How many cans of spray paint to paint a car? (2022)

There are many things to consider when spray painting a car.

The first thing to do is make sure the surface you want to paint is clean and dry. Otherwise the paint will not adhere properly to the surface and will crack and peel off very quickly.

You also need to choose the right type of spray paint for the job. There are different types of spray paint, so you need to make sure you're getting the right type for your project.

Also, the necessary tools are very important to complete the work.

This post will discuss some information about spray painting a car such as: For example, how to paint a car yourself, how many cans of spray paint it takes to paint a car, how long spray paint lasts, and how much it costs to paint at home.

Read on for all the information!


  • Is painting a car a good idea?
  • How much paint for a car?
  • How much does it cost to spray paint the car?
  • How do you paint a car?
  • How long does it take to paint a car?
  • How long does spray paint last on a car?
  • last thought

Is painting a car a good idea?

Yes, spray paint is a convenient and effective way to paint a car that any DIY enthusiast can do.But not just any kind of spray paint. Using house paint would be disastrous for your vehicle. So you need spray paints for cars because they contain a binder to bind the color pigments together. In addition, a thinner is used, which evens out the consistency.

Pros and cons of spray paint


  • quick and easy to use
  • Available in a variety of colors
  • Dries much faster
  • Cheaper than conventional car paints
  • Easy to clean after painting

In contrast

  • May require more frequent reapplication
  • Not as durable as conventional car paint

How much paint for a car?

Spray paint is not just paint. Some companies have thin consistencies while others are thick. The lighter the color, the more cans you'll need. Therefore, it's important to determine the number of coats for a fresh look.

It typically takes about 20 cans to apply three coats of fresh paint. The bumper can hold up to four cans, plus you'll need more cans for primer and clear coat.

This amount of spray paint is not exact for all vehicles. It's important to know the make, model, paint color and year of your car before estimating how many spray cans to buy.

Also see:How many clear coats on the car?

How much does it cost to spray paint the car?

The important note is that you should not skimp on the amount of paint you need to get protective layers for your car. Because these layers help the paint adhere to the surface and be durable.

One more note, standard spray paint will not do a good job. Any results will be short term and you may start to deal with chipping which can lead to exposed metal and ultimately rust. Therefore, a high-quality automotive spray paint is recommended, which costs around $10-$20 per can.

In my experience, the best brands of spray paint are for carsFibereTwo colors🇧🇷 Both brands offer a wide range of colors to find the perfect color for your project, whether it's a small touch-up or a complete repaint. Second, these two brands offer high quality and durable products. Finally, both of these brands offer great customer service and support, so you can rest assured that you're getting the best possible value for your money.

Estimated costs:

  • Four cans of spray primer and 2-3 cans of clear coat. In total, you'll spend about $250 on spray paint.
  • A paint masker, film, masking tape, goggles, mask and cloth. These items cost around $300.
  • Auto sanding tools on bare metal on original primer when paint needs to adhere and prevent peeling. The vehicle may require dent repairs and other vehicle touch-ups. These include sandpaper, an air compressor, a random orbital sander, solvent, and putties. These items can cost $300 or more.

Overall, it costs about $900 (minimum) to paint a vehicle at home.

How do you paint a car?

Watch the video below to learn how to spray paint a car.

(Video) Painting your Car with Spray Paint!

1. Prepare all necessary tools and a suitable place for this DIY project

The location must be well ventilated with adequate space to move the vehicle. This space should also have minimal dust with access to electricity.

First, protective items are also important. They include:

Tools include:

2. Sand the car paint

How many cans of spray paint to paint a car? (1)

Be sure to wear safety goggles and a mask throughout the process. Sand the paint down to the original primer or bare metal. You need to sand it down to a surface that the paint can stick to. Use circular motions to achieve the perfect level of sanding. For best results, sand the paint down to bare metal.

Use 180 grit sandpaper to dry the sand and remove any surface damage or rust. Then use 320 grit sandpaper to remove the scratches from the 180 grit sandpaper. Follow this sanding with 400-600 grit to prepare the painted surface.

Buy sandpaper and circular motion below.

How many cans of spray paint to paint a car? (2)

BLACK+DECKER eccentric sander

How many cans of spray paint to paint a car? (3)

180 grit Dura-Gold sandpaper

3. Tooth repair

How many cans of spray paint to paint a car? (4)

Apply the putty to the small blemishes and dents that need repairing. You must use a filler along with a hardener. However, do not aerate or whisk the mixture. If you do this, it will bubble up. Now wait for the mixture to set and sand it smooth.

