Can You Paint Over Existing Auto Paint? How to Paint Over Old Car Paint

Can you paint over existing auto paint? This question keeps popping up from my readers from time to time. Here’s what you need to know!

As an automobile devotee, you are likely familiar with multiple ways of upgrading the factory version of your car. One of these upgrades is by painting it.

Painting your car can attract a lot of positive contentment especially if you do it to perfection.

One question however is, Can You Paint Over Existing Auto Paint? Yes. You can paint over existing auto paint, especially with modern paints.

However, ensure that the existing paint is in good condition before you paint over it. In most cases, if you want to paint over existing paint, I recommend that you sand it down with coarse sandpaper.

After that, you can shoot the entire body (preferably) or the identified rough, dinged areas using a good, catalyzed, high-fill automotive primer.

Tip: For better results, ensure that you mend all dents, scratches, pits, holes, rust spots, and gouges. You do this to prevent the damaged areas from being noticed after painting. 

Do You Have to Remove Old Paint Before Repainting a Car? 

No, it’s not necessary. However, there are exceptions to this answer.

You can only remove the old paint if it is damaged to the extent that will foster future problems. 

The paintwork at hand and other body services also determine whether you need to wipe out the old paint or not.

If that’s not the case, you will only have to sand and mend the damaged areas instead of removing the old paint. 

Can You Prime Over Auto Paint? 

A primer acts as a bonding agent. It helps attach the new paint over the existing paint and prevents rusting.

It’s good to prime over auto paint to fill up the existing imperfections. Still, priming over auto paint offers you a coating to sand easily and spray paint without issues. 

For better adherence with the auto paint, I suggest that you leave the primer to dry 24 hours before painting your car.

Doing this gives your primer ample time to fill up any defects on the car’s surface. 

But, you don’t just use any primer on your car. There are automotive primers designed for a car. Sift through the top-rated primers below: 

  • Rust-Oleum Automotive Primer

Image of Automotive PrimerThis high-quality primer is deemed the best alternative owing to its great versatility.

You can use it both as a dry and wet sandable primer.

Apart from that, it forms an enduring rust-resistant coat to protect your car from rust effects. 

  • Speedokote SMR 210/211 Urethane Primer

This versatile option dries quickly exactly when providing solid bonding and simple sanding properties. 

  • Dupli Color BSP100 

Dupli color is an everyday option for many due to its great finish on cars.

If used properly, it will form a thick and lasting coating to fill in any deformities. 

Before choosing the best primer for your car, ensure it matches your painting needs.

The best primer needs to be rust-resistant, easy to use, and durable. 

How Do You Paint Over Existing Paint? 

Painting over the existing paint on your car is relatively simple. And as all car professionals can affirm, preparation is all that matters.

Whether it’s mending small imperfections or repainting the whole car, preparing the surface is more important than painting itself.

Doing this greatly dictates the integrity of the end result. 

To assist you in painting like a pro, I will take you through some handy guidelines to give your vehicle a professional finish.  

Things You Will Need

Here are the materials you’ll need and the different uses for each material:

Repairing Damaged Spots

  • Dent repair kit.
  • Body filter material.
  • Buffing pad or spreader.
  • 150 or 180 grit sandpaper.
  • Hammer and dolly.

Scuffing the Existing Finish

  • Dust mask or a respirator. 
  • Protective eyewear.
  • Microfiber cloth.
  • Electric orbital sander.
  • Sanding block. 
  • 500- 1,200 grit sandpaper or sanding pad.
  • Lint-free shop cloth. 

Priming the Body

  • Plastic sheet or newspaper.
  • Automotive primer.
  • Paint thinner.
  • Painter spray.
  • Drop cloth.
  • Low adhesive painter’s tape. 
  • 1,200 grit sanding block. 

Provided you have the above tools at hand, your painting task will be overly easy. Check out the steps below: 

Step 1

The very fast step is to pull out any huge dents using a dent repair kit and smoothen your painting surface. 

Employ a hot glue gun to glue the center of the dent and stay for two minutes for the glue to attach.

Then pull the retractable tab firmly until the surface retains its initial shape.  

Step 2

The next step is sanding the surface.

