Tips on Car Spray Painting

If your car or truck needs a paint job but you don't want to spend the money on a professional paint job, paint it yourself. It may seem like a difficult task, but with a little patience and attention to detail, you can achieve a look that's as good as the professionals can achieve.

Sanding and Filler

The hardest part about painting is always preparation. The painting itself is a fairly simple task, but it is made difficult when the car is not prepared properly. Before using your paint can, sand or grind out all rust spots. Use a filler such as Bondo for areas with heavy rusting. Sand the surface down to a smooth finish.

Using Tape

Use blue painter's tape or masking tape to mark off areas that you don't want to paint. You may have to remove some pieces of the car in order to paint evenly. Take your time with taping because proper taping makes painting infinitely more simple.

Use Primer First

You will spend a lot of unnecessary time and money on paint if you don't prime your car first with a good-quality metal primer such as Rust-Oleum's Rusty Metal Primer. All surfaces that are to be painted should be covered with primer. Use slow, even strokes of your arm when applying primer to ensure that all areas are covered the first time.


When you're finally ready to paint, you should have gained some painting practice through the priming process. Paint with a good-quality enamel such as Rust-Oleum to protect your car and increase the durability of your paint job. For best-quality results, attach a spray can and air compressor. If you don't have access to this equipment, purchase a snap-and-spray aerosol can holder from any dollar store for a nominal amount. These spray can holders generate an even flow and save your finger the pain of holding the spray nozzle for a long period of time.

Preventing Runs

Spray the car from 8 to 15 inches away to prevent paint runs. Be patient, and use even strokes so that the car is painted evenly. Most runs are caused by a painter who paints too quickly or from too close of a distance. A second or third coat may be necessary, depending on your desired results. Apply the paint in an area that is free from dirt and dust because these particles can get into the paint before it dries.

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About the Author

A former cake decorator and competitive horticulturist, Amelia Allonsy is most at home in the kitchen or with her hands in the dirt. She received her Bachelor's degree from West Virginia University. Her work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle and on other websites.

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