The $50 Automotive Paintjob

This is my experience with the famous $50 automotive paintjob. Total cost here was about $50, maybe $65 with the addition of the cheap Harbor Freight buffer I bought. Equipment list:

  • Quart of Rustoleum gloss white paint
  • Odorless mineral spirits
  • Cheap foam brushes galore
  • 600, 1000, 1500 and 2000 grit (wet) sand paper
  • Rattle Spray Can of Rustoleum gray primer
  • Harbor Freight palm orbiting buffer

Outlined here:

And starting at day one (600 grit sand prep)…

Sanded, then masked off for Primer

Rustoleum Automotive Rattle-Can Primer Gray. Could have called it done right here if this was a Camaro.

Coverage = Bad, the paint is thinned with mineral spirits nearly 50/50

This is like 6 coats in, wet sanding with 1000 grit every 2 coats.

8 or so coats

Roundabouts 10 coats

With the license plate back in place and the bottom of the bumper refastened.
Wet sanded with 2000 grit, then buffed with the buffer and some wax/polish/compound.
Thoughts gleaned from the experience:
  • The Rickwrench site above is pretty much right on. I would recommend getting as good of a primer as you can underneath it all, preferably the color you’re painting it as the coverage is terrible.
  • I bought a buffer from Harbor Freight which did a lot for the sheen, but this job is definitely in “good enough” territory. It’s nothing special.
  • It feels durable but we’ll see what it does with the test of time. Looks great though, especially at 4 feet away