How to Paint a Pinewood Derby Car

Painting your pinewood derby car is an important part of the build process and can make a huge difference in how your car looks. Not only that, but painting helps to give weight distribution to the car so it can be more aerodynamic when racing down the lane. Learning how to paint it correctly is a must if you want to get the best possible performance out of your car.

How to Paint a Pinewood Derby Car

One of the main advantages of painting a pinewood derby car is that it can help you customize your car and make it look unique. Painting your car with your own design or covering it in a bright color helps you stand out from the competition.

The painting also allows you to add subtle details such as racing stripes, flames, and logos, making your car look more professional. Additionally, a painted pinewood derby car has a better chance of catching the eye of judges and winning awards or prizes at races. In this blog post, You will learn in detail how to paint a pinewood derby car.

Step-by-step Instructions for How to Paint a Pinewood Derby Car

Step 1: Inspect the Car

Start by inspecting the car for any imperfections, such as knots, dents, and other deformities. If you find any, you can use a Dremel tool or sandpaper to smooth them out. Once all of the imperfections are taken care of, begin sanding the entire car with 150-grit sandpaper. This will help create a smooth painting surface and ensure a good bond between the wood and the paint.

Use a Dremel Tool

Step 2: Paint the Car

Now that you have prepared the car, it is time to start adding color! Depending on what type of look you are going for, there are a variety of paints to choose from. Spray paint is the easiest option, but you can also use acrylic paint. Once the car has been painted, it is important to protect it with a clear coat. This will help keep the color and luster of your car intact for years to come.

Step 3: Decorate the Car

If you want to take your car to the next level, now is the time to add some decorations. You can use stickers, and stencils, or even create a design with permanent markers. Transfer tape is a great way to add an extra layer of protection to your car. This type of tape is specifically designed to adhere to both the paint and the wood so that it will keep everything in place.

Step 4: Attach Weights

Now it’s time to attach any weights you plan to use for your car. Be sure not to exceed the weight limit for your race. Attach the wheels and axles, making sure that they are securely in place. It is also important to make sure that the wheels are spinning freely and without any wobbling or sticking.

Step 5: Lubricate Axles & Wheels

After the wheels and axles are in place, it’s time to apply a liberal amount of graphite or wheel lubricant. This will help your car move faster during the race. Finally, make sure that your car is ready for race day! Check the wheels one last time and make sure that all of the weights are securely attached. You’re now ready to hit the track.

Pinewood Derby Car is Looking Its Best

Following these steps will ensure that your Pinewood Derby car is looking its best on race day.

Tips for How to Paint a Pinewood Derby Car

  1. Wear protective eyewear and gloves while painting the car to protect your hands and eyes from paint fumes, dust, flying debris, and other hazards.
  2. Ensure that you are working in a well-ventilated area when painting the car, as paint fumes can be hazardous to your health if breathed in for extended periods of time.
  3. Do not apply too much paint to the car, as it can create an uneven surface and reduce the car’s speed when running on the track.
  4. Make sure that you are using paints specifically designed for Pinewood Derby cars, as other types of paint may be incompatible with the wood of your car.
  5. If painting on multiple layers of paint, allow ample time in between each layer for the paint to dry and adhere properly.
  6. Use a sealant or clear coat after you are finished painting the car to protect it from wear and tear.
  7. Avoid using glitter or other materials that could interfere with the car’s speed when running on the track.
  8. Always supervise children under the age of 12 when painting a Pinewood Derby Car to ensure that safety procedures are being followed.

Follow these tips, and you will have your Pinewood Derby Car looking great in no time.

Are There Any Common Mistakes You Should Avoid When Painting Your Pinewood Derby Car?

When painting your pinewood derby car, there are several common mistakes to avoid. First and foremost, it is important to ensure that you use the correct type of paint for your pinewood derby car.

Oil-based paints may not adhere well to the wood, while acrylic or enamel paints will provide a stronger bond and better coverage. Additionally, when painting your car, evenly cover all surfaces and avoid drips or excess paint build-up.

Another common mistake is applying too much paint too quickly. Applying several thin coats of paint will result in a smoother, more even finish than using one thick coat. In addition, leaving the car unpainted or painting it with a single color can make the car look plain and unappealing. Adding multiple colors, stencils, and other design elements will add personality to your car and make it stand out in the crowd.

Adding multiple colors

What Type of Sealant Should You Use to Protect Your Car Against the Elements? 

When you paint your car, using a sealant to protect the paint job against the elements is important. If you don’t seal your pinewood derby car properly, it may chip or fade over time due to moisture and other environmental factors.

We recommend using an acrylic clear coat spray for its superior protection against scratches, UV rays, and moisture. Simply follow the instructions on the packaging to apply the sealant to your car after you have finished painting it. This will help ensure that your design remains vibrant and intact for years to come.

Another great way to protect your paint job is by using a pinewood derby wax. Wax will also give your car a glossy finish, which will make it look like you have just taken it out of the box. Pinewood derby wax is also water-resistant, so it can help to prevent any blemishes caused by rain or other sources of moisture.

Apply pinewood derby wax using thin layers, and be sure to buff out any excess wax with a soft cloth. By sealing your pinewood derby car, you are ensuring that your design will look as vibrant and new for years to come.

How Long Does It Usually Take to Paint a Pinewood Derby Car? 

Painting a Pinewood Derby car can be time-consuming, but the length of time depends largely on the level of detail you’re aiming for. If you’re just going for a simple coat of paint to make your car look nice, you can expect it to take two or three hours.

However, if you’re looking to create a detailed, custom design, it could take much longer. You’ll need to factor in the time necessary for each step of the process, including sanding and priming the wood, creating your design, and painting several coats.

Sanding and Priming the Wood

Furthermore, you may want to allow extra time for any mistakes you make along the way. Painting a Pinewood Derby car is a great way to show off your creativity and make an impact, but it requires patience and careful planning. If you plan accordingly, you can create an impressive pinewood derby car that will get everyone’s attention.


One of the biggest disadvantages of painting a pinewood derby car is that it can be time-consuming and require patience. Numerous steps are involved in the process, including sanding, priming, and applying multiple coats of paint.

Additionally, the drying time between coats of paint requires a significant amount of waiting for each step to be completed. Furthermore, there is a risk of making mistakes when painting because it can be easy to damage the car if not done correctly.

In conclusion, painting your pinewood derby car can be a fun and creative way to give it a unique and personalized look. With the right supplies, patience, and an eye for detail, you can transform your car from plain wood into something special that will stand out on the track.

By following the steps outlined in this guide, you should be able to create a beautiful, painted pinewood derby car of your own. I hope this article has been beneficial for learning how to paint a pinewood derby car. Make Sure the precautionary measures are followed chronologically. 

Photo of author

Adrian Green

Adrian has been interested in woodworking since he was a child. His father had a woodworking shop, and Adrian would help him out and learn from him. He gained basic carpentry knowledge as well as an understanding of how to work hard and take care of business. He enjoys woodworking as a hobby. He loves the feeling of creating something with his own hands, and the satisfaction that comes from seeing his finished products used by others. So he started this blog to spread his passion and knowledge to those interested in DIY wood-working projects. He knows that with a little guidance and practice, anyone can create beautiful pieces of furniture or décor from scratch.

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