Instructables
Picture of The Poor Mans Paint Job
Sorry! My website that all of the links in this write up point to is down. I will have a new and improved one up soon!

I have developed a new method of applying rustoleum as an automotive paint that is, in my opinion, vastly superior to applying it by roller. A method I have come to term The Poor Mans Paint Job. This method of paint at home application relies very much so on the methods seen in other online auto paint how-to's, but uses a different paint application technique in order to lessen the amount of sanding involved. This method uses a high density foam brush as opposed to those other methods, resulting in a lot less sanding to finish the job.

I have seen plenty of people paint their car at home with a foam roller brush, with good results. BUT, it takes a lot of sanding work to get it right. I have also seen people use a sprayer with Rustoleum providing excellent results as well, but then you get into dealing with the overspray, needing a sprayer and somewhere to do it.
If the Poor Mans Paint Job is performed correctly, it will help to lessen the amount of sanding involved with an at home auto paint job like this. Oh, there will be some sanding involved, but we will try to keep it to a minimum. Of course, if you are not happy with the finish without a final sand and polish, just prepare for that scenario ahead of time. Make sure to lay down enough coats throughout the procedure to be able to sand at the end if you like. However, I am a lazy SOB and would like to not have to sand too much.
You too? Here's how!

DISCLAIMER: I am in no way responsible for the results of this project when tried at home by you. This is what I did, and this is how it came out. Am I happy, yes! However, I can in no way provide any assurance that your attempt at this will turn out as well or be as satisfying. Please also see step 5, "downsides and drawbacks" before making your decision to try this at home.

Obviously, it worked well enough for me. I cannot guarantee that it will work this well for you. Please, try this at your own risk. BUT, feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Supplies

First, you will need to purchase all of the materials needed to complete this job. Below is a list of everything I needed to get my car painted. You might need more, you might need less depending on the scope of your project. One of the best things about this is that it is very inexpensive. As you can see I spent very little on the project.

Item Quantity Total Cost

Rustoleum high gloss white paint - 3 Quarts = $23.61
Odorless mineral spirits - 3 Quarts = $17.97
Primer spray paint - 1 Can = $4.99
4" High density foam brushes - 7 ea. = $5.67
2" High density foam brushes - 7 ea. = $3.95
Paint trays - 3 ea. = $3.21
Sandpaper - 2 packs = $9.50
Painter's tape - 1 Roll = $5.84
Total: $74.74

I would say that two or three quarts of paint is all that you will need. Two will do a small car, three your average size car. If you are going to tackle an SUV or large truck, you might need four or even more to finish the job. I laid down six coats on the car and seven on my body kit, bumpers and hood with three quarts. Make sure to use high density foam brushes as they will hold the paint very well and help to eliminate residual brush strokes. As with any project, be sure to purchase everything you will need and have it handy once you begin.

Step 2: Prep Work

Once all of your materials are in line you can begin the paint prep process. First and foremost, you need a large, clean area to do the paint work in. Living in a townhouse community I was a little shy on space, but I was able to make it work. I did the majority of the prep work in my driveway, and did all of the painting I could in the garage. I laid a few coats down in the driveway, but there you are exposed to all sorts of dust, leaves, dirt, etc.

First, wash the car and all pieces to be painted real well to remove any loose dirt. (Pic 1)

Next, remove anything from the car that you can, this will help avoid the possibility of getting paint on things you don't want it on. This is to include headlights, tail lights, trim pieces and more depending on the car. (Pic 2) I took off my bumpers and side mirrors as well. The bumpers because they have a few "style indents" in them that I wanted to be able to paint in a horizontal manner as opposed to vertically while mounted to the car. The side mirrors I painted as well so having them off of the car made that a lot easier. I also removed my body kit pieces as not to drip on them while I painted the car itself. I guess what you need to remove will be personal preference depending on your painting style and needs. Once everything is removed, you can really get to work.

Everything that is going to be painted needs to be wet sanded with 600 grit sand paper. This will help to further remove any impurities from the paint's surface giving you a clean slate to work with. Move down to 400 grit if you have a problem area. Make sure to use a sand paper designed for wet use. Once the sanding is complete you will need to look for any spots where the paint has chipped off or the sanding has exposed some of your base metal. If you find any, spray them with a quick coat of the spray primer. This will help make sure you have a nice even looking finished product. It will also help to ensure the finished paint resists cracking and peeling from the damage to the old paint. Of course, if you have any body work you need done, now would be the time to do it. (Pic 3)

Any trim pieces that do not easily remove you can tape up with the painter's tape. Make sure to double check your tape job before you begin. You do not want to be in the middle of painting and realize you did not tape something up! (Pic 4)

Step 3: Paint!

Now that everything has been properly prepped we can get to work on the paint itself. First, you will need to mix your paint. The mix should be 50% paint and 50% mineral spirits. This will produce a product with the consistency of milk. You want it nice and runny, but with a little body still. Too thin and you will have drips all over your car which will only add to the sanding work we are trying to avoid. Too thick and it will take longer to dry then we want. I found the best way to do this was to pour half of the paint can into another container. Then, add the mineral spirits to the remaining paint in the can. Mix it well and you are good to go!

Now, you need to determine how you are going to go about painting the car. It is wise to paint each coat in the same manner to make sure you do not lose track of where you have laid paint already. Plus this makes things go a little smoother all in all. Here is a quick breakdown of how I went about painting my car: Started with the top of the car, passenger side then moved to the driver's side - passenger side of the hood - then the driver's side of the hood - back to the passenger fender - passenger side of the car until I got to the door - up the small strip of door across the top of the door and back down the the rear fender's top - back to the front of the side of the car all the way back to the rear of the passenger side - trunk lid and spoiler - driver's side rear fender till the door - up the door trim again to the front of the car - back to the rear of the driver's side and forward to the fender - driver's fender and done! Essentially it was a clockwise circle around the car starting at the passenger side of the hood. Except once I was done with one side of the hood or the roof, I jumped to the other side to finish. Keep in mind that this is what worked out best for me and my car. There are deep body lines between the roof and the rest of the car making it easy for me to paint it as a "separate piece".

As I begin to explain the painting technique, you will see why it is important to keep applying paint to the car in some sort of order. Letting one area dry with an edge left undone and then coming back to it will only create paint lines in your final product. Your only break points should be at the edge of the car's body. Like between the fender and door, or the door and the roof.

Now we are ready to apply paint. Pour some of your well mixed paint into a paint tray and let's get started. For large areas of the car I used a 4" brush to apply the paint. For large, even flat spots such as the hood or the trunk you will want to get a lot of paint on the brush. I usually dipped the brush into the paint until the angled tip of the brush was completely submerged. Now simply start to paint it onto the car. The key here is in the technique. Proper use of the brush is what helps to eliminate any brush strokes or orange peel. First, lay on some paint, pretty thick, to an area. Always make sure to paint one decent sized area at a time. Spread the paint out a bit to cover the area you are working on. Now, that you have a good base to work with, simply run the brush over the area you have well spread paint. Just use the weight of the brush itself and slowly glide over the paint making sure to always stroke in the same direction. This final smooth roll over the paint is what helps to eliminate any weird drying patterns. Moving on to the next section make sure to spread a little bit of new paint over the edge of the area you just painted to ensure smooth even coverage. As you move through the project, make sure to take a look back frequently to areas you have just painted to look for any drips or sagging areas. If spotted, simply give them a quick brush over. Lay down three coats of paint this way allowing at least 6 hours of dry time between coats. (Pics 1 & 2)

Here is a link to a video of me laying down some paint to help illustrate the technique. It is not the best video, but it should help you grasp the process better.[http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v326/StylussKid/Paint%20Project/?action=view�t=MOV06158-1.flv Paint Application Technique]

Once you have 3 layers of paint down bust out the hose and the sandpaper. Give everything a good wet sand session again at 600 grit. Keep in mind that you are not trying to create a completely smooth surface again, but to take out any major bumps and to rough up the paint some. If you see areas with a bit of dripping, sagging or any other mess, just sand them down accordingly. This is your chance to correct any imperfections in your paint job as well. If you are happy with the way the 3rd coat looks as it stands and there are no drips or imperfections... feel free to skip the sanding.

Now that your base has been put on and you have given it a decent sand we can start on the final few coats. I say few because the amount of coats will vary on a few factors. Did you need excessive sanding due to a problem area? Are you changing colors? Are you happy with the look after 2 coats? Well, that would be a good place to start... at two coats. Then move to three if need be. Four if you really must. If you pass four coats after your first session of sanding, you will want to give another quick sanding session to the paint before moving on. This time move up a bit in paper grit though. 800 or 1000 will do. (Pics 3 & 4)

At this point you should be done! The paint will have its own gloss to it as it is natural to the Rustoleum paint. Feel free to wax the paint to help bring out some extra shine. I would wait one full day before washing or waxing the paint though to be safe. The Rustoleum can says it dries in 24 hours, but since we have diluted it so much it will dry a lot quicker. I had about 12 hours between coats. But if you are doing this in warm weather, you should easily be able to get 2 coats on the car in one day with an early start. Once you have laid on all of the coats you want to and are happy with the final result, let the paint dry for at least 12 hours. I finished the final coat at about 6:00pm and began putting the car back together the next morning at 10:00am.
If you are not happy with the look, continue to sand the paint progressively increasing the paper grit. Start at about 800 or 1000 and move to 1500, then even 2000 or 2500. Once the paint is totally sanded smooth, polish the car with a power spin buffer and the gleam will come back but be smooth as butter. You can refer to the 50 Dollar Paint Job for more in depth information about the sanded finish technique. I am happy with how it looks wihtout the sanding, so I stopped here.

Step 4: Final Result

Picture of Final Result
C:\Users\Styluss Kids\Pictures\Beretta\Paint Project\DSC06130.JPG
C:\Users\Styluss Kids\Pictures\Beretta\Paint Project\DSC06209.JPG
C:\Users\Styluss Kids\Pictures\Beretta\Paint Project\DSC06192.JPG
F:\DCIM\101MSDCF\DSC06254.JPG
F:\DCIM\101MSDCF\DSC06264.JPG
My final result is absolutely amazing. Yes, you can see some brush strokes if you look hard enough. Yes, there are some spots that are not perfect... but for $74.74?? I would say that this is a damn good paint job. I feel very proud of what I have accomplished here as well which is one of the more rewarding aspects of the entire project. Not too mention a very sharp looking freshly painted car. Plus, knowing what I know now having painted the car from scratch I can easily re-paint any panel or part should it be severely chipped or damaged. After it was all said and done I had about 10 days worth of work or a total of 40 hours into this job. I guess I can let the final pictures speak for themselves.

Step 5: Downsides and Drawbacks

No, this is not the end all method to painting your car. This process was not intended to produce show quality results, nor is it intended to be as good as a professional paint job. It is however an excellent method to bring some life back to your car at a very reasonable price. I could see this making a great Father / Son project on the boy's first car. It was good enough for me and my 19 year old car and it just might be good enough for you, BUT...

I have been told that the paint will chalk, chip and fade all within a year. I have also been told that if you want to seek a professional paint job after having performed this paint job on your car, you will need to have all of the Rustoleum stripped off completely before the new paint can be applied.

My rebuttle...? So what.

Even if the paint does chip, fade or crack within a year, I'll just throw another coat on and perhaps improve the prep work to help avoid it happenign again. Now that I have painted the entire car, I think I could paint one damaged area rather quickly... even the whole car again if needed. Plus Rick, the gentleman who did the $50 paint job write up, posted pictures of his car at 4 months, 8 months and a year after his paint job was complete. He shows no signs of anything past normal wear and tear on his paint. His car, just like mine, is a daily driver and is parked outside nightly. However, he did finish his paint job with some heavy sanding and a polish.

As for seeking a professional paint job after having performed this one, I dont think so. That was the purpose of doing this myself! To not have to pay someone else to do it! If you are thinking of getting a professional paint job on your car in the future after having done this to it, perhaps you should seek some knowledge from the paint shop first.

Again, is this a method you would use on a rare collector car? No.
On a professionally built show car? No.

Should you do this to the old beater VW Beetle you have out back? Sure!
What about the $500 car you just bought for your son or daughter? Perfect!!!

Please, read this write up in its entirety and ask any questions you may have before jumping into the project. I would reccommend trying this on a test piece such as an old fender or maybe even your lawn mower before attempting to paint your car with this method.

With all of that being said, please take a look at the picture below. As you can see the final result yielded some brush strokes. That is about as bad as any of the spots where you can see the brush strokes. A small price to pay for a $75.00 paint job!

Step 6: UPDATES!!!

I will be posting a large update on the project, the paint's condition and some more paint work I have done soon. Again, the write up can also be viewed on my website below.

http://www.stylusscustoms.com/poormanspaintjob.html
1-40 of 349Next »
tooday112 years ago
wow it LOOKS great
Styluss (author)  tooday112 years ago
Thank you!
That's a nice Beretta you have there :)
Styluss (author)  Biohazard11942 years ago
Why thank you!
quesoman4 years ago
not a poor man, a thrifty man
Jim Davidson4 months ago

Sweeet!!! I was looking for some other thing and ran across your paint job! Very cool. In 1970, my friend, Brad Roth, painted his VW, 1960's surfer van in a similar manner and, despite our criticisms, it came out wicked cool. As I remember, he used a synthetic enamel, conventional brushes (we had no foam brushes then) and a lot of sand paper. Our main criticism was at the time...He cold have gone to Earl Scheib or One A Day Paint for about $79.95, at the time!!! He spent maybe $50 all in and I swear, over 150 hours. I guess time is how you spent it.

Nice Job My Brother!

robnpeach4 months ago

looks pretty darn good. I dig it.

bdanforth6 months ago

Is there anyway you could post a link (maybe in the materials section or even just in a reply) to the exact white rustoleum paint you used? I know you said high gloss white rustoleum, but there are just so many different types of glossy rustoleum paint and i would like to be sure. Also thank you for such an informative and useful post!

Styluss (author)  bdanforth6 months ago
http://cohesiverandomness.blogspot.com/2013/05/diy-coffee-table-photo-dump.html

There really only is one gloss white Rustoleum paint...
I found this article after buying an older car (runs great, looks terrible) and deciding I wanted to try my own paint job. This definitely gives me an idea of where to start to bring my car to life.
Styluss (author)  slightlysweet12 months ago
I'm glad this Instructable could be a motivating and educational piece for you!
kaptkert1 year ago
since this is regular paint and nothing is being used that can eat away plastic parts can power painter be used
Styluss (author)  kaptkert1 year ago
I believe that others that have commented here have used power painters. But remember that you will have to tape up the windows, tires, engine bay and more if you want to spray paint onto the car. Plus, the mix may need to be thinner so it can pump through the unit.
wonkette4 years ago
2 questions:
We have a beater car that we want to improve the look.

1) Were you limited by the choice of colors from Rustoleum?
We were considering buying a professional series of Urethane BaseCoat/ClearCoat system, but was priced at between $240 (TCP Global) - $700 (PPG)

2)  Do you need to topcoat with a clear coat? We live near the ocean and the salt air is causing the clear coat to peel on our current car. I suppose if you paint with a one-stage system, you don't need clear coat at all, so nothing to peel off? But doesn't the clear coat make things last longer?

Clear coat didn't seem to work on your car, so why would you think it would make paint last longer? It's only necessary in a clearcoat/basecoat system.

I'm a pro painter of 40+ years...it's likely that the peeling clear coat on your car was a waterborne formula. They've got these to where they last 5 years and that's it.

Rust-O-Leum is paint I love to hate, but after seeing this Instructable, I've got to give kudos to the author. Tip: stay away from dark colors. Also, there are many high-gloss enamel paints with high pigment content that would also work. Rust-O-Leum is known to be brittle once dried, and stone-chips easily!
A little research into the history of paint on this car shows that the automaker goofed on their formulation of paint for two model years for certain colors, so all the cars painted with similar colors had their clear coat peeling. Unfortunately, I bought the car second-hand, so I did not qualify for any reimbursement or fix.

The brittleness and proness to stone chipping convinced me to go with a professional formula.
Styluss (author)  cardesnr992 years ago
Thanks for the props! And I am happy to say that there is no more chipping than you would see on any car with standard automotive paint.
Styluss (author)  wonkette4 years ago
1. Yes. However I have seen people mix Rustoleum colors to get the color they desired. And if you are even considering buying the fancy paints... I dotn think this paint application process if for you. go somewhere and have them do it right. You did say it is a beater car after all...

