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How Much Does It Cost to Paint a Semi-Truck?

cost-to-paint-a-semi-truck

As a trucker, you will be spending most of your time moving around, and your truck needs to look its best. A new paint job can give your semi-truck a new look by removing rust, dirt, and grime. So, how much does it cost to paint a semi-truck, and what will you need to complete the job?

Professionally painting your semi-truck can range at $4500 or more for day cabs and over $6,000 for full-size semi-trucks, including the sleeper, hood, and cab. Please note several variables may influence the cost of painting your semi-truck. However, the preparation work of the truck body before painting is the costliest of these variables.

It’s not enough to know how much it costs to paint a semi-truck. You also need to know the type of paints to use, how to paint if you want to do it yourself, and perhaps how you can lower the paint job costs.

Sandblasting Before Painting and Costs

Stripping off the old paint from your semi-truck can be very difficult, especially getting all the old paint from the crannies, nooks, and corners. That’s why most auto body shops opt for sandblasting.

Sandblasting (abrasive blasting) involves spraying your semi truck’s body with tiny abrasive particles. The process is similar to sanding but different in that the material interacts with your semi truck’s body at a high velocity.

Sandblasting Semi-Truck Trailers

Should I Sandblast Before Painting?

Sandblasting your semi-truck is a crucial first step before starting the paint job. Doing that prepares your vehicle for painting, especially when you have significant rust on the frame.

This versatile solution removes rust, dirt, residue, and more on your semi-truck, leaving the body looking new again.

The process is also easy, quick, and efficient, sparing you the lengthy process of scrubbing and cleaning your semi truck’s old paint using harsh chemicals.

Brillo Pads will also help you smooth out your semi-truck, especially in areas with lots of rust build-up. You’ll also need to apply a primer (undercoat) to seal that section before painting to prevent rust from coming back right away and further breaking down your semi truck’s frame.

Cost to Sandblast and Paint Semi Truck Frame

Sandblasting your vehicle will cost around $50-80 per hour. That means the total cost will depend on the size of your track, as bigger trucks will take longer to sandblast.

As such, it can cost up to $600 to sandblast your semi-truck. However, the cost may vary depending on whether you want to do it yourself or pay a professional auto body shop for the job.

Semi-truck owners who choose to get the paint stripped to the metal will have to pay more as the process is slightly expensive. This process is known as galvanizing, and the price ranges from $2000-$4000 depending on the state of your semi-truck.

However, it will be challenging to estimate the cost if you’re doing it yourself, as you’ll do it in your spare time.

What Equipment Will You Need When Painting a Semi-Truck?

The equipment used on your semi truck’s paint job will impact the outcome, and the time it takes to finish it. You will likely need an air pressure sander or a high-powered sander to remove rust and old paint.

A Semi-Truck fo Painting

If your semi-truck doesn’t have any rust, you might get by without the air pressure sander, but it’s best to have one as you might need it. You will also need a paint gun to apply your paint.

Some people opt for a more straightforward method and use spray paint. However, the result isn’t as good as a pressurized painting device.

You will also need some sealant or coat to ensure the paint is exposed for durability. Professionals might need more to be successful in a short time frame, but these are the essential tools you need.

What Kind of Coating Can I Use on a Semi-Truck?

To ensure that dirt and grime don’t stick to your semi-truck, powder coating and nano-ceramic coating are the best options for you.

Powder coating uses dry powder applied through an electrostatic process and cured with heat, while nano-ceramic coating uses a liquid polymer applied by hand on your semi-truck’s exterior. That’s why ceramic coating is the best option when doing the job yourself.

Before applying the ceramic coating, you should clean the part you want to paint, especially the rusted parts, to prevent it from spreading.

In that case, you should sand it hard and wash it with water and dishwasher soap to remove dust, dirt, and grease. You can then choose a high gloss or a semi-gloss coat, depending on the extent of the damage.

What Kind of Paint is best suited for Trucks?

Urethane and acrylic-based paints are the most popular types of paints for semi-trucks. The two differ significantly and have a massive impact on your semi truck’s lifespan.

acrylic-paints

Acrylic paints last for about five years, especially if you sanded and cleaned your truck. On the other hand, Urethane paints can last for about ten years or more with proper application. However, proper application and care are significant factors in extending the paint’s lifespan.

If you want to apply the paint yourself, it’s best to stay clear of urethane-based paints. These paints are highly regulated and toxic, so you will need special equipment to use them without adverse side effects successfully.

However, they are among the longest-lasting paints used on semi-trucks and harden quickly once activated.

Acrylic paints are easier to use in your home garage and dry pretty quickly after applying. The paint might take 24-48 hours to dry, so you will need a well-ventilated space to store your semi-truck until it’s dry. Also, keep off moisture off your semi-truck until it’s completely dry.

How Much Will It Cost to Paint a Semi Truck Yourself?

On average, painting your semi-truck at home will cost anywhere between $500-$2000 for the paint and other miscellaneous equipment that you will need. That’s far less than half of what a professional paint job will cost. However, the job will be laborious and might take a few weeks.

A professional paint job might not make sense if you have an old semi-truck. Doing it yourself keeps your costs down as the materials are readily accessible. That includes paint, primer, masking tape, sandpaper, foam brushes, solvent, paint trays, and a filtered mask. 

You will mainly need to consider where to paint the truck. Since there is no climate-controlled booth, you will need to know your location’s dust and dirt content.

Fortunately, a clean, well-ventilated garage will do the job, or use Citronella and DEET as a bug repellant to apply the paint on your front yard.

How to Paint a Semi Truck Frame

Depending on your budget and time, you can use a hand brush or a spray gun to paint your semi-truck frame. However, using a machine to spray the paint is faster and gives your frame a better coat.

Before applying the paint, you’ll need to manage the metal. If the semi-truck is heavily corroded, you’ll need to sand it or power-spray it.

Painting the truck frame

Some people powder coat their frames before applying the primer, but using power sand or Rust-oleum on the area will work great when dealing with rusty spots.

Helpful Tips for a Semi-Truck Paint Job

Allocating time to do the job is essential to giving your semi-truck a new look. Doing it yourself can be time-consuming, and it’s best to see it as a chance to save money and do the job to your liking.

Here are more valuable tips:

Get the Right Grit

Using the right sandpaper grit saves you hours, especially for severe bodywork. In such a case, it’s best to start with 40-grit sandpaper and move to 80. You can use a 120-grit or 150-grit for a primed surface.

Check the Body

After sanding the primer, spray and wipe a wet coat of grease and wax on the surface of your semi-truck. That will show you every bit of waviness, and you’ll know whether you need more bodywork before going to the next primer round.

Don’t skip the sealer

Painting materials can be expensive, and it’s tempting to avoid using the sealer to cut costs. However, the sealer will smooth out every deep sand scratch and cover any bare metal on your semi-truck. The sealer also affects the results of the paint job.

Test the spray pattern

Painters often load their spray guns and start painting without checking the pattern. However, getting the desired results depends on the gun angle, distance, speed, and path. That’s why checking and adjusting your spray pattern is essential before spraying your semi-truck.  

Conclusion

A new paint job will give your truck a new look and add life to your business brand. It also helps you stand out while driving, appeal to new audiences, and appear more professional.

However, the cost to paint your semi-truck will depend on the size of your truck, whether you do it yourself or professionally, and its current condition.

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