How Much Paint Does it Take to Paint a Car?

by Lauren Wise

The amount of paint that you need to purchase and use to paint your vehicle varies greatly, depending upon many factors. If you know what you are doing or are a professional, it will take about half the amount then if you are doing this for the first time. Paint for cars comes in pre-measured amounts, usually in pints, half-gallons and gallons. Remember that it is always safer to buy more than you need if you have never painted a vehicle before, in case of fix-ups and extra coats.

Paints Not to Use

There are many paints not to use when deciding how to paint your vehicle. First of all, spray paint or other paints that come in similar cans will require massive amounts and will not provide you with a smooth, even appearance. It would take about 30-40 cans to apply one coat. When deciding upon colors, keep in mind that metallic colors do not spread as evenly or cover as well as non-metallic shades. Acrylic and enamel are popular choices, but plastic shades are not recommended. Talking to your mechanic about the make, model and year of you car can help decide what type of paint to purchase as well, as some cars work better than others with hardeners or urethane paints.

Preparing the Paint

Different types of cars work better with different types of paints

Before painting, start with a primer. Paint needs to be reduced and cut with a base coat before going on a vehicle. The rule is basically to cut two quarts of base coat per gallon of colored paint. It is essential to understand how to apply the paint to your vehicle depending upon the color, consistency and style of the paint. If you are covering up black paint with white paint, it will take more coats and more precision than say, covering up white paint with black paint. For a third layer when painting the vehicle, it is recommended to combine that layer of paint with a clear coat to provide a shiny appearance to the paint. The rule to this application is about 2 quarts of clear coat per gallon of colored paint.

Mid-Size Vehicles

A mid-size vehicle can take a professional about 3 quarts of paint to paint. If you are inexperienced, two or three coats of paint on a car would require you to use about a gallon. This will take an extra amount of paint that you should purchase ahead of time. If you are painting your vehicle the same color, a gallon to a gallon and a half should work. If you are painting the vehicle a different color, then it is best to go with a gallon and a half to 2 gallons. You will need more paint if you are painting door jambs, under the hood and trunk. Also, if you are putting the paint in a spray mechanism, such as an airbrush, it will create twice the amount of paint.

Large Vehicles

Painting a large truck or vehicle would take a professional about six to seven quarts of paint. If you are inexperienced, two or three coats of paint on a car would require about two gallons. If you are painting your vehicle the same color, 2 gallons should work. If you are painting the vehicle a different color, then it is best to go with a 2 to 2 1/2gallons. You will need more paint if you are painting door jambs, under the hood and trunk. Also, if you are putting the paint in a spray mechanism, such as an airbrush, it will create twice the amount of paint.

Considerations

Always watch for excessive build-up if you use more than two or three coats of paint, as this could lead to dullness, chipping or peeling if not cared for correctly. If you paint your vehicle and it does not have even coverage, the only way to fix this unfortunately is to pretty much repaint the entire vehicle. Remember that the more paint is reduced, the less thick it is going to be, therefore the less it will hide and shine.

About the Author

This article was written by the It Still Runs team, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more about It Still Runs, contact us.

Photo Credits

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