Shop body fillers below:

How many cans of spray paint to paint a car? (5)

Bondo Glazing e Spot putty


4. Clean all surfaces

How many cans of spray paint to paint a car? (6)

Now use denatured alcohol or turpentine and a cloth to clean all surfaces. This process removes oil residue and makes the car ready for painting.

5. Milestone surfaces

How many cans of spray paint to paint a car? (7)

Use the foil and masking tape to cover any areas that do not need painting. This includes window trim, door handles, mirrors, railings, etc.

Shop masking film and masking tape below:

How many cans of spray paint to paint a car? (8)

3M Hand-Masker Advanced Masking Film

How many cans of spray paint to paint a car? (9)

3M auto repair tape

6. Apply primer

Apply two or three coats of corrosion resistant primer. Allow 15 minutes to dry between each layer. Then allow the primer to cure according to the primer instructions. After the primer has set (it can take up to 24 hours) you will need to sand the primer with 1200 grit wet sandpaper until the surface is smooth.

Finally, clean the car with a microfiber soaked in paint thinner.

Shop the primer below:

How many cans of spray paint to paint a car? (10)

Fiber automotive primer Tinta-Spray

Check the price on Amazon

(Video) LEARN: How To Get the BEST Results From a Spray Can!

7. Apply paint

It's important to follow the manufacturer's directions for using the brand's spray paint.

Gently shake the can for at least three minutes to build up pressure in the can. Then hold the can six inches from the car. Use sweeping side-to-side motions to apply thin, even coats. It takes a few hours to evenly cover the car with two coats of paint.

Wait for the specified drying time. Now you need to sand all surfaces before applying the final coat.

Shop the best spray paint for cars below:

How many cans of spray paint to paint a car? (11)

Rust-Oleum Available 252462 Automotive spray paint

How many cans of spray paint to paint a car? (12)

Two tone enamel spray paint

8. Apply clear coat

Apply the varnish layer after the paint has completely dried. Then remove the masking tape while the paint is still wet. Then let the paint dry for the specified time.

Shop the see-through coat below:

How many cans of spray paint to paint a car? (13)

Exact Match BCL0125 Clear Two Tone Automotive Coating

Check the price on Amazon


How many cans of spray paint to paint a car? (14)

POR-15 Chassis Schwarzer Decklack Spray Paint

Also see:How many coats of clear coat in a car?

9. Polish the painted surface

Use circular motions to buff all painted surfaces. Then use afriction connectionto get a shiny finish.

How many cans of spray paint to paint a car? (15)

Buy a friction paste below:

How many cans of spray paint to paint a car? (16)

3D friction compound for a car

How long does it take to paint a car?

Preparing the car for painting takes more time. Sanding, highlighting removable parts, repairing dents and preparing the surface takes 3-4 days.

Painting takes the shortest amount of time. However, different layers require different drying times. For example, priming with an oil-based primer takes up to 12 hours. This depends on the temperature, type and humidity of the environment. On average you should wait 3-4 hours to apply the color coat if you are not using an oil based primer.

Colored coats of paint take 30 minutes or up to 24 hours to dry depending on the spray paint. You need to do some touch ups before applying the varnish.

A full paint job can take anywhere from a few days to two weeks.

How long does spray paint last on a car?

Car spray paint needs proper care and maintenance to last. Regular waxing of your car is therefore necessary to protect the paintwork from UV rays and the elements. With good care and maintenanceSpray paint can last up to 10-15 years.

last thought

If you're looking for a quick and easy way to change the color of your car, spraying is probably your best bet.

However, if you want a more professional look or plan to keep your car for the long term, you should consider other options.

So, will you paint your car yourself? Buy spray paints now to start your DIY projects.

You might be concerned:Is acetone safe on car paint?


How many 12oz cans does it take to paint a car? ›

Since a 12 ounce spray can has about 2 ounces of paint in it you will need a minimum of 36 cans. Figure that you'll need 1 can for each square foot (4 coats minimum). Even then you'll have light spots.

How much can you paint with 1 spray can? ›

One can of spray paint generally has enough paint to fully cover a 3.5 ft x 3.5 ft area (1 coat, blending etc). Depending upon the size of your project you may need several coats of basecoat paint to obtain full coverage and the best color match.

