • Avoiding Environmental Hazards: Be sure to avoid driving your car on or around freshly paved roads, debris, and extreme temperatures as these can damage the paint or affect the curing process. Proper shelter and controlled conditions are advisable for your car during this period.


Read More: Crucial Tips to Remember in Painting Your Car

How do I properly spray paint my car?

DIY auto painting involves multiple steps, from removing the old paint to applying automotive primer, base coat, and clear coat. Addressing rust and cleaning off debris and moisture is crucial to prevent texture and adhesion issues. Personal safety is also important due to solvent exposure and paint gun use.

  • Wear Protective Gear: Include safety glasses, a fresh air respirator system or multi-stage filter mask, and a paint suit for your DIY car paint project.
  • Use Sanding Supplies: Use 1200-and 2000-grit wet-and-dry sandpaper, and an electric sander for efficiency.
  • Gather All Painting Supplies: Make sure that you have masking tape, an air compressor or paint gun, paint thinner, mixing equipment, and auto paint on hand.
  • Ensure You Have Enough Paint: Make sure that you have gallon of base coat and one gallon of primer, plus two to three gallons of clear coat for small-to-medium-sized vehicles. Larger vehicles require more.

What is a good paint gun for beginners?

For beginner DIY car painting enthusiasts, high volume low pressure (HVLP) guns are highly recommended due to their efficiency in using less pressure while delivering more paint, thus saving time.

Turbine paint systems offer a self-contained alternative with a turbine motor for air compression. Consider needle nozzle sizes, with 1.2-1.4 ideal for base/clear coats and 1.7-2.0 for primer applications.

Read More: 4 Life-Saving Steps to DIY Car Painting

Contact Us for DIY Car Paint & Equipment!

Polishing Car


If you need professional car paint insight into your DIY car painting project, contact Paint For Cars! We are a resource for single stage kits, two stage kits, and auto paint supplies.

Our company was founded in 1998, so we’ve been a trusted resource for DIY car paint and paint equipment for more than two decades! Please read our articles below for more information on DIY car paint and equipment.

Further Reading: