How Many Cans Of Spray Paint To Paint A Truck? (Solved)

If you have ever owned a vehicle more than a few years old, you may have considered a paint job to bring it back to its like-new glory.

Finding out that a professional paint job can cost over $2,000 may have put the project on the back burner.

Another option is more DIY-friendly and can cost a lot less. Using spray paint can give you a high gloss and even finish and look professional with a skilled hand. But how many spray cans will it take to paint a car or truck?

We will answer all your questions inclusing how many spray cans and even cover the costs and amounts and how much paint is needed for your vehicle.

The number of spray cans needed to paint a car or truck will depend on many factors. The first factor, of course, is the size of your vehicle.

For example, compact cars will need much less paint than a panel van.

Common rattle cans of car spray paint contains about 8 ounces of paint. It is also recommended that you lay at least three thin layers of paint over the area, which can use more spray cans than a single thick layer.

For compact and midsize cars, you can expect to go through 12 to 20 spray cans. For trucks without campers, you can expect to use up to 30 cans, and vans may require more than 40 spray cans for complete car spray paint coverage.

Removing rust is another issue that can take up more time or require the use of specialized paints like Rustoleum.

You may need to use higher grit sandpaper or drop cloth or tack cloth and take the car paint down to the bare metal. This will require more spray cans of primer to build up a smooth base to all the painted surfaces.

Even on bare metal surfaces, one coat will not be enough. From a small car to a large truck, using a spray gun or paint gun will speed the process along. When spray painting in smooth, horizontal strokes in a well-ventilated area will expedite the process.

  • Cover the unpainted area using the masking tape and masking film. 
  • Apply paint with Clear Coat. 
  • Apply the lacquer coat after the paint has dried completely.
  • Then, remove the masking tape while the clear coat is or last coat still wet.
  • Remove masking tape carefully.
  • Apply body filler to the small patches and dents that need repairing.
Spray Painting A Car

How Much Spray Paint Will I Need For Various Car Parts?

Normal vehicles getting a paint job in a shop will use different measurements. Shops order by the gallon, usually allowing for at least two quarts for a full job.

When trying to figure out how many cans, you will want to move to ounces for spray can measurements.

Aside from knowing how many cans of spray paint are needed, you also need to ensure you have the same color as the area of the vehicles you are sanding and spraying.

Just don’t forget your paint masker when you paint a car or paint a truck. Gloves are also recommended.


Hoods vary in size from small to overly large and depending on the area, you can use a lot of paint to cover the entire thing.

On average, you can expect to use 2 to 4 cans of paint. This doesn't include the can or two of primer and the can of clear coat to finish the job.

Larger hoods may require an extra can of paint to cover completely. As long as you use even strokes and thin coats, the coverage will be flush and smoother with a nice gloss finish to match the rest of the car.

You will want to be cautious about using a high-grit sandpaper. If you are only doing a touch-up on the hood, when you sand, you can end up taking off too much or get into areas you didn't plan to.


Rims can be tricky. It is always best to remove them from the car and the rubber from the rims before you paint them.

Proper taping will prevent filling the lug nut holes and keeping the seal strong on the area where the tire attaches.

On average, you will only need about 2 cans for all four rims. More intricate designs may require more, but on average, it only takes about half a can per wheel for full, smooth coverage.


Bumpers can be difficult as well. A standard flat bumper typically found on trucks will only need about 1 or 2 cans of paint for full coverage.

Modern car bumpers, though, can also include angles and parts of the rear quarter panels.

For these types of bumpers, it may require up to three spray paint cans for even coverage. Like the rims, bumpers can be intricate, and it is better to remove them from the vehicle. This will allow you to get even coverage on all angles and sides.

The bare metal surface of a truck bumper can oxidize or rust easily. Using rust inhibitors can help, but you can also car paint the affected areas with specialized paints from Krylon, Rustoleum, and others.

Just avoid the gloss Rustoleum options, as they will make your bumper surface too shiny.

Doors (Paint Per Door)

Paint a car door and truck doors will typically take about 1 full can of paint for coverage. Unlike the other areas, doors are frequently used, touched, and abused, especially around keyholes and door handles.

Two coats may not be enough.

Proper taping, even if you are removing the car door, will be the most important step you take. Slow and methodical spraying will be your best friend.