This step involves too much dust, so you may want to wear a dust mask to avoid inhaling unwanted particles. 

I suggest that you employ an electrical orbital sander if you intend to paint a large area.

Attach your orbital sander with a 500- 1,200 grit sandpaper or sanding pad. You then set your sander to the highest speed for smoother results. 

Thereafter, you ought to apply consistent pressure to ensure you remove equal specks of paint from the car’s surface. 

Note that if you intend to change the entire color of your car, you’ll have to sand down to the bare metal. 

Doing this exposes a smooth surface for painting and prevents the existing paint from being noticed.

Once you finish sanding, switch off the sander and check for any patches. If you notice any edged paint lines, it implies that you didn’t take off the old paint precisely.

So you may want to startup your sander and ensure you scuff the whole surface evenly.

Step 3

Once you have sanded down the intended areas, it’s now time to wipe out any lingering traces of dust.

You can perform this using a wet lint-free shop cloth. After cleaning your car’s exterior, take a clean microfiber cloth to dry the surface thoroughly.

Note if you don’t clean your surface, you won’t get the best out of it. 

Step 4

It is good to cover all areas you don’t intend to paint. Use newspapers or cloth to cover windows, mirrors, and other sensitive areas. 

Then take a masking tape and hold the newspapers in place. Alternatively, the other approach you can opt for is to remove those parts you don’t want to paint. 

Step 5

Can You Paint Over Existing Auto Paint?
Car painting

Now it’s time to apply a pinch of automotive primer using a recommended paint sprayer.

But before this, stir your primer evenly to dilute the solution, then hold the nozzle’s sprayer merely 15 to 20 away from the car. 

Drag the trigger to begin priming your car.

Don’t forget to focus on the detailed areas of the car’s surface to achieve even coverage. If you are priming indoors, wear eye protection, and a dust mask and cover exposed skin. 

  • If you are working on minor touch-ups, a thin base coat will do the trick.
  • An acid etches primer, or a standard epoxy primer is more productive in such projects. 

Before you proceed with the painting, wait for roughly one hour for the first coat to dry and attach to the surface.

But, many of today’s primers can take even 30 minutes to dry and be ready to sand after an additional hour. 

  • Beware not to sand before the primer dries. Doing that rubs off the coat, thus messing with your excellent task.
  • The drying time of each primer is based on the product used and how thick and thin you apply each coat. 

Step 6

Next, sand the base coat to smoothen all imperfections. Watch out for all rough and uneven spots.

If you realize some inconsistencies, sand the surface manually using a 1,200 grit fine sanding block. 

It would help if you used swirling motions while applying gentle pressure to smoothen the surface until it resembles the nearby surfaces. 

  • If there are no visible differences in texture, you can skip this step and proceed to apply the second coat. 
  • Sanding manually is relatively handy when accessing the restricted areas of the car, such as corners and grooves. But for larger areas, use an electric Orbital sander. 

Step 7 

Once you have factored in the precise drying time, it’s now time to paint your car. You can use numerous DIY paints to make your car have a factory-fresh look.

Choosing the best paint can be a bit tricky, but it’s good to make an informed decision. To begin, have your supplies in place and clean the working area.

Having obstacles in your workplace makes the task difficult. So, to avoid painting unwanted areas, cover them with masking tape.

Now you are set to paint. Take your paint and mix it well with the thinners using the ratios provided in the instructions.

You will apply the exact spraying technique you used when applying the primer. Spray your paint precisely in sweeping motions for full coverage.

Once you finish applying your first coat, wipe out any powdery residue with a 2000 grit sandpaper.

Follow with a clean rag and then leave the paint to dry for around an hour.

 That’s all! What follows next is to apply a clear coat of lacquer for extra protection. You can do that using a similar painting technique.

  • Don’t forget to take off the masking tape before the paint dries completely. 
  • Ideally, you will need three to four coats for a flawless finish. 

Step 8 

Finish your job by buffing out the painted surfaces on your car.

Even better, I suggest using a rubbing compound for a glossy finish.

Here’s How to Paint Your Car:

Is Repainting a Car as Good as Factory Paint?