How much paint does it take to spray a whole car? ›

Medium to Full-Size Cars – Your typical muscle car, modern sedan, or full-size car usually will use most of a gallon of single-stage paint. Usually it is best to buy a gallon kit and have extra than to try to save a little and buy three quarts.

How many cans of Rustoleum does it take to paint a car? ›

2-4 quarts (depending on size of car) of gloss Rustoleum - color of your choice. 4 or more cans of Rustoleum auto primer spray paint. 1 quart of acetone. 1 can of Bondo (optional)

How much will 12 oz spray paint cover? ›

FAQs about Spray Paint Coverage

The coverage will vary based on the paint viscosity and application method, but typically the 4.5 oz covers about 7 square feet, the 11-12 oz net weight covers about 20 square feet, and the 16 oz covers about 30 square feet.

How much does 2 cans of paint cover? ›

One gallon can of paint will cover up to 400 square feet, which is enough to cover a small room like a bathroom. Two gallon cans of paint cover up to 800 square feet, which is enough to cover an average size room.

How much paint does it take to paint a car? ›

Professionals painting a big car like an SUV usually need around 7 quarts of paints. Amateur painters need more paint and can end up using up to two gallons. As with medium-sized cars, painting a large car with similar colors will require about 2 gallons. But if it is something different, you require 2½ gallons.

How many spray guns do you need to paint a car? ›

The first thing we learned is that MCR doesn't use just one paint gun to paint an entire car, instead, as many as three different guns can be used for the job. One for each step in the process of primer, base and then clear coats.

How long does it take to spray a whole car? ›

A complete vehicle paint job will take between 40 and 80 hours, depending on the size of your vehicle and the bodywork that is needed. Read about the different factors that go into how long it takes to paint a car with Eli's Collision Repair below.

What is the best spray paint in a can to paint a car? ›

If you are looking for the best automotive spray paint on a budget, we recommend Rust-Oleum Automotive Enamel. This paint is not only suitable for vehicles but also for other metal surfaces.

Can I paint my car with Rustoleum spray paint? ›

Whether it's automotive priming, painting or removing old paint, Rust-Oleum Automotive has your solution. Rust-proof your undercarriage, touch up your car paint, or even apply customized, temporary racing stripes. Make your vehicle look new with Rust-Oleum Automotive.

Is spray painting a car hard? ›

It's not a very difficult operation. Above all, it requires good preparation, a lot of care and a dust-free room. A low-pressure spray gun and excellent products are required. Its role is therefore both technical and decorative.

What is the easiest paint to use on a car? ›

What is the easiest paint to use on a car? If you're painting a car by yourself, the easiest type of paint that you can use is acrylic urethane. Acrylic urethane is great for do-it-yourself car painting because it's very easy to apply. It won't give you fits, even if it's your first time painting a car.

How long does spray paint last on cars? ›

The paint on your vehicle should last 10 – 15 years if it's properly cared for, but exposure to the elements, long-term exposure to sunlight, and acidic substances can damage your car paint or make it age quicker.

Can you paint a car with normal spray paint? ›

Using a paint intended for the house to paint a car will ruin your vehicle. Hence, proper spray paint for a car, such as automotive paint, is the best choice. Automotive spray paints contain color pigments, use thinner to level the consistency, and a binder to bind pigment and thinner together.

How do I calculate how much paint I need? ›

As a rule of thumb, one gallon of quality paint will usually cover 400 square feet. One quart will cover 100 square feet. Because you need to cover 328 square feet in this example, one gallon will be adequate to give one coat of paint to the walls.

How much paint do I need to spray? ›

In general, you will use up to three times more paint by spraying than by brushing–plus, you risk getting a thinner coat. One gallon of exterior acrylic-latex on a clean, painted or primed surface–a minimum of porosity–is estimated by manufacturers to cover about 400 square feet.

How much does a 5 gallon bucket of paint cover with sprayer? ›

According to our paint estimator, 5 gallons of paint can cover as much as 1,800 square feet. A quart of paint will coat about 90 square feet of space.

How many spray cans do you need for a hood? ›

5 to 7 spray cans should be enough to paint a car hood.

How much paint do I need to paint a small car? ›

Amount needed: 2 quarts (half a gallon). Usually, for paint coverage for a smaller vehicle such as a mini, it takes approximately 2 quarts of product.