2. I am not a paint savvy person. All I know is that I have had Rustoleum on my car now for 2 Colorado winters... no issues. I do not have any sort of clear coat on my car. It is simply Rustoleum.
ursan Styluss3 years ago
My local ACE hardware sells Rustoleum and they can add pigment to the white paint to make it almost any color.

I bought a gallon and the matched the color for my when I removed the gas door from my car (cleaned it, polished it) All they did was scan it and they add the pigment. For my car is was 4 units of chroma yellow, 1 part blue and 1 part red. My car is an off white cream color and it matched fairly well.
mmdowd ursan2 years ago
Hi Interesting you could match the paint I want to paint a 1939 Buick a cream color which it is now, have ideas of painting the guards (six wheel equipped) deep Maroon. I may have to use an acrylic to get the maroon color
I would love to see your car to see how that cream looks. could you post some photos or email them to me??
Does anyone have any opinions on having two tone" Is it a bit over the top in a sedan? I saw a 37 Oldsmobile done this way but the red was too red in my opinion Any comments or opinions would be greatly appreciated mmdowd@gmail.com
Also has anybody got any ideas on color schemes, I need to get the plan right
angiel8062 years ago
Where do i get the paint??
Styluss (author)  angiel8062 years ago
Most any home supply store; Home Depot, Lowes, etc.
xxjhansenxx2 years ago
SOOOOOOOOO this is not the first time i've stumbled across this page when looking up ways to paint a car at home without spending thousands. And i really like this idea. I havent done it yet but i have a 93' 3000GT and with this method plus adding some products to the paint from paintwithpearl.com... i cant see how i could mess this up. I am 23 and i love my car. My plan is to use black paint all over. buff it out real smooth and then find a clear UV protection paint (still researching a good brand, rustoleum carries auto paint, primer and clear coat) and the mix some metal specks into the clear coat and then the top few coats will be plain clear coat .
although you do not indicate that in this particular method on this page that you you used a clear coat... do you have a cheap, effective, UV protection ideas of paint that i can get at a hardware store or something?
Also, with prepping the car, i have a few spots that definitely need some bondo topped with primer but there are spots where the paint has CLEARLY cracked pretty deep. how would you suggest buffing the cracks out so they dont show through? and do you only sand down to get the factory clear coat off or do you want to sand a little deeper but not to metal... Also, is there a method of sanding that doesnt require tons and tons of circular motions that quickly wear your hand out?
i also have a few more questions that i cant seem to find on google because i dont know what the parts are called, however, i will wait to ask before i over load you too much.
i have posted a few pix of my car now and the problems that i hope to fix . With bondo, should anything be applied to the cleaned up area prepped for bondo to help it adhere to the paint, body panels?
the pic of the thing that isnt actally my car is what i my goal is for a paint job. I also have a good feeling that with the metal specks, any minor flaws will blend it much easier and hide imperfections as oppose to one straight color.
Now i just have to wait until i have all the supplies and a few nice days since i dont even have access to a garage. but i can make some makeshift wind guards to keep dirt and bugs off... however, i think they wont be noticable. but my yard is surrounded around trees and this is a good time of the year to start seeing your car covered in pollen... so we'll see.
2012-04-05 06.18.19.jpg2012-04-05 06.19.33.jpg2012-04-05 06.19.56.jpg2012-04-05 06.20.19.jpg2012-04-05 06.21.08.jpg2012-04-05 06.22.04.jpg2012-04-05 06.23.40.jpgtarget color.jpg
Styluss (author)  xxjhansenxx2 years ago
Okay, your paint prep questions are easily answered... I have no idea. I am not very knowledgeable when it comes to paint prep. All I did with my car was sand down the paint, apply the paint, done. I honestly didn't even give a second thought to how much I was sanding, if I went through the clear coat, none of that.
I figured I am painting a car with Rustoleum... How much work do I really need to put into this?
well, i'm on a budget and if i were to come across a decent wad to money, the first thing i would do is get my car done. the amount of work put in determines the result ultimately. So my goal is to have this come out as perfect as possible without spending thousands.