Repainting your car is a good approach to reviving your car’s new look. But when compared to factory paint, there is no arguing that factory paint is the better pick.

Most of today’s factory paint is more enduring and can withstand extreme conditions and abuse. The secret to this is that factory paints are baked at increased temperatures of up to 400 degrees F. 

On the other hand, repainting has its benefits. However, the lifespan of a repainted surface will not last long as a factory paint.

Check out some benefits of both factory paint and aftermarket paint. 

Benefits of Repainting Your Car

  • Restore the New Look

Painting over the existing auto paint on your car can go a long way in restoring your car’s look to its initial setting.

This primarily helps to mend any deformities such as dent repair, ding, and so much more. 

  • Prevents Rust

Painting your car aids in rust prevention. However, you need to paint your car with the care and attention it deserves, or you might get your desired results. 

If you find it tricky to handle this task, take your car to a reputable brand to paint on your behalf. Doing this can help to deter future rusting. 

  • Increases the Resale Value

Did you know that painting your car can go a long way to boost the price of your current ride?

Well, now you know. Interestingly, it doesn’t matter how old your car is. 

Considering that many sales nowadays are conducted online, repainting your car means your fresh photos will pass the eye test for most online clients. 

Benefits of Factory Paint

  • Factory paints are made under high temperatures, therefore, encouraging longevity. With factory paint, you can use your car for more than ten years without experiencing issues on its surface. What’s even better, small barriers such as muddy weather won’t mess with the paint’s quality. 
  • The natural appearance makes your look more appealing. 
  • Factory paint is highly resistant to some defects like rust and corrosive damage. 

Do You Have to Sand Primer Before Painting a Car? 

It is paramount to sand primer before painting since it helps keep your surface smoother and even.

Mostly, priming can bring about dips on the surface, yet you need it to remain as smooth as possible.

That tells you why you need to sand primer before painting. However, be sure not to sand off the primer.

Just do some gentle sanding for the best results. 

What Happens If You Paint a Car Without Primer

Priming is a very crucial step in painting your car. A primer serves as a preparatory coating to guarantee better paint adhesion to the surface.

In addition, it boosts the paint’s durability and offers maximum protection to your car. However, most people are bound to skip this step to save on their budget. But priming is not a step you can bypass.

You need to know that painting without a primer leaves the car’s surface very smooth. And this means there will be no “stick factor,” as in a porous surface, for the paint to attach to.

Check out the list below to identify some undesirable consequences of escaping priming.

  • This adhesive substance acts as a bonding agent. Without it, the paint will not adhere to the surface properly, thus forming visible imperfections and rough areas.  
  • Without a primer, you will have to accept spending extra money on the budget. That’s because you will use more paint if you don’t use a primer. 
  • If you fail to use a primer, the overall paint finish will lack uniformity, and the color won’t meet your expectations. 

Is It Cheaper to Paint or Wrap Your Car? 

Many factors decide the cost of both painting your car and wrapping it. Regardless, wrapping your car seems to be a bit cheaper. 

From a fresh perspective, painting entails extra costs such as the materials required.

You can enjoy similar graphics of painting with a wrap at a lower price.  

  • Customization

Wrapping your car has various options of colors to choose from, at no extra cost.

What’s more, painting consumes more working hours than wrapping a car. To Wrap a car, you only need to print it, and it’s ready to use. 

Since a large format printer handles the task instead of a person, you can go as detailed as you want.

You have the flexibility to work with a wrap company to design your preferred wrap with many color schemes.

Mind you; you enjoy all these at half the price of the painting. 

  • Easy Repair

With painting, even the smallest scratch on the surface calls for repainting, prepping, and grinding.

But with a wrap, the company examines the damage and uses high-end software to design a good color.

The company also reprints the injured surface and reapplies it in a few hours. 

  • Quick Service

A car wrap is less labor-intensive than painting your car since you don’t have to wait for the paint to dry. 

Generally, a car wrap is commonplace for many car enthusiasts.

This option stands out because you don’t have to remove the paint when you want to sell the car. 

Does Wrapping a Car Ruin the Paint? 

There are multiple ways of decorating, advertising, and keeping your car factory’s surface fresh. But car wrap transcends the vast options.

