How to Paint a Truck

by Contributor
Time For A New Paint Job?

Time For A New Paint Job?

So "Old Bessie" is sittin' out back in the garage and you've been wondering when you'd have time to fix her up. After reading these instructions, you'll see that it's really not that hard to at least give that truck a new coat of paint. Let's take it step by step so you can drive around and impress your friends.

The Key is in Proper Preparation

  1. Detach all ornaments. To get a professional finish, you need to remove the side mirrors, emblems, chrome and trim. Some of these items pop off easily and some will break in the process. Pry them off carefully.

  2. Wash the truck. You want to get all the dirt off so you have a clean surface to work with.

  3. Repair dents. Unless the truck has a really big dent, you can get away with a small suction cup type device that will pull out small dents. For severe damage, you'll probably need to replace the body section that's damaged.

  4. Fill the dimples. Any imperfections left after pulling out the dents can be filled with some type of body filler.

  5. Sand it down. Any place that there is bubbling, cracked paint or where you have done repairs, needs to be sanded. Start with a harsh paper and go to a fine sanding so it's nice and smooth for applying the primer.

Spray Away In Your Spray Booth

  1. Set up a spray area. You can use a garage but you'll want to line the walls and floor with plastic. You don't want to paint your truck and your garage too!

  2. Build a booth outside. If you don't have a garage or don't want to paint in it, then set up a plastic tent outside. The tent needs to be secured so that the wind will not blow it up against your freshly painted truck.

  3. Keep the area free of unnecessary materials. This reduces the chance of anything brushing up against the paint.

Time To Mask

  1. Apply masking tape. Tape off any objects or sections you do not want painted including windows, bumpers and wheels. You may need to use sheets of paper or plastic for large areas. Remember that WHATEVER is not masked will be painted so be very meticulous in this process.

  2. Mask off other areas. Anything outside the truck, such as the floor, yard or whatever, needs to be protected from over spray.

  3. Only use masking tape. Other types of tape may be hard to peel off later.

Prime Time For Primer!

  1. Purchase metal primer. You need primer designed for metal surfaces.

  2. Spray a couple of coats on any surface to be painted.

  3. Allow the primer coat to dry thoroughly before proceeding to paint.

Slap On The Paint!

  1. Spray evenly. Hopefully you found the killer color for your truck. Now don't mess it up by trying to rush it. Paint evenly with slow back and forth strokes. Don't go too slowly because that may cause drips.

  2. Clean your nozzle. The spray nozzle can get gummed up while painting. You don't want to splatter your truck. You want to spray it, so clean the nozzle often.

  3. Get every angle. You'll need a ladder so you can reach over the top and you'll want to get down low to spray the runners under the doors and areas under the bumpers.

  4. Apply several coats. See the directions on the paint cans for how long to wait between coats.

The Finishing Touches

  1. Buff it. After the paint has cured, you can buff it out for a real nice shine. Be careful to use clean buffing material so you don't scratch your brand new paint.

  2. Remove the masking material.

  3. Reattach all the stuff you took off before sanding. You might want to polish the ornaments beforehand.

  4. Go for a ride. It's time to show your friends that "Old Bessie" is now "New Bessie!"

Items you will need

  • Sander
  • Tool kit
  • Masking tape
  • Paper sheeting
  • Primer
  • Auto paint
  • Paint gun
  • Spray booth
  • Gas mask.
  • Protective clothing


  • Take your time and be thorough every step of the way. The paint will show any imperfections you left underneath.


  • Always wear the proper mask when sanding or using the spray gun. Primer, paint fumes and dust are hazardous to your health.

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