I've done much research on the questions i asked. However i have one more that i cant find anywhere on the internet and maybe you or someone else on here has an answer. Even though you didnt clear coat the car, if i were to clear coat with something like rustoleum auto body clear coat for extra protection for paint fading and scratches... would i want to cut it with mineral spirits as well for this application?
Styluss (author)  xxjhansenxx2 years ago
I have no idea! One would think that yes, you would want to thin it out a bit so that it will level nice and smooth like the paint does when thinned. But I have no experience with the Rustoleum Auto Paint products. Perhaps you can try it on a smaller piece of the car first? Something like your grill.
good thinking! i will definitely give that a go!
Hi, interesting article. I am planning on buying my daughter's 2000 Cavalier for $1,000.00, it has real low miles but the paint...ugh! The roof is basically void of all paint, down to bare metal. The rest of the car has spots of clear coat chipping away. My question is: her car is black. Do you have knowledge of any drawbacks to black Rustoleum being used?

Thanks!
Styluss (author)  gabhanjacisa2 years ago
You can use any color and achieve the same results. It's all the same paint! However black will not hide imperfections like white does, keep that in mind.
zell69782 years ago
Awesome job! ( cool points....10'000 )
mmdowd2 years ago
Styluss thanks for the benefit of your experience
Need some advice and clarification
In view of difficulties in Australia of getting Rustolium and a restriction in colors

1 Could the same job be done with some other product an acrylic or an Enamel

2 There seems to some difference in opinion in prep. If existing paint is in fairly good condition would a light sand or cutting compound with electric lambswool cover suffice

Styluss (author)  mmdowd2 years ago
I don't see why you can't do this with other paints. Rustoleum is just what we have used. And as for prep, some people will tell you that you have to spend hours on it, I will tell you that a light wet sanding at a decent grit paper will be just fine.
MikleJayWox3 years ago
Not sure about Rustoleum but here in Australia we have Galmet, which is an oil based enamel, probably of the same nature. You can add enamel hardener to the paint, and extend its life considerably. Having said that one old beast I did was dark green, garden furniture green, and it took three years to get daggy. White should last way longer.

Oh, and here's a tip. Do not paint your car garden furniture green. Everybody, and I mean everybody, recognises it, and everybody, absolutely everybody, even strangers walking past, comments "that looks like somebody painted it with garden furniture paint" and look smug just like they solved the Da Vinchi code.

Absolutely everybody.


Mike
I finally found this site and will contact them as soon as they open after new year in Australia.
Interesting to know if Galmet is the same
http://www.rustoleum.com.au/contact.asp
Hey hey mmdowl, I am about to paint a car with epoxy enamel white and have spent quite some time getting the spray technique just so. If you are in Sydney and want to see the results that can be arranged. MJR
hi MikleJayWox
Thankyou I would like to look at your job. You say you have to get your "spray technique just so". The idea of my project is no spray, all with a 4" brush
Drop me a line at indardoohda@gmail.com .

Yeah, well, I have chosen this paint because it does a good job as protective paint - rust - and the car I am doing I want around in 20 years time. Its also a car that attracts a lot of attention and is endlessly being vandalised. So this way I can give it new shiney coat every three years or so and repairing replacing a panel is not such a big drama.

Remember you can buy a cheap compressor and spray gun these days for a handful of dollars - and even bad guns will do a better job than a brush. Even a hoover spray gun off a vacuum cleaner does a better job.

Oh! A spray booth? Go buy a 3 metre by 6 metre garden gazebo - and paint the car bit by bit. Use an old vacuum cleaner and a long hose to blow fresh air in your face while you work (still use face filter) - this also introduces clean filtered air into the work area.
mmdowd2 years ago
Hi I have been following your Forum with great interest. This is my first comment
I have a 1939 Buick sedan needs paint It is cream in original colour
I am wondering about paint descriptions or terminology. I am in Australia and have been advised to use an Acrylic paint
Would much appreciate any advice or comment
Styluss (author)  mmdowd2 years ago
I believe that you can get "Tremclad" paint in Australia and that is the same thing as Rustoleum.
mmdowd Styluss2 years ago
Thanks for your prompt reply. Google search Australia brings up zero results for tremclad . I have found a Rust-Oleum supplier in Australia http://www.rustoleum.com.au/contact.asp
Cant contact them till after new year
1-40 of 349Next »