Last Updated on August 16, 2021
Maybe you just ordered your new bumper and realized it doesn’t come color-matched. Or maybe your bumper’s all dinged up, and you’re wondering how much it would cost to give it a fresh look.
Either way, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about painting a bumper – whether you want to do it yourself or leave it up to the professionals.
Because when it comes to painting your bumper, it’s something you want to have done right the first time.
When Would a Bumper Need to be Painted (or Repainted)?
There are a few different reasons you would need to repaint or paint a bumper. For starters, if you’re replacing your old bumper, you’re going to need a paint job. That’s because new bumpers don’t come with any paint color – so you’ll need to paint them to match your vehicle.
You would also need to repaint your bumper after repairs. If your bumper has a dent or crack, after repairs, you need to repaint the bumper. Otherwise, the paint color isn’t going to match, and you risk further chipping and cracking the paint.
Even if all your bumper has is some scratches and nicks, it’s worth considering repainting your bumper. That’s because small chips and scratches can lead to further damage in no time.
If you have a metal bumper, it can rust, and if you have a plastic bumper, you’ll continue to lose paint until you address the problem.
Finally, if you’re planning on selling your car and your bumper is in rough shape, it may be worth it to repaint the bumper as you’ll recover that cost in the price you sell it for.
Typical Steps to Repaint a Bumper
Painting or repainting a bumper isn’t as simple as slapping another coat of paint on and calling it good to go. There are (at least) 10 different steps in the process, and you’ll have to repeat a few of them to do the job right.
Those steps are as follows:
- Remove the bumper
- Remove any bumper stickers
- Wash the bumper with a degreaser and soap
- Wet sand rough areas of the bumper
- Wipe the bumper down with a microfiber cloth
- Paint the base coat
- Wet sand imperfections and wipe them down with a microfiber cloth
- Repaint and repeat – you need at least three coats!
- Apply two layers of clear coat
- Let dry for at least six hours before reattaching the bumper
Average Bumper Repaint Cost
The average cost to repaint your bumper is around $500. This might seem a little steep – but you need to factor in prep work, the paint price, and consider the fact that the shop needs to custom match the paint color to your vehicle.
That’s an important part of the process because otherwise, the paint won’t precisely match – even if it’s the same shade as the factory paint job. As your vehicle ages, the sun fades the color. This isn’t noticeable because it happens over time, and the color fades all over your vehicle simultaneously.
But if you slap a freshly painted bumper on your vehicle, the two different shades are going to be extremely noticeable.
In addition, proper paint prep is arguably just as important as the paint itself. With an inexpensive paint job, not much time is usually dedicated to preparing the surface for painting. The results often speak for themselves.
Economy Paint Job
If you’re looking for a low-end paint job for your vehicle, you’re likely to spend anywhere from $200 to $300. However, economy-level paint jobs often don’t color match the paint correctly, or they use an inferior paint option that will fade quicker than the rest of your vehicle.
Moreover, lower quality paint jobs can chip and scratch easier than premium options – and often economy-level paint jobs will skip the second clear coat application to save a few bucks.
So, while you might be saving a little bit of money now on the paint job, there’s a decent chance you won’t be happy with it in the long run.
If you have a low budget, going with someone like Maaco or similar chain will get the job done and get your bumper painted, but if you’re a bit picky (like most auto enthusiasts), you may end up disappointed whether it’s when picking your car up or a couple years down the line.
That’s not to say Maaco isn’t capable of doing a good quality paint job, but you’ll have to pay more than their advertised price since proper prep work takes more time than most people think.
Premium Paint Job
In most cases, you’re going to be much better off having a highly rated professional body shop paint your bumper. Check their Google business page for reviews and don’t rely on testimonials on their website. Doing this will help guarantee that you get a color that matches your existing paint job, a little extra protection on the paint itself, and a proper paint prep job.
Premium paint jobs run anywhere from $500 to $600 for a single color, and if you’re looking for multi-stage paints or multiple colors, the price can easily stretch to $1,000.
But by spending the extra money, you’ll be getting a paint job that will last much longer and be more visually appealing year after year.
Can (Should) I Paint My Bumper Myself?
You can absolutely paint either your front bumper or rear bumper yourself – but it’s going to be a lot of work, and you’re likely only going to achieve an economy paint job level of work. For starters, if you don’t know how to color match your vehicle, you’re going to have different shades of the same color on your vehicle.
However, if you’re painting your bumper yourself, you can likely get the job done for around $100. So, if you’re in a pinch, it’s not the worst choice in the world.
Related: 6 Auto Detailing Tips for the DIYer
Can a Bumper Be Painted Without Removing It?
Yes! However, you’ll need to tape off the entire area, so the paint doesn’t accidentally coat any other part of your vehicle, and if you know what you’re doing, it generally takes just as long to paint it with the bumper on or off.
And by taking it off, you eliminate the chance of overspray spilling onto other parts of your vehicle. But if you take your time and are careful, there’s no reason you can’t paint your vehicle’s bumper without taking it off your vehicle.
How Much Paint is Needed?
When you’re painting your bumper, it’s best to get at least 32 ounces of paint. Chances are this is going to be a little overkill for your vehicle, but if you run out of paint when you’re in the middle of the job, you’re going to have to start completely over again.
You need so much paint because you need at least three coats of paint no matter what color you choose. Furthermore, some colors require a fourth or even a fifth coat – and having 32 ounces of paint gives you enough to complete all the coats without running out of paint.
Once again, if you run out of paint, you need to start back over from the first coat – which can mean a ton of extra paint if you don’t buy enough the first time.