how to paint car interior

How To Paint a Car Interior Like a Pro

Do you want to learn how to paint a car interior? Then we have got you covered because, in this article, we are going to take you through every step and process to turn your car interior to what you have so desired.

Whether you are looking to change the color to your preferred one or make it look new while maintaining the same color, it all takes almost the same processes.

The good news is that it is not expensive. You can get everything you will need for painting under $50. You also don’t need to be an expert to get a professional job done.

Painting a car interior is simple, but requires optimum carefulness and prepping.

Read Also: Can You Paint a Car with Wagner Motor Coat?

Things You’ll Need to Paint A Car Interior

To paint your car, you will need the following materials:

  • Wet/dry sandpaper
  • Acetone or denatured alcohol
  • Adhesion promoter or primer
  • Painter’s tape
  • Spray paint

All these can be gotten from a local shop or ordered online.

How To Paint Car Interior (Step by Step)

how to paint car interior

Identify the material

Most of the parts in a car interior that will require painting are made from plastic. But plastics are of different types. You may want to also identify it. Often, the type of plastic is indicated at the back of each part.

Some of the major types of plastics available include PP (polypropylene), ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene), PA (Nylon or Polyamides) and PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride), PPS (Polyphenylene Sulfide).

Unlike fiberglass or metals, plastics do not bond with paints easily because they require more of mechanical bonding than chemical bonding because they are old-based.

To increase the mechanical bonding of the paint, proper prepping is required.


This is where the majority of the work lies. It can be very boring to do, but the durability of the painting job depends on it.

First, it is recommended to soak the part in a dish of soapy water and wash the surface. This will help remove dirt and grease accumulated all those while.

After allowing to dry, next is Scuffing the parts. This requires more effort because if the paint will initiate a mechanical bond with the surface, then there has to be enough tooth (surface area) to grip on to. Miss this stage, and your paint will peel off in no time.

Scuff the part thoroughly until it becomes dull and rough. Wash with the appropriate solution or if you are not sure, then wash with soap water to remove accumulated dust of plastics from the scuffing process.


This is another stage that you can’t do without. You must prime the plastic part before applying paints. We recommend using Dupli-color and SEM as primers.

They are great for plastic materials. They can sometimes be advertised as an adhesion promoter, do not get confused; they are primers.

Prime the part at least with two coats to increase thickness and cover the imperfections that resulted from the scuffing.

In case you overrun the priming and get an uneven surface, wait until it is dry, then you can sand again and re-prime.

Read Also: How to Remove Rust From a Car


This is the most critical stage of this process. We advise that you get good spray paint. It is not all about the paint, but also the mechanism. By this, we mean the nozzle. A bad nozzle from a sprayer will not give you an even coating.

Keep the spray can, 8 – 10 inches away from the surface and sweep an even coat. Allow to dry for 10 minutes and recoat. You can repeat this process until you get the required surface finish.

Avoid putting a lot of paint in a single coat. A thin layer for every coat is recommended.

If you want the job to look more professional and give a glossy finish, then you can choose to apply a lacquer after the paint has been left to dry.

Applying a lacquer is the same process as applying the base paint. Lacquer helps to protect the base paint and give it a glossy finish, thus improving durability and longevity.

Read Also: Best Automotive Paint For Newbies


Before coupling back the paint part to its position in the car, allow to dry at least 24 hours under sunlight. During coupling, they may be some scratches or dents. You can dab a piece of cloth into the paint to patch the surface.

How To Paint Irremovable Parts Of Car Interior

painting a car interior

We understand that some parts of your car requiring re-painting may not be easily removed or detached. Some of the parts include the dashboard and door handles.

There is no problem; you can still paint it by following almost the same steps highlighted above.

Scrub the car door handles or dashboard as the case may be with soap water.

Prep the surface with sandpaper thoroughly enough to enhance mechanical bonding.

The next step, which is one of the most important, is to secure the portion of the interior closed to the painted surface, hence masking them from overspray.

Use a tapers paint or masking tape for this. We recommend using a wide width tape for this purpose. Also, cover all ACs vents to avoid blockage.

Go ahead to prime and spray following the instructions stated above.

Read Also: How to Wet Sand a Car After Painting

What kind of paint do you use on plastic car interior?

ColorBond paint for plastic delivers excellent results. Formulated for use as an automotive plastic paint, ColorBond products work equally well with all types of plastic. Our Leather, Vinyl & Hard Plastic Refinisher is a plastic spray paint that won’t crack, chip or peel.

What kind of paint do you use on a car dashboard?

Automotive spray-can primers, paints, and lacquers work well on both the rigid and flexible plastic parts of a dashboard, so long as you take your time with the prep work and use the right spraying techniques.

How do I prepare the interior of my car for painting?

Sand the paint either to the bare metal, the original primer, or at least sufficiently for the new paint to adhere. Dry sand using 180-grit sandpaper to remove rust or surface damage before moving on to a 320-grit paper to remove your previous 180-grit scratches.

Can plastic car Trim be painted?

The plastic material can be painted to either match the color of the car or painted a different color to stand out more. With some paint and materials found at an auto parts store, your plastic trim can be painted in only a few hours.

What kind of paint will stick to vinyl?

acrylic paint
The best paint for vinyl is water-based 100 percent acrylic paint, or urethane-modified acrylic paint. Avoid lower-cost latex paint. Acrylic paint remains very flexible. Vinyl can expand and contract significantly with temperature changes, and lower quality paint will crack and peel under the stress.

Can I dye my car interior?

You can dye the color of your cloth car seats by using a spray-applied dye. This method ensures you don’t have to remove the seats and the cloth, avoiding tearing the seats or having them shrink in a hot dye solution.

Does rustoleum work on vinyl?

Rust-Oleum® Fabric & Vinyl is a flexible coating that restores color on vinyl, simulated leather and some fabrics. Ideal for use on vinyl furniture, luggage, car seats, car door panels, vinyl car tops, dashboards, floor mats and more.

Can you paint over vinyl?

Yes! You can paint vinyl! Below are some of my favorite projects using spray paint or acrylic paint on vinyl. If you are nervous about applying paint to the vinyl, be sure to save some vinyl scraps from your next project and play around with it.

What happens if you paint a car without primer?

Without the primer, the surface remains relatively smooth and has no ‘stick’ factor, as in a porous place for the paint to adhere to. If you want to change a red car to white, you’re liable to end up with a sick shade of Mary Kay Pink without primer below it.

Can you paint over existing auto paint?

Yes. You can paint over existing auto paint, especially with modern paints. However, ensure that the existing paint is in good condition before you paint over it. Also, lightly sanding the surface makes the whole process a success.


We guess you should, by now, already know how to paint car interior using our detailed guide. If you have a little DIY skill, you should be able to do this personally and save the cost of hiring a car detailer.

It is simple and will require no complicated tools except a set of screwdrivers for uncoupling and coupling back.

Feel free to leave us a message if you have any challenges you may want us to help you with.