Isn’t it funny how you need reminders sometimes that you know stuff?
A friend of mine sent me a text asking if I have spray painting tips. DO I EVER! And then I remembered, hey! I bet I know somebody else who’d want to hear this great stuff. (You. I’m talking about YOU.)
Spray painting is like cheap home decor magic. Take something faded, boring, or just generally “blah” and turn it awesome again with a $2.99 can of paint and a few minutes of easy labor.
You might remember my own personal favorite, a wicker wastebasket I purchased for 70 cents and made over to complete our front entry:
Or perhaps you’ve noticed I have a thing for spray painting vintage mirrors, like this one. (That’s my family in and around that frame, at my brother’s wedding. I have a similar one, painted gold, hanging by our back door.)
On my list to paint next, are a set of horse bookends I picked up at a thrift store, but will soon be painted a fabulous color a la this:
When in doubt, use primer
Primer functions as a friendly middle layer between a surface and the paint, to make it easier for the paint to stick and stay. If you have any doubts about whether the spray paint will adhere to the surface you’re painting, it’s smart to spray a coat of primer first. For some surfaces like laminates and sheer glossy things, it might help to rough up the surface a little with fine sandpaper before applying primer, to prep the surface—but in most cases, primer will do the trick on its own.
Don’t be afraid of trying new colors
I’ve always found that picking out the paint color is the hardest part of the process. If you’re like me in this way, don’t forget: the beauty of spray painting is how easy it is to do over if you decide you don’t like the result of a color you’ve tried. Don’t be afraid to experiment, because you never know what will turn out fabulous (or terrible). It’s almost as easy as clicking “undo.”
Choose your paint finish wisely
Aside from choosing a color, you can also choose a finish for the paint. Matte is a duller finish that is beautiful for a casual, simple, shabby-chic appearance. If it gets dirty or smudged, it can be harder to clean, though. I’ve had great luck with metallic paints; they make me feel like King Midas without all the negative consequences. Another option for instant glamour is high gloss paint (to step it up a notch, finish with a high gloss clear coat). High gloss finish can be unforgiving of imperfections, though.
Protect your lungs
To avoid breathing in the paint fumes, paint in a well-ventilated area—or outdoors, if possible. (Weather permitting, I paint on a piece of cardboard in our backyard.)
Several thin coats are better than one or two thick ones
When you’re ready to paint, shake up the can real good and spray from a distance of about six inches. Move quickly and evenly in short bursts. Thin coats dry more quickly, and are less likely to run in drips and streaks that you’ll have to sand down later.
Beware of overspray
Particularly if you’re painting outdoors, pay attention to what’s in your immediate vicinity and where the wind is blowing. Nobody likes getting spray paint on their car or house or dog, for instance. I always paint over a big old piece of cardboard. If I’m painting at an angle that’s not straight down, I hold a smaller piece of cardboard on the other side of the object I’m painting to catch most of the excess spray.
Paint from all angles
This is especially critical when painting a surface that has lots of crevices and crannies, like an ornate picture frame or a natural item like a pine cone, where its surface isn’t smooth and regular. Do a thin coat from the left, let it dry for a few minutes, then do another coat from the right, top and bottom. Before you finish, be sure to inspect it from all angles to make sure there isn’t any original surface peeking through a corner somewhere. (There’s nothing worse than finding an missed spot after everything is put away and cleaned up.)
Avoid getting bugs, pet hair and dust in your fresh paint
I’m not going to lie, this can be a challenge. If you’re outdoors, don’t paint when it’s super windy out. It can help to get your painting surface up off the ground (using sawhorses or cardboard boxes) to prevent ants and little critters making their way into all the wrong places. Indoors, it’s a good idea to turn off fans until the paint has begun to set.
In parting, I will leave you with a few more inspiration photos to get the wheels in your head turning with all your new spray painting possibilities.
1 : Spray paint mercury glass effect using Krylon “Looking Glass” spray paint via Sherri’s Jubilee // 2 : A facelift for old folding chairs via The Moon and Me // 3 : From drab to awesome via Make // 4 : Shiny gold mason jar via 100 layer cake // 5 : A xylophone bench! via Parsimonia // 6 : How clever are these little jar toppers? via Sweet Paul // 7 : A very smart idea for organizing jewelry via Vintage Treehouse