How Many Spray Cans To Paint a Car? Detailed Answer

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painting car with white paint, can spray

Ever stared at your dull, weather-worn car and thought about revamping its look with spray cans? Yes, you’re not alone. However, a common problem that plagues most DIY enthusiasts is the uncertainty about how many cans they’d actually need.

In this article, I’ll break down this problem and provide a comprehensive guide on the number of spray cans required for different vehicle sizes. By the end of it, you’ll have a clear understanding to start your spray paint project confidently.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Paint Coverage: A single can of spray paint covers roughly 8-10 square feet with two coats.
  2. Cans and Cost: Based on the coverage and the typical surface area for various types of vehicles, the average number of cans needed for two coats of paint and the estimated cost (assuming $12 per can) are as follows:
Vehicle TypeAverage No. of CansEstimated Cost
Small Cars15-25$180-$300
Medium Cars20-31$240-$372

Note: These numbers are for the color coat only. You’ll need additional cans for the primer and clear coats (around 10-15 for primer and 15-20 for clear coat). These would increase the total cost.

How Much Can One Spray Cover?

Understanding how much a single can of spray paint can cover is crucial for estimating your project needs. Typically, one can is enough to apply two coats on a surface measuring approximately 8-10 square feet.

This implies that, for one coat, a single can cover between 16-20 sq. ft. On the other hand, if you are planning for a more thorough job with three coats, a single can would be sufficient for roughly 5.3-6.7 sq. ft.

Here’s a simplified table to illustrate this:

Number of CoatsSquare Feet Coverage
116-20 sq. ft.
28-10 sq. ft.
35.3-6.7 sq. ft.

Keep in mind these are rough estimates. The actual coverage could vary based on the type of spray paint and technique you use. But this guide should give you a solid starting point for planning your car painting project.

How Many Can Sprays You Need

Having established that a single spray can covers roughly 8-10 sq. ft. with two coats, let’s break down how many cans you’d need for different types of vehicles. Here, we assume that two coats of paint are the standard for achieving a great look.

  • Small Cars: Small cars typically have a total surface area of around 150-200 square feet. So, for two coats, you would need between 15-25 cans.
  • Medium Cars For medium-sized cars, the total surface area usually ranges from 200-250 sq. ft. Consequently, you will require 20-31 cans of spray paint.
  • SUV: SUVs, with their larger frames, have a surface area of about 250-300 sq. ft. Thus, you’ll need approximately 25-38 spray cans.
  • Trucks: For trucks, you’re looking at an even larger surface area, typically around 300-350 sq. ft. For two coats, it will take around 30-44 cans.
  • Vans: Vans have the most substantial surface area, often between 350-400 sq. ft. You will need to prepare around 35-50 cans for two coats of paint.

It’s important to note that these are only estimates. The actual number could vary based on the specifics of your car, your painting technique, and the type of spray paint you use.

Is Painting a Car With Can Sprays Worth It?

On average, a can of spray paint costs between $10 to $15. If you tally up the cans you’d need for a complete paint job, it does tend to be cheaper than hiring a professional. But remember, there are also additional tools to factor in. You may need sanders, primer coats, and clear coat sprays to complete the project.

So, does this make it worth it? If you’re a DIY enthusiast with a flair for hands-on projects or looking to freshen up an older car, then absolutely. It’s an enjoyable project, and the sense of accomplishment from doing it yourself is satisfying.

But if you’re considering repainting a newer car, you might want to think twice. It’s challenging to match the flawless finish that professional spray painters can achieve. In this case, hiring a pro may be a worthwhile investment to maintain the car’s value and aesthetic appeal.

In the end, the ‘worth’ comes down to your comfort, skill, the vehicle in question, and your budget. Weigh these aspects carefully before diving into a spray paint project.

Lastly, do note that for the price of 30-40 cans, you’ll need (plus primers, clear coats in cans), you can also purchase a beginner/used air compressor, paint gun, and real paint for the car and try doing it that way as well.

The Best Can Spray Paint For Cars

When it comes to spray painting your car, the choice of paint can significantly impact the result.

Here are a few reputable brands that are trusted in the industry:

  • Rust-Oleum: Known for its durability, Rust-Oleum’s range of car spray paints is easy to use and provides excellent coverage. Their paints are also resistant to weather, dust, and minor damage, making them a great choice for a long-lasting finish.
  • Dupli-Color: Dupli-Color offers a variety of automotive spray paints designed to match the original manufacturers’ colors. Their Perfect Match line is a favorite among car enthusiasts looking to touch up their vehicles or complete a color change.
  • Krylon: Krylon’s automotive spray paint products provide a smooth, professional-looking finish. Their paints are easy to apply and fast-drying, reducing the chance of dust or debris sticking to the wet paint.
  • Valspar: Renowned for its high-quality paints, Valspar offers a line of automotive paints that provide good coverage and a durable finish. The brand is especially appreciated for its vibrant color options.

Remember, the best can spray paint for you will depend on your specific needs, such as color matching, durability, or the finish you want to achieve. Consider these factors and read customer reviews when deciding on the brand to go with.

Don’t Forget About Clear Coat and Primer Coat Cans

While your focus might be primarily on the color coat, it’s equally important not to overlook the roles of primer and clear coat in your painting project.

Primer Coat Cans: The primer acts as a foundation for your color coat. It helps to fill small imperfections and provides a uniform surface for the color coat to adhere to. This enhances the durability and appearance of the final paint job. For most cars, you’ll likely need around 10-15 cans of primer to ensure a uniform, well-prepared surface for your color coat. This allows the color to adhere better and last longer.

Clear Coat Cans: The clear coat is the final layer applied after your color coats. The clear coat gives your car that glossy, fresh-from-the-showroom look and protects your color coat. Depending on the vehicle size and the desired level of gloss, you’ll need approximately 15-20 cans of clear coat.

Remember, these are rough estimates. The actual number could vary based on your specific car and the products you choose. But don’t skimp on these crucial steps in the painting process – they are key to achieving a professional-looking finish.

Final Words

Taking on a car painting project with spray cans can be an exciting endeavor. It’s not just about the money saved but also the sense of achievement you get from doing it yourself.

While spray cans might be a cost-effective choice for older cars or DIY enthusiasts, newer cars might benefit more from a professional touch. Whichever route you choose, take your time, do your research, and most importantly, enjoy the process.

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