Spray painting a car is an inexpensive way to give it a new look. However, one of the most common questions people ask is how many cans of spray paint it takes to paint a car. The answer to this question depends on several factors, including the size of the car, the type of spray paint used, and the number of coats needed.

It generally takes around 20 cans of spray paint to cover an entire carHowever, this number can vary depending on the size of the car and the type of spray paint used. It is also important to note that several coats of paint are needed to achieve a quality finish. This is why it’s recommended to purchase more cans of spray paint than you think you will need to avoid running out of paint in the middle of the project.

How Many Cans of Spray Paint to Paint a Car?

 A safe bet for an averaged-size vehicle, assuming you purchase a decent brand of paint and you aren’t painting outside in the wind, would be 20 rattle cans. Here are some things to consider:

Number of Coats

The number of coats required will depend on the color of the car and the surface being painted. In most cases, at least two coats of paint are needed to get good coverage. However, if you’re painting a light color over a dark surface or a glossy surface, you may need more coats.

To estimate the amount of paint needed for your car, you can use the following formula:

Total area to be painted ÷ coverage per can = number of spray cans needed

You can measure the area in square feet or square inches, depending on your preference. It’s also important to factor in the number of coats needed when calculating the amount of paint required.

Brand and Thickness Matters:

It’s important to note that not all spray paints are created equal. Different brands and formulations can vary in thickness, which directly impacts the coverage they provide and, consequently, the number of cans required. Some spray paints offer more coverage per can, while others may require additional coats to achieve the desired look.

Urethane clear, for example, goes further than lacquer. If using lacquer clearcoat, it’s recommended to order 50-100% more product.

Size of Car

For an average-sized car, a general rule of thumb is to start with around 20 cans of paint. This should provide you with enough material to apply approximately 3 coats to your vehicle’s surface. Three coats are typically recommended to ensure a uniform and durable finish that can withstand the elements.

The size of the car is a crucial factor in determining the amount of paint needed. As a general rule of thumb, a small car will require approximately half a gallon of paint, while a medium-sized car will need close to one gallon. Large cars may require up to three gallons of paint.

Larger Vehicles and Special Considerations: 

If you’re working with a larger vehicle, such as an SUV or a truck, you will likely need more paint. Additionally, if the paint you’re using is exceptionally thin or you’re attempting to paint on a windy day, you should plan for extra cans. Thinner paint may require additional coats to achieve adequate coverage, while windy conditions can lead to overspray and paint loss.

Balancing Cost and Quality: 

While it might be tempting to try and save money by using fewer cans of spray paint, it’s crucial to strike a balance between cost-effectiveness and achieving a satisfactory paint job. Using too few cans may result in uneven coverage, splotches, or an unimpressive finish. Investing in the right amount of paint ensures that you have the materials needed to achieve a professional-looking result.

Other Materials You Will Need to Complete the Paint Job

For a good paint job, you’re going to need more than the spray paint alone. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Primer
  • Clear coat
  • Painter’s tape
  • Automotive plastic sheeting
  • Respirator
  • Tack rag
  • Cleaner

How Many Cans of Plastidip to Spray Paint a Car?

When it comes to giving your car a fresh, new look, Plasti Dip has become a popular choice for automotive enthusiasts. Its versatility, ease of application, and temporary nature make it an appealing option for those looking to experiment with car colors without a permanent commitment. 

However, one common question that arises in the Plasti Dip community is: How many cans of Plasti Dip are needed to spray paint a car effectively? A safe average is 20 cans but the answer depends on various factors, including the size and color of your vehicle, as well as the level of coverage you desire.

Wheel Rims: 

If you’re starting with just your wheel rims, you’re in luck. It typically takes about 1 can of Plasti Dip to coat 1 wheel rim. This makes it a cost-effective and straightforward way to add a unique flair to your car’s appearance.

Full Car Coverage: 

When it comes to completely transforming your vehicle’s exterior, things get a bit more complex. Plastidip.net, a leading resource for Plasti Dip enthusiasts, recommends applying 5 to 7 thin coats for a full, high-quality coverage. However, some other sources suggest that you can achieve the desired look with as few as 3 good layers of Plasti Dip. This approach not only saves you time and money but also makes it easier to remove if you ever change your mind.

Estimating the Number of Cans: 

To estimate how many cans of Plasti Dip you’ll need for your entire car, it’s essential to consider several factors. First, the size of your vehicle matters. An average-sized car typically requires around 20 cans for a full coating. However, larger vehicles will naturally demand more. Here’s a rough breakdown for specific car parts:

  • Hood: About 7 cans are usually sufficient for the hood.
  • One Door: Each door generally requires approximately 2 cans.
  • Front and Rear Bumpers: Expect to use around 5 cans for both bumpers.
  • Roof: The roof, being a significant surface area, will also need approximately 5 cans.