While it will take longer, the coat will be more complete, even, and stand up to long-term abuse.

Truck Bed

How many coats of clear coat does your truck need to have? The truck bed will typically only need the lip, edge, tailgate, and side panels done. The inside of the bed is left alone or covered with a bed liner. The rest of the bed can be spray painted with 3 to 4 cans, even if you do a full three coats.

Extended beds may require more paint, and sanding, primer, top coat, and more may also be required. Start sanding off the paint strongly until you see the bare metal.

The bed takes up a lot of area but is generally without odd angles and edges, and the large flat surfaces make spray painting quick and easy. Avoid mistaking between automotive paint and house paint.

Is Using Spray Paint to paint a Car A Good Idea?

Whether you are spray painting a 1970s Bronco or a 2000s model Civic, there are pros and cons to doing the project yourself.


There are several benefits to when spray painting your own to paint a car or truck. You must ensure you follow all directions on the can, including spray methods, temperature, and location.

Once you know how many cans of spray paint to paint a truck or paint a car is needed, the other benefits fall into place.

  • Easy application. Spray cans are easy to use, and with third-party handles, they are easy to control, making quick work of the project.
  • Color options. Spray paint comes in virtually every color, including vehicle manufacture color codes, different levels of gloss, and thickness, so you can get an exact match.
  • Quick drying. Spray paint is typically dried for the next coat or application in 10 to 20 minutes.
  • Simple clean up. With mineral spirits, paint thinner, or warm soapy water, you can quickly clean up overspray or messes. Clean all Surfaces Cleaning will remove oil residue and get the car ready for painting Now, use denatured alcohol or mineral spirit and a rag to wipe down all the surfaces.
  • Cheaper option. Spray cans are inexpensive and more readily available for purchase than professional auto paint surface.


Along with the positive benefits, there are some negative aspects to consider.

  • Not as durable as professional automotive spray paints. Spray paint is generally thinner and less durable than canned paint.
  • Needs more application. Spray paint does wear faster than a professional job, which will require new applications on a more frequent basis.
  • Weather can complicate applications. Wind, low (or too high) temperatures, and where you paint a car can all affect the application of the paint. [1] It can also lead to more overspray or thinner layers of the project.
  • Using Krylon, acrylic enamel or automotive spray paint is paramount, especially when spray painting a van which needs the largest coating, as other spray paint will not be able to sustain the constant UV light that car paint has to withstand.
Car Spray Painting Preparation

Common Truck/Car Spray Painting Questions

How much does it cost to spray paint a car?

Cost of DIY spray painting a car is around $400 to $800, while professional job can cost $3500+. Two or three quarts of primer, paint, and clear coat are needed for average car. Use more for large vehicles. Don't paint with just one coat. Rustoleum is a budget-friendly option that helps with rust.

How long does spray paint last on a car?

Spray paint on a car can last up to 8-10 years if applied properly with primer, color, and clear coat. Professionally applied spray paint can last for 10-15 years, and will last longer than home applications.

How long will it take to spray paint a car?

Car painting time varies by car type, size, and painted areas. A standard-sized car takes hours, a truck takes longer. Proper preparation, rust removal, sanding, and color matching are crucial and time-consuming.

Do you need to seal spray paint?

Applying a clear sealant over spray paint is highly recommended to protect it from weather until it fully cures, which can take up to a month.

Can you put too many coats of paint on a car?

Excess paint on a car can lead to running, cracking, and flaking. Recommended is 3 base primer, 2-3 color, and 2 clear coats.

How many cans of spray paint should I buy to paint a trailer?

For pull behind trailers, 2 cans of spray paint plus primer and clear coat are enough. For camping/live-in trailers, get 8 cans of primer, 8-12 cans of color paint, and 4-8 cans of clear coat.


A paint job can cost a lot of money, but for an investment like your vehicle, it can bring restoration and aesthetics to your car or pickup truck.

So, how many cans of spray paint to paint a car or truck? The answer is about an average of 30 to 40 cans, including base coat, color pigments, and a glossy finish.

Spray paint from rattle cans or an aerosol can is cheaper but requires more time. As a DIY project, paint a car can be fun to bring the shine back to your car.

With careful monitoring, a wind-blocking garage or tent, and additional time, you can have a brand new looking truck and save money.