Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Spray paint love

(Spray painted fan)

I {heart} spray paint. So much in fact, my husband teases me about it; he sings, "I see a light fixture and I want to paint it blaaack..." He's exaggerating a bit with that one, but I really do like to paint stuff. Spray paint is quick, easy to use once you learn a few basic tips, and it can easily transform a not-so-attractive piece into something gorgeous!
In my opinion, spray paint's only real disadvantages are its price for the amount of coverage you get, and its limited color choices. So maybe don't try to spray paint your bedroom walls. For smaller applications though, it's really an amazing tool every fabulous lady should have at her disposal. Paint lamps! Picture frames! Furniture! Random little decorative objects you find at a thrift store! (Now I'm getting excited, I'm going to need to find something to paint!)
The key is learning to use it properly so you don't end up with a runny, gloppy un-even mess. It's pretty easy to master though, and if you do get a run you can always let it dry, sand it and try again.

1. Prep, prep, prep. As is the case with all painting projects, the more time you invest in prepping the better the ultimate finish. Sanding and priming really do make a difference (unfortunately, blah!). Do I do it every single time? Umm, no! I hardly ever sand (only if the surface I'm painting is super shiny) but I do tend to prime most of my projects.
2. Location. You want to spray paint in a well-ventilated outdoor space. Spray paint is oil-based which means it stinks to high heaven, but ends up producing a much stronger finish in the end. Because I live in the windiest place on earth, I spray paint in my open garage so that the paint goes on better instead of blowing away, and so that dirt doesn't blow all over whatever fabulous thing I'm working my magic on. Put something down so the overspray of the paint doesn't get all over things you don't want it on. I use a big scrap of particleboard but you can use anything, even pieces of cardboard or newspaper.

3. Tools of the trade. I use a fine sanding block to gently smooth the paint surface after I prime and between coats. Again, I do this only when it really matters -- but you will notice your surface can get a bit rough after you paint (dust, dirt gets trapped in the paint) so sanding it will make it look much more professional. I wipe it down with a tack cloth because it's sticky and really does pull all that dust off so you don't just stick it back on with the next coat of paint. If you want, you can invest in something like a spray can nozzle paint gun thingamajigger which really does help prevent spray-paint finger (ouch). And of course, a mask is always a good idea because you will breathe in the airborne paint particles and sneeze bright green (or whatever color you're using).

4. Keep it quick and light, keep moving. That pretty much sums up all you need to know. Multiple light coats with look better, dry faster, and wear better (peeling paint is no fun) -- it's just like nail polish that way. Experiment with how far from the surface you should hold the can. Hold it too close and the paint will be too thick and it will run. Conversely, a lot of people pull too far back to avoid runs, and the finish ends up being bumpy or uneven in sheen. I've never measured, but I'm probably 8-12 inches away??? Next, keep your hand moving. Go back and forth, quickly, to cover the piece lightly -- do not aim for 100% coverage, it shouldn't look all that great after the first coat! Splotchy = perfect in this example.
5. Let it dry, and repeat. Don't forget to sand it lightly (if you want), give it 2 or 3 coats, do any extra glazing or distressing if that makes you happy, and then cover it with a protective topcoat if desired. Voila! Remember to let painted objects cure for a while so the finish really hardens up -- this is not so important for something like a picture frame, probably more important for something like a fan that has parts to fit back together. You don't want the paint scratching or peeling off.
Ugly pot beore spray paint:
Ugly pot after spray paint and glazing: (ooh, ahh!)


  1. Totally correct with the "ooing" and "Awwwing". I too shall love spray paint!!!

  2. Very helpful how-to, chickadee paintgirl. I will quite probably now invest in a spray can nozzle paint gun thingamajigger, a gadget I didn't even know existed. (Still, keep your hungry eyes off my brass lamps!) xoxo

  3. Just found your blog and love the information on the Krylon Looking glass paint. I will have to try it. Wanted to say that there is a line of spray paint called Montana Gold Acrylic. It comes in 181 color choices. Many of them bright and trendy. Certainly not what I can find with other products. They also offer a choice of extra caps for spray widths. I havent tried these yet but have heard good reviews for this line. I have only found them available to me on line. Hope this helps in finding more colors.


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