Automotive paint is a different direction in painting which aims for both protective and decorative purposes. So if you want to spray paint your car by yourself, it is natural to search for information about how to paint a car with rattle cans.

Today, many painters believe that spray paint is the most accessible and straightforward choice for a car. 

I have designed the article for you to get information about how to spray paint a car with rattle cans. After reading it, you don’t need to go to the auto workshop to paint your car.

Moreover,  you can find different data related to the topic—for instance, safety, preparation step, priming, coating, and other items.

Preparation steps for application

At the beginning of your task, preparing your car and the necessary things for the application is essential. Otherwise, the things you don’t prepare beforehand interrupt you while working.

So, I recommend you arrange everything to conduct your work on time effectively. Below you can identify what you must prepare beforehand to spray paint a car with rattle cans.

Rattle cansMask
Primer sprayDisposable gloves
Newspaper for maskingPutty
Cleaning clothPainter’s tape and paper
Warm, soapy waterCardboard for testing the spray paint

These are the things you need in the application process. And now queue up to you. You also prepare yourself for application. Wear unique old clothes. Also, do not forget about masks, disposable gloves, and eye-glass. Never begin to paint without wearing protective objects.

The area where you paint a car is also vital. You can paint it indoors or outdoor places according to your wish. But pay attention that the area you are painting must be well-ventilated. If not, your paint will not dry perfectly, or it can crack or peel off after some time.

Preparing the surface of the car

Preparing the surface guarantees your qualitative work on the painting. Preparation like cleaning, sanding, and priming stages are the most significant acts to spray paint a car with rattle cans.

  • You must repair damaged areas of the car at the beginning of the application. Pay attention to the whole car carefully and repair the location where needed.
  • Cleaning is the most critical stage of the work. Without cleaning the surface, you can not apply spray paint properly.

Wash down the area of the car you want to paint with soapy water. Then let it dry for a few minutes. Be careful not to leave any dust on the surface.

How can I sand my car?

The next step is sanding.  Why is sanding so important?

Because by sanding, you can determine whether the area is ready to paint. Moreover, it helps to bond the surface and the paint to a maximum degree. Without sanding, you can not achieve a smooth surface of the car.

There are lots of types of sandpaper. Its usage differs from one another.

24-36-grit sandpapers are generally suitable for caked-on areas needing a flat surface. You can use it if your car is old and suffers from overcoating. It helps you to destroy inconsistent mess.

40-grit sandpaper. It is mainly used for cars, trucks, and vans, which experienced many overlying paints over the years. Moreover, you can use it to crush rust on vehicles.

80-grit sandpaper. You can sand the exterior parts of the vehicle panels. It is the best choice for the van and car’s hood, roof, and door panels. It doesn’t leave any streaks on the surface.

150-240-320-400-grit sandpapers. These types of sandpapers sustain a smooth surface without roughing up the material.

600-grit sandpaper supplies the same paints arrive, and in most cases, you can use it for your car.

1500-4000-grit sandpaper. This sandpaper is quite comfortable to use for large automobiles.

According to the condition of your car, choose the proper sandpaper. Sand the area you want to paint with the help of some water.

Wipe the surface with a dry cloth and let it dry for an hour. Try to sand accurately because the result of the painting of the car is dependable on one another.

While sanding the surface using a block of sandpaper. It helps you from damaging your hand. Furthermore, your work will be productive and easy with it.

You can sand your car in both wet and dry conditions. It is up to your preference.


Primer is the most vital phenomenon which is used before having a coating. The main purpose of using a primer is to provide a durable adhesion to the spray paint. Although it is possible to spray paint a car with rattle cans without the priming, it is better with a primer because;

it prevents cracking, peeling, flaking, and rusting of the car.

In this step, you should remove the areas that don’t need paint, like a grille or other tools. Or you can cover them with paper or old newspaper pieces. You can also rip off a piece of painter’s tape to cover exposed areas.

There are some areas you should keep away from spray paint. They are:

  • The areas that are not metal
  • Wheel rims
  • Car bumpers
  • Side Window
  • Window frames

How to prime a car before spraying paint with rattle cans?

Before spraying the primer, wipe the area with a wet cloth. Most of the people who are painting their cars don’t pay attention to the clean surface. But you should keep in mind that a clean surface provides effective results.

You should apply three coats of the primer to the car and wait 15 minutes to dry between each coat.  Move the rattle can across even,  forth, and back strokes to the car from 25-30 centimeters (9.8 in) away.

It is better to paint several light coats of the primer than numerous thick layers since thick coats cause the paint to drip.

After the last layer, please wait 24 hours for it to dry.  

Types of the primers

There are several types of automotive primers before having a top coating. Below you can get information about these phenomena.

