Auto Paint Guide

If you’re brand new to the world of car painting, let our ultimate guide to auto paint be your online resource! offers a wide range of car paint options in terms of choosing the right automotive paint color, finish, and performance that are durable, UV-resistant, and will last for many years to come!

In this in-depth auto paint guide, we will take you on a journey through the history of automotive paint, provide insights on choosing the right type for your vehicle, offer application tips, discuss safety precautions, and explore popular color options for your car.

Auto Paint Guide: Table of Contents


Let’s get started on everything you need to know about auto paint:

Auto Paint Guide


Part 1: The History of Automotive Paint

During the 1950s, auto paint marked a significant shift in the automotive paint industry with the introduction of metallic paints.

This new innovation offered a dazzling and vibrant finish, captivating car enthusiasts around the world. The use of metallic flakes in the paint created a mesmerizing effect that enhanced the overall appearance of vehicles.

Over the years, automotive paint technology has only continued to improve. Especially in recent decades, paint manufacturers have focused on improving durability, weather resistance, and color options.

Today’s auto paints are designed to withstand the elements, maintain their vibrant colors, and provide long-lasting protection to the vehicle’s surface.

Part 2: Choosing the Right Auto Paint

If you’re new to DIY auto painting, you’ll want to have a good idea of the different auto paints that are available in order to achieve the desired look and long-term durability you’re looking for.

Read More: Important Things to Know About Auto Painting

When making your decision, several factors should be considered. These include the:

  • Paint’s durability
  • Application method
  • Color options
  • Finish

Read more here about how to paint a car and 6 professional steps or our crucial tips article to get you started.

The next step in our auto paint guide is to introduce you to the most commonly used types of automotive paints:

Acrylic Lacquer

Acrylic lacquer provides DIY car painting enthusiasts a high-gloss finish that’s relatively easy to apply.

However, it’s important to note that acrylic lacquer has some drawbacks. For example, it tends to be less durable when compared to other options, and also requires more frequent maintenance. Acrylic lacquer is also susceptible to damage from chemicals and UV radiation.

Here are some pros and cons to consider for acrylic lacquer paint:


  • High-gloss finish
  • Easy application
  • Quick drying solution
  • Good choice for DIY auto paint projects


  • Less durable and requires more frequent maintenance when compared with other paints
  • More susceptible to damage from chemicals and UV radiation

Acrylic Enamel

Another popular choice for automotive paint enthusiasts is acrylic enamel paint. This auto paint type offers a durable finish and better color retention when compared to lacquer. More on the differences between lacquer and enamel paint here.

However, applying acrylic enamel tends to need overall more skill and experience with painting cars. It’s also worth considering that it has a longer drying time compared to lacquer and often requires additional steps, such as clear coat application, for better results.


  • Durable finish
  • Better color retention when compared with lacquer
  • Good resistance to UV radiation
  • Lots of color options available


  • Longer drying time compared to lacquer
  • Requires additional steps and skill for a good application

Paint For Car’s acrylic enamel paint can be found on our Starfire acrylic enamel gallon and single stage acrylic enamel pages.


Urethane paints have gained popularity in the automotive industry due to their exceptional durability and resistance to chemicals, weathering, and UV radiation. They offer the benefit of a wide variety of colors and finishes, providing a high-quality, glossy appearance.

However, you should note that professional application is recommended for best results, and it overall tends to be more expensive than other paint types listed here.


  • Great durability and resistance to chemicals, weathering, and UV radiation
  • Wide variety of colors and finishes available
  • Excellent, high-quality, glossy appearance


  • Professional application recommended
  • More expensive than other paint types

At Paint For Cars, we offer urethane paint gallons and basecoat Starfire gallons; single stage Urethane, (standard, flat/satin, or high gloss); and two stage Urethane, (basecoat + TCI Clearcoat, basecoat + Starfire Clear, Basecoat + TCI Clearcoat/premium).

For more information about paint types, check out our types of automotive paint: what is best for my car? blog post.

Read More: How to Care for a Fresh Car Paint Job

Part 3: Basic Auto Paint Application Tips

Applying auto paint requires attention to detail and proper technique. Here are some basic tips to follow for a successful paint job:

Surface Preparation

To start, you’ll want to use soap, water, and a sponge to wash off any dirt, grime, and old flakes of paint from your vehicle’s surface. Once it’s dry, grab some sandpaper and gently sand the surface.

This isn’t about making it perfectly smooth but rather creating a texture that the new paint can cling to. Think of it as helping the new paint stick around for a longer time.

Apply the Primer

Now that your car is clean and sanded, it’s time to lay the groundwork with some auto primer. Choose a primer specifically made for vehicles to ensure the best results.

Spray it on evenly and let it dry as per the instructions on the can. This step is vital for a long-lasting paint job, so don’t rush it!

Apply the Paint

Use a high-quality paint gun or sprayer for even and controlled application. Start with a thin, even coat and allow it to dry before applying subsequent coats.

Multiple thin coats provide better results than a single thick coat. For more information, please read more here on auto paint application methods.

Allow Paint to Dry

This might be the hardest part: waiting. But good things come to those who wait, right? Follow the drying times and temperature recommended by the paint manufacturer. This could vary depending on the type of paint and the environment you’re working in.

Also, make sure you’re in a well-ventilated area to help the paint dry evenly and prevent any fumes from hanging around.

