How to Paint a Pinewood Derby Car: Winning Tips and Techniques

Pinewood Derby is a beloved tradition for scouts and parents alike. Preparing and running your car can be an exciting and rewarding experience. One essential aspect of creating a winning car is the painting process. In this guide, we’ll know the steps of “how to paint a Pinewood Derby car perfectly. You also learn here, from preparing the car’s surface to adding finishing touches.

How to Paint a Pinewood Derby Car: A Step-by-Step Guide

Before painting the Pinewood Derby car, let’s gather materials for a creative try.

Materials You’ll Need

  • Pinewood Derby Car Kit
  • Sandpaper (Various Grits)
  • Primer
  • Acrylic Paints
  • Brushes
  • Masking Tape
  • Clear Coat
  • Newspaper (for workspace)

Preparing Your Workspace

Preparing a dedicated workspace is important to keep your painting process managed and mess-free.

Setting Up Your Workspace

  • Choose a Well-Ventilated Area: Find a room with good airflow. Ensure proper ventilation while painting.
  • Cover Surfaces: Lay down newspapers to protect your work surface from paint spills.
  • Organize Your Materials: Keep materials within easy reach to prevent interruptions in painting.

Preparing the Pinewood Car

Before you apply that first coat of paint, your car’s surface needs to be smooth and ready.

Sanding the Car

  1. Use Coarse Grit Sandpaper: To shape the car, begin sanding with coarse-grit sandpaper. Pay extra attention to the rough edges.
  2. Progress to Finer Grits: Move to finer grit sandpapers to create a smooth surface. You can sand in the approach of the wood grain for the best results.
  3. Inspect for Imperfections: After sanding, carefully inspect the car’s surface for any imperfections. Fill in gaps or dents with wood filler and sand again if needed.

Applying Primer

Primer is the foundation for a flawless paint job. It helps the paint adhere better and ensures an even finish.

Select a High-Quality Primer: Choose a primer designed for wood surfaces. Now, apply a thin coat and allow it to dry completely.

Painting Your Pinewood Derby Car

Now, it’s time to add color to your car!

  1. Choose Your Paint Colors: Select the colors for your car’s design. Remember to use acrylic paints for vibrant results. Get knowledge about the “Best Paint for Pinewood Derby Car.”
  2. Create a Design Plan: Sketch your design on paper before starting to paint. It will help you stay on track.
  3. Apply the Base Coat: Start with the base color. Apply thin coats; it allows each coat to dry fast before adding another layer.
  4. Add Details: Use smaller brushes to add intricate details to your design. Let your creativity shine!
  5. Allow for Drying Time: Be patient between coats. Rushing can lead to smudges and imperfections.

Masking and Stripes

Using Masking Tape: To create crisp lines or stripes, use masking tape. It helps to cover areas you want to keep unpainted.

Painting the Stripes: Apply the desired color over the masked area. Once dry it, then remove the tape to reveal clean lines.

Applying a Clear Coat

Protect Your Masterpiece: Apply a clear coat to protect your paint and give it a glossy finish. Ensure the base color is thoroughly dry before applying the clear coat.

Finishing Touches

Inspect Your Car: Examine your car for any touch-ups or blemishes. Make necessary corrections.

Add Weight: If needed, add weight to meet the car’s weight requirements. It can impact its speed during the race.

Polish the Wheels: Ensure the wheels are smooth and free from imperfections. It reduces friction during the race.

Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Pinewood Derby Car?

Yes, you can use acrylic paint on a Pinewood Derby car! Using acrylic paint to decorate your Pinewood Derby car is a fantastic way to add a personal touch. This paint makes your car stand out in the race. Let’s know how to use acrylic paint on your Pinewood Derby car. We also provide you with some helpful tips and tricks.

Preparing Your Pinewood Derby Car for Acrylic Paint

Before you start painting, proper preparation is key. Ensure your car is sanded smoothly and dust-free and any imperfections are filled. Here’s how:

Sanding the Surface:

Begin by sanding the surface of your Pinewood Derby car with fine-grit sandpaper. This step ensures the paint adheres well.

Filling Imperfections:

Fill any gaps or imperfections in the wood with wood putty, and sand it smooth once it dries.

Priming the Surface:

Apply a thin primer layer to create a smooth base for the acrylic paint.

Choosing the Right Acrylic Paint

Selecting the right acrylic paint is crucial for achieving the desired results. Consider the following factors:

Quality of Paint:

Invest in high-quality acrylic paint for better coverage and durability. Cheaper paints may not provide the vibrant colors and lasting finish you want.

Colors and Creativity:

Acrylic paints come in a wide range of colors. This paint allows you to get creative with your Pinewood Derby car design.

Painting Your Pinewood Derby Car

Now, let’s get into the exciting part – painting your car:

Layering and Blending:

Acrylic paints are versatile. You can layer them to create different effects and blend colors seamlessly.

Brush Selection:

Use fine brushes for detailed work and larger brushes for broader strokes.

Drying Time:

Acrylic paints dry relatively quickly. Ensure each layer is completely dry before applying the next.

What type of paint to use for pinewood derby car?

Here are some paint options commonly used for Pinewood Derby cars:

Acrylic Paint:

Acrylic paints are a popular choice for Pinewood Derby cars. They are water-based, easy to use, and come in various colors. Get knowledge about “Acrylic Ink vs Acrylic Paint.”

Spray Paint:

Spray paint can provide a smooth, even finish on your Pinewood Derby car. Look for spray paints specifically designed for wood or plastic surfaces.

Model Paint:

It is a good choice for Pinewood Derby cars. They are designed for small-scale projects and can provide excellent detail and coverage.

Enamel Paint:

This paint is another option, although it takes longer to dry than acrylics. They provide a durable finish and may be a good choice for a glossy look.

Water-Based Markers or Pens:

It can be handy if you want to add fine details to your Pinewood Derby car. They allow for precise control and come in various colors.

Frequently asked questions

How long does paint dry on a Pinewood Derby car take?

Typically, acrylic paint on a Pinewood Derby car takes 15-30 minutes to dry between coats. Following the drying times noted on your paint’s label is essential for the best results.

Can I repaint my Pinewood Derby car if I’m unsatisfied with the design?

Yes, you can! If you’re unhappy with your car’s design, sand it down and start over. Make sure you follow the proper sanding and priming steps to ensure a smooth surface for your new design.

What’s the ideal number of paint coats for a Pinewood Derby car?

The number of paint coats may vary depending on your design and the opacity of your paint. But two to three thin coats for the base color and extra coats for detailing should suffice.


You’ve now mastered Paint a Pinewood Derby Car. Remember, patience and attention to detail are your allies in creating a unique racer.

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