Paint, Power Tools, Tutorials

7 Easy Spray Painting Tips

I love spray paint.  No, not like this guy—but I love using it for craft projects and I enjoy how quickly it can transform objects without endless coats of paint and patience.

Take this mirror for example.  Because there is a medicine cabinet behind the mirror, removing the entire unit would be necessary to replace it, which could get costly.  Problem:  it was U-G-L-Y.  Unfortunately, I do not have a good ‘before’ pic, but it was gold and covered in layers of caked-on dust.

One can of Rustoleum Metallic Spray in Dark Bronze was all it took to transform the dated yellow-gold to a more updated frame (after a solid and thorough cleaning of course).  It may not be the permanent solution to this room, but every little bit helps! (Close-up of mirror finish below)

Because light switches and electrical sockets are inexpensive to replace, it is best to do so if you are going to use that particular switch many times over (and it’s best for safety).  In some places throughout the house, certain outlets will not be used very often, so rather than replacing them, I am painting them with Krylon Fusion (for plastic) spray paint.  I have tried other brands that are specially formulated for plastic, but I find Krylon’s to be the most successful.  Disclaimer:  Painting your outlet or switch is not recommended by experts as it can be dangerous if it interferes with the function of the outlet.  I did it anyway and have not had a problem, but take this on at your own risk.

At any rate, as a spray paint fan, here are a few tips for achieving desired results:

spray paint

1. Match the material to the can.

This is a no-brainer, but if you’re trying to paint metal, use a paint specially formulated for metal.  Not every paint is good for every job.  Read the labels on the can for a list of materials that it covers, or you could wind up with a paint job that peels right off of the surface and looks worse than before you began.

2. Start with a squaky clean surface.

Paint will not stick evenly to a dirty surface, and the dirt will wind up tracking more dirt as time goes on.  Thoroughly clean the object you are going to paint.  Windex is a go-to surface cleaner for most objects for me.  Porous objects are harder to clean, so in some cases you may have to use a primer to block stains or dirt from creeping up to the surface and into your paint job.

3. Ventilate, ventilate, ventilate.

Spray paint is toxic, so it is best to have a few windows open if you’re spraying something indoors that you can’t move outside.  If you can, try to spray outdoors.

4. Protect what you don’t want to paint.

Spray paint… well… sprays…everywhere!  Most brands nowadays have directional nozzles for ease of spraying, but because of your efforts to ventilate, wind or a fan will blow the mist everywhere.  Even when you think you’ve got the goods to keep the overspray to a minimum, it can still leave a slight haze over the surrounding surface, so it’s best to protect what you’re not wanting to change.  Blue painters tape and some paper toweling works well.

5. Shake it up.

Shaking the can is part of the directions.  Follow them.  Otherwise, your paint can come out clumpy and ruin whatever you were spraying.  As an added measure, do a spray test on a piece of cardboard or something you plan to toss out, to make sure your first oops isn’t on your project.

6. Use a light-handed approach.

In terms of staying power, four light coats is usually better than two thick, heavy-handed coats. It may seem counterintuitive at first, but when you use a thick coat, it goes down in a single layer, which increases the chances of it coming back up in a single layer as well—aka, uneven, gross peeling—kind of like a bad sunburn. Do too much too quickly, and your results will come right back off.

7. Dry and repeat.

For most projects, at least two coats is necessary for adequate coverage.  It usually takes only thirty minutes or less before the first coat is dry, but wait a little while in between coats to ensure that the first has proper dry time.  When making drastic changes, such as coating ceramic or changing from a dark/light color to a light/dark color, use a spray primer first. For certain projects, you may also need to use some between-coat sandpaper to rough up the original surface to get the first layer to stick well.

When I get to the decorating part of my house projects, spray paint will likely play a much bigger role than it does right now.  There are quite a few uses, and both the Krylon and Rustoleum sites have tons of project ideas.  You should check out the sites – in the meantime, I’m going to get back to painting.

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  1. says

    You just gave me a great idea with your electrical socket picture! We have this nice tile back splash in our kitchen but I hate the white electrical sockets, and wanted to replace them with these stone covers, but the plug part would still be white and weird looking. I never thought to paint them, perfect!

  2. Ajay says

    When I do plugs, I plug in a 3 prong spare cable half way and spray around it. This ensures no paint goes into the sockets

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