Home » Auto Painting » How Much Paint Does It Take To Paint A Car? – Complete Guide

How Much Paint Does It Take To Paint A Car? – Complete Guide

Car scratches create an unpleasant appearance that will capture the attention of people as you ride. Your car could have great performance and lovely design, but if it has paint imperfections, people will always question what caused the paint imperfection instead of commenting about the design. Sometimes car scratches and dings can create an impression that you are not a careful driver, which is not good for your personality. Keeping your car in perfect paint condition will not only keep your vehicle attractive but will also increase its value. We recommend that you get the scratches and paint imperfections fixed as soon as possible as they may cause other underlying problems like rust.

If you are only dealing with a few scratches or a small section of paint imperfection, you can save money by fixing the problem yourself. For big projects, we recommend that you take the vehicle to a professional bodywork shop for repairs unless you an experienced painter. If you choose to paint your car at home, you will need the right tools and adequate supplies to complete the job. You will need to know how much paint does it take to paint a car and the procedure to follow for a perfect job. Read on to find how much paint you need to paint your car and other car painting tips.

How Much Paint Does It Take To Paint A Car?

You do not want to start a painting job and midway through the work realize that you do not have adequate paint to finish the job. We advise that you have all the things you need to paint your car before you commence the work as you might have to repeat the painting job if something goes wrong midway through the project. How much paint does it take to paint a car depends on several factors that you must know before you can order the painting supplies; the size of the car and the painter’s experience.

A saloon and a van will need different amounts of paint. An experienced painter will also likely use paint more effectively than an inexperienced individual, which means less paint is needed to complete the job. That said, you will need about two quarts or half a gallon to paint a small car and about three quarts or 0.75 gallons for the medium-sized vehicle to repaint. Nevertheless, the amount of paint can be more if you are looking to change the color of your car or you are inexperienced in painting.

What Determines The Paint You Need To Paint A Car?

You should never start a painting project unless you can answer how much paint does it to paint my car. It is not effective to leave half a complete job to visit a shop for supplies as it can negatively affect the quality of your work. You also do not have to buy a lot of paint than necessary as it will increase the cost of painting your car. We recommend that find the exact amount of paint you need for your car, which can range from half a gallon to three gallons as per your vehicle needs. The factors that influence the amount of paint you will need for your car include:

  • Vehicle size

A car with a larger surface area will require more paint than a compact car. You will need about half a gallon for a smaller-sized car and about 0.75 gallons for a medium-sized vehicle. You will need to purchase about 1.75 gallons of paint for the larger cars before starting the project. It is also worth noting that the vans and trucks will need more paint of between two and three gallons to finish the job.

  • Experience and painting mechanism

An experienced person will use the paint more efficiently with minimal wastage, which means less paint is needed for the job. On the other hand, you will need to increase the paint needed for your car by half, which means you will need about 0.75 gallons for a smaller car, one gallon for a medium car, and 1.5 gallons for a larger vehicle. The painting tools you will be using can also affect the amount of paint you will need for your car. You will need to multiply by two the amount of paint you need for your vehicle if you will be using a spray mechanism to paint.

  • Desired results

You will need to use more paint to get a showroom quality. The paint you will need will vary depending on the coats you need to apply. We recommend that you use two to three layers for quality results. A one-layer paint job will need less paint than a two or three-layer job.

Which Type Of Paint Should I Use To Paint A Car?

We advise that you invest in the best quality paint you can afford for long-lasting results. Painting a car can take about six to twelve hours, depending on the size of the car and paint layers that you need to apply. The different types of paints that you will need to repaint your vehicle include:

  • Primer

Primer is the undercoat and usually comes in shades of black and grey. The role of primer is to prepare the car surface for painting. It helps the paint to stick and bond consistently. The undercoat is the binding layer that prevents the paint from chipping. Some primers can keep the moisture away from the bare metal surface and protect your vehicle from oxidation and rust. Once you apply the primer, you will need to sand it down to smooth the top layers’ application.

  • Basecoat

The base coat is the colored paint and you should apply it on top of the primer. It is the layer that gives your car the desired look. You should look for the best quality paint and color for the best appearance. However, you must note that the color of your choice can affect the cost of painting your car. The basic colors; grey, white, and black are the cheapest while the specialty colors will cost more. You may have to apply two to three layers of paint for showroom quality. The color paint does not have any protective elements. You should not leave it exposed to elements as it can allow moisture in and lead to oxidation and rust.

  • Clearcoat

The clear coat is a colorless finish that protects the paint and gives your car a perfect finish. It protects the base coat against UV rays and weather elements that may cause oxidation and rust. It also gives the base coat a shiny finish that makes your car look new.

  • Acrylic lacquer

Acrylic lacquer is no longer common with modern cars as the clear coat offers the same benefit. It is a preserve of classic cars that are not used daily. That said, you may use it if you are looking for a showroom glaring shine. However, the acrylic lacquer does not offer as much protection as the clear coat and you may need to mix it with a thinner to make its application easier.

  • Specialty

Specialty paints are expensive to buy and apply, which makes them less common than the clear coat. Also, specialty paint like metallic finish paint is common in performance-oriented cars and high-end cars. You will have to spend thousands of dollars to get a specialty paint finish with the chameleon paints being some of the most expensive paints. The chameleon paint gives an illusion of changing colors, which makes your vehicle’s color change from purple to gray, depending on the viewing angle.

How To Paint Your Car? – Complete Guide

  • Preparation

The first step is preparing your workstation and getting all the supplies and tools you will need to complete the job. Determine how much paint does it take to paint a car and source it from a reliable supplier. Getting your supplies from an established dealership ensures that you have the best quality you can afford. Clean the workstation and remove the obstacles to ensure that you have adequate space to work. Clean the vehicle to get rid of dust and impurities. Moreover, remove interior accessories and mask off the areas that you do not want to paint.

  • Stripping

You will need the right tools and products to strip your vehicle properly for a perfect paint finish. You can use a sander to remove the clear coat, topcoat, and base coat. We recommend that you sand in circular motions for the best results. Sand to the bare metal and clean the surface to remove any residue.

  • Priming

Mix the primer with thinners in the correct ratio for painting. You can use a spray gun to apply the primmer and ensure consistency in your application to avoid thicker spots. We advise you to apply two to three coats from the roof down and wait about 20 minutes to an hour for the primer to cure. Once the primer dries, you can use 2000-grit wet and dry sandpaper to smooth the surface.

  • Painting

Mix your preferred paint with thinners and apply to your car. We recommend that you apply three or four coats and wait for the paint to dry. You should then top the paint with a clear coat to protect the paint and give your car a shiny finish.


Before you take your car for repainting, you must establish the required tools and supplies to give your car a new fresh look. How much paint it takes to paint a car will depend on the size of your car, desired results, and experience. Nevertheless, you can use our guide to have an idea of the paint you will need for your car.

About The Author