Can You Spray Paint Car Hood- Car Painting 101

car hood spray paint

Regardless of how well you take care of your car, the hood can eventually fall victim to fading, chips, and dents. As the saying goes, Place your best foot forward, many people struggle with a shabby-looking car because of the imperfections visible on the hood.

Fortunately, you can repaint your car’s hood and make it as good as new by arranging a visit to the auto shop or a DIY spray paint job. If you don’t want to overspend your budget on professional car painting, you can easily do the same at home with spray paints!

But before you start painting, it’s imperative to understand the process so you can achieve the best results. From selecting a suitable spray paint to prepping the hood’s surface, you must follow all the steps for a lasting finish.

Can You Paint A Hood With Spray Cans?

Yes, you can paint your car’s hood with spray cans if you choose the right paint. As you know, several variants of spray paints are available in home stores, but not every paint is suitable for your car.

When selecting paint to color your car’s hood, you should look for formulas designed specifically for automotive metal surfaces.

How To Paint Your Car Hood

Spray painting your car’s hood is the best way to refresh your car’s look without spending big bucks at an auto shop. You can follow the steps below to achieve a near-professional finish at home.

Step 1- Clean the Hood

The first step is to clean the surface you want to paint thoroughly. You can start with a simple water bath and follow it with a car wash solution. Using a wash mitt, rub the hood and eliminate any traces of dirt and grime.

Step 2- Use a Sanding Sponge while the Hood is Wet

While the hood is still wet, run a sanding sponge on the surface to cut into the paint. This will help the new layer of paint to stick to the hood properly.

Step 3- Dry The Area

Don’t leave your car directly under the sunlight, and wait for the water to dry. Instead, use microfiber towels and wipe the surface dry to avoid water spots.

Step 5- Time to Sand the Hood Again

Take low-grit sandpaper and scrub the hood’s surface in a back-and-forth motion. This will help remove any rust spots and create a solid foundation for the next step. You can also use a grinder in place of sandpaper if you have it handy.

Step 6- Wipe The Area

Once you have sanded the hood down to its bare metal, take a damp cloth and clear away any sanding residue. Just make sure the cloth isn’t too wet because we want the surface to remain dry.

Step 7- Tape Off Areas You Don’t Want to Paint

Using painter’s tape and plastic sheets, cover the areas surrounding the hood. This will ensure that you don’t accidentally spray paint on surfaces near the hood.

Step 8- Apply Primer

The next step is to apply primer to the hood using thin, even layers. Don’t forget to wear a respirator mask while working with aerosols, as the fumes can be hazardous to health.

Hold the spray can 8 to 12 inches away from the hood’s surface and spray in a fluid motion. Apply 2 to 3 layers of primer and wait for 5 minutes between each coat. Once the final primer layer is on, allow it to dry for at least 24 hours.

You should ideally pick a formula designed for automotive use, like the Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Flat White Primer or Rust-Oleum Stops Rust Automotive Primer.

Step 9- Apply The Color Coat

Start spraying the color coat onto the hood in slow, straight lines. Keep your hand steady to achieve even coverage. Begin at one end of the hood and move across slowly, releasing the plunger as you reach the hood’s edge.

You may need up to 3 coats of paint for good coverage. Just remember to wait for 10-15 minutes between coats for professional results.

Allow the final layer to dry for at least 4 hours, but it’s okay if you want to wait longer.

Step 10- Buff The Area

As a final step, complete your paint job by buffing the freshly-painted hood using circular motions. You can even use a rubbing compound for a glossy finish.

Types of Automotive Spray Paints You Can Use to Paint Your Car’s Hood

The paint application and final result of your car’s hood can differ because of variations in car spray paints’ formulas. Two deciding factors make up the composition of different paints.

Different Paint Bases

Professional spray paint for cars can vary because of its base.

  • Water-based paints

Water-based paints are a popular choice in car shops and industry practices. This is because it is the best automotive paint for the environment compared to other chemical formulas. The only downside is that this variant isn’t readily available in consumer markets.

  • Acrylic-enamel paints

Enamel solvent-based paints are most commonly used for DIY car painting jobs because they can be easily purchased online or from home stores. They are highly durable and can be heated to increase toughness and longevity.

  • Acrylic-urethane paints

Acrylic-urethane paints are also durable, like acrylic-enamel paints. If you’re looking for an even paint application, this variant can be poured into a spray gun or aerosol spray can for excellent results. One shortcoming of acrylic-urethane paints is that it takes longer to dry than the previous two.

