Congratulations! You decided to paint your car or truck. It’s a big step. Maybe you’ve been floating in the primer zone for a long time, or you just want to make a change. Either way, you’re in for a big shift, and that’ll be cool. Well, it will be if you pick the right paint shop, anyway.
So how exactly do you go about that, anyway? Good question. Let’s run through it.
Figure out what you want first.
That may seem like an obvious thing, but it’s not. Or at least it’s not always.
For the purposes of this article, let’s say you’ve got a ’65 C10 that’s four different colors and not in a cool way. You need a few things: Bodywork, a panel replaced and a full two-tone paint job. You’re undecided on whether you want to go with factory or modern colors.
That right there is a lot to sort out. You need a quality body shop, one that’ll handle big panel replacements well. You need a painter that can handle multiple styles, and you also have to figure out if your painter has a particular style they prefer to do. And that last part is going to be the sticking point.
Some painters are production guys. They hammer paint jobs down all day, and get it done. Others consider themselves to be artists, and as such, only want to work on what they like to do. You can get some amazing paint jobs from artists — but only if you like what they create. Keep that in mind.
Point is, before you go picking out a painter, figure out what’s important to you, too.
Cleanliness is next to … well it’s super important.
Once you’ve gotten the details sorted, go visit some paint shops. Don’t schedule a tour or anything, and don’t let them know you’re coming. Just show up. What you see will be revealing.
To a certain extent, a body shop is going to be messy. They work by sanding down body filler and primer all day, so it’s not going to be as spotless as an Apple Store. But if you see piles of sandpaper everywhere and empty coke cans forming a pyramid in the corner, that’s not a good sign.
Now a paint shop has to be clean, particularly the booth. A good painter will have at least one booth, if not more. And those should be in great shape. The better condition they’re in, the better results they’ll get.
Don’t be afraid of water on the ground or anything like that, either. Between wet sanding and dust control, water will be around. It may not look clean, but it is serving a purpose.
Leverage your friends and their friends.
Ask your buddies if they know anyone that does paint. Not just some guy that sprays in his garage, but a legit shop that does quality work — work that’s guaranteed. And if you don’t know anyone that does custom work, ask a shop like us or one in your area. We’ve sent lots of people off to our favorite painters, and those kinds of references are worth a million bucks.
Good work isn’t cheap and cheap work isn’t good.
That old phrase may seem like it’s overplayed, but in the case of paint work, it’s definitely not. People often think about either the cost of labor or the cost of materials when it comes to a paint job, but it’s so much more than that. You could have $5,000 in materials to paint your truck, sure. But the labor could be three times that if you’ve got a wreck of a vehicle. And those numbers could flip if you’re doing an expensive paint job on a car or truck in great shape. So thinking about the numbers in that way is wrong. Instead, look at the output.
Quality matters. Longevity matters. The way you’re treated as a customer matters, and all that combines when you’re getting ready to hand someone enough cash to buy a used Corolla to paint your vehicle. It’s a lot of trust on your part, sure. But this relationship with your painter involves just as much trust on their end. After all, are you good for the money?
So if you walk into a paint shop and they quote you $30k to paint your vehicle, and other quotes you $5k, that doesn’t necessarily make one good and one bad. But weigh all the factors in front of you, do some math on the parts and look at the experience as a whole. That’s what counts.
Well, that and one other thing. Some paint shops are notorious for missing deadlines. If you’re aiming for a particular show, make sure you get that in writing from the painter, otherwise you’re in for a hard time.
It ain’t easy, but the results can be amazing.
We here at the shop have definitely run into our fair share of great painters and horrible ones. But if you’re looking for one of the good ones, follow the steps we’ve laid out here. In the end, you can find the perfect paint shop for you, it’s just going to take some extra effort.