How to Spray Paint Anything

Are you looking for a quick way to update something in your house for about $6? A can of spray paint is the answer.

I was recently working with a client to refresh her bedroom. She had a limited budget which didn’t allow her to replace everything (which applies to most of us). Her first priority, replace the overhead lighting which looks like it belongs in an office. This one change alone makes a big difference.

Once she had her new amazing light, she needed some lamps to go with it. Her lamps were very nice and large, but they were silver. Enter antique gold spray paint.

Spray paint is a magical tool and it is one of my favorite ways to make big changes quickly and inexpensively. You can use it to give new life to so many things, see the list below. All you need are a few fail-proof techniques.

What Can you spray paint?

Spray paint is not made for every job. For example, I don’t recommend spray painting large pieces of furniture. Spray is good for small items that are portable. A few of these items are really expensive to buy new, so spray painting your old ones is like finding free money.

  • Picture Frames
  • Light Fixtures – Great way to save money.
  • Mirrors – Great way to save money.
  • Lamps
  • Sconces
  • Metal trim – for example around the edge of your fireplace or at the kick plate of your door.
  • Metal anything – examples are candle sticks, containers, and vent covers
  • Planters
  • Ceramics
  • Baskets
  • Hardware.- cabinet pulls, door knobs, light switch covers, rods. Great way to save money.
  • Small wood furniture
  • Plastic furniture
  • Fuse box cover

Spray Paint Technique’s to Guarantee Great Results

Preparation is KEY

Spray painting is all about preparation. The actual painting takes hardly any time. Preparation is where you put most of your effort. Preparation includes three things: sanding, cleaning, and covering.

  • Sanding – Most spray paint jobs require only light sanding, this doesn’t take too long since you are usually spray painting pretty small things. Sanding isn’t always required, for example, you don’t need to sand a basket.
spray paint preparation
  • Cleaning – After you sand the item, be sure to wipe it down to remove any dust residue (try using a tack cloth). For best results, before you begin painting, allow the piece to dry completely.
  • Covering – You need to make sure to securely cover everything that is near what you are painting. If at all possible I prefer to spray paint outside. You might think you’re only getting paint on the item you are working on, but you probably won’t. Also, be sure you are wearing clothes that you don’t mind getting paint on. A gust of wind can mean the paint blows back on you.

Quick Strokes and light coats

First, be sure to shake the can for at least one minute before you start. The best way to achieve a smoother surface and avoid drip marks when you spray paint is to use quick strokes. Don’t leave the nozzle pointed in one place. Use lots of motion. For the perfect finish, it’s best to paint more thin coats of paint with lighter coverage.

Almost everything you spray paint will require multiple coats, so don’t focus on complete coverage. Instead, do several light coats of spray paint. If you miss a spot, don’t focus the spray on that spot. Do another light coat. Make sure to shake the can while you are painting and not just at the beginning.

Don’t paint when the temperature is above 85 degrees or the weather is very humid. If you paint in high heat it can cause your paint to look wrinkly.

What brand of spray paint works best?

I choose every product I review. I may earn an affiliate commission if you buy from one of the product links, at no extra cost to you. This income supports this site. See the full disclosure.

I’ve tested many spray paint brands over the years and I hate to say it, but there isn’t that much difference. Get the one that’s available. I’m usually at Home Depot and they carry Rustoleum. I have used other brands like Krylon for a clock project and have been really happy with the results.

spray paint brands

I recommend getting one that says it is a combination of paint and primer, that way you don’t have to apply a separate coat of primer. If you are spray painting over a metal surface, be sure you get a spray paint that says it is for use on metal. If you want a very vivid finish, paint your item with white paint first and then paint over the white with your color.

Can I Spray Paint Inside?

It’s best to spray paint outside. Unlike paint that you apply with a brush, spray paint doesn’t come in a no VOC option (which stands for volatile organic compounds). Spray painting inside is bad for air quality. If you paint outside, try to leave the item outside for a minimum of 24 hours to eliminate the odor. It actually takes spray paint 3-7 days to cure and at that point, the smell will go away. Even when painting outside, you may want to cover the surrounding area with a drop cloth to avoid getting paint on the patio or grass.

spray paint outside

If you must spray paint indoors, be sure you can open windows and have plenty of ventilation. You should also consider wearing a face covering indoors. Fortunately, after 2020, we all have a ton of these.

How to Fix Spray Paint Drips – Spray Painting Tip:

Unfortunately, when you see a drip you can’t fix it with more paint. If you see the drip right away you can wipe it clean with a lint-free cloth. If you don’t catch it right away, the best way to fix drip marks is to wait 24 hours for drying time.

Once they are dry use a scotch bright pad or fine sandpaper and rub the drip until it feels completely smooth again. At this point, your project will not look great, but that can be fixed with another quick coat of paint. Wipe your project clean before you paint again. Also, be sure it is completely dry before you start. Once it’s smooth and dry go over the area with quick smooth strokes for a flawless finish.

Is Spray Paint Expensive?

That’s the best thing about spray paint. It costs about $5 to $7 for one can, even premium brands. It’s not meant for large projects like painting a room, so most projects can be done with two cans at the most. It’s the best bargain around if you want to transform small things in your house.

Can I order spray paint online?

These days you can order just about anything online. Even though it’s an aerosol paint it can still be shipped. You can buy it on Amazon and at Target online. It is flammable, but it can be shipped. It is a little harder to see the color when you buy online.

Do You Need To Seal Spray Paint?

You don’t need to seal things that you spray paint UNLESS you want the item to have a really high gloss finish. If you want a high gloss finish use Minwax Polyurethane spray. I prefer to use the water-based version because it has fewer fumes. I don’t seal most of my projects, but sealing them can provide an extra layer of protection.

This is important – If you want to seal your project, wait 3-7 days until the underlying paint is completely cured before you apply the top coat. If you rush the process you can get wrinkling and running because the paint under the seal is dry but not cured.

What sucks about spray paint?

The downside of spray paint is that the color choices are VERY limited. You want blue, well there are exactly two blue colors to choose from. Different manufacturers may have slightly different colors, but your choices are very small.

Spray paints aren’t for walls, they are for accessories. You don’t need 50 shades of blue if you want to paint a vase. Many of the things you choose to spray paint will be totally transformed even by the few color choices that exist.

If you’re still on the fence about spray painting something, I challenge you to give it a try. Once you try it, you will start to imaging all kinds of things to paint.

Here are the lamps before and after. I swapped out the shade to lighten them up. Overall I think this was a successful project!

no fail spray painting techniques

If you accidentally get spray paint on your hands during the process, see 3 ways to get spray paint off your hands. If you want to see other spray paint projects check out these:

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  1. Great tips Andrea! I’ve never even thought about spray paint, oddly, but now I’ve got lots of ideas – just like you said! 🙂 Thanks for the inspiration my friend, and Happy Sunday!

  2. Nanc Sickmann says:

    The lamp looked better before it was spray painted. If anything maybe it needed a new shade.

    1. I agree they were great lamps before, BUT they didn’t go with the pink and gold bedroom. My client wanted the lamps to match her new light fixture, which is gold. So that’s why we repurposed them.

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