If you’re asking, “how much does it cost to paint a truck?” this article is for you.
Trucks are the go-to vehicles for carrying heavy cargo, pulling other vehicles, traveling through rough terrains, etc. Even though a truck will endure such heavy use, one thing remains vulnerable – its paintwork.
The paintwork of a truck suffers a lot of damage and will show signs of wear quicker than the smaller family vehicles.
The only way to deal with this problem is to paint the truck. The method of painting will be similar across the board, but there will be a considerable difference in the cost of the job. So, How Much Does It Cost To Paint A Truck?
It will cost you anywhere between $300-$20,000 to paint a truck. The cost margin is broad because it depends mainly on the truck’s size and the type of labor you use.
The amount of bodywork required before painting will also determine whether or not you will spend a fortune.
These three factors will determine the most considerable portion of the cost of painting a truck. However, you must also consider other little details like the type of paint, paint color, and luxury customization to determine a more accurate cost.
In this article, I’ll explain in depth how you can use these primary factors to estimate the cost of painting a truck. I will also show you the proper way of painting a truck and then give you some great tips on what to do to save money when painting.
Let’s dive right in!
How to Estimate the Cost to Paint A Truck?
Estimating the cost of painting a truck requires you to consider the following factors:
Size of the Truck
It is cheaper to paint a smaller truck than a larger one because of the difference in the surface area needing coverage. Let me use a pickup and a dump truck as examples.
A standard-sized pickup truck is 19 ft long, 6.7 ft wide, and 6.3 ft tall. On the other hand, an average dump truck is 20 ft long, 10ft wide, and 12 ft long.
You won’t need too much paint to cover the pickup truck, saving a lot of money while buying the coating products. On the other hand, the dump truck will consume more paint, doubling the cost of paint products required.
In addition, it will take very little time to paint the small surface of the pickup than it would the larger dump truck. As a result, you will save a lot of money on labor costs, especially if you hire a professional service that charges by the hour.
Type Of Labor Used
You can hire a professional to paint your truck or do the job yourself. Whichever labor you choose will determine the overall cost of painting a truck.
Let’s start with professional services.
Professional Painting Services
All local body shops base their charges for painting a truck on the preparation needed before the painting.
You see, every truck owner subjects their vehicle to a different use. Some stick to basic vehicle uses, while others push them to extremes to have the whole range experience of owning a truck.
As a result, the damage level to the truck will vary from owner to owner, leading to varying repair costs.
Professional vehicle painting services come in three packages: Basic painting services, Standard services, and Showroom-Quality services. Let me break it down for you.
Basic Painting Services cost between $300-$1000. It is the cheapest package because it involves minimal preparation work while all the body panels are still on the vehicle. The prep involves taping the trim and then applying single-stage auto paint.
For the newbies, Single-stage auto paint is the automotive version of a paint and primer in one.
The product contains all the necessary chemicals required to complete the job in one step, eliminating the need for a base coat or a clear coat. This makes the task quicker and cheaper.
On the downside, single-stage paints are thinner than standard 2-step paints; therefore, they do not stand up well to heavy use or constant exposure to the elements.
They dull and oxidize quickly, so you will find yourself making frequent trips to the body shop.
If you want a basic paint job to last longer, ask the professional to apply a few coats of clear over the single-stage paint to protect it.
Standard Painting Services cost between $1000-$5000. It involves more extensive preparations that include sanding and rust repair. Afterward, the painter will apply multiple paint coats followed by 3-5 layers of clear coat.
A standard truck paint job will last longer than a basic one because the painters use enamel paint. Enamel auto paint is higher quality than single-stage paints; therefore, they can withstand the elements and heavy use better.
On the downside, the extra prep work means this service will take longer. However, the results will be worth it.
Showroom-Quality Painting Services cost between $5000-$20,000. It is the most expensive professional service because it requires much prep work and the highest quality automotive coatings.
A showroom-quality service involves sanding down the old paint back to bare metal and repairing dents. Afterward, the painter applies a primer followed by up to 20 layers of high-quality urethane paint.
