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>I went with the high density roller brush and a mix of two thirds Lowe's brand of Rustoleum and one third mineral spirits. First time I did this the job lasted three years. This time here is after one coat. It never stayed shiny the first time. I'm wondering if I should add something for a) a shell-seal or b) a shine.</p>
Thank you for the wonderdul article! I just finished the 4th layer of paint in my car with rustuleum, I couldnt find the high gloss paint in Home Depot, so I got generic gloss white paint instead. I sanded the car before painting but I did not sand in between layers. I'm wondering if it's still worth sanding the car with a 1000 paper now that I'm happy with the even coating. I'm afraid that sanding now might mean I'll have to do a 5th coat. Also, do you think it would be helpful to do a clear coat if I don't sand it? Thank you again!
If you're happy with how it looks now I wouldn't mess with it. But I would put on a clear coat to help keep it looking good longer.
What 's so different about using a brush or roller. As long as you apply the paint at the same Timerate you will get the same results using a brush or roller.
I found that the roller applied too much paint at once, leading to the need to sand heavily between coats. With the brush you get a lot more control of how much paint is applied and where.
I'm going to Walmart right now
When I was 17 I painted my whole car with white out sharpies and paint markers.
<p>When you say &quot;two coats in a warm day&quot; how warm is warm? I live in AZ and what I'm used to as a warm day may be different than yours. Thx.</p>
Colorado warm... 70* or more. Part of the key of this paint process is to not paint in direct sunlight as it will cause the paint to dry too quickly. If you're in a smokin' state such as Arizona you'll definitely want to do your painting in a well shaded area.
<p>thanks for an awesome tutorial!! I am looking at a tacoma pickup truck that would need the hood and roof painted at a minimum but currently being in Guam for the next 3 years I don't want to put the money into a professional paint job just to have it ruined by the weather here, I will definitely be doing this as a temporary solution!</p>
<p>I was wondering if you would suggest a different paint that the oil-based one as they are restricted in Europe and theres no way to buy them. I cant buy them in the states either as they are flammable and therefore not allowed to be shipped.</p><p>Would be great to hear back from you as I want to get my hands dirty :)</p>
I have no experience with any other paints so sadly I cannot recommend another paint or brand for you. I'm sure a local paint store can assist you with this question.
This guy uses rustoleum professional series spray paint. Looks totally wicked. https://youtu.be/dZr560JW5Ck
<p>I was wondering if you would suggest a different paint that the oil-based one as they are restricted in Europe and theres no way to buy them. I cant buy them in the states either as they are flammable and therefore not allowed to be shipped.</p><p>Would be great to hear back from you as I want to get my hands dirty :)</p>
<p>I just sprayed my 94 Plymouth voyager with this same white gloss, sprayer, compressor etc, it came out perfect, was a lot of sanding, but we'll worth, perfect work van</p>
How long was this process?
After it was all said and done I had about 10 days worth of work or a total of 40 hours into this job. People argue that you can get a real paint job at a shop in a day or two but again, the work behind this process is what makes it so rewarding!
Looks fantastic! You want to paint my car. I'll buy all materials and pay you labor costs!
<p>Great job!!! Who would think you could get that good of results with a foam brush. It's also great that your sharing this information. How is the paint holding up looks like it's been awhile since you did this </p>
To be honest it seems the paint has a shelf life of about 2 to 3 years. I'm sure with more intensive prep and care in initial application it could last closer to 5. Again, it's all in the prep work and the details.
<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>Or maybe fill the low spots with primer to bring flush...</p>
<p>what is &quot;Rustoleum high gloss white paint&quot;? They don't make anything called that. Is it a spray paint? &quot;Quarts&quot; suggests cans not spray. Is this a primer?</p>
<p>Rustoleum high gloss white paint is just as it says; it is a high gloss white paint made by Rustoleum. And yes, it is in quart sized cans. Are you in Canada? Apparently Rustoleum is called something different in Canada. Here's a link to what I used:<br><a href="http://www.homedepot.com/p/Rust-Oleum-Stops-Rust-1-qt-Gloss-White-Protective-Enamel-Paint-7792504/100117230" rel="nofollow">http://www.homedepot.com/p/Rust-Oleum-Stops-Rust-1...</a><br><br>I see they do have a primer as well, but it requires the car to be down to the bare metal. I'm sure you could use one of their spray primers if you wanted to as along as the original surface was prepared properly. </p>
<p>Sorry, they make a gazillion different paints including spray paints<br> and automotive paints for sprayers. I think they also own half the<br> paint manufacturers in the US now. Yes I'm in US.</p><p><br> <br><br> What you mean is called Rust-oleum STOPS RUST&reg; Protective Enamel<strong><br> - </strong>Gloss White #7792504:<br> <a href="http://www.rustoleum.com/product-catalog/consumer-brands/stops-rust/protective-enamel" rel="nofollow">http://www.rustoleum.com/product-catalog/consumer-brands/stops-rust/protective-enamel</a>. <br> I couldn't get to the link you sent, but I'm surmising that from the Paint Your Car with Rustoleum instructables, which has a<br> photo of the can.<br><br> <br><br> Anyway, thanks for the fantastic web page and especially the<br> multi-year updates. I'm gonna try it on my pickup.<br><br> <br><br> A couple of questions - did you do any of the painting outdoors? <br> Any experience with that you can share? Problems with drying too<br> fast or wind or bugs?<br><br> <br><br> Also, did you have to deal with any rusty spots, and has any rust<br> returned under the new paint?<br></p>
<p>Great questions! I should probably edit these answers into the write up as they are rather pertinent to the process. Yes I painted a few coats outside. This isn't really advisable unless you are positive it won't rain and there won't be any wind. Imagine a nice fresh coat on the car and the wind kicking the field next to you all over it. Temperature can play a factor as well. A hot car (the metal) will cause the paint to dry too quickly and therefore have brush lines. And yes, I did have a small bug or two land in my fresh paint. Just leave it! The more you pick at it and try to get it out the more you'll just mess up the paint. If it's just gently stuck to the paint it will just rub off easily once it is dry. Little bugs anyway like gnats and such. As for rust? I had none. I would simply suggest sanding off all the rust you can, treating it with a primer of some kind and then painting it. </p>
<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>
<p>I'm sorry I never replied! I think this question would revolve around just how porous the plastic material on your bumpers is. Is it pretty solid/flat? If so I would think you may be able to paint it just like you do the rest of the car. Perhaps try a test spot to see how well it adheres. My only other tip would be to primer the plastic to help make sure the paint adheres well. </p>
thank you for your reply.<br><br>
<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>Remember, this isn't necessarily an end all solution as much as it is a cheap and easy &quot;fix&quot;. And who knows, maybe the fade will look good?</p>
Can you do this to a silver car to a black car??
<p>Sorry for the delay! Yes, you can use this method to change any color to another color. It will just take a few more coats to ensure good coverage of the prior color. </p>
<p>It looks great! Thank you for posting this informative write-up - now I know what my 2016 summer project is :)</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>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>

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