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An Intro to Spray Painting

It is moving towards the time of year here in the northern hemisphere when the weather is starting to warm, and that means more opportunity for getting outdoors with spray paint! Whether you are touching up the paint on your porch furniture, giving an art project a finishing touch, or just spray paint curious, you can benefit from knowing a few basics that will save you time, money, and cleanup effort.

Selecting the Paint
Spray paint selection is very similar to regular paint selection. You must choose the paint quality, the color, and the finish type. Spray paint quality ranges from hardware applications to fine art. Higher quality spray paints have better color fidelity, longer life, precision application, and a smoother, more professional-looking finish.

Preparing the Surface
Surface prep is key to successful spray paint application. Clean your surface with mineral spirits or household detergent, and dry thoroughly. Sand wood from a medium to fine grade sandpaper, and clean and dry thoroughly, and remove particles from metal with a wire brush or sandpaper, and use a degreaser to remove oils. Rough up slick surfaces, like plastic, ceramic, or glass for better paint adherence. Use a primer on the surface, especially for metal and wood surfaces, for best color reproduction and paint life.

Set Up Tips
Set up in a very well ventilated area. Lay a drop cloth beneath the project, and create a spray booth around your area for easier clean up. You can use a cardboard box large enough to fit around the project, or build a booth from foam board. Place your project on a piece of cardboard so that you can turn the item as you spray it. It might help to add something nonstick, like tin foil, beneath the rotating cardboard tray.

Tips for Good Application
Shake the can for at least two minutes before first use, and for 10 seconds every minute throughout use. Test the spray on a test surface before applying to your project. Wipe up drips immediately and let dry, gently sand smooth, and clean completely before continuing. Let the project dry thoroughly before finishing it with a sealer.