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.
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tooday113 years ago
wow it LOOKS great
Styluss (author)  tooday113 years ago
Thank you!
That's a nice Beretta you have there :)
Styluss (author)  Biohazard11943 years ago
Why thank you!
quesoman5 years ago
not a poor man, a thrifty man
gotaluvme2 months ago

thank you for the excellent tutorial.

Question about the bumpers. You took your bumpers off to paint. I'm considering painting my car and see my bumpers have a plastic around them the same color as the car. Should I paint these with the rustoleum? do I need to prime first?

Do you have any additional tips about painting these non-metalic parts of the car?

JordanP63 months ago
Can you do this to a silver car to a black car??
PavelS53 months ago

It looks great! Thank you for posting this informative write-up - now I know what my 2016 summer project is :)

I have used Rustoleum for other outdoor jobs and noticed that the UV rays of the sun fade the color pretty quickly. So while this may work for white paint, I'd be leery of using colors.

JuanitaL6 months ago

Great idea, it really does look great! I've only ever heard of using a sprayer with Rustoleum. Would you say this "poor man's method" is easier? I've been wanting to repaint my car. I totally agree with the other comments though... It's not a POOR man's paint method...it's a THRIFTY man's method!


Styluss (author)  JuanitaL6 months ago
I haven't ever used a sprayer, at all... but I would think that is easier than this time wise. I would think you would spend more time taping everything up than you do actually spraying. This was my way of getting around spraying as I didn't have a place to do it, sprayer, knowledge, etc.
Huntert187 months ago
So I have a Nissan d21 and the paint is faded and down to metal in some places it was a work hunting truck but I want to go from the Greyish blue that it is now to blue what would be better light blue or dark and how much would I need to sand
Styluss (author)  Huntert187 months ago
I can't really comment on what color would be better save for to say that lighter colors will hide imperfections in the paint better. Sanding depends on your paint's condition. Your first sand you might want to take some time and do well as it is the base layer then for the first coat of paint. Imperfection in your sanding from the get go will show in every paint layer after that.
Johnnyfast807 months ago

I have a1991 Chevy s10 that I would like to paint. There is excessive spots were the base metal is showing and the paint is completely chipped away. From your articles your car had some paint on it. What would you recommend for me to do? Would your method still work if I were to sand it completely down to the base metal for the entire body. Please let me know what you think. Thanks

Styluss (author)  Johnnyfast807 months ago
I am not a professional painter of any kind, please keep that in mind as you read my answer/suggestion. I'd say taking it down to the metal would be your best bet for a nice even end result. Otherwise you'll have ridges/edges where the paint was still on the car. You can try to avoid this by sanding down only the edges of the paint chips in an effort to smooth it to the metal. If you sand all the way to the metal you may want to research and see if there is anything you then need to do before paint. Also, don't let the bare metal get wet too often! Paint right away to avoid rust and what not.
BakersD9 months ago

you're a lifesaver. I was following the paint roller / hair dryer method and omgaaawd it's sooooo tedius. I did three coats with the roller, then noticed your foam brush tutorial. Tried it not thinking I'd be able to do it because I'm not the greatest painter lol. Needless to say, you've made my life 10x easier on the final few coats, and it looks alot better. Little to no orange peel and it goes so much faster then having to follow your roller with the hair dryer the entire time. You da man.

Styluss (author)  BakersD7 months ago

Thanks for the feedback! Good to see people getting use out of the Instructable after all this time.

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!

robnpeach1 year ago

looks pretty darn good. I dig it.

bdanforth1 year 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)  bdanforth1 year ago

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)  slightlysweet1 year ago
I'm glad this Instructable could be a motivating and educational piece for you!
kaptkert2 years ago
since this is regular paint and nothing is being used that can eat away plastic parts can power painter be used
Styluss (author)  kaptkert2 years 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.
wonkette5 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)  cardesnr993 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)  wonkette5 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 Styluss4 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 ursan3 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
angiel8063 years ago
Where do i get the paint??
Styluss (author)  angiel8063 years ago
Most any home supply store; Home Depot, Lowes, etc.
xxjhansenxx3 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.
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Styluss (author)  xxjhansenxx3 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)  xxjhansenxx3 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?

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