How to Paint a Car with Acrylic Car Paint

Lead Image
  • 5-10 hours
  • Beginner
  • 100-500
What You'll Need
Safety glasses
Surgical gloves
Acrylic paint
Masking tape
Masking covers
Orbital sander
Paint brushes or spray gun
Wet and dry sandpaper
Filler (where needed)
Plastic putty knife (where needed)

If you want your vehicle to have a fresh new look you might need to know how to paint a car using various techniques. One of the choices of repainting a car is to use acrylic paint, which is known to give a very bright, shiny appearance to your vehicle. You will need to do this project inside, but make sure the area is extremely well ventilated. There should be no flammable items in the vicinity before you begin and it is also advised that you do this project when your fuel tank is in need of filling.

Step 1 - Prepare

First and foremost, make sure you wear coveralls and safety glasses. If you are working in a garage lay down dust sheets or newspapers to cover the floor and mask off the parts of the car that you are not painting. Mask the windows and the mirrors.

Step 2 - Sand

applying primer to a car

If you are using an orbital sander use a fine grade sandpaper with it so that you do not damage the metallic surface underneath. Buff the area to be painted and then wash the car with soapy water and let it dry.

Step 3 - Prime the Car

Depending on what color paint you have decided on you should also choose the right kind of primer. For example, if you are painting your car black or gray, you would be better to choose a gray primer; if you are painting the car red, a red primer might be a better option. Allow the primer coat to properly dry before applying any paint.

Step 4 - Wet/Dry

Dampen the wet and dry sandpaper and rub down gently on the dried coat of primer. Make sure that you have a smooth and clear surface on which to apply the paint. Cover the whole car with the wet and dry sandpaper until you have gone over the entire primer coating.

Step 5 - Paint

painting a car blue

Acrylic paint dries reasonably quickly, so keep your painting smooth and level. Try to not over-paint areas, otherwise you will end up with thicker sections dotted over the car’s surface.

Always hold the paint spray gun perpendicular and approximately six to eight inches away from the car. Keep your wrist level and spray in lines of around twelve to fourteen inches in length before you move to another area. Make the next line of paint below the previous line, so that you have continuity. If you are starting on a door, for instance, start at the top of the door and spray the width of the door, and then move down until you reach the bottom.

When you paint over seams, such as between doors or the fender and hood, keep the paint level to achieve ample coverage. Keep your eyes on the wet edges of where you have sprayed. These are usually thinner because the concentration of paint will be closer to the center of the painted area, so you might end up creating little paint lips at the edges. Stay with the continuity of the paint flow and carry over from the wet edges.

Step 6 - Dry

Leave the coat of acrylic paint to dry for no less than 24 hours. It needs time to totally set and dry, and then when you are ready you can apply a lacquer coating and then polish.