How Much Does It Cost to Get a Car Painted?

Desmond Rhodes
An auto professional painting a car with a sprayer while wearing a respirator mask.
Reading Time: 4 minutes

An auto paint job can cost from $300 to over $20,000. Depending on the quality of work you want done, the make and model of your car, and its condition, shops will charge varying prices to paint your car.

While a paint job can help the resale value, a poor job will actually devalue it. It’s important to understand how much care should go into painting your car. This can let you know if you need a professional, higher-quality paint job or if you can get by with doing it yourself.

Prices will vary widely from a whole restoration project to a quick cosmetic fix. In order to get the paint job you need for a fair price, you’ll want to know what you’ll be getting with a professional paint job, what you need in order to do it yourself, and some common tips and tricks when considering any kind of auto painting.

Getting Your Car Professionally Painted

When you go to the body shop for a paint job, they will likely prompt you with different levels of service. These paint jobs — and associated prices — will depend on the price you are willing to spend and how extensive the job will be. A capable auto body shop will offer these common levels of a paint job:

  • Basic: You will pay $300 to $900 for minimal coats of low-cost paint. Technicians won’t be concerned with painting areas that are seldom seen, like the inside of the hood or door jams.
  • Mid-level: You will pay around $1,000 to $3,500 for a standard paint job. This includes higher-quality paint, sanding down imperfections and scratches, removing rust and dents, and painting areas that are normally not visible.
  • Showroom: This specialty paint job can range from $2,500 to more than $20,000. Here, you will receive appropriate coats (up to 24) of the highest-quality paint, and they’ll sand down to the bare metal to take care of dents and rust. Showroom quality paint jobs vary in price according to the make and model of your car and its condition. Another reason these paint jobs are expensive is that you may choose custom or metallic paint — which is costly.

DIY Car Painting

Whether you’re a DIYer, want to save some money, or both, you have the option to paint your car yourself. Painting your car on your own will save you some money if it is an older model, or if it is just for a quick cosmetic fix. Often for less than a basic paint job, you can purchase the tools and materials necessary for an auto paint job. These tools include, but are not limited to:

  • Foam brushes;
  • Gloss, enamel, acrylic enamel, and/or polyurethane paint.
  • Power sander, sanding pads, and sandpaper;
  • Masking tape;
  • Primer;
  • Paint thinner;
  • A face mask and safety goggles;
  • A paint sprayer;
  • Cleaning solvent;
  • Rags;
  • Mineral spirits (for cleaning).

It will be important to paint in a well-ventilated area with room for working around your car. Paint fumes can be harmful with prolonged inhalation, and may be a fire hazard when coming into contact with furnaces and heaters. You’ll also want a place with electricity and minimal dust floating around that can get into the fresh paint you are applying to your car.

What to Consider Before Getting Your Car Painted

When considering a professional or DIY paint job, you should take several aspects into account. Many times this will save you money and time from having to paint all over again. When thinking about getting an auto paint job, you should think about the following things:

  • Quality over price: Low-cost paint jobs may be a quick fix, but may not cover all the aspects of the job your car really needs. Make sure you pay the right price for quality paint, several coats of paint, and making sure all dents and rust are taken care of. This will save you in the long run, as it’ll get the job right the first time.
  • Determine your needs: Some paint jobs don’t need to be thorough, especially for a quick cosmetic fix. Don’t pay to have your whole car painted when you are just trying to fix a scratch on one door.
  • Fix blemishes, rust, and dents before painting: Painting over these things will only make them worse over time. For instance, you wouldn’t paint a dirty wall, or paint over holes in the wall. You’ll need to fully sand down rust and scratches, and take care of dents before painting over them. Without doing so, dents will still show and rust may continue to rot away if not sanded off.
  • Remember that painting a car by yourself is a lot of work: While it may be cheaper, you’ll still need to remove dust, dents, and trim to get complete coats (even where the paint is not seen). You’ll also need to tape surfaces, prime, allow time for the primer to cure, apply several coats of paint (while allowing time between to dry), apply lacquer, and buff.
  • Don’t paint over existing paint: Good paint jobs will sand the existing paint down to the metal first, and start from there. This way, you’ll get a paint job that won’t show the existing paint underneath or cause imperfections in the new coats of paint.
  • Custom paint is expensive: If you are aiming to have metallic paints, multiple and exotic colors, and/or designs and patterns in your paint, you may be spending tens of thousands of dollars.

Financing Your Auto Paint Job

As stated above, the best paint jobs will be a little harder on your wallet. If you think the paint job that you want will be too expensive, there are ways you can get help to pay. Or, you may just want help with purchasing the tools for your DIY project.

To make sure you get a paint job you’ll be satisfied with, consider getting a personal loan from or bank or another lender. Personal loans are a great way to cover, or help cover, expenses such as a new paint job. Just make sure you are able to make your payments on time.

If you are getting your car professionally painted, the auto body shop where you are getting work done may also be willing to work with you on a payment plan.

The reasons for the varying prices for an auto paint job are plenty. With a little know-how, and understanding of exactly what you need, you can cut costs while making sure you are satisfied with the job.

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