How many coats of paint should you put on a car?

Nicholas Edwards

You should put a minimum of three coats of paint on a car. The first coat is used to clean the surface and the second coat applied by the auto detailer or body shop technician is what really makes a difference.

Depending on which type of paint you choose, most professionals recommend two coats of the basecoat/clearcoat system. Because clearcoat is very thin, however, an additional coating of clear will provide maximum gloss and protection for your finished product.

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

Yes. If you put too many coats on, the paint will peel and come off because it cannot breathe. If your paint job has a heavy amount of base colour with plenty of clear over it, this acts as insulation that traps heat within the paint.

The heat will cook the clear coat on more than just your car, but on any surface that has direct sunlight. This can cause problems with paint jobs over time resulting in cracks and peeling.

car paint peeling

How long should I wait between coats of paint on a car?

You should wait anywhere from 30 minutes up to 24 hours for paint to dry.

For example, if you were painting your car you would typically put the first coat on and let it dry for 30 minutes before putting another coat on. You would continue to do this until you reach your desired number of coats.

How long can you leave base coat before clear coat?

Typically you want to apply the base coat and put your clear coat on within 30 minutes.

If it is over 30 minutes wait until the next day or another day when you are free to do it because if you get too much paint, even if its just white, this can cause problems later down the road.