Apply the Clear Coat

Once your paint is dry, it’s time to seal the deal with a clear coat. This is like the topcoat of nail polish—it adds shine and protects the color beneath.

Apply the clear coat just like you did the paint, in thin, even layers. This will protect your paint against the elements and keep it looking glossy and new for longer.

Buff and Polish

After the clear coat has fully cured, and you’ve given it enough time to harden, it’s time for the final touches. Use a polishing compound and a buffing pad to polish your car to a high shine.

This step is like applying a filter to a photo—it smooths out any imperfections and adds a glossy finish that makes your car look like it just rolled off the showroom floor.

Auto Paint Guide

Part 4: Safety Precautions for Applying Auto Paint

Safety should be a top priority when working with automotive paints. Take the following precautions to protect yourself:

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Wear a respirator mask, safety goggles, and gloves to prevent inhalation of harmful fumes and contact with the skin.


Work in a well-ventilated area or use a paint booth to minimize exposure to paint fumes. Adequate ventilation helps to maintain air quality and reduce health risks.

Flammable Materials

Keep flammable materials away from the work area and follow proper storage and disposal practices for paint waste. Store paints in cool, dry areas away from heat sources.

Follow Manufacturer’s Guidelines

Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the safe handling and storage of paint products. Use the recommended cleaning agents and solvents for equipment cleanup.

Protective Clothing

Wear appropriate protective clothing, such as coveralls or a paint suit, to prevent overspray on your skin and clothes. This helps minimize skin contact with paint and other chemicals.

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

Antique Gold Metallic

Part 5: Popular Colors for Automotive Paints

The color of your vehicle can make a significant impact on its overall appearance. While color preferences are subjective, certain shades have gained popularity in the automotive world. Read more here on our car paint color trends in the automotive industry.

Here are some of the popular colors used in automotive paints:

Metallic Colors


  • Offers a dynamic and eye-catching finish, especially under sunlight.
  • Adds depth and vibrancy to the vehicle’s appearance.


  • Can be more challenging to repair or touch up due to the complexity of the metallic flakes.
  • Requires careful blending for a seamless finish.

Solid Colors

Thanks to its clean and classic appearance, many of our DIY auto paint enthusiasts prefer the look of a solid color paint. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of solid colors and what to expect:


  • Provides a clean and classic look.
  • Easier to match and repair compared to metallic colors.


  • May show scratches and imperfections more prominently.
  • Limited in terms of visual effects and depth.

Candy Apple Red

Aqua Pearl 

Pearl Colors

Another automotive paint you can opt for is pearl. This auto paint type offers an appealing, shimmering finish for your car. Let’s take a look at pearl color’s pros and cons:


  • Offers a shimmering, iridescent effect with a smooth finish.
  • Provides a unique and sophisticated appearance.


  • Requires skillful application to achieve a uniform and even finish.
  • Can be more expensive compared to solid colors.


Read More: What is Automotive Paint Made Of? 10 Tips to Maintain It

Matte Colors

For a non-reflective look, you should look into matte paints:


  • Provides a non-reflective, modern, and understated look.
  • Conceals minor imperfections and scratches


  • Requires special care and maintenance, as matte finishes are more prone to staining and difficult to repair.


Ultimately, the choice of color depends on your personal preference and the style you want to achieve with your vehicle. Consider factors such as the vehicle’s design, your own taste, and current trends in the automotive industry.

Vibrant Lime Green


Why Choose Our Online Auto Paint Store?

When it comes to purchasing auto paint and related supplies, turning to a trusted online auto paint store can offer numerous benefits:

  • Extensive Selection: Paint for Cars provides a wide range of automotive paints, colors, and finishes. In our online store, you can explore a vast inventory and find the perfect match for your project, regardless of your specific requirements.
  • Quality Assurance: Our auto paints are designed to deliver excellent color accuracy and durability. With Paint for Cars, you can have confidence in the quality of the products you purchase.
  • Convenience & Accessibility: Online shopping allows you to browse and purchase automotive paints and supplies from the comfort of your home or workshop. This convenience saves you time and effort compared to physically visiting multiple stores to find the right products.
  • Expert Advice & Customer Support: At Paint for Cars, our knowledgeable staff can provide guidance and recommendations based on your specific needs. Our team offers valuable advice on product selection, application techniques, and troubleshooting.
  • Competitive Pricing & Discounts: Online auto paint stores frequently offer competitive prices, discounts, and promotions. These cost-effective options can help you stay within your budget while still accessing high-quality automotive paints.
  • Reliable Shipping & Delivery: Lastly, Paint for Cars provides reliable shipping and prompt delivery. We ensure that your products are properly packaged and shipped in a timely manner, so you can start your painting project without unnecessary delays.

Contact Us

Paint for Cars is your online resource for auto paint gallons, single stage kits, two stage kits, and auto paint supplies that enhance the appearance of your vehicle, all while its surface from UV rays, the elements, and daily use.

We hope this auto paint guide has helped you better understand the history of automotive paint, how to effectively choose the right type of paint and paint color for your specific needs, following proper application techniques, and more.If you need additional help with how to prioritize safety precautions, or choosing the right paint, our team can help!

We do recommend that you contact us online before giving us a call as we can better serve you that way. Let us help you achieve outstanding results and transform your vehicle with the perfect coat of automotive paint!

Questions? Contact our team or read more about us today!