Auto painting poses an interesting dilemma for the do-it-yourselfer. Its a job with enough pitfalls that only a truly confident individual would attempt it; however, the cost of having a professional do it, based solely on a typical auto painting estimate, might drive a consumer to try to do the job as a one-man show.
A good auto paint job requires extensive preparation, special skills and some rather high-priced materials. The quality of work is the first concern: is the do-it-yourselfer skilled enough to complete the job and have it look good, which is the whole point of painting a car? Before that decision, however, its useful to see what a typical professional paint job will run.
The auto painting estimate for a professional paint job can cost as little as $1000 (and the poor quality will probably show at that price; you get what you pay for has never been more true than here). More typically, the job will cost between $3000 and $5000, depending on the size of the vehicle, the quality (and time involved) of the labor and the type of materials used. A high-end job can run $75,000 and more, so its a bigger buying decision than many car owners realize.
If the consumer wants to cut his auto painting bill in half, he/she can consider painting the car as a do-it-yourself project. A DIY auto painting job will run anywhere from $700 to $1500, depending on materials; the nice thing is that, aside from the time spent on the project, one saves hugely on the labor costs.
Its important to remember that a DIY auto painting project is an artistic venture, not a mechanical repair, and requires extensive preparation. First, the car must be sanded down to remove the original paints and any residue or rust that is lodged on the cars surfacethats usually the reason one wants a new paint job in the first place. The body can then be treated with a liquid rust inhibitor; POR-15 and OSPHO are two good brand names. A spray gun is essential for both this and the painting; its a pretty useful investment, since good ones can be had for $100; Amazon.com has entire sets at that price.
Next, the windows and chrome need to be carefully covered: masking tape and heavy paper is usually the best medium for this, although thick cloth is a possibility if its not going to leak through; covers can also be purchased for around $50 per window. One should never use newspapers as they will bleed the colors through and cause an extensive clean up period.
Finally, three layers are applied: first is the primer, which is colorless and designed to add longevity to the paint job and give a settled foundation for the colored paint to follow. Good primers can run $100-200 for an entire automobiles coverage.
The auto paint comes next, and this is typically in two applications: the first is the actual paint job that gives color to the car, and the next is the clear-coat finish that goes on top. Here, as in so many other automobile ventures, you get what you pay for, and more expensive paints usually last much longer and retain original pigments better than cheaper ones. Good paints can run between $1000 and $1500 for a cars coating (red is always the more expensive color); clear-coat will add $500 to $750 to this. The painting environment should be enclosed and dust free (most painting garages having painting shells for this purpose), and whoever is the painter should wear protective face masks and gloves at all times.
One should consult with an auto painting professional before beginning this length DIY job, and, of course, consider if the time, labor and possible damage (due to improper equipment use) to ones vehicle is worth the cost of foregoing a professional paint job.