How do I paint a car door?

I was taking care of something on my honey-do list in the garage when I accidentally hit my car door with a power tool. It damaged the door significantly. The good news is that I called around to junkyards and found a pristine replacement door. The only problem is that it’s a different color. Can I paint my car door without getting it done professionally?

Answer
Sorry to hear about the mishap! I won’t pretend that painting a car door is as easy as touching up a few scratches, but it can be done! And it’ll spare you from paying $400 to $1,200 for a professional paint job.
To match your car’s paint, you’ll just need your vehicle identification number, or VIN. Then, follow these steps to get the job started:
  • Start by finding a well-ventilated, low-dust workspace
  • Take your safety seriously by getting a respirator, eyewear, and other personal protective equipment
  • Use your VIN to buy matching paint from an automotive shop or dealership
  • Rent or borrow a compressed air auto paint sprayer
Feeling good? Do you have everything you need? Alright, you’ve come this far, so let the paint job commence.
For a good paint job:
  • Don’t attach the new door to your car until it’s painted (or take it off again if you got ahead of yourself)
  • Remove any trim or molding you don’t want to get paint on
  • Use 400- or 600-grit sandpaper to sand the paint down to the bare metal (if possible)
  • Clean off the dust using a rag and mineral spirits
  • Practice your spraying technique on a piece of scrap metal (or at the very least, a piece of cardboard), making sure you have even strokes that go from side to side
  • Apply a primer coat, working from the top to the bottom
  • Repeat as recommended on the primer can
  • Let the primer coat cure for about an hour
  • Sand with 1,500-grit sandpaper, then use acetone or mineral spirits to remove dust
  • Spray paint the car door and allow to dry for about 24 hours
  • Take the old door off and put the new one on
Voila! You’re finished.
If you’re not exactly a handyman (and I’m not implying that you aren’t), getting the job done by a body/paint shop is perhaps the better option. Also, consider getting comprehensive coverage for your vehicle so that you’re covered in the event something like this should happen in the future.
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Eric Schad
Answered on Nov 04, 2021
Eric Schad has been a freelance writer for nearly a decade, as well as an SEO specialist and editor for the past five years. Before getting behind the keyboard, he worked in the finance and music industries (the perfect combo). With a wide array of professional and personal experiences, he’s developed a knack for tone and branding across many different verticals. Away from the computer, Schad is a blues guitar shredder, crazed sports fan, and always down for a spontaneous trip anywhere around the globe.
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