Although it is illustriously known for its endless benefits, most car enthusiasts still ask, does wrapping a car damage the paint?

The reality is that car wrap is a safe alternative and the perfect substitute for any type of paint.

Regardless of the type of paint, a car wrap remains the most prevalent multipurpose paint protection product. 

Note: Car wraps need some maintenance; you don’t just install them and forget. Keep your car far from potential pollutants.

Then as a general rule, wash your car regularly for a more appealing look and vibrant color. 

Is It a Must to Fix a Car’s Paint Before Setting Up a Car Wrap? 

Most people tend to believe that you can use a car wrap to seal damaged paint. It’s not possible!

For a car wrap to bond precisely, the surface ought to be clean and free from damage.

Sift through the proven guidelines below on how you can use a car wrap. 

  • Decontamination Car Wash

This method strips all old coats of grease and wax from the car’s surface for better bonding. 

  • Clay Bar Treatment 

Clay bar treatment comes in handy when removing the little imperfections, including industrial fallout, pollen, brake dust, and the rest. 

So before you venture into car wraps, make sure you seek consultation from previous users. Doing this helps you to make an informed ruling. 

Is Wrapping a Car Better than Painting? 

Even with the ubiquity of painting a car, wrapping a car is a medium choice for many.

In addition, car wrapping offers better design and finishing options than paint.

Whereas paint offers a distinct look to your vehicle’s exterior, it has several disadvantages that persist: 

  • Painting takes time to apply.
  • Painting calls for extra coats, which adds to the cost.

Here is why wrapping your car transcends painting: 

  • Customization

Wrapping your car has various options of colors to choose from, at no extra cost.

What’s more, painting consumes more working hours than wrapping a car.

To wrap a car, you only need to print it, and it’s ready to use.

Since a large format printer handles the task instead of a person, you can go as detailed as you want.

You have the flexibility to work with a wrap company to design your preferred wrap with many color schemes.

Mind you; you enjoy all these at half the price of the painting. 

  • Easy Repair

With painting, even the smallest scratch on the surface calls for repainting, prepping, and grinding.

But with a wrap, the company examines the damage and uses high-end software to design a good color.

The company also reprints the damaged surface and reapplies it in a few hours. 

  •  Quick Service

A car wrap is less labor-intensive than painting your car since you don’t have to wait for the paint to dry. 

Generally, a car wrap is commonplace for many car enthusiasts.

This option stands out because you only have to remove the wrap when you want to sell.

Unlike painting, whereby you ought to repaint your car to its initial color for you to sell. 

How Much Is a Full Body Paint Job For a Car?

A full body paint job is a great chance of restoring your vehicle’s initial look or trying out a fresh look with a distinct color.

However, painting your car entails so much preparation, and you need to get it right. So before you plunge into this DIY project, it’s wise to find out how much it costs to avoid exceeding your budget. 

There are various levels of service, and their budget varies.

Check out some of the rates below for a professional paint job. 

Basic: This one is the most inexpensive option. It involves leaving out areas that are not visible, including the interior of the hood. The cost is roughly $300 to $900. 

Standard: The total cost of a typical paint job involves sanding the body and peeling off the rust before painting for a flawless finish. The cost is between $1000 to $4500. 

Showroom Quality:  The price of a showroom quality may elevate to as high as $20,000 due to exceptional service levels.

It involves sanding down the body to bare metal, removing rust, dents, and applying several coats of high-quality paint. 

If the above price is not anchored within your capacities, you can buy the necessary materials and do It yourself.

That will be somewhat cheaper. But, you have to do it in a clean and well-ventilated space. 

Final Thoughts

Repainting your car adds a unique level of prestige to your ride. As long as you have the requisite supplies and follow the steps provided, this task is relatively straightforward. But…

Can You Paint Over Existing Auto Paint? 

Yes, painting over the old car paint is possible, but you must comply with the necessary guidelines.

For outstanding results, prime the surface as expected and do some light sanding before painting. 

Thanks for your time. Hopefully, this guide offers a solution to your concerns.

If you have any questions or suggestions that you’d love to share, kindly do so in the comment section below.