Different Paint Stages

There are two types of paints: single-stage paints and two-stage paints.

Single-stage paints go beyond standard automotive paints. They usually include a primer, color coat, and top coat, so you don’t need to buy separate spray cans to complete the layering. Single-stage paints make the application much easier for the user and are considered the best spray paint for a car’s hood to get the job done efficiently and quickly.

Two-stage paints usually require the user to purchase a primer, a top clear coat, and the base color. While using this paint type increases the cost of the overall project, it produces more professional-grade results.

Other Considerations Before Buying Car Paint

As you plan to paint your car’s hood, you need to make sure the color you choose perfectly matches the rest of your vehicle. That’s the first factor that differentiates a good paint job from a DIY disaster.

Spray paints come in a variety of colors, so you’ll have plenty of choices when selecting a paint can for your car’s hood.

The same is true when searching for spray paint for your car’s interior. You want it to look exactly like the original factory finish. If you want to know how to paint your car’s dashboard, you can read my step-by-step guide for the best results.

Another thing you should decide on before ordering your spray paint is the final finish you’re after. While it may not seem like a big deal initially, a finish that differs from the original can look very obvious and ruin the illusion of a professional-looking paint job.

Best Spray Paint For Cars

Now that we’ve discussed paint formulas, colors, and finishes; you are in a better position to pick a spray paint can that matches your requirement perfectly. If you’re wondering which spray paint is best for cars, here are my picks to get you started.

Rust-Oleum Automotive Spray Paint

This general-purpose paint can be used on various surfaces including metal, plastic, and wood. It is a single-stage paint and primer that offer excellent coverage and adhesion. The all-in-one paint dries to the touch within 20 minutes and gives a glossy finish.

You need to be careful when using the paint though. If you place your spray can too close to the surface, you will have to deal with drip marks. But other than that, this is an excellent option for your car’s hood.

Krylon Fusion All-in-One

Another single-stage spray paint that delivers excellent adhesion, durability, and rust protection. It can be used on metal surfaces without sanding or priming which cuts your project time by half. It is available in five finishes: hammered, gloss, satin, flat, and matte so you have plenty of choices to choose from.

Amazon users rave about this spray paint because it sticks to the surface flawlessly and lasts through wear and tear and other environmental stressors.

Dupli-Color Custom Wrap Effects

An ideal choice for your car’s exterior, the Dupli-Color perfectly mimics original factory-painted finish. Apart from offering excellent adhesion, it effectively resists wear and tear of daily driving, including rain, snow, and UV exposure.

The paint features EZ peel technology so whenever you want to change the color of your vehicle, simply peel it off and choose another hue from the 26 colors available in this variant.

Rust-Oleum Automotive Premium Custom Lacquer Spray Paint

If you’re looking for a quick way to customize your car’s hood, this is a great option to try. It has a fast-drying formula that provides lasting coverage that can be recoated at any time. The matte spray dries to the touch within 20 minutes and resists smudging on auto body parts.

The paint offers various finishes including rugged, chrome, metallic, gloss, and clear coat. The durable formula of the spray paint withstands weathering and keeps your hood looking its best for longer.

PJ1 16-GLS Epoxy Spray Paint

The PJ1 Epoxy Paint offers a high-gloss finish to metal surfaces that is both chip and scratch-resistant. It also guards the car’s hood against rust and corrosion.The only downside to using this paint is that it takes a long time to dry but there are ways to speed up the drying process of spray paints; so you can definitely try that.


How many spray cans do I need to paint a hood?

You will need around 5-7 spray paint cans to paint your car’s hood.

How much does it cost to spray paint a car hood?

The cost to spray paint your car’s hood at home should cost you between $50 and $150. On the other hand, a professional paint job costs around $200 to $1000.

What is the best way to paint a car hood?

The best way to paint your car’s hood is with an all-in-one spray paint. The benefit of using one is that you don’t need to buy a primer and color coat separately, which gets the job done quickly within a tight budget.

Will spray paint last on a car?

If you compare the lasting power of a professional paint job with a DIY, the former stays fresh for over 10 years with maintenance, while an at-home paint job lasts for 3 to 5 years.

Can spray paint remove scratches on the hood?

Spray paint offers a quick solution for covering up scratches on the hood without shelling out a lot of money. You can sand the surface prior to painting for a more lasting result.


Revamping your car’s appearance by painting its hood is an easily achievable DIY project. In fact, you can even spray paint your car entirely by following my instructions. All you need is some courage and a few spray paint cans.

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