Remember, these estimates are general guidelines and can vary based on factors like the color of the Plasti Dip you’re using, the condition of your car’s surface, and your spraying technique. It’s always a good practice to buy a bit more than you think you’ll need to ensure you have enough to complete the job to your satisfaction.

The Basics of Spray Painting a Car

Why Spray Paint a Car?

Spray painting a car is a process of applying paint to the surface of a car using a spray gun or aerosol cans. This process can be done by professionals in a paint booth or by individuals in their own garage. The goal of spray painting a car is to give it a new look, protect the car’s surface, and increase its resale value. 

Spray painting a car is often a cheaper alternative to purchasing a professional paint job. This is one of the biggest reasons why drivers decide to go this route. 

Types of Paint: Enamel, Urethane, and Lacquer

When it comes to spray painting a car, there are three main types of paint to choose from: enamel, urethane, and lacquer. Each type of paint has its own advantages and disadvantages, and it is important to understand the differences before making a decision.

  • Enamel paint is the most common type of paint used for spray painting a car. It is durable, easy to apply, and dries quickly. However, it can fade over time and is not as resistant to chemicals and weather as other types of paint.
  • Urethane paint is more expensive than enamel paint, but it is also more durable and resistant to chemicals and weather. It is also easier to apply and provides a smoother finish. However, it requires more preparation and can be more difficult to work with.
  • Lacquer paint is the least common type of paint used for spray painting a car. It provides a high-gloss finish and is easy to apply. However, it is not as durable as other types of paint and can be affected by weather and chemicals.

When choosing a type of paint, it is important to consider factors such as cost, durability, and ease of application. It is also important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for preparation and application to ensure a quality finish.

DIY Tutorial

Here’s a tutorial by Paint Society that will be helpful for you to see the process:

Preparation for Painting

Before you start painting your car with spray cans, the first step is to prepare the surface properly. Here are some steps you should follow to ensure your car looks great after painting.

Selecting the Right Location

Choose a well-ventilated area to paint your car. If possible, paint in a garage or a covered area to protect your car from dust, debris, and insects that can ruin your paint job. Avoid painting in direct sunlight or on a windy day, as this can cause the paint to dry too quickly or become contaminated.

Cleaning and Sanding the Car

Wash the car thoroughly with soap and water to remove any dirt, grime, or debris. Be detailed! Rinse the car and let it dry completely. Sand the car using sandpaper with a grit of 1200. This will create a smooth surface for the primer to adhere to. After sanding, clean the car again with soap and water to remove any dust or debris.

Dealing with Rust and Dents

If your car has rust, use a rust converter to treat the affected area before painting. If there are any dents, use putty to fill them in and sand them down until they are smooth.

Masking and Using Painter’s Tape

Use painter’s tape to cover any areas that you do not want to paint, such as the windows, headlights, taillights, trim, and door handles. This will protect these areas from overspray. Make sure the tape is applied firmly and evenly to prevent paint from seeping under the edges.

Remember, it’s a good idea to take your time and be patient, as proper preparation is key to a successful paint job!

How to Spray Paint a Car Using Rattle Cans

When it comes to painting a car with spray paint, the process can seem daunting, but with the right techniques and preparation, it can be done with great results. Here are the steps to follow for a successful paint job:

Priming the Car

Before you start painting, it’s crucial to prime the car. Priming helps the paint adhere better to the car’s surface and provides a smooth base for the paint. Make sure the car is clean and dry before applying the base coat. You can use a spray can or a spray gun to apply the primer. Apply two to three coats of primer, waiting for each coat to dry before applying the next one. When applying the primer, use horizontal strokes and make sure to cover the entire surface of the car.

Spray Painting Techniques

When it comes to spray painting a car, technique is everything. To achieve an even coat, make sure to hold the can at a consistent distance from the car’s surface and use horizontal strokes. Start spraying before the car’s surface and stop spraying after you’ve passed the surface. This will help prevent drips and uneven coats of too little or too much paint. Apply two to three coats of paint, waiting for each coat to dry before applying the next one.

Applying Clear Coat

After the paint has dried, it’s time to apply the clear coat. The clear coat provides a protective layer and adds shine to the car’s surface. Apply the clear coat to the painted surface in the same manner as the paint, using horizontal strokes and applying two to three coats. It’s important to wait for each coat to dry before applying the next one.

It’s essential to note that the number of coats of paint and primer needed will depend on the size of the car and the type of spray paint used. Make sure to follow the instructions on the spray paint can for the best results.

Post-Painting Considerations

After finishing up your car painting project, there are some important considerations to keep in mind to ensure that your new paint job lasts as long as possible. Here are some tips to help you care for your newly painted car.

Dealing with UV Damage

One of the biggest threats to your car’s new paint job is UV rays damage from the sun. Over time, exposure to the sun’s rays can cause the paint to fade and lose its shine. To prevent this from happening, consider parking your car in a covered area or using a car cover when it’s parked outside. This will help to protect the paint from the sun’s harmful rays.