Finally, 6-8 layers of clear coat are added to protect the paint and make the finish glossy.
This painting service may include some custom detailing like airbrush art, two-tone painting, and metallic finishes. If you want the extra work, you will have to pay more.
DIY Truck Painting
You can paint your truck yourself if the professional painting costs are too high for you. However, you must ensure that you possess the necessary skills and equipment to guarantee the best results.
The cost of the very first DIY paint job will be the highest because you need to purchase all the preparation tools and equipment.
Afterward, any subsequent jobs will only require you to buy paint because you already have the tools. Let me tell you about the initial purchases.
- Preparation Supplies such as sandpaper, drop cloths, paint sprayer, masking sheets, and tape will cost you around $200.
- The cost of Auto Paint will vary based on the quality of paint you select. Urethane auto paints are the most durable, costing up to $90 per gallon. If that’s too high, you can purchase an enamel auto paint at around $50 per gallon. You also need a good quality clear coat which will set you back between $50-$90.
- You will need to purchase a paint sprayer with an air compressor, a tool that will set you back hundreds of dollars. On the bright side, you can hire the sprayer locally to cut the overall cost.
Other essential supplies include:
- Sandable body filler to repair dents and other imperfections.
- Power sander
- Sealer to cover exposed metal
- Safety gear like goggles, coveralls, gloves, and a gas mask.
I recommend using the DIY option if your truck requires a basic paint refresh. If it requires extensive bodywork, take it to the professionals for the best results.
How Long Will a Paint Job Last On a Truck
Painting your truck is a great way to rejuvenate its appearance, but it can be expensive. So the biggest worry of most truck owners is that they may have to repaint the vehicle again and again, spending more money.
For this reason, most want to know how long the paint job will last before painting their truck.
A fresh paint job on a truck can last between 10-15 years, depending on the painting service you get. How you utilize the truck and take care of it after the paint job also plays a massive role in the lifespan of the finish. Let me elaborate.
Basic painting services utilize the lowest quality paint, usually single-stage auto paint. These products tend to wear out quickly, especially if you don’t request a clear coat to protect the finish.
On the other hand, a standard paint job uses better quality paint than the basic, usually enamel auto paint. This paint can last for the 10-15 year ballpark, but only if you take care of the finish properly.
Showroom-quality paint jobs last the longest because a lot of precision goes into the work. In addition, the painters use Urethane auto paint, the most durable car finish on the market today.
It can withstand the elements and heavy usage for longer than the enamel and single-stage auto paint.
Now I know you’re wondering, how long will the paint job last if you DIY?
A DIY paint job can last as long as a professionally done finish. However, you must possess the necessary skills to get the job done right and use the best paint available.
Even if you have experience painting vehicles and use low-quality paint, the finish will not last very long. The results will remain the same if you apply urethane paint without using the necessary painting procedures.
At this point, the choice seems easy – go for a quality painting service or DIY with quality products to ensure the finish lasts. But that’s not all.
It won’t matter what service you get or what paint you use to DIY if you do not take proper care of the truck afterward. If you leave the vehicle in the sun for long hours, UV rays will break down the paint pigment, leaving noticeable patches of sun damage.
It is possible to repair the sun damage, but it will cost you money and time. Therefore, it is best to always park in your garage or make a parking shade somewhere in your compound.
How you use your truck will also affect how long the paint job will last. If you subject the truck to heavy use, the paint will chip or fade much quicker than if you only use it for basic load carrying.
If you bought your truck specifically for heavy use, ensure that you always get showroom quality services every time you paint it.
Note: The biggest mistake you can make is driving your truck too soon after painting. Even if the finish feels dry to the touch, I recommend waiting at least 72 hours or even up to 1 week before driving the truck.
Otherwise, the finish will wrinkle, peel off, or chip in just a few months.
Signs It’s Time to Paint Your Truck
Knowing the estimated pricing and longevity of a truck’s paint job is necessary. However, it won’t do you any good if you don’t know whether or not your vehicle needs painting.
So, let me tell you the seven most important signs that your truck needs a fresh paint job.
