how much does it cost to paint a car?

a paint job can make your car look brand new. but how much does it cost to paint a car? there are several factors involved. read on to find out

how much does it cost to paint a car

if your car isn’t looking as new as it once did, it might be time for a new paint job. getting a professional paint job can increase the value of your vehicle and make it look brand-new again. however, you need to think about the price you will pay. how much does it cost to paint a car? there are several factors involved.

you can easily spend anywhere from $300 to $10,000 or more on automotive paint work done professionally. this cost varies based on the amount of space that needs painted and what type of paint is being used. diy paint jobs cost far less but might not yield the same results. 

in this article, we help you decide if professional painting is the way to go or if you should do it yourself. we also look at the factors involving the cost and give you a breakdown of what you could spend. 

professional paint job vs diy

it’s important to think about your goals when deciding between diy or professional automotive painting. are you looking for a small fix before you sell the car or do you need to restore a classic? while the diy paint can help you cover up a few dings for a better resale value, it’s not going to improve the overall quality of the car’s body.

painting your own vehicle also requires a lot of patience, the right tools and a little skill. in the end, you might not end up with the results you were hoping for, leading you to need a professional paint job anyway. 

in many cases, it makes more sense to have a professional paint job performed, especially if you want the vehicle to be restored to its original condition. while it might cost more, the paint is going to last longer and typically match better. 

cost to paint a car professionally

1. basic paint job

as the least expensive paint job, you will spend less on the basic service. with this painting service, you can expect the body shop to use a minimal amount of coats.

plus, synthetic enamel-based paint will likely be used. the only areas being painted are the ones that are visible, so you can expect that inside the hood and other unseen areas will go untouched. in total, expect to spend between $300 and $1,000. 

2. standard paint job

the standard paint job is going to go beyond basic and perform some repairs. before painting begins, the auto body shop will sand down the surface and remove any rust.

these steps help to ensure that the finish is perfect and lasts longer. expect to pay anywhere from $750 to $4,000 on this level of painting. 

3. high-quality (showroom) paint job

if you are creating a show car or restoring a classic, you want a high-quality paint job. with these services, the paint will be taken down to the bare metal. additionally, all of the dents and rust will be repaired.

some body shops apply more than 20 coats of paint during these services, so expect to be without your vehicle for some time. additionally, the cost can far exceed $10,000, depending on what type of vehicle is being painted. 

related: how to get paint off a car (5 ways)

cost to paint a car at home

paint car spray can

if your car isn’t worth a lot of money, but it needs some auto body care, you might prefer doing it at home. you can gather the majority of the supplies for $300 or less, especially if you already have a paint sprayer on hand. however, this diy painting task will require a good amount of time. 

some of the materials you may already have on hand. gather these supplies to get started:

  • foam brushes
  • gloss paint
  • paint trays
  • primer
  • automotive masking tape
  • mineral spirits
  • sandpaper
  • automotive paint sprayer

the biggest challenge will be finding the spot to paint your car. it’s unlikely you have a booth that’s climate-controlled as the body shop does. you can paint in your garage as long as there is adequate ventilation and there is a minimal amount of dirt or dust that will affect the paint. 

car paint cost factors

1. quality

as discussed above, the cost is going to be dramatically affected based on the level of quality you are looking for. if you simply want a fresh coat of paint, you could spend a minimal amount.

however, if you need a paint job that provides a showroom quality appeal, the cost is going to be much higher. expect to spend several thousands of dollars on a high-quality paint job. 

2. size of vehicle

if you drive your compact car into the auto body shop, your cost is going to be far less than a large suv. while the same paint job is being applied, there is more surface area to cover.

the body shop figures out how much area will be painted and charges you accordingly. not only will more supplies and paint be needed, but the technicians will need to spend more time on the vehicle. 

3. color

any standard color, such as white, gray or black, is going to be cheaper than a custom color. additionally, if the color is easily accessible because it’s used on popular models, it will be cheaper.

you can expect to spend more if you need to get a custom color from a premium automaker. even worse, if the color needs to be created, you will need to visit a top-notch body shop, thereby adding more to the price. 

4. repair

if there are no repairs needed, the paint job is straightforward and costs less. however, if you have deep scratches or imperfections to the paint, you will be spending more. 

there are some auto body shops that won’t paint the vehicle unless it is repaired first. this is a good business practice since paint doesn’t adhere as well without a smooth surface. 

5. finish

what happens after the paint is applied also affects the price. if the auto body shop finishes the job with a wash and wax, you aren’t going to spend much more.

on the other hand, if you opt for a ceramic coat or another type of specialized finish, the price will jump dramatically. these extra coats can be expensive, but the value is worth the cost, especially if you want the paint to last.