When parking your newly painted car, be mindful of where you park it. Avoid parking next to other cars or objects that could scratch or damage the paint. If possible, park in a spot that’s away from other cars or objects to reduce the risk of damage.

Caring for the Newly Painted Car

To keep your newly painted car looking its best, it’s important to take good care of it. Here are some tips to help you care for your car’s new paint job:

  • Wash your car regularly using a mild soap and water to remove dirt and grime that can damage the paint.
  • Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials when washing your car, as these can scratch or damage the paint.
  • Apply a coat of wax to the paint to help protect it from the elements and keep it looking shiny.
  • Use a microfiber towel or chamois to dry your car after washing, as these are gentle on the paint and won’t scratch it.

By following these tips, you can help to protect your car’s new paint job and keep it looking great for years to come.

How Much Does It Cost to Spray Paint a Car

DIY vs Professional Paint Job

Another factor to consider when budgeting for a car paint job is whether you want to do it yourself or hire a professional. While a DIY paint job can save you money, it requires a lot of time, effort, and skill. If you don’t have experience painting cars, you may end up with a subpar finish that detracts from the car’s value. On the other hand, hiring a professional can cost several thousand dollars, but you’ll get a high-quality result that can last for years.

If you decide to do a DIY paint job, you’ll need to factor in the cost of additional supplies such as sandpaper, masking tape, primer, and clear coat. You’ll also need to invest in a spray gun if you don’t plan to use rattle cans. While a paint gun can add to the cost, it can also make the job easier and give you a more professional finish.

Safety Measures

When it comes to spray painting a car, safety should always be a top priority. Here are some safety measures you should take to ensure a safe and successful spray painting experience.

Using Spray Guns Safely

If you are using a spray gun to paint your car, make sure to wear protective gear such as a respirator, goggles, and gloves. The spray gun should be used in a well-ventilated area, and you should avoid inhaling the fumes. Always read the instructions and make sure to follow the manufacturer’s safety guidelines.

How to Handle Aerosol Cans

If you are using aerosol cans to paint your car, there are some safety measures you should take. First, make sure to shake the can well before use.

Hold the can upright and spray in a sweeping motion, keeping the can about 8-10 inches away from the surface.

Avoid spraying too much in one area, as this can cause drips and runs. Make sure to use the aerosol can in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling the fumes.

It is also important to dispose of aerosol cans properly. Do not puncture or incinerate the cans, as they can explode and cause injury. Instead, dispose of them in a hazardous waste facility or according to your local regulations.

Achieving an Impressive Finish

If you want to paint your car with spray paint, it is important to ensure that you have the right materials and supplies. By following the steps outlined in this article and using the right paint, you can achieve a high-quality and impressive finish.

One of the most important factors to consider when painting a car with spray paint is the quality of the paint. Using a high-quality paint is essential to ensure that the finish is durable and long-lasting. Additionally, the color of the paint should be carefully chosen to match the desired look of the car.

When it comes to materials, it is important to use the right type products. Using the right supplies such as sandpaper, primer, and clear coat will help to ensure that the paint adheres properly and lasts for a long time.

To achieve an impressive finish, it is important to follow the proper steps when painting the car. This includes preparing the surface of the car by sanding it down and applying a primer before painting. It is also important to apply multiple coats of paint to ensure that the color is even and consistent.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best spray paint for painting a car?

The best spray paint for painting a car is one that is specifically designed for automotive use. These types of spray paints are formulated to withstand the harsh elements that cars are exposed to on a daily basis. Some of the most popular brands of automotive spray paint include Dupli-Color, Krylon, and Rust-Oleum. Our personal favorite is Dupli-Color.

How many cans of spray paint to paint a car?

The number of cans of spray paint you need to paint a car depends on several factors, including the size of the car, the color of the paint, and the number of coats you plan to apply. In general, you can expect to use between 18 and 22 cans of spray paint to cover a car.

How much surface area can one can of spray paint cover on a car?

One can of spray paint can cover approximately 25 square feet of surface area on a car. However, this can vary depending on the type of spray paint you are using and the thickness of the coats you apply.

How many cans of clear coat do I need to apply after painting a car?

You will need approximately 3 to 4 cans of clear coat to apply after painting a car. This will help protect the paint and give it a glossy finish.

How many cans of primer spray paint do I need to use on a car?

You will need approximately 3 to 4 cans of primer spray paint to use on a car. This will help the paint adhere to the surface and provide a smooth base for the color coat.

How many cans of Dupli-Color spray paint do I need for a car?

The number of cans of Dupli-Color spray paint you need for a car depends on the size of the car and the number of coats you plan to apply. In general, you can expect to use between 18 and 22 cans of Dupli-Color spray paint to cover a car.

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