DIY Paint Job?

My 94 Dakota is in good shape except the paint. I don’t want to spend $1500 for a Maaco job if I can get a result that’ll look good from 10 feet away by prepping and painting it myself. I’ve done lots of DIY jobs but never paint. I found a small local shop that’ll rent me their paint booth for a day for $100, so with $400 in paint/primer/etc and another ~$200 in odds and ends, it’ll be ~$700. Is this a crazy idea? Any advice?

Not crazy…but It’ll tough getting decent results if you’ve never done it before. Maybe the owner can give you some pointers.

You don’t just pour the paint in the sprayer and start spraying.

For a good paint job…the #1 thing to do is PREP. That means LOTS AND LOTS of sanding…masking…possibly body-filling…

Lots of technique involved in doing the whole car. Kind of like the difference between welding two flat pieces of metal on a work bench and welding complex shapes over your head. You might get some scrap doors, hoods, trunks, whatever from a junk yard and practice on them.

Having a paint booth is half the battle. Why not just add another $100 and have a pro shoot it? The cost of a paint job is all prep labor. A pro can do things with a paint gun you can’t even imagine.

I’m planning on spending two weekends on prep (maybe 25 - 30 hours) and a day (maybe 8 - 10 hours) painting. Does that sound about right?

I definitely looked at that but none of the pros I’ve talked to want to shoot it after I prep it. They all say I’ll blame them for my bad prep (which I kind of understand).

It isn’t at all crazy if you’re up to it.

Maaco in my area offers $249 specials every now and then. I’ve seen one and they really did a great job for that price. If you stay with the truck’s original color it’ll blend fine with the doorjams etc, and prevents a problem that results when people try to change colors…unmatched doorjams etc. And remember, the more prep you do is the better the end result will be.

Here’s an episode of ‘Wheeler Dealers’ where they show some of the work needed to prep a Porsche 928 for painting. Might be helpful. But like Caddyman suggests, why not pay the pro to shoot it, like they did for the 928?

The most important part is the prep before the paint. The rental price is not bad at all and I might say go for it.
Depending on the color you use, source of supplies, etc. you may not spend anywhere near 400 on paint/primer/incidentals.

I’m not a pro body man (despise sanding) but I’ve done a number of body repair jobs on the side and used to do some custom motorcycle painting, for what that’s worth.
All I can offer are these tips.
Try to do the primer and fine sanding before going into the paint booth. Get it as smooth as possible because flaws that are not very visible in primer may really glare when the paint is applied; with some colors more than others.

Wipe the surface down with rag dampened with paint thinner first.

Do NOT shoot lacquer paint over enamel. This will be the end of the world.

Try to shoot the paint on a low humidity day and use thinner made for that temperature. Humidity can cause the paint to blush.

Get a can of hardener and add a spoon to each cup of paint. This will really toughen up the paint. If you do this you MUST shoot some clean thinner through the gun before mixing the next batch of paint for the gun cup. If you don’t the hardener can set up very quickly and lock the gun up.

Be sure to filter the paint before pouring into the paint gun cup.

Try to use a HVLP type paint gun. Less waste of paint, easier to shoot, and less chance of runs.

Try to make some practice strokes on an old piece of plywood, junk fender or trunk lid to get the feel of the gun and adjust it properly.

Start at the top, work your way down, and NEVER let the gun stop moving.

You might price a gallon of paint and a couple of gallons of thinner, figure in the incidentals, and see where you’re at on the supplies charge. It may not be more than a few hundred in total.

It’s just like shooting a 2 dollar foo-foo can of spray paint from Wal-Mart; just a bit more detailed and expensive. The procedure is the same. Hope that helps.

You might also check with MAACO on the price. They did not quote you 1500 did they? That sounds a bit high for a Dakota unless there’s body work involved.

There’s one small dent to grind/fill. $1500 is to change from green to red and include a warranty. If I leave it green and choose the “all in one coat / no warranty” it’s less but my theory is it’ll last better if I do it with 2 base and 2-3 clear coats myself.

Changing colors will cause the cost and/or work to skyrocket. The problem is that in order to prevent mismatches the doorjams, body panels around the hood, etc. etc. all need to be done to match the color of the body. That means tons more masking and cleaning (of those areas), That’s a ton more time and work involved.

Yep, understood. I’m planning to remove the front wheels, bed, and hood. I’ll paint the underside of the hood but won’t bother with the inside of the engine compartment. The door jams and interior rim of the doors will have to be masked/painted. Bottom line, I’ve always wanted a red truck - kind of silly but it’s what I usually drive so I’m pretty stuck on making the change.

I have to agree, I would not try to change colors on my first job.

DO NOT change colors…It’s very difficult to get that right…Expect to double or even triple the prep work and painting. Plus now your starting to paint areas that are difficult to paint…Door jams…You have to remove the doors or at least open the door…So instead of just masking the outside of the car…you have to mask/cover the INSIDE…What will happen…is you’ll have all this energy up front…then as you really start to get into it…it’ll be looking like a never ending job…and then you’ll start to rush and get sloppy and you’ll end up with lousy job that might not even look better then what you started with.

How about trading out for a factory red one? That’s been a very popular color on Dodge pickups for years.

There are several good online sites which have instructions in DVD, YOU tube, and video that will have the “show” as well as the “tell” such as this one:
You will need various supplies. A matching paint can cost over $100 a quart. You need 1 to 1 1/2 gallons of paint, same amount of reducer, an amount of accelerator, prep cleaner, sandpapers (240 to 600 grit).
Since you are not matching a color already on the truck, you can go to a paint supplier which has a limited number of colors, and save BIG (under $100 a gallon for paint, reducer, hardener). How about Candy Apple Red? Cherry? Other?

As someone who spent two years working in body shop. I can almost guarantee you that when it comes to a paint job you get what you pay for. If you have never sprayed a car before, the results will definitely reflect that. I would not set foot in a Maaco, I have never met a person who was satisfied with a Maaco paint job. It was not uncommon at the shop I worked at to have two or three customers a month that were disgruntled Macco customers. The phrase “Here comes the Ambassador” was an on-going joke.

If it were me, I would do it right, and have a pro do it. If you go into a paint & body shop, see if they have a down draft paint both. If they don’t keep walking. Most independent shops will cut you a break on price if you do some of the prep work (provided it’s done competently).

I would seriously reconsider changing the color, that will make the job substantially more complex. You’ll have to do the door jambs, insides of the doors, and other small but numerous places.

If you want to see some fantastic paints, and paint effects, look at these: {By “you”, I mean the plural, y’all].

I had a somewhat different experience with the Ambassador Special. I was impressed by the work and the lack of expected adhesion problems even after 4-1/2 years.

However I agree that you get what you pay for. Anyone expecting a $249 overspray to be the equivalent of an expensive paint job will definitely be disappointed. In my case the expectations were realistic. It hugely improve dthe car’s appearance without the cost being unrealistic for the vale of the car.

The OP’s truck is 15 years old. As long as his expectations are realistic I think it’s a good option.

Expectations are like the glass around the water.
Optimists see the glass as half full.
Pessimists see the glass as half empty.
I choose the correct size glass for the amount of water.

I definitely am not expecting perfection. My goals here are: a “10 foot” paint job (one that looks nice from 10 feet away), cheap, durable, and (I just gotta stick with this) RED instead of the yucky green it is now.