How to learn to spray paint cars at home

Updated April 17, 2017

You can save money by repairing and painting a car yourself. To paint a car body so it looks professionally done, the body must be repaired and sanded. With thorough sanding, it will be blemish-free. Sand all body filler carefully and use glaze to make the filler totally flat and smooth with the surface of the car, without ridges, bumps or indentations. A clear coat will give the car a glossy, radiant shine that will also help to protect the enamel.

Plug an electric hand-held sander into an extension cord, or an air hose to a hand-held air sander. Put on a face mask and eye protection whenever sanding. Use medium-grit sandpaper meant for metal. Thoroughly sand all areas that need repair or are rusted. Do this to prepare the surface for body filler, so the filler will adhere to the vehicle's surface. Wipe off all dust left from sanding, using a soft, dry cloth, so dust doesn't get trapped under the first coat of primer.

Prepare body filler on a scrap of plywood, adding an amount of hardener the size of a 50p piece to every three putty knife scoops of body filler. Fold the hardener into the filler, on the board, using the blade edge of the putty knife. Apply the body filler using the putty knife. Smooth the body filler onto and over the rusted, damaged or scratched areas of the car body. Allow the filler to dry for one hour. Sand using an electric or air hand-held sander and medium-grit sandpaper. Apply more filler if needed; allow it to dry and then sand it smooth. Wipe off the powder left from sanding, using a soft, dry cloth.

Apply automotive body glaze over nicks, scratches and any other small blemishes. Allow the glaze to dry for 30 minutes, then sand using a fine-grit sandpaper, sanding not only the glaze but all the body filler that has been applied. Do this to create a smooth surface that will be completely flat and free of blemishes. Use the air hose to remove most of the dust caused by sanding, then wipe down the car using soft, dry cloths.

Cover all areas of the car that you do not want primer or paint to get onto, such as mirrors, windows, door handles, trim and decorative strips. Use masking tape to hold the newspaper in place and to cover small objects like key locks.

Put on a face mask and eye protection. Hold a spray can of primer 25 to 30 cm (10 to 12 inches) from the surface of the vehicle. Spray the primer, moving your arm in a right-to-left motion to cover the surface with the primer evenly and to avoid runs. Allow the first coat of primer two hours to dry, then sand lightly, by hand, using fine-grit sandpaper. Wipe down the vehicle using soft, dry cloths, then apply a second coat of primer.

Clean an electric or air-powered paint sprayer by using it to spray 500 ml (2 cups) of paint thinner. Fill the clean paint sprayer with the automotive enamel paint you have chosen. Hold the sprayer 25 to 30 cm (10 to 12 inches) from the vehicle's surface and apply the first coat of paint over the primer. Move your arm in a right-to-left motion when using the sprayer to avoid thick spots, thin spots and runs. Allow the first coat of enamel one hour to dry, then apply the second. Clean the paint sprayer again when you are finished painting with it.

Use the clean electric or air-powered paint sprayer to apply clear coat. Allow the first coat of clear coat to dry for one hour, then apply a second coat. Doing this will cover the car's enamel finish with a thick, clear protective barrier that will also add shine and beauty. Allow the second coat of clear coat to dry for four hours, then remove all tape and newspaper.


Take your time when doing bodywork. Sand well to remove all burrs and ridges for a smooth, blemish-free finish.


Wear a face mask and eye protection while sanding and painting.

Things You'll Need

  • Electric hand-held sander
  • Face mask
  • Eye protection
  • Medium-grit sand paper
  • Soft cloth
  • Air compressor
  • Air hose
  • Soft cloth
  • 4.5 litres (1 gallon) body filler
  • Hardener for body filler
  • 30 cm square (1 foot square) scrap plywood
  • Putty knife
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Masking tape
  • Newspaper
  • Primer spray
  • Electric or air paint sprayer
  • 1 can paint thinner
  • 4.5 litres (1 gallon) enamel paint
  • 4.5 litres (1 gallon) clear coat
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About the Author

Sincerity Anna has been working online as a content writer since 2004. She specializes in how to articles on parenting, home repair, crafts, sewing, and design. Sincerity Anna has published nearly 400 articles on She has also published many articles on She attended the Institute of Children's Literature.