1Epoxy primerThis type of primer is specially formulated for metals that are not sanded. Its main feature is that it can prevent metal from corrosion
2Urethane Primer SurfacerIt is used over the secondary base sealer. You can use it with fillers or any putty. But it can not provide to prevent corrosion.
3Polyester PrimerIf you need rust protection and paint adhesion primer, Moisture Cure Urethane Primer suits your work. You can choose it for difficult repairing work. Furthermore, its dry time is short when enough moisture is in the atmosphere. 
4Urethane SealerThis primer is the best choice for small repairing areas but not for the whole car. It is known in the auto world as an “excellent build.” You can use it for the areas where pronate cracking
5Acid Etch PrimerThis type of primer is much more like a urethane sealer.  Acid Etch Primer dries faster than other types of primers. You can use it for extra rust prevention.
6Enamel Primers/SealersThis primer is surprisingly economical. Its basic is more like an epoxy primer. It is considered the top choice for corrosion resistance.
7Lacquer Primers/SealersIf you need rust protection and paint adhesion primer, Moisture Cure Urethane Primer suits your work. You can choose it for difficult repairing works. Furthermore, its dry time is short when enough moisture is in the atmosphere. 
8Moisture Cure Urethane PrimerThis type of primer sands very well and dries faster. But you can not use it for big projects. Because in the long term, it begins to crack and bubble. If your project is a small bodywork job, you can choose it without hesitation.

All the above primers are acceptable for the spray paint of the car.

You don’t need to use a primer when you want to buff away your car slightly. Another condition is that your car’s steel panel needn’t be covered using a primer is just needless.

After drying the primer, you should again sand the surface to make a smooth top. You can use 1200-grit in this step. You can gently wet the sandpaper and move it onto the surface until the layer is smooth.

Wash the car to remove the dust from the surface with soapy warm water and dry it with a towel. You can also wait for it for a while in the open air.

Painting Process

After sanding and priming the surface, you can begin coating it with rattle cans. Before painting the car, shaking the rattle can is essential because the pigments in the rattle can separate over time.

Shake the spray paint for at least 3 minutes. It helps re-combine the liquid in the rattle can. If you have already used the can several times within 12 hours, one minute of shaking is enough.

Before painting a car directly, testing is also an excellent way to examine the spray. Use a spare piece of cardboard to ensure that the spray paint has been applied evenly. If the paint is patchy, shake the can again for a minute.

Why test

This test also helps to examine how much pressure you need to put on the rattle can.

You can spray the paint with horizontal strokes onto the car. Hold the rattle can parallel (approximately 25 centimeters away, like a used primer) to the car.  You can move the rattle can at a consonant speed until the surface has a light, even layer.

It is better to apply at least twice. Because multiple coating gives an even and smooth surface to the car. A 10-minute break is enough to dry the spray paint. But if it doesn’t dry in ten minutes, wait a little bit until the spray paint dries thoroughly.

If you don’t break between coats, your paint will be sticky. You can apply the one more time on the surface if your car looks patchy, even two coats. The total dry time consists of 30 minutes.

And now your car is ready to paint clear paint. Spray the clear paint over the surface using a horizontal direction. This clear paint helps to prevent the car from the sun’s UV rays.

Keep the paint dry for 24 hours before using the car.

If you don’t like the result after drying the car, you can resand and repaint it.

What types of spray paint can I use for my car?

Knowledge about painting is one thing; painting is another. But if you want to paint your car by yourself, it is also essential to know about types of spray paint. Moreover, you must know what kind of spray paint suits your car.

Here are some types of spray paint you can apply to your car.

  • Water-based spray paint
  • Nitro-cellulose paint
  • Acrylic enamel
  • Acrylic urethane
  1. Water-based spray paint is considered an environmental paint. You must use a lacquer protection layer before applying it to your car.
  2. Nitro-cellulose paint helps to keep the car’s original look. It is the best choice to touch up and repaint the old cars. Your car shines like a new design.

Yet, it has so many highly poisonous substances and smells that negatively affect your health.   You must wear safety gear to use it.

  • 3. Acrylic enamel. This type of paint stands out from others by its firmness and tough coating after drying.

     4. Acrylic urethane is one of the most expensive paints for cars. This paint is as rough as acrylic.  Long duration and firm surface after drying are the main features of acrylic urethane.

Apart from these four types of automotive paints, there are other types of spray paint, like waterborne and solvent-borne. You should pick a compatible one according to the surface you are painting.

Why spray paint?

Because spray paint is easy to use and dries faster than other paints, rattle cans are the most affordable method for applying your car’s fresh and original look.

How much spray paint do I need to paint my car?

It is up to the area that you are painting. But if you want to paint your car’s whole surface, you need approximately 20 rattle cans.

Final thoughts

Painting your car with the rattle can be a little bit difficult. But if you read this article carefully, you can do it without hesitation. Just read all the tips which were mentioned above.

Note that the first thing you should do is provide your safety. Also, the area is essential. Choose a well-ventilated shelter to paint your car.