How much does it take to color a car? ›

Cost of painting your car

In general, expect to pay between $300 and $10,000 for a professional paint job. The upper end of that price range is where we find metal flake, multi-colored, and custom paint jobs, so there's no need to spend that much unless you're prepping your car for a show.

Where do you start when painting a car? ›

Start by sanding your entire car using circular motions, either down to the bare metal, to the car's original primer, or at least enough so your new paint coat can adhere to the surface. For the best results, sanding down to bare metal will give your the best results.

How do you get the smoothest spray paint finish? ›

The key is to start spraying away from the object and glide it across the object in one smooth motion. Always spray past the edge of the object to ensure you don't have paint building up too thick in one area.

How do you smooth spray paint on a car? ›

How do you fix uneven spray paint on a car?
  1. Sand the area smooth using medium or fine-grit sandpaper.
  2. Wash the area using soap and water or a degreaser.
  3. Apply a few coats of primer, if necessary.
  4. Repaint the area.
  5. Protect the new paint using a clear coat.

How many Oz do you need to paint a car? ›

If you are a professional painter, a car of middling size will use 96 ounces of paint. However, if this is your first time, you might end up using up to one gallon of paint. For amateur painters, therefore, we recommend that they buy more paint than estimated before embarking on the painting project.

How many 12 oz cans does it take to paint a bumper? ›

How many cans of paint do I need to paint my bumper? Whether it is a front or rear bumper, you will need approximately 3, maybe 4, 12 oz. cans of paint to get the job done. If you are going to use a spray gun, you will need approximately 14 ounces of paint.

How many cars can you paint with 1 gallon? ›

When painting an averaged sized car, a one gallon kit (of enamel paint) is usually just enough for a medium sized sedan car or light truck. Most times you'll have a little extra.

How do you paint a car perfectly? ›

Steps to Painting a Car
  1. Get the proper supplies and prepare your workspace.
  2. Be aware of rust spots and take proper steps to fix.
  3. Determine the type of paint you are going to use.
  4. Sand your vehicle.
  5. Wipe vehicle down with thinners to remove dust and particles.
  6. Practice your paint spraying technique.
  7. Prime the vehicle.

What is the best pressure to paint a car? ›

What is the best air pressure for spray painting? Again, it's essential you check your specific model's recommendations, but your HVLP spray gun PSI will likely sit between 25-30 PSI for something like using an air compressor for spraying cars, rising to 40 PSI in some cases where higher atomisation is needed.

How is spray paint coverage calculated? ›

Although coverage may vary from sprayer to sprayer, the typical coverage is around 2 meters squared per 400ml aerosol spray paint. As you will require a minimum of 2x applied coats, typical coverage is 1 meter squared per aerosol canister.

How many cans does it take to paint a bumper? ›

Using 12oz. cans will probably take at least 4 maybe 5 cans. Work fast when you apply the gloss coat and try to keep a wet edge as you go. Wait a week or two and polish it with an electric polisher.

Do I need primer for plastic bumper? ›

If you're repairing plastic, you'll need a primer that removes any minor sand scratches and conceals any body work (i.e. halos, bulls-eyes, and ring-outs). To accomplish that, look for a primer that's high-filling and sandable.

How much does it cost to spray paint the bumper of a car? ›

According to AAA, auto repair labor rates range between $47 and $215 per hour. In most scenarios, the bumper painting process will only take a few hours, which puts labor costs in the $94 to $430 range. Supplies will be in the range of a few hundred dollars, depending on material or color.

Do you have to paint entire bumper? ›

If you were in a fender bender or hit a pole in a parking lot, you may need to replace the bumper entirely. Bumpers come primed from the factory, so it will have to be painted to match your car.

How many coats of clear coat does a car need? ›

When it comes to applying the final clear coat, after having finished with the paint job, three to four clear coats are generally recommended. Whether the dings were caused by daily wear-and-tear or by a minor fender bender, it's a good idea to have car insurance to cover your bases in case of more serious damage.

How many coats of primer is needed on a car? ›

Typically, you should apply two or more coats of primer to ensure the bare metal is completely covered. If you're painting plastic, you'll need a specific plastic primer. Either way, make sure you've covered up the areas you're not painting, and tape down any edges with masking tape.

How many gallons is a full size car? ›

Smaller cars generally have gas tanks that hold 12 gallons, while larger cars can hold 15 or 16 gallons.


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