Spray Paint FAQs

October 5, 2010

Some of you, no, a handful of you have been reading this site since the beginning when I started spray painting all sorts of things on the average of at least once a month and frequently mentioning my affection.  I jumped on the spray paint bandwagon several years ago, cracked the whip, and cried "Faster, faster, take us to a better place!"  I have an entire category dubbed "Spray Paint, My BFF" and I reckon I’ve done my part to keep RustOleum, Valspar, and Krylon in biz.

I’ve spray painted just about everything:  plastic, glass, wood, fiberglass, mirror, metal, ribbon, laminate, etcetera.  I’ll spray paint anything that stands still, mostly because it’s  cheap-n-easy, but also because my curiosity in this wonder product knows no end.  Most especially since I’ve witnessed first hand just how many gosh darn things seem to look better when dosed with Toluene and Xylene (the chemicals in spray paint which we never mention in the light of day, but secretly adore in the private solitude of our well ventilated garages).

Spray paint, when applied correctly, possesses the magical power to transform so many dated looks into a something fresh and modern, all in the course of an afternoon.  I think if I was stranded on a deserted island, a can of spray paint just might be on my wish list, not for the giant ‘SOS’ but to give my pathetic coconut mailbox attached to my hut that extra oomph it needed.

I’m sorry, where was I?  Oh yes. Take this sweet little French style solid wood nightstand I spied while gallivanting around the local thrift store last week.  Fab lines, lovely detail, but with yellowed spotty paint and chipped gold accents.  Facelift needed.

All’s well that ends well when you have a well shaken can of spray paint with which to solve the world’s problems.  The final paint is RustOleum’s ‘Canvas White’ found at True Value Hardware.


endtable before 2


cg endtable final after

‘Shipwrecked Pitcher’ from Anthropologie

I have used spray paint in so many ways I can’t even count them anymore.  Take a tour through my home and you won’t find a room with at least one spray painted thang.  Since I often get asked questions about spray paint, I reckon I’ll just put all those FAQs in one big post.  Bear with me.  I don’t know all the answers, but that’s where you come in at the end friends.

Away we go.    

1. What surfaces can I spray paint?

What can’t  you spray paint?   Well, perhaps that’s too inclusive.  Here’s the growing list.  Plastic, metal, fiberglass, mirror, glass, wood, wicker, masonry, plaster, concrete, canvas, ceramics, MDF, laminate and particle board.

valspar bathroom Image via Valspar


2. What are the pros and cons of spray paint vs. brush on paint?

I addressed this query last year, you can read all about in in this article about the pros and cons of spray paint.  Several other issues are addressed in the following questions, so read on!


3. How can I avoid drips?  Do you have a certain technique you use when applying spray paint?

*Cough*  Ahem.  Um, yes I do.  I even made a video.  Those new to spray painting can view my beginner tips and simple painting technique.  The rest of you pros have strict instructions to avert your eyes and ears.


4. To prime or not to prime, that is the question.

Mkay, where to begin.  My rule of thumb is this.  Prime these surfaces: 1) anything  meant to go outdoors that will be exposed to moisture because you risk rust (but see below), 2) glossy surfaces, or 3) wood.  Forget everything else.  But I break that rule of thumb all the time, so what good am I to this world, I don’t know.

Here’s my reasoning why I sometimes skip primer.  Spray paints are predominately oil based paints.  You can always tell when you read the ‘cleanup’ category on the back and it says to use paint thinner or mineral spirits to clean up your spray paint.  ‘Paint thinner’ and ‘mineral spirits’ = oil based paint.  It’s that simple.

Because spray paint is oil based, I find it has a much higher adhesion than your typical latex paints.  It clings baby, and it clings well.  Hence the reason I often skip primer when working with spray paint even when recommended *gasp* because I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m being sold a product I don’t need.  But don’t quote me on that.  Raw wood loves oil based paint, it soaks it up well, so for example when I refinished this chair, I skipped the primer and went straight to spray paint and have never had a problem since.

If you’re spray painting something for the outdoors, you may want to consider priming to protect against rust, Krylon recommends it.   However, I’ve spray painted several pieces of metal outdoor furniture without priming with only spray paint specifically designed for outdoor use, and they’ve never rusted, even after years of rain and sun exposure.

One thing I do like about spray primers is they dry with a flat finish, so if you like that super matte finish in white, gray, or black, just spray your object with primer and call it a day.   Black matte primers and spray paints can make a bowl or pitcher look pretty close to Basalt, just ask Eddie.


5. What are the dangers of skipping primer when using oil based spray paint?

I haven’t ever had a problem skipping the primer with glass, metal, fiberglass, terra cotta, or plastic because of the oil based nature of spray paints mentioned above.  My only real problems arise when I skip primer with glossy or wood surfaces.  With wood or laminate, you risk the paint not sticking over time or the dreaded bubbling and cracking that can occur in certain conditions when the surface repels the paint.  Which brings us to our next question.