The dullness of a vehicle’s paint occurs when the glossy clear coat starts to wear off. You can quickly notice this sign when your truck no longer reaches its usual “new shine,” even if you polish it properly.
If you notice the dullness early, you might get away with reapplying a fresh, clear coat. However, if you allow all the clear coat to rub off, you will have to spend more time and money to restore it.
Many people think dull and fading paint is the same, but they are wrong. Dull paint still has its pigment intact and only needs a few coats of clear coat to restore it.
On the other hand, a fading paint job is a sign that the clear coat is completely worn out. At this point, the pigment in the exposed paint is in its initial stages of wearing out (oxidation).
When you notice your truck’s paint fading, plan to get it repainted as soon as possible.
Deep scratches on car finishes are normal, but they are not related to natural weathering in any way. They are usually a result of a road sideswipe, an accidental parking scratch, or if someone intentionally keys your car.
You must immediately contact your local body shop when you notice deep scratches on your truck’s paint. They will help you assess the extent of the damage and then suggest the best action forward.
Fine cracks usually appear in vehicles left in the sun for too long without proper protection. The paint begins to dry out as the sun heats the truck, causing it to crack.
Fine cracks are not a pretty sight on your truck. And if you don’t take any action, they can run even deeper, leaving the metal underneath vulnerable. So ensure that you make painting arrangements as soon as you notice them.
Dents On the Truck’s Body
Dents are common after accidentally backing into a rigid structure like a pole, gate, or even another vehicle. When you dent your truck without the paint breaking, you can get away without a repaint.
However, if the metal of your truck gets exposed, you must repaint the vehicle to avoid future problems.
Peeling often occurs when the truck’s clear coat separates from the paint. Soon after, the paint and base coat lift off, exposing the vehicle’s metal.
When you see actual peeling, it means that you missed the early telltale signs. So always look for bubbles and discolored areas on the finish, as they are the first signs that the clear coat is about to peel off.
When you notice rust peeking through your truck’s paint finish, it signifies an underlying issue. It is also evidence that you neglected one or several of the other signs that I have listed in this section.
A massive rust problem can quickly start with a simple deep scratch or a fine crack you did not fix. Moisture and oxygen will seep through the open space and reach the bare metal, causing it to rust.
After some time, the rust will spread underneath the finish, eventually eating its way up to the paint’s surface.
When you see rust, take your car to the Body Shop immediately for restoration.
How to Paint a Truck
Follow the procedure below to paint your truck successfully.
Step 1: Gather the Necessary Supplies
You will need:
- An air compressor that continuously delivers enough compressed air for the task’s duration (at least a 60-gallon tank). Ensure that it has a pressure regulator on the outlet, a water trap, and an adjustable safety valve that won’t allow the pressure in the tank to fluctuate by more than 15%.
- A Low-Pressure High-Volume (LPHV) spray gun because it minimizes overspray.
- Urethane or Enamel Auto Paint for a durable finish. Select a color if you’re stripping the old finish completely. Otherwise, ensure that the new color is an exact match of the paint color that’s already on the vehicle.
- A white plastic sheeting to cover walls and ceilings and control dust. The white color will also help reflect light evenly on the entire truck.
- Adhesive tape
- Halogen work lights with portable stands will come in handy if your garage does not have enough illumination.
- Automotive Primer – corrosion resistant and self-etching.
- Clear Automotive Laquer
- Mineral Spirits for general cleaning.
- Electric Orbital Sander and Necessary Sandpaper. You can also use a Sanding Block if you are only retouching paint in a few minor spots.
- Sandable Auto Body Filler.
- Electric drill and a flap wheel.
- Several Microfiber towels
- A Respirator mask designed for use in vehicle painting.
- Safety goggles to protect your eyes
- Nitrile gloves
- Disposable plastic coveralls with a hood
Step 2: Set Up For The Job
An enclosed workspace with excellent ventilation and good lighting is the best and safest place to paint your truck. You must also ensure minimal dust in the surroundings and lots of room to move around the vehicle as you paint.
Home garages work well for this purpose. However, you must ensure that there’s no water heater, furnace, or any other potential ignition for the paint fumes that will accumulate as you paint.
