How to Paint a Car with Acrylic Enamel Paint

Acrylic enamel paint is the preferred choice of professionals and enthusiasts when painting or restoring a car finish. The unique characteristics of acrylic enamel paint negate the need for the application of a separate clear coat finish to produce luster and shine. In fact, compared to other automotive paints available in the market (such as acrylic lacquer), acrylic enamel is quick and easy to apply and only requires one or two complete coats to produce a beautiful finish.

Remember that automotive paints and finishes should be properly matched to produce the best results. A simple tip is to only apply enamel to lacquer-based finishes to prevent wrinkling and other surface blemishes. Avoid spraying lacquer paint over enamel.

Tools and Materials Needed:

  • Plastic covering or old newspaper
  • Masking tape
  • Paint gun
  • Paint brush
  • Acrylic enamel paint
  • Paint stripper
  • Sandpaper
  • Automotive primer
  • Sealer

Step 1 – Preparation

Park the car in a well ventilated and shaded area. It is best to work when the weather is warm to better facilitate the drying process. Make sure that the car is protected from excess moisture or rain during the painting process.

Step 2 – Clean the Car

Use water and a car wash sponge to clean the entire surface of the car prior to sanding and priming the surface.

Step 3 – Strip Old Paint

Use a paint brush to apply moderate amounts of paint stripper on all painted surfaces of the finish. Remember to wear safety gloves and old clothing prior to painting. Thoroughly remove and scrape the old paint. This will help produce a smoother, flawless finish.

Step 4 – Sand the Surface

Use fine sandpaper to smoothen the entire metal surface of the car. You may use a power buffer with a sanding attachment to better facilitate the sanding process. Sand the entire finish until smooth.

Step 5 – Cover Glass Surfaces and Exterior Trim

Use old newspaper or plastic to cover the glass surfaces, lights and other exterior trim of the car. Secure the newspaper or plastic cover with masking tape. You may opt to remove the headlights, tail lights and other accessories prior to applying primer and paint.

Step 6 – Apply Primer

Apply an even coat of primer to the entire car surface. Primer will help the paint adhere to the finish and will further protect the metal surfaces from rust and corrosion. Let the first coat dry before applying a second coat. Experts suggest the application of at least 2 to 4 coats of primer for a more even finish. Let the primer dry for 12 hours.

Step 7 – Apply Sealer

Spray paint sealer after the primer has dried. This procedure is optional, but highly recommended to further protect the metal surface from corrosion. Let the sealer dry for at least an hour.

Step 8– Apply a Coat of Acrylic Enamel Paint

Load the acrylic enamel paint into the paint gun. Hold the spray gun at least six inches from the vehicle surface and spray the paint using a side to side motion. Remember to maintain a parallel angle between the paint gun and the vehicle surface. Let the first coat initially dry before spraying a second coat of acrylic enamel paint. Let dry for at least 24 hours.

Remove the newspaper and plastic covering on the windows and lights after the paint has completely dried. You can enjoy the improved finish and appearance of your car.