6. My spray paint just bubbled and cracked, and I’m freaking out.  What did I do wrong?

crackling spray paint


I have seen this happen in three circumstances.   When the temperature outside was too low, when the wood surface wasn’t primed, and when the surface wasn’t perfectly clean and free from debris.  When you read the back of a can of spray paint, it cautions you to use the paint within a certain temperature range.  That’s key.  One time when I was spray painting the curtain rod in my office, it crackled on me because it was early in the morning in December and below 50 degrees.

This most recent crackling was due to debris I forgot to clean off my drawer front.  Both debris (and sometimes lack of primer) can lead to problems.  In my experience, it happens in patches, and not across an entire surface.  Basically part of your surface is repelling the paint like a toddler refusing his green vegetables.  "Me no likey, ppphhhhhbbt!"

Don’t panic.  This little wrinkle is easily solved with oil based primer.  I recommend you keep a quart of it handy, you’ll be amazed at its adhesion, stain blocking and bonding qualities.  Zinsser primer also comes in spray version, both the red and brown can are oil based, and they’re awesome.

zinsser spray primer


So here’s what I do with a crackled surface.  I wait wait wait until the crackled spray paint is completely dry.  You’ll find the bubbles and cracks reside a bit so that it looks like dehydrated clay.  Or my forehead up close when I don’t moisturize, heh heh.

Endtable & Spray Paint 112


After you’ve allowed the spray paint to dry a full 24 hours, sand it down with some medium to fine grade sandpaper so it’s smooth, then coat it with oil based primer.  Allow that to completely dry.  Lightly sand if necessary.  Apply second coat of spray paint over the top.  You should be fine.  Spray paint takes a chill pill when layered over oil based primer.

champagne detail 2


 RustOleum has a good surface preparation guide you can read here.


7. I‘ve noticed a splotchy finish on my flat furniture surfaces.  What the heck?

krylon matte finish Yes, I’ve seen this too.  To me, it’s not necessarily a problem with paint coverage, but a weird thing that happens with the finish.  This is why I had to brush paint my bookcases in my office because the sides kept getting that splotchy look from the spray.

And yet another reason why larger pieces of furniture with flat surfaces don’t necessarily look better when spray painted.  Just my experience.

But I have found a new solution that seems to work.  I tried the Krylon ‘Matte’ finish as a final coat, and that seemed to even out the splotchy look.  It also tones down glossy paint finishes.

Krylon also has an entire series of artist’s clear coatings which I’m excited to try in the near future. They may be the perfect protective coat for white paint, fingers crossed. 


8. What’s the deal with those new nozzles?

A certain company has introduced the ‘Comfort Tip’ designed to be more spray paint user friendly.  Peeps in the SPFC (Spray Paint Fan Club), you’ll have to tell me what you think, but here’s my opinion.  {Insert granny voice}  "Them thar new fangled contraptions ain’t as good as them old fashion nozzles! " 


Yes, you heard me right.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it is what I say.  I find the new flatter wider nozzles (on the right) clog and spit five times more than the old fashioned nozzles (on the left).  But it could be that the Comfort Tip gods are against me.

Bottom line, you still need that spray paint gun that you see (located in your paint department) or you’ll never be accepted into the SPFC.  I tell you the truth. ;-)


9. What’s the difference in sheen?  How do I know when to choose flat, matte, satin, gloss or lacquer?

Ah yes, the great debate.   Unfortunately, with spray paint, and unlike latex brush-on paints, the sheen is already chosen for you.  So if you’re searching for something beyond black or white, you don’t have many options other than what is already specified on the can.   The most common finishes are Satin and Gloss.  RustOleum, Krylon, and Valspar have developed their own lines of great colors, but again, you’re limited by what’s available.

That said, the sheens are what they are.  Matte is very similar to flat paint, satin is akin to an eggshell finish, and gloss is well, glossy.  Lacquer is the glossiest and shiniest of all.

bench rustoleum Image via RustOleum


10. Where’s the best place to buy spray paint?

It’s everywhere, but the retailer chooses what brands and colors to stock.  I found my most recent stash at True Value ~ I’ve been shopping there a lot lately.

I’ve also found spray paints at Home Depot, Lowes, OSH, ACE, Walmart and Michaels.  If you’re looking for a particular color or specialty paint, most of the big websites have a store locator tab so you can find what your looking for near your zip code.  Ask your retailer to order your specific paint for you if you can’t find it close by, or shop online.  If you’re really gung ho, I hear you can buy it by the case at a discount.   


11.  Why aren’t there prettier spray paint colors available?

Amen to that.  There is a limited amount of quality colors.  My most favorite to date is ‘London Gray’, a deep mushroom color used on these small dressers and RustOleum’s ‘Night Tide’ (a gorgeous deep teal) used on the lamp in my family room.   The colors I’ve used the most are RustOleum’s ‘Heirloom White’, ‘Gloss White’ and ‘Espresso’.  Both ‘Oil Rubbed Bronze’ and ‘Metallic Bronze’ are favorites too. 


blue rustoleum paints

If I won the lottery, I’d develop my own line of spray paints in the most amazing colors, but that’s a dream for another decade.  Till then, I’ll be waiting patiently by the phone for that assignment from the big producers.


