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How To Respray Your Car for Cheap.

If your getting bored of the color of your car, or your paint is looking old and tattered, this article is for you. You may be dreaming of a paint booth with a professional respray but that might end up costing more than your car is even worth! If it still runs but it’s embarrassing to be seen in, there’s good news. You can completely refresh the look of your car with extremely high quality paint for under $200! Yes! Under two hundred dollars.

Old Paint job

You car may have looked gorgeous and shiny when you bought it but has now become an eye-sore, but why? Most cars have either Metallic or Non Metallic paints on the bodies, these paints are sprayed onto the car and polished in many layers, with many layers of clear coat for added shine. Both types of paint dry to form a hard and brittle layer on top of your body panels. Powder coating uses electro-magnetism to attract the paint particles to your cars’ metal surfaces. The painted parts are then baked in the oven until the paint is literally baked on.

The problem with these brittle paints is that they don’t flex and can often snap or crack on impact. They are also fairly thin despite all the layers and due to their hard and brittle nature they can scratch easily. What then happens is that a pore opens up in the paintwork which allows moisture and water behind the paintwork straight to the body panels underneath. Now water can either cause the body work to start to rust or just start seeping under the rest of the paintwork, causing it to discolor and eventually lift and peel off completely.



A brand new paintjob can last for 8-10 years, but once the completeness of the seal has been compromised the entire paint job can look like a nightmare in just a few years. The ugliest parts tend to be the parts that sit horizontally when water can sit on them and swell up under the paint. Heat from the Sun or engine can expand or even boil that water, physically breaking off the paint work.

Out with the Old

Your old paintjob had many layers. First the car’s body panels should have been roughed up with some light grit to allow a primer coats to strongly bond to the metal, they then added a few layers of color and smoothed those layers (like wet sanding) to get a super smooth job and added a couple of layers of clear coat on top of that. This process varies between brands and models, but the basic idea is the same just the number of coats used in each part will be different. The clear coat is applied onto an extremely smooth layer of paint and is also smoothed between each progressive coating. In the end the top layers are just sitting on lower coats with no mechanical bond.

In order to get rid of the problem of a coating that is just going to flake off you need to take a 100 grit sander and remove all the clear coat. Keep going till the shine is completely removed from the car. You don’t want to get all the way down to bare metal unless whatever paint there is just peels right off. Sandpaper will set you back $10 for this step.

Dealing with Rust

Areas with rust need to be cleared too. remove any loose rust and sand down any rust until you get to the hard metal which might be corroded, but certainly not flaky. You will want to treat the corroded metal with a chemical rust neutralizer or something like Rust Stop by SEM. It just paints onto the Rust and turns it into a blackish color which is no longer rust. Make sure all the rust is totally covered so that it can’t continue growing. Rust converter’s will set you back $12 for this step.

Dents and Bumps

If you’re already fixing up your body work you might as well go all in. Using a body filler like Bondo is surprisingly easy and with enough attention you can get fantastic results. Spend an hour on YouTube watching some videos for Bondo tips and tricks – there are some great and informative videos out there. Bondo will set you back $16

Pre-paint Prep

So you’ve sanded off the old clear coat and scuffed up the paint, you should have taken care of any rust issues and even fixed up the dents, it’s time to prepare for the paint.

We’re working with a Polyurethane paint and we need to make sure the surface is cleared of all impurities and ready to bond with our paint – Durabak. The surface needs to be wiped down with a solvent, either Xylene or Solvide. You shouldn’t use solvent over rust treatment tho. Solvent will set you back around $10

If you want to go for a two tone look or have certain parts or panels that you don’t want to paint, tape them off with 3M Blue painter’s tape – that will set you back $5

Painting Time

You’re finally ready to paint your car, Yay this is the good bit!

You can purchase Durabak paint in either smooth or textured. It also comes in 16 colors and you can also mix the colors together to form a unique tone. It’s also possible to have a pigment added in an auto body paint shop, just make sure they add a non-water based paste pigment and that you use the Durabak that day.

Open up the Durabak, you’ll only need a gallon for a small family car. Give the Durabak a good stir for 3-5 minutes with a drill powered stirring tool. Pour out a pint onto your paint tray and start rolling it on in a thin layer with a 3/16″ shortnap mohair roller. Go over the entire body once and wait for it to dry.

After 1 to 2 hours the Durabak should be touch dry, now you can start rolling on the second coat. Be sure to use a new roller sleeve for this coat. Once again roll a thin layer for the top coat and it should become opaque.

Keep your car protected from any water, dust, dirt for a full day after the painting is complete.

Durabak is self leveling, so no need to dry or wet sand it.

Advantages of Durabak

So we went through why your original manufacturer’s paint job ends up leaving our vehicles looking terrible. The difference with Durabak is that it’s fully bonded to the body panels of your car. When you sand down your car with 80 grit you’re creating a texture for the Durabak to mechanically bond to the panels. Durabak is a fully flexible polyurethane coating which means a few things.

The Durabak is a layer of material and will be 1-32″ thick once laid on, unlike auto paint which is razor thin and brittle. The Durabak is totally flexible like rubber, so it will not crack, chip or break on impact. It’s really thick and tough so it doesn’t scratch easy at all, and because it’s fully bonded to the metal underneath it it won’t lift or peel. The Durabak is corrosion proof and will protect your car from rust, from saltwater spray and water, it is also resistant to UV rays, oil and gasoline resistant.


Click here to discover the excellent color options Durabak has to offer.

1 comment

  • Can I buy Durabak smooth Dark Blue locally? I live in central Oregon. I would like to spray it on as well. How much smoother finish will that create?
    Thank You!

    Mike Wulf

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