How To Paint A Car At Home Outside?

Spray painting is an inexpensive way to paint a car. Clean and sand the surface of the car to create a smooth base on which to apply the primer. Apply multiple primer coats and topcoats to achieve a quality finish. Even though spray paint is a convenient and effective option for painting a car, it is important to use it safely. Always spray paint in a well-ventilated area and wear a mask and goggles.

But to know how to paint a car at home outside you have to follow the below following steps.

What You Will Need For Painting

To properly spray paint your vehicle, you will need a few important materials:

  • A power sander
  • Sanding pads
  • An air compressor
  • A paint sprayer
  • 1200- and 2000-grit sandpaper
  • A cleaning solvent
  • Newspaper
  • Masking Tape
  • Primer
  • Enamel, acrylic enamel, or polyurethane paint
  • Paint thinner
  • A face mask
  • Safety glasses
  • Undercoat or primer
  • A clear coat lacquer
  • A rag
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Rubbing compound

How To Paint A Car At Home Outside?

A proper paint job cannot be rushed painting your vehicle requires plenty of time, so make sure that you have a few days set aside to do the job right.

1. Prepare The Car For Painting

Aside from cleaning the area, you will be using, you also need to clean your car. Make sure that you don’t need anything inside the car since you won’t be able to get inside for a significant amount of time. Clean the car by doing it yourself. The important thing is that no oil or grease is in on the car’s surface as it will mess up the paint job.

Make sure that no dust is hiding in cracks and corners so there won’t be paint issues later on. Wipe the surface after washing using acetone, thinner, or a painting preparation formula. Check for rust and treat any you find before proceeding with your paint job.

1. Choose Your Location Wisely

Before you begin any actual painting, you will need to find a suitable location. Make sure your location offers plenty of room for working around your car and is well ventilated and well lit. Choose a place with electricity and minimal dust. Avoid residential garages, since these often have furnaces or heaters, which pose a fire hazard when coming into contact with paint fumes.

2. Remove rust, dents, and trim

Make sure your paint job does not accentuate any imperfections. Fix any visible dents, repair any rust and remove chrome or plastic trim. Moldings and trim can be replaced after the painting are complete.

2. Sanding

Sand the paint either to the bare metal, the original primer, or at least sufficiently for the new paint to adhere. Dry sand using 180-grit sandpaper to remove rust or surface damage before moving on to a 320-grit paper to remove your previous 180-grit scratches. This is the first way how to paint a car at home outside.

1. Sand

Give your paint a smooth and even surface onto which it can adhere sand your entire vehicle using circular motions. Either all the way to the bare metal, to the original primer, or at least enough for your new coat of paint to adhere to.

If you are short on time, the 3rd option will suffice. However, you will get the best results from sanding down to the bare metal.

2. Clean

Using a rag and denatured alcohol or mineral spirits, wipe down all surfaces of your vehicle thoroughly, to remove any oil residue and ready it for painting.

3. Tape Surfaces

Use masking tape and newspaper to cover the surfaces of your vehicle that you don’t want to be painted, including mirrors, window trim, glass, grills, and door handles.

3. Priming

Without the primer, the surface remains relatively smooth and has no ‘stick’ factor, as in a porous place for the paint to adhere to. If you want to change a red car to white, you’re liable to end up with a sick shade of Mary Kay Pink without primer below it.

1. Prime

If you have sanded down your vehicle to the bare metal, you will want to use a corrosion-resistant and self-etching primer to prime the surface of your car.

2. Allow the primer to cure

If you removed any rust, make sure to prime these properly by feathering them until they are smooth and applying enough primer to the areas. Allow all primer to cure thoroughly, according to instructions on the container.

3. Sand once more

Sand the newly primed surfaces once more, but be sure not to sand too much and expose the metal surface again.

4. Wipe down

Wipe the primed surfaces with a rag slightly dampened with thinner.

4. Painting

When you are ready for painting, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions and prepare the paint for spraying.

1. Paint

Holding your spray gun approximately 6 inches away from your vehicle’s surface, and using a side-to-side sweeping motion, apply paint in thin and even coats. Typically, it will take three to four coats to completely cover the surface. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s drying time. This can vary from 20 minutes to an hour.

2. Sand and Wipe

Before you apply your last coat, sand the surfaces once more to remove powdery residue, then wipe with a clean rag.

3. Apply lacquer

Apply a clear coat lacquer, using the same painting technique.

4. Remove the masking tape

Remove masking tape while the clear coat is still wet, then allow the clear coat to dry according to your manufacturer.

5. Buff

Using circular motions, complete your paint job by buffing out all painted surfaces. What’s more, you can use a rubbing compound to bring out a glossy finish. This is the final step you have to follow to know how to paint a car at home outside.

How much does it cost to paint a car?

For older vehicles, the cost of paint may be excessive. In these cases, you may wish to try painting the vehicle with the proper mentioned steps above. The necessary materials are widely available from hardware and automotive stores for as little as 200$. Your only other costs are in time and effort.

One of the biggest concerns is finding a location to paint the vehicle. Much professional painting and body shops have climate-controlled booths, designed to limit the amount of dust and dirt that might come into contact with the paint and ruin the finish.

For these, your best option may be to paint the vehicle in a clean, well-ventilated garage.


Spray small areas of the car at a time. This helps to create even coats of paint and a higher quality finish. If you aren’t happy with the finish of your painting, let the paint dry completely and then re-sand the area before repainting. Keep your paint can nozzles clean by pulling them off occasionally and soaking them in lacquer thinner.
Using only your finger to push on the nozzle can cause fatigue and poor results. Inexpensive “triggers” or “spray grips” that attach to standard spray cans are available so you can use multiple fingers in a more natural position.

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