Many people are starting to realize that it's not that hard to do semi-professional auto painting work from home. Anyone who wishes to paint a car will do a good job by keeping the following tips in mind (updated for 2012):
Clean the car thoroughly before you start. This goes beyond just a good washing. Have dents repaired and any deep scratches filled and sanded as smooth as possible before applying primer. A new paint job will only look as good as the underlying vehicle body.
Understand your primer. Not all primer is created equal. Choose a primer specifically made for cars because a general purpose primer will not bond as thoroughly and could cause the paint job to deteriorate prematurely. Once a primer has been selected and applied, be sure to allow it what it needs to dry through. Some primers require a hardener, for others air drying is sufficient.
Understand your paint. Just as there are different primers available, so are there different paints available. For an auto paint job, the basic choices are 2k or water based. Generally speaking, water based paints are slightly superior in every area - they require less paint for thorough coverage and are less detrimental to the environment. These advantages do come with a price tag though. 2k paints are less expensive than water based. Also, the biggest choice between the 2 for the DIY painter is equipment. Most of the older painting equipment will not handle water based paints without becoming clogged or even damaged. Be sure to get the paint type that matches the equipment to be used.
Do not skimp on the clear coat. The clear coat is your paint job's armor. A good layer of clear coat is the difference between a paint job that stands up well to minor injury and one that requires constant touch ups to maintain its visual appeal. When choosing a clear coat product, do not be cheap. Clear coat actually has a yellow tinge that becomes worse with time and exposure to weather. Unless the car is also yellow, this will alter the color slightly. The more expensive clear coat products are both more clear to begin with and resist this weathering effect better.Do not forget to buff. That gorgeous super glossy finish on new cars comes from the smoothness of the clear coat. Once it has dried, a proper and thorough buffing will erase any surface imperfections that are dulling the gloss but are not visible to the eye. A new paint job is the result of several equally important steps. Plan ahead and make each step flawless and the end result will also be flawless.