Car body paint is a type of paint specifically designed for coating vehicles. These automotive paints comprise a pigment and a binder suspended in a liquid solvent.
The pigment gives the paint its color, while the binder(resin) makes up most of the paint and helps hold the pigment in suspension. The solvent that’s used in the product helps keep the paint thin enough to be sprayed on and evaporates as the paint dries, leaving behind the pigment and binder.
Technically, you can use automotive paints on wood surfaces, including cabinets, doors, window frames, etc. But if it’s a low-quality product or you haven’t prepared the surface well using a suitable primer, it may not stick or adhere very well to the wood.
Using Car Paint on Wood – Pros and Cons
Automotive paints are designed to bond with metal surfaces and plastic to provide a glossy smooth, and durable finish on cars, trucks, and motorcycles. Wood surfaces being more porous than metal and plastic, require a different type of paint that doesn’t chip or peel off.
This means car spray paints and primers can adhere to wood surfaces, but they don’t offer the same advantages as traditional wood paint designed to stick on timber.
Also, with automotive paints, you will most likely get a high-gloss surface that may not be the look you are going for with your wood furniture.
- It’s fast and easy to use
- It can be sprayed or brushed
- Give a nice glossy finish to wood surfaces
- It may not be as durable as other types of paints
- It can be more expensive than traditional wood paints
- May not stick or adhere properly to the surface without proper preparation
Different Types of Car Paints – How to Use them On Wood?
There are mainly two types of car paints: water-borne and solvent-borne.
Water-borne car paints use water as the primary solvent and are considered more environmentally friendly than other solvent-based paints that use chemical solvents like lacquer, urethane, and enamel.
Water-based body paints are also easier to clean with just soap and water. But the main downside is they are much more prone to fading and will not offer as smooth a finish as solvent-borne options such as acrylic enamel and acrylic urethane.
If you plan to use any of these auto-body paints on hardwood, be sure to use a primer that is designed for this purpose. Also, you should ensure the surface has been properly sanded and cleaned before applying the paint.
This will, of course, require more labor during the preparation process, but it will help ensure the paint sticks properly and lasts for a long time.
Remember that car paints are usually available in finishes like high gloss, matte, flat, solid, and pearlescent. So, with these automotive paints on your wood furniture, you should be ready to get the surface finishes that may not turn out the way you want them to.
However, if you are looking for a unique look and don’t mind putting in extra effort, high-quality car spray paint can look stunning on hardwood surfaces.
Preparing and Painting Wood Furniture with Automotive Paint
In my experience, I’ve found that using car spray paint on certain wood projects produces better results than using regular spray paints. This is because vehicle spray paints contain hardeners that ensure they withstand harsh weather conditions.
But that doesn’t mean you should buy expensive specialty car paints to use on wood. Unless you are pretty sure that the vehicle paint is a good candidate for your wood surface and your budget allows it, you should only try to use the leftovers from a recent car body paint job.
For instance, one good way to reuse your leftover automotive spray paint is to apply it as an additional protective coating on wooden fences, gates, sidings, and rails outside your house.
For best results, please follow the highlighted steps below:
Step 1. Clean
Choose a well-ventilated area to clean your wooden item and cover it with a drop cloth. Then use a vacuum or brush to remove dust and debris from the wooden surface, followed by a quick wipe with a moist cloth.
In case of stubborn grime, use a de-greasing soap and water mixture to rinse the wood. Let the wood air dry. Avoid over-saturating the wood, and use a clean, lint-free cloth to remove any remaining moisture once everything is dry.
Step 2. Fix the holes or cracks
Inspecting for imperfections such as holes, cracks, splinters, or loose paint is essential to achieve a smooth wood surface. If any issues are found, gently sand and apply wood putty.
Once again, sand the area for a smooth finish. Use a damp cloth to clean any dust, and allow the surface to dry before applying painter’s tape to protect any areas that will not be painted.
Step 3. Prime and prepare the wood
The primer helps the spray paint to cover the surface evenly and adhere better. So, to achieve a professional look and a longer-lasting finish, it is recommended to use a high-quality primer before spraying automotive paint on your wood surface.
An all-purpose primer like Rust-Oleum AUTOMOTIVE PRIMER SURFACER is one of the most suitable options you can use. It’s available both in a spray can and in a brush-on version, so you can choose whichever one is suitable for your project.
Step 4. Spray paint the hardwood surface
To apply the car paint correctly, hold the can about one foot away and spray in a straight and steady motion. Overlap each pass to ensure full coverage and avoid missing any spots. To prevent drips, shake the can frequently and direct the mist to a new area of the surface.
Remember that you should apply light coats of auto spray paint similar to how you applied the primer. Make sure to allow enough time for each coat to dry before applying the next. Once you have applied enough paint, let it dry completely before using the item.
Will Urethane Paint on Wood Need a Clear Coat – How Well Does It Work?
Generally, it’s best to apply at least two coats of clear coat for optimum protection of your wood surface once you have coated it with automotive urethane paint. This is especially true for exterior surfaces where protection is needed from weather elements like rain, snow, and sun.
One of the best clear coatings for wood is acrylic urethane, a type of polyurethane that does not contain oil. It dries quickly, maintains its color over time, and is more durable and long-lasting after fully cured.
But remember, although clear coats are intended to safeguard cars against weather and staining, they may harm wooden surfaces if not applied correctly or if the wood type is susceptible to water damage.
If you do decide to use an automotive clear coat on your wood, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommended application amount and drying time between coats. Also, make a small test application first to ensure no adverse effects.
The Bottom Line
Thinking of moving your old kitchen or bathroom cabinets to a basement, garage, shed, or other area? Consider giving them a new, rejuvenating look with automotive primer and paint you have left over.
Applying car paint to wood furniture can be a bit of a challenge, but if you’re willing to put in the extra effort, the results you get will be worth it.
Ensure that you first sand down the surface, then apply a wood-specific primer before applying thin layers of car paint. Once the paint has dried, you may complete the process by adding a stunning finish of a clear coat.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.