Painting your car the thrifty way – for only $75

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A sanded, taped up car has been primed and is ready for new coats of paint.

Painting your car at home for cheap is possible. (Photo: Auto Car Repair)

Painting your car is a nice DIY project that can be done at home, but many people tend to avoid it because of excessive cost and the degree of prep-work involved. A spray gun, the right air compressor, clear coat, the right kind of primer, buffing compound, rust converter and more are all things that serious car paint enthusiasts take into account. But what if there were another way? A cheaper way? A thrifty way?

Painting your car – for only $75

According to Styluss at Instructables Workshop, there is a way to undertake painting your car via “The Poor Man’s Paint Job” technique. It only costs $75. In short, the technique involves using Rustoleum as an automotive paint and applying it with a high-density foam brushes. There’s minimal sanding required. Just keep in mind that this isn’t something Earl Scheib would recommend for your new car. Results are by no means guaranteed, and the procedure should be undertaken at your own risk. However, the results for Styluss were highly satisfactory; check out the photos at the Instructables Workshop link below for proof.

Supplies you’ll need

What follows are estimates. Your requirements may vary. Styluss painted an average-sized sedan, but if you’re working on an SUV or large truck, you’ll likely need more.

3 quarts of Rustoleum high gloss white paint = $23.61
3 quarts of odorless mineral spirits = $17.97
1 can of primer spray paint = $4.99
4-inch high-density foam brushes (7) = $5.67
2-inch high-density foam brushes  (7) = $3.95
Paint trays (3) = $3.21
2 packs of sandpaper designed for wet use (600- and 800-grit) = $9.50
1 roll of painter’s tape = $5.84
Total: $74.74

Getting ready

Find a large, clean area to do the job. Next, wash the car. Anything that can be removed from the car (headlights, tail lights, mirrors, trim, etc.) should be removed. Sanding is the next step. If there are spots where the old paint has chipped off, hit it with the spray primer. A well-sanded surface ensures that paint will go on evenly. Apply painter’s tape and mask off the windows and other areas you don’t want painted.

Painting your car

Mix the paint first so it’s half paint and half mineral spirits. The paint mix should have a milk-like consistency, runny but still thick. Styluss recommends applying each coat of paint in the same order so that you’ll be sure not to overdo areas or miss anything. Styluss began with the roof and moved down in the same order each time. Allowing one area to dry when edges are undone will create unsightly paint lines.

Go slow and stick with one direction

Once you have decided upon your method, pour some paint mix into a paint tray and get to work. Four-inch brushes are good for large areas, while the smaller two-inch is better for fine detail. Lay the paint on thick in an area, and then spread it around to cover and create a base. Slowly glide the brush along, always making sure to stroke in the same direction. Be sure to watch for drips and sags. If they’re minor, just brush over them. Major issues will require a re-sanding and restart. Three coats should do it, with six to 12 hours of drying time after each coat. Undiluted Rustoleum takes 24 hours to dry. Diluted here, assume about half that time frame or better.

Sand, sand and coat

After the three coats of paint have dried, soak the 600-grit sandpaper in water and sand until you get that surface. Spray away residue with a hose, and buff for a nice shine. If painting your car went perfectly, you may not need the additional sanding. Next, apply at least a couple more coats for a nice, rich look. Dry appropriately, sand (this time with at least 800-grit) and spray.

You’re done! How does it look?

Wait at least a full day before washing or waxing your newly painted car. Some brush strokes may be visible, but in Styluss’s case, these were hard to see. For $75, however, “The Poor Man’s Paint Job” is well worth it for the vibrant new sense of style it brings your car. Yes, the paint may strip in a year, but your cash outlay wasn’t tremendous. If you want to spend more money, strip the Rustoleum off and go to a professional. “The Poor Man’s Paint Job” technique will save you money and produce reasonable results.

Then there are auto loans for new cars with fresh factory paint…



Instructables Workshop

Like the $75 paint job? How about a $50 paint job?

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