Mike H. from Plano, TX wrote us: "I've got a chance to buy an (aircraft) at a good price, but it's in serious need of paint. The original paint is so bad that there are several sections of bare aluminum showing, and the top of the wings are particularly bad. Is it worth my time and money to buy it and do a strip & paint?"

Hi Mike! Sure is- paint is one of the few items on an aircraft where you can usually recover all of your investment- and sometimes even more- but only if the aircraft is in need of paint. Here's how it works.

The value of any plane is determined by comparing it to a known standard- the mythical "average" aircraft. This plane would have "average" paint, and would receive neither a deduction no a premium when considering it's value. While the cost of a complete strip & paint varies greatly around the US, let's use the national average of $8,000 in this example.

An aircraft sorely in need of paint would lose 1/2 of this value, or $4,000, while a newly painted one would gain the same amount, for a difference between the two of $8,000. But wait- there are other facts to consider...

The newly painted aircraft is far easier to sell due to it's eye appeal (and usually easier to get the spouse to ride in!). It therefore gains slightly more than the $4,000 add- probably another $500 or so. On the other hand, the guy with the "dog" is going to have to shop for the best value, arrange for transportation to get his plane to the shop, and then sit on the ground for weeks (or even months!) while the paint shop procrastinates. As a result, he'll be both inconvenienced and denied the use of his craft- worth another deduction of about $500..

So the real difference between your plane, Mike, and one that's newly painted is greater than just the cost of the paint job! (In the real market this value is about 112%.)

You can also see that if you were to spend the same $8K painting a plane that was still in "average" condition, you'd be losing about $4,000. On the other hand, it may be worth it to you just for the feeling you get when you taxi up to the pumps!