How to Spray Paint

Easy to use and economically friendly, spray paint is a great way to give any worn and faded chair, table, or nearly any other object a fresh new look. But getting that eye-appealing final finish takes a little preparation to get it done right. Uneven coverage, drips, and crackling are common problems that can be avoided if a little time, patience, and control are used while spray painting. Why spray paint rather than use a brush to freshen up the look of your project? The main benefits of spray painting are quality of finish, speed, and versatility.

When done correctly, you'll have control over where and how the paint is applied, providing a quality finish on a consistent basis. And, unlike using a brush, which requires more skill and time, spray painting is much faster regardless of the size or shape of your project. Spray paint also dries quicker than brushed-on paint, so applying multiple coats to get the desired results is quicker. Using spray paint also allows for greater versatility and creativity. With spray paint, you can get an "artsy" look to your project by utilizing toning, blending, and shading techniques—something not possible with a brush.

Specialty spray paints are also available and can be used to transform glass, wicker, metal, resin, plastic, and other surfaces. Regardless of what surface you're painting, clean up is much quicker with spray paint. There are no brushes, rollers, or paint pans to rinse or wash out. All that needs to be done is to turn the can upside down, depress the nozzle, and wait until no more paint is coming out of the can; it's now ready to be stored until the next use.

Spray Paint Preparation

Before shaking the can and hearing the familiar sound of the marble inside mixing the paint, you'll need to prep what you're going to paint. The paint won't stick well to any surfaces that are greasy, dirty, or generally not clean. Sandpaper can be used to smooth down rough spots, a damp cloth or rag will help remove most dust and dirt, and if there is any sticky residue on what you're painting, simply scrape it off and then use a household cleaner or solvent to remove the rest. Regardless of what needs to be done when it comes to pre-paint cleaning, be sure to let the item dry completely before applying a primer or paint.

When ready, you'll want to find the ideal location to paint. Generally, it's best to use spray paint outdoors. A well-ventilated location will protect you from paint fumes, which makes painting outside ideal. If it's not possible to paint outdoors, inside an open garage is a good alternative. Be sure there is no breeze that can affect the spray of the paint coming from the can since the breeze can cause dirt, dust, or other debris to adhere to what you're painting. If you must paint indoors, be sure to open as many windows as possible to help dissipate the fumes.

When you've determined where you're going to paint, you'll want to prep the area. Lay down a drop cloth, tarp, or paper on which to place the item you're painting, and be sure you've covered enough area to protect the surroundings from overspray. If you are painting a small item, place it in a deep cardboard box; this will allow you to paint effectively while offering maximum protection from overspray.

Once you're ready to paint, be sure to take measures to protect yourself. Safety glasses, gloves, and a respirator mask are essential. The glasses will help you in case some of the spray gets blown back in your face, while the gloves and respirator will protect you since spray paint is toxic.

Applying Spray Paint

To start the job, begin with a primer coat, shaking it for approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Priming creates a consistent, smooth surface ideal for painting. Primer also increases the adhesion of the paint while decreasing the likelihood of an uneven looking finish. It's best to apply multiple thin coats to prevent runs and drips. Be sure to allow each coat of primer to dry completely before applying another one or adding the first coat of paint. Just as you would when spray painting, apply the primer in a smooth, back and forth manner across the object being primed, slightly overlapping each pass as you go.

Once primed and dry, it's time to paint. Again, shake the paint can for approximately 3 to 4 minutes to ensure the paint is well mixed. This is critical to ensure the color will be consistent for your project. You can't overshake the can, but not shaking it enough will lead to poor results. Now, do a spot test. Begin by painting an inconspicuous area of the item or a scrap piece of cardboard, paper, or wood. Doing this will give you an idea of what the paint will look like when you apply it.

Holding the paint can about 8" away, apply a light coat over your entire project. Again, be sure to slowly sweep the paint across the surface of the piece to get an even coat, slightly overlapping each pass you make. Don't try and rush the job and apply a single, heavy coating of paint. This will lead to dripping and running paint, making it likely that it will get smudged and stay tacky longer. 

It's not uncommon for the first coating of paint to look a little light and splotchy, showing the primer or the original color of the object through the paint. Don't worry, you'll be able to cover it up and get the desired look with subsequent coats of paint. Applying additional coats will provide more even results and help provide total coverage of your project while giving you the brightest possible color. Be sure to let each coat dry thoroughly, usually a minimum of 24 hours.

Remember, from start to finish, it's important to be patient and not rush the job for the best spray painting results.


Product Compliance and Suitability

The product statements contained in this guide are intended for general informational purposes only. Such product statements do not constitute a product recommendation or representation as to the appropriateness, accuracy, completeness, correctness or currentness of the information provided. Information provided in this guide does not replace the use by you of any manufacturer instructions, technical product manual, or other professional resource or adviser available to you. Always read, understand and follow all manufacturer instructions.