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How Long Does It Take To Paint A Car Bumper? (Unbelievable!)

How long does it take to paint a car bumper?…

The short answer is a few hours. But the longer answer must take into account:

  • What material is the bumper
  • The year of your vehicle
  • The paint effect you want

Tag along as we help you determine how much time to allow, and the steps involved for a professional-looking repaint.

What Material Is Your Car Bumper

How long does it take to paint a car bumper

Answering this question is critical to determining the type of paint to use, and the time needed to complete it.

Aside from pickup trucks and some SUVs, today’s vehicles don’t have a standard bumper. Instead, the front and rear end are incorporated into the chassis material and color.

Repainting these contemporary bumpers require a professional body shop. But if you want to try and tackle this one on your own, we’ll provide some steps.

Modern pickup trucks have either chrome or synthetic bumpers. Painting each material requires different paint and preparation techniques. We’ll examine both later on.

Vintage cars and trucks like a 69′ Mustang or a Ford F-150 have standard bumpers. These are made of metal and come either painted or chromed.

How Long To Paint A Modern Car Bumper

Again, for the best results, we can’t emphasize enough that a professional should do this type of work. But if you’re feeling ambitious and a competent painter, here are the steps using over-the-counter aerosol products.

TIP: You’ll need to match your vehicle’s color. Before beginning, make sure your local automotive store has the exact color in stock. You don’t want to start the process only to find out your paint isn’t available.

These steps apply to the other bumper types, too:

Remove Your Bumper

You’ll need to use online videos and resources to learn how to do this for your car. You can also leave it on, but you’ll need to mask off surrounding areas to protect from over spray.

Remember, leaving the bumper attached makes cleaning and sanding more challenging.

Clean And Degrease

Use something like Simple Green or TSP (tri-sodium phosphate). Wear rubber gloves when using either of these products. Once this is dry, clean the area with a solvent-based degreaser.

While there are many “green” degreasers on the market, we’ve found that (unfortunately!) the best cleaners are those that aren’t green. Again, wear gloves and consider a mask since the fumes are toxic and overpowering.


Apply sanding paste to a nylon sanding pad, and in a circular motion, rub the entire fender. Make sure to get the edges. The goal is to dull the clear coat, so paints can adhere. Clean off the paste with water and dry with shop or paper towels.

Remove Scratches

To eliminate deep scratches in the clearcoat, use 400 grit sandpaper. Sand in a circular motion or in various directions, so you don’t leave uniform sanding marks. When the damaged area feels smooth, wipe off the dust with a towel or clean cloth.

If you left the bumper on, you need to mask off the car to protect it from over spray. It’s better to err on the side of masking off too much than too little.


you’ll need to prime the bumper. Use a 2K epoxy primer like Spray MAX for the best results. When using primers like this, make sure to wear a spray mask like and ensure you’re in a well-ventilated area.

You can also use primers you’d find at your local hardware or automotive store. Be sure to read the manufacturer’s directions to ensure their primer will adhere to your bumper’s material.

Sand Again

When the primer is dry, use 1500 grit paper and lightly sand or wet sand. Use circular motions and don’t apply too much pressure; the goal is to make the primed coat smooth. When finished, clean the surface with water and dry.

Apply Paint

Here’s where it gets interesting!

If you’re matching your color, you’ll need to go to your automotive store to find your vehicle’s color in an aerosol can.

If you’re changing colors, then your options are unlimited. Make sure you get a high-bonding paint that adheres to your material.

We recommend using a top-end product from companies like Dupli-Color. I’ve also used colors from Rust-Oleum and Krylon on repaint projects and was delighted with the results.

Use Smooth Motions

When spraying your base coat, use smooth, sweeping motions (not static) and apply light coats. Depending on your product, you can generally apply another coat within minutes.

Clear Coat

The last and most crucial step is applying the clear coat. I’ve used clear coats by Dupli Color, but nothing hardens, is as durable, or glosses like a 2K clear coat.

We recommend using a 2K product from Spray Max for best results. “2K” means it has a second additive (usually epoxy) that you add before spraying.

