How to Start Painting Model Cars

Written by sean kotz
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How to Start Painting Model Cars
You can get a great looking finish on model cars with spray paint with the right techniques. (model speed car image by timur1970 from

If you are a novice model builder but want to put a nice finish on your car kits instead of trying to paint by hand, the solution is spray paint. However, spray painting a model car is not the same as spray painting lawn furniture. You might practice a few basic modelling techniques and invest in a few cans of paint designed specifically for model building first. This way, you can achieve a great-looking paint job even if you never have painted a model before.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Dish soap
  • Warm water
  • Cardboard sheets
  • Wood block
  • Saw
  • White model primer
  • Spray paints for models
  • Polishing pads
  • Plastic polish, acrylic floor wax or gloss coat enamel

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  1. 1

    Wash all model parts in warm soapy water. Separate any chrome or clear plastic parts. Allow the parts to dry.

  2. 2

    Lay down cardboard sheets to protect the painting surface.

  3. 3

    Cut a wood block so that pieces of the car's body can rest on top and allow you to move it around as necessary.

  4. 4

    Spray a coat of white primer on parts such as doors, hoods and trunks. Hold the can 8 inches to 10 inches from the surface and spray in a back-and-forth motion.

  5. 5

    Spray interior colours on seats, dashboards and other parts and allow them to dry.

  6. 6

    Place the body parts on the wood block and spray several coats, allowing drying time between each coat. It is recommended to allow the paint to dry overnight.

  7. 7

    Smooth over the finish with polishing pads of 3,200-grit and 12,000-grit quality. Wipe the surface clean if you see minor imperfections in the paint job.

  8. 8

    Apply a coat of plastic polish. Acrylic floor wax sprayed through an airbrush or gloss coat enamel will do as well.

  9. 9

    Assemble the car as directed.

Tips and warnings

  • Be patient and let the parts dry before touching them.
  • Loose parts can be painted by attaching them to a strip of plastic or cardboard with tape or a small amount of glue and then flipping them
  • Always spray in a well-ventilated area.
  • Do not prime or paint chrome finish or clear plastic parts.

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