- Cover the walls and ceilings in the workspace using the white plastic sheet. Ensure that you secure it with some adhesive tape to hold it in place for the duration of the job. It would be regrettable if a corner of the sheeting came loose and fell on a freshly painted section of the truck.
- Wear protective gear – goggles, mask, gloves, and coveralls.
- Ensure your air hose is long enough to move around the truck and easily reach the roof. This will prevent the hose from accidentally touching or dragging along a freshly painted area. If your hose is too short, buy a step ladder to help you reach the roof and get somebody to help you keep the air hose away from the truck’s body.
- Carve out enough time (4-5 hrs) to ensure that you paint the whole truck in one uninterrupted procedure. This will ensure the best results.
Step 3: Carry Out Necessary Repairs
Start by gently removing any chrome or plastic trim that can easily come off the vehicle. If the gentle attempt does not work, do not force it because you can cover them later.
Next, use a dent repair kit to pull out any dented spots on the car (Skip this step if there are no dents.)
- Glue a suction cap from the repair kit onto the center of the dent using a hot glue gun. Ensure that the cup is appropriately sized for the dent you’re fixing.
- Allow the glue to harden for about 2 minutes, then pull gently on the retractable tab until the metal regains its original shape. You can pound the dents on the trunk, hood, or rear panels from inside using a hammer and dolly.
Repair any rust spots to prevent them from ruining the finish later. You do not have to be so gentle here because you will still sand down the old finish back to bare metal.
- Fit a flap wheel onto the electric drill and grind away the rust until it comes off.
Afterward, fill any gouges or dings in the metal using an auto-body filler. If the dings are too minor, use a glazing putty because it is thinner than regular auto fillers.
- Mix the filler material on a mixing board until it obtains a cream-like consistency.
- Spread it evenly over the gouged spots using a clean spreader and then allow it to dry. Drying usually takes 10-30 minutes, but check the product’s instructions for the precise duration.
Finally, sand the hardened filler to smoothen its edges.
- Use 180-grit sandpaper, and be sure o sand in all directions for a seamless finish.
Step 4: Strip the Existing Finish
This is the most time-consuming step in this whole procedure. It will take several hours, but you can quickly work through it with a high-speed electric orbital sander.
- Fit the orbital sander with sandpaper or a sanding pad – any grit between 500-1200 will work fine.
- Run it in a circular motion over the truck’s surface, ensuring you use consistent pressure to remove the paint evenly. If you’re changing the color completely, don’t worry about the evenness of paint removal. Just sand the finish down to the bare metal.
- Dampen a microfiber towel with mineral spirits and clean the car surface thoroughly.
Note: If you’re only freshening up your truck’s paint in a few spots, use a fine sanding block to prepare the spots. You can also use scotch-rite to get the job done.
- Glide the sanding block over each section in small circles. This will scuff up the paint enough to receive the fresh paint properly.
5. Finally, cover areas you don’t want to paint with masking tape.
- Since you’re only painting the car body, you’ll need to mask off the window glass, trim, and side mirrors. Ensure that the masking tape lays flat over these areas to ensure that paint does not sneak through.
Step 5: Prime the Truck
Set up your paint sprayer and add your auto primer according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Before you start, test the sprayer on a scrap piece of metal or cardboard to ensure that the paint comes out consistently.
During this time, adjust pressure and other equipment settings so you won’t have to stop in the middle of the job.
- Hold the sprayer about 8 inches from the truck’s surface and apply the first primer coat, working from the top of the truck going downward.
Ensure that you lay down a thin, even coat using sweeping, side-to-side motions throughout the procedure.
- Allow the primer to dry for the appropriate duration, and then add 1-2 more coats or as the manufacturer recommends. Afterward, sand the base coat lightly to smoothen it, and then wipe the car with mineral spirits to remove the dust.
Note: As the primer dries, Clean the sprayer following the product’s instructions. Ensure that you remove all traces of the primer before adding the paint.
Step 6: Paint The Truck
Prepare your selected auto paint as instructed by the manufacturer and then load it into the sprayer. Paint prep usually involves thinning, so ensure that you follow instructions to the letter.