With Spray Max cans, you merely insert the attached red nozzle on the bottom of the can to add the material. It’s effortless and straightforward.

TIP: Avoid paints advertised as “self-priming” or “primer in one.” Yes, they’re cheaper, but you get what you pay for, as the adage goes!

Here’s a great video showing all the steps and spray techniques for a successful paint job:

Plan on this paint project taking all day to complete!

How Long To Paint A Metal (non-chrome) Standard Bumper

First of all, depending on the amount of preparation involved and the paint product, this project can take four to eight hours to finish.

The steps for painting a metal bumper are the same as those listed above. Most leave the bumper on and mask off the surrounding areas for over spray.

Without being too redundant, here are the quick steps:

  • Cleaning. Use a cleaner like Simple Green followed by a degreaser. Wipe clean with a cotton towel or paper towels.
  • Mask Off. Using blue tape with plastic or painters’ paper, mask off the surrounding areas.
  • Remove rust. To remove rust on a non-chromed metal bumper, use either an electric drill with a wire brush adaptor, steel wool, or products like Brasso. Always wear protective eyewear and rubber gloves.
  • De-gloss. Wearing rubber gloves and in a well-ventilated area, apply a solvent-based deglosser to the bumper using medium-grade steel wool. Most paint stores carry the solvent types, while most big box stores only sell the water-based types.
  • Prime. Using a high-bonding automotive primer, apply (1) coat to the bumper.
  • Paint. Be sure you’re using spray paint designed for exterior use and adheres to metal. You’ll find a wide selection of colors at big box stores and automotive supply stores. Apply (2) coats as directed by the paint manufacturer.

Can You Paint A Chrome Bumper?

How long does it take to paint a car bumper

The answer to this question is yes and no, let me explain:

If you’re asking, “Can I spray Rust-Oleum’s chrome paint to make my chrome bumper look new?” The answer is yes, but in my opinion, it never looks as good as the original chrome finish.

I’d only recommend doing this on an old, pitted chrome bumper as a last resort.

On the other hand, if you want to change the color of your chrome bumper, you have some options. Dupli-Color has various Metalcast products that give your chrome bumper a unique look.

These paints are designed to adhere to chrome and allow the chrome to “shine” through these paints. Maybe go for a black chrome look, or try something wilder.

Here are the steps to a pro-looking Metalcast paint job:

  • Clean bumper with TSP or Simple Green.
  • Degrease bumper using a solvent-based product.
  • Remove the bumper or mask off the area for spraying.
  • Follow the paint manufacturer’s instructions.

A project like this should take around 3-4 hours per bumper.

Tip: Paints like these are tricky to use. When you spray, the color is subtle, so the temptation is to apply thicker coats. Instead, use many thin coats and don’t rush the job! This product tends to run and drip more readily than other aerosol paints.

How Long Does It Take To Paint Plastic Bumpers

how long does it take to paint a plastic car bumper

You should be able to finish this project in a few hours and drive around showing off your “new” bumper!

You’ll find this black vinyl or plastic bumpers on Jeeps, SUVs, and some earlier model sedans. Here’s a product by Rust-Oleum designed specifically for bumpers and trim. The quick steps to using this are:

  • Clean bumper with TSP or Simple Green.
  • Degrease bumper using a solvent-based product.
  • Remove the bumper or mask off the area for spraying.
  • Follow the paint manufacturer’s instructions.

We hope we’ve answered your question on how long does it take to paint a car bumper and provided creative ideas.

With proper preparation and the best paints, you too can paint your bumper like a pro!

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About Lisa Bohrer

Lisa is a native Texan who says she wears many hats. She is a wife, mother, grandmother, farmer, animal lover, fisherwoman, gardener, and college student. Lisa is a sophomore at Liberty University where she is taking classes to earn her Associates Degree in Creative Writing. She and her husband of 35 years fill their days with life on the farm raising goats and chickens, and then most evenings she can be found at the computer writing, or researching a topic that has piqued her interest.

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