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.
wow it LOOKS great
Thank you!
That's a nice Beretta you have there :)
Why thank you!
not a poor man, a thrifty man
<p>thank you for the excellent tutorial.</p><p>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? </p><p>Do you have any additional tips about painting these non-metalic parts of the car?</p>
Can you do this to a silver car to a black car??
<p>It looks great! Thank you for posting this informative write-up - now I know what my 2016 summer project is :)</p>
<p>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.</p>
<p>Great idea, it really does look great! I've only ever heard of using a sprayer with Rustoleum. Would you say this &quot;poor man's method&quot; 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!</p><p><a href="http://www.a1roadlines.com.au/productsandservices/Attenuators/truckmountedattenuators" rel="nofollow">http://www.a1roadlines.com.au/productsandservices/Attenuators/truckmountedattenuators</a></p>
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.
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
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.
<p>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 </p>
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.
<p>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.</p>
<p>Thanks for the feedback! Good to see people getting use out of the Instructable after all this time.</p>
<p>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.</p><p>Nice Job My Brother!</p>
<p>looks pretty darn good. I dig it. </p>
<p>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!</p>
http://cohesiverandomness.blogspot.com/2013/05/diy-coffee-table-photo-dump.html<br><br>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.
I'm glad this Instructable could be a motivating and educational piece for you!
since this is regular paint and nothing is being used that can eat away plastic parts can power painter be used
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.
Thanks for sharing this! I've been trying to find some <a href="http://vinylpatiokits2go.com/tiffany.html" rel="nofollow">vinyl gazebo kits</a>, but didn't really know what I was looking for. But this helped! Thanks again.
That looks great! I've been looking for a good <a href="http://texturekingofkc.com" rel="nofollow">painter in Kansas City, MO</a>, but I'm not sure if I need to. I'll follow your guide and see how it looks, if it doesn't look as great as when you did it, I might have a painter do it anyways. Thanks for the instructable!
Your car looks great! I have been meaning to do this for a long time. I just don't know if I can make the job turn out. I might hire a <a href="http://texturekingofkc.com" rel="nofollow">painter in Kansas City MO</a> o help me out so the job looks professional.
2 questions:<br /> We have a beater car that we want to improve the look.<br /> <br /> 1) Were you limited by the choice of colors from Rustoleum?<br /> We were considering buying a professional series of Urethane BaseCoat/ClearCoat system, but was priced at between $240 (TCP Global) - $700 (PPG)<br /> <br /> 2) &nbsp;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?<br /> <br />
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.<br><br>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.<br><br>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. <br> <br>The brittleness and proness to stone chipping convinced me to go with a professional formula.
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.
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...<br /> <br /> 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&nbsp;not have any sort of clear coat on my car. It is simply Rustoleum.
My local ACE hardware sells Rustoleum and they can add pigment to the white paint to make it almost any color.<br><br>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.
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<br>I would love to see your car to see how that cream looks. could you post some photos or email them to me??<br>Does anyone have any opinions on having two tone&quot; 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<br>Also has anybody got any ideas on color schemes, I need to get the plan right
Where do i get the paint??
Most any home supply store; Home Depot, Lowes, etc.
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 . <br>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?<br>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? <br>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. <br>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?<br>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.<br>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.
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.<br>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. <br><br>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?
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?<br><br>Thanks!
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.
Awesome job! ( cool points....10'000 )
These tips always seemed to help me when I was painting my car http://howtofixstuff.blogspot.com/2012/03/how-to-get-your-car-painted-without-too.html
Styluss thanks for the benefit of your experience<br>Need some advice and clarification<br>In view of difficulties in Australia of getting Rustolium and a restriction in colors<br><br>1 Could the same job be done with some other product an acrylic or an Enamel<br><br>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<br><br>
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.
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.<br><br>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 &quot;that looks like somebody painted it with garden furniture paint&quot; and look smug just like they solved the Da Vinchi code. <br><br>Absolutely everybody. <br><br><br>Mike<br>
I finally found this site and will contact them as soon as they open after new year in Australia. <br>Interesting to know if Galmet is the same<br>http://www.rustoleum.com.au/contact.asp

About This Instructable