Also, Remember to test the sprayer on a scrap piece of metal to ensure that the paint comes out evenly. Once satisfied with the settings, you can begin painting the truck.
- Hold the sprayer 8 inches from the truck’s surface and apply the paint in sweeping, side-to-side motions.
Ensure that you apply the finish thinly, starting from the top of the truck and moving downward.
- Allow the first coat to dry as instructed by the manufacturer, and then apply 3-4 more coats using the same technique.
- Afterward, allow the paint to dry correctly.
- As the Paint dries, clean the sprayer to prepare it for holding the clear coat.
- After the final paint coat dries (it could take 1-2 hours), wet sand the surface using 1500-grit sandpaper to make it smooth.
- You can also use 2000-grit sandpaper if you want a showroom-quality finish. Afterward, wipe the surface with mineral spirits before proceeding.
Step 7: Finishing
Load the sprayer with your chosen automotive clear lacquer and spray it onto the truck using the same techniques you used while painting. Allow the first layer of clear coat to dry as directed on the product. Afterward, sand it lightly and apply 2-3 more coats.
- Your truck’s finish will feel dry to the touch within 24 hours, but it’s not yet ready. Allow the paint to cure for seven days to avoid future problems. Do not move anything into or out of the workspace during this time. Don’t even remove the plastic sheeting covering the walls and ceiling to avoid stirring up dust.
After the finish cures, Use 1600-grit sandpaper to wet sand the truck, removing any minor imperfections in the coat.
- Ensure you use minimum pressure to avoid sanding the finish down too far. If you sand too much, you will have to repeat the entire process.
Afterward, wipe down the truck with a damp cloth.
Once you’re done, it’s time to buff the finish until you achieve a desirable sheen.
- You can buff by hand or a machine, but I recommend machine buffing to finish quicker. If you’ve never used a buffing machine, stick to hand buffing to avoid mistakes.
How to Save Money When Painting?
Even though painting your truck seems expensive, there are some things you can do to cut costs and save some money. These are
Paint the truck yourself to avoid the extra charges added by professionals. When you do the work at home, all you have to do is buy some paint and hire the necessary equipment, and you’re good to go.
However, you must practice your skills on scrap pieces of metal or junkyard cars to get the hang of it before trying it on your truck.
Do some preparation work yourself to help reduce the cost and working hours of the professional painter. You can remove the trim, fill out gouges and then allow the professionals to apply the coatings as necessary.
Do not neglect any signs of paint weathering, like fine cracks or fading. These signs may seem harmless on the surface, but they will cause much damage if you allow them to advance.
Neglecting the signs will increase the prep work required during painting, thus increasing the job’s overall cost.
Do not purchase more paint than you need. For this tip to work, you must calculate the average square footage of your truck to determine the exact amount of paint, primer, and clear coat you will require to achieve a good finish.
Compare the charges of different auto body shops before settling on one. Some body shops offer better deals than others, which could save you a lot of bucks in the long run.
Always select the best professional services even though they are more expensive. This tip may seem off-point, but getting a good quality finish now, will save you a lot of money in the future.
Here’s a Cost Effective Video On Painting a Truck:
Painting your truck is inevitable, especially if you use it heavily and regularly. The finish coat that it has will eventually weather, or a little accident could cause premature ruin. Whatever the reason for painting, the only thing that truck owners want to know is:
How Much Does It Cost to Paint a Truck?
It will cost you $300-$1000 to get a basic professional paint job and $1000-$5000 for a standard durable finish. The most durable service is the Showroom-quality paint job, but t will set you back between $5000-$20,000, depending on the amount of work the truck requires.
If you don’t want to spend too much on a professional job, you can opt for DIY. However, the initial DIY job will cost a fortune because you will have to purchase all the equipment and coatings from scratch.
On the bright side, once you make the initial purchases, all the subsequent paint jobs will cost you very little.
Thank you for reading this far, and I hope I have answered all your questions regarding the costs of painting a truck. If you need clarification on anything, please reach out in the comments.