What you will need
Painting a car is a very time-consuming task, which could take you from a few days to a couple of weeks. You will need an air-powered or electrical sander, masking tape, newspapers or papers to mask off, a buffer, face mask, safety glasses, paint thinner, the best air compressor for painting and a spray gun and other tools.
For a car in small or medium size, you will need roughly 1 gal of primer or base coat, 2 to 3 gals of clear coat and 3 gals of topcoat. For the larger one, use 1.5 gals of base coat, 3 to 4 gals of clear coat and 4 gals of topcoat. Professional workers would use less amount than that. In addition, it is much better to have too much paint rather than too little.
Clean the working area and remove all dust. If you are going to spray outside, use a hose to wash the working area and make sure that you are not working under a tree or anything else that would leave contaminants on the wet painted car. Then wash down and clean the surface of your car if it has any grime, grease or dirt.
Decide if you want to paint your car in details such as the trunk, interior doorsill and engine bay. This would significantly add much time to your task since you will need to take off your car to its simple shell, including striping down the engine. Nevertheless, if it is only the outside that you are aiming to enhance, then simply cover the area that you do not want to paint.
Use circular movement to begin to sand away. You may need to sand the crevice and corner by bare hand. The best end is completed by sanding the whole car back to simple metal with a completely smooth end. This could be probably time-consuming, taking about 2 hours to complete each panel. If you have limited amount of time, then you do not need to go back to simple metal. Just need to make sure that you have an even and smooth surface.
Mask up the area that you do not want to paint by using newspapers or masking tape. Take a considerable amount of time to do this task so as to prevent ugly overspray.
Mix the thinner with primer by using various recommended ratios on the paint can guides. It would help to create various paints.
Before you begin to paint your car in the first time, it is important to practice the method of spraying. Take a cheap and used panel from your yard, or get any piece of steel scrap that you have around. Then hold your spray gun for about 6 inches from that panel and splash in a sweeping move. If you grasp the gun continually when you splash, the paint would be a little thicker in a spot where you alter the direction, thereby leading to runs.
When it comes to a primer, you should combine thinners with the paint by using the suggested ratio on a paint can guide. Use the topcoat paint by following the same technique of spraying. Every coat would take you around ten minutes to spray each panel and from twenty minutes to one hour to recoat and cure.
With persistence, careful approach and frequent practice, painting a car yourself is feasible. And the happiness and satisfaction that you have from doing that is worth your effort, and the money that you would save will amaze you.