Looking for how to paint your golf cart? Does your golf cart have a dew dings or scratches in the paint? Maybe you just don’t like the original color anymore? Do you wanna put flames and skulls on it and look super cool?
Well who doesn’t want fiery skulls on their golf cart? 🙂
Before you buy some cans of spray paint and dive in though, let’s talk about a few things. Whether you have a Yamaha, Club Car, or E-Z-GO golf cart, the paint is all very similar, so this advice should apply to almost all golf carts.
You’re going to want to make sure you use the right tools, the right paint, prep the surface of your golf cart correctly, and we’ll talk about how much each of those would cost in a DIY golf cart painting situation.
A few safety notes first, be sure to wear eye and breathing protection while sanding and painting to protect from debris and harmful chemicals, and make sure to only paint in well ventilated areas. Failing to use good ventilation could result in loss of consciousness while painting which will completely ruin your paint job.
Here’s a quick video of what we’re talking about
The right tools
Doing this project correctly will depend on having the right kind of paint. If you have an air compressor, then get a spray gun and an inline water filter for your air hose.
You’ll want a bigger, somewhat powerful compressor to power your spray gun properly, and your spray gun will give you a recommended pressure range. These can cost anywhere from $200-$1200, though. If you don’t have a compressor, then spray paint cans will work on a budget.
As far as inline filters, these remove the majority of the moisture from your airline to avoid contaminating your paint, spray pattern, or spray gun. There are two types of inline water filters you can get.
One is a cheaper, one-off type solution that screws into your airline that has silicone beads that remove moisture from the air as it passes, and the other is a permanent and more expensive installation that consistently dries the air as it passes through the contraption.
The disposable, silicone one off is usually around $10 and the more expensive one can range from $30-$600 depending on your needs.
The easiest type of spray gun to use is an HVLP gravity feed type sprayer. They aren’t too expensive at around $50, but provide a high quality and ease of use that you won’t beat at that price range.
If you want to skip the air compressor, you can buy a whole kit that uses a turbine to generate air pressure in the $400-$700 range.
The right paint
The paint will have to go on in layers, starting first with a primer, then a base coat, and if you want a stronger finish, ending in a clear coat. Since the primer comes first, we’ll start there.
You only need about one or two coats of this depending on how dark your golf cart’s original color is. A pint should suffice, but a quart is only $12-$20, so you may as well get more than you need.
Once you have the primer, the paint you need is either a hardener/base coat mixture or a base coat and a hardened clear coat. They both have advantages and it really depends on your needs for which one is best.
If you don’t want a super slick, near mirror finish, and aren’t too worried about sun exposure, than a hardened base coat is your best bet. It only requires one paint mixture, and you’ll have to put on 3 or 4 coats depending on how dark the original color is, how dark the new color is, and how rich you want the new color tone to be.
This option is usually around $50 for a quart, which should be more than enough for a golf cart.
If you want a mirror like finish, or your cart is going to spend a lot of time in the sun, then the base coat/clear coat two stage job is best.
The first part is similar, but you don’t have to put a hardener in the base coat. 3 or 4 coats, or however much it takes to cover the cart, then switch to the hardened clear coat and do 1 or 2 coats to ensure proper coverage.
A mirror like finish will require cutting, sanding, and buffing a relatively thick clear coat. This option is more expensive, and a little harder than just a hardened base coat, but it does better at protecting your color from the sun.
The base coat and clear coat will give you a much better finish.
If you don’t have an air compressor or spray gun, and don’t want to invest in one, the next best option is a spray paint. In this case, you’ll be looking for acrylic or plastic fusion spray paints as they adhere to plastics better than other types of paints.
You can even get a clear coat spray paint can. Each can costs about $12-$20 depending on the brand and quality, and you’ll need about 2 for each coat. All in all, it will come out to around the same price for the paint, but you don’t have to buy a bunch of tools.
Preparing the cart
Now that you have the paint and tools, it’s time to start preparing your golf cart. First thing is to take off all your trim and bumpers. You’ll want full access to each panel, and even you plan on painting the bumpers and trim, it’s best if you paint them separately to allow for better coats on each piece.
Once you have the trims off, it’s really important to cover your headlights, windshields, roof posts, interior, and literally everything you don’t want paint on. The easiest way to do this is with some masking tape and paper or plastic film.
Garbage bags can work in place of film, but the masking tape is pretty necessary. Tape your film to the protected areas, making sure to cover the whole protected area without overlapping into what you intend to paint.
Next you’ll need to rough up the surface of the current paint. You’ll want to start with a heavy grit sandpaper, maybe about 120, and move up to 400 to get everything smoothed out, but rough enough that the paint and primer have something to hold onto.
This step is important, as paint usually has a gloss surface and will not hold onto new paint very well at all. The only thing you may need to buy in this process is sandpaper and masking tape, so this is a very inexpensive part of the job. Once every part of the cart is sanded down, it’ll be time to apply primer.
Making it look cool
Applying the primer is the first step of actual painting, and believe it or not, really important. Whether you decide to spray or brush it on, make sure you get a nice, even coat that covers every bit of the original color. If it requires two coats to do so, it’s best to wait about 20 minutes between coats.
Once the primer is down, wait for the recommended time to begin applying the paint. With the base coat, you want to do multiple, thin, and even coats working from top to bottom. The more coats you put down, the richer the color will appear, but remember it takes about a half pint to cover the whole golf cart, so a quart will only afford about 4 coats.
Lastly, if you’re doing a clear coat, make sure it is applied evenly and in thin coats. There really is no limit to how much clear coat you can put on, and the more you put, the easier it will be to wet sand and buff into a mirror finish if that’s your goal.
All that’s left is putting your golf cart back together and hitting the road. And if painting isn’t your thing, you can always wrap your golf cart too.