12.  Tell me about specialty spray paints, the metallics, hammered and stone finishes, high heat, chalkboard and frosted species.

specialty paints


I’ve used the frosted version here and here, the chalkboard version here and here, and the plastic version here and here, all with great success.   I’ve used the high heat (brush on) here and here, but the spray version is the same formula.  Great for BBQs I understand.

Other readers feel free to chime in about your experiences with hammered or stone finishes, those I’ve never used before.

*** Reader comment update ***

"One small piece of advice to those out there looking to spray paint plastic: go Krylon Fusion.  I was at my local Lowe’s (where they don’t seem to carry Krylon) and bought Valspar plastic spray paint as an alternative. As it turns out, not all plastic spray paints are created equal… the Valspar stuff bubbled and warped, but I’ve had no problems with Krylon’s product."  ~ Sarah at Ugly Duckling House  (CG note: I’ve used Rustoleum’s version for plastic and been pleased with the results too.)

"I’ve used the textured finish on a tired metal patio set. The finish does look great but it takes an awful lot of paint to do just one chair. So now I’m mid-way through and realizing it probably would have been cheaper to buy a whole new set on clearance.  One chair takes almost 2 cans to get good coverage. Perhaps if I had primed it black first I could have used a lighter top coat.   At our old house I used the hammered finish on old radiators and they looked great, hid the bumps and unevenness really well."  ~ Sophie

"The hammered metal paints are fun to use. Temperature and moisture seem to affect how the hammered look turns out.  The stone paints look like fake stone paint, not real stone."  ~ Sarah


13.  Can I toss my empty spray paint can in the garbage?

Please don’t.  Spray paints are considered toxic waste, at least in my state, so I make it a habit to take them to the proper specialty disposal site, even if they’re technically empty, they still contain the residue.


A few unsolved mysteries:

Can you use spray paint on bathroom hardware in high moisture areas?   I’m not sure, but there are spray paints designed for outdoor use on metal, and when I hear ‘outdoor’ I hear ‘rain’ which equals moisture, so I suspect it just might work.  I haven’t seen any manufacturer advertise this, so are there any volunteers?   Whose got some shiny brass plated leftovers from the nineties?  Anyone?  Bueller?

*** Reader comment update***

A lady I worked with spray painted her old brass taps in her bathroom with Rustoleum’s hammered metal paint.. and they look fantastic!   Ass far as I know, she has never had a problem with the results.  I say – go for it!  Try it out and if it doesn’t work you are no worse off than when you started – with an ugly faucet that needs replacing."   ~ Kimberley

"We spray painted our kitchen hardware.. it was ugly brass and I wanted it to match our stainless appliances.. but didn’t want to drop the dough on new handles.  I did spray prime them.. then used some silver Rustoleum.  Worked like a charm! some of our oft used handles have had to be retouched, but its so easy to just unscrew – spray – and reattach! It’s been about 1.5 years — still going strong!  It was a cheap-o solution since we plan a major kitchen overhaul in the next few years. Why spend the $$ now?"  ~ Katie


Can spray paint cans be refilled?  Rumor has it, some hardware stores will do this for you in your paint of choice.  Can you imagine the possibilities?  I’ve never discovered a good source for this, so if any of you have, be sure to tell us where and how it can be done so we can all stampede the door.

*** Reader comment update***

"I just received my refillable spray paint can last week, but I haven’t used it yet, so I don’t know how well it works. You just fill it with thinned paint, pressurize with a bicycle pump, and spray away! It sounds too good to be true, but I do have my fingers crossed.  It’s the ‘Go Green Aluminum Rechargeable Spray Can’ available at Amazon."  ~ Leslie

"Lowe’s now offers custom mixed spray paint! That’s right, you pick the color, they mix it and some how magically put it in your standard aerosol spray can! I’m not sure the price but being able to get the perfect shade of yellow or blue is worth quite a bit in my book. I haven’t tried it yet but I’ll be sure to report back when I do! I still get goosebumps just thinking about it!   ~ Amanda


Want more answers?  Visit RustOleum’s FAQs and Valspar’s general tips for detailed information on working with spray paint.

Want to see my entire list of spray paint projects?  Check out these specific posts.

Now let the greater conversation begin.  Do you have a specific tip to share that hasn’t been mentioned?  Another question that hasn’t been raised?  I’ll try to answer follow up questions in the comments.

Have you worked with a particular spray paint product that you recommend?  Please link to your project in your own comment as well !


True Value Blog Squad legalese:  “I was one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program as well as my writing about my experience.  I have also been compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project.   However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.”



206 Responses to “Spray Paint FAQs”

  1. Sarah Rae says:

    Don’t forget about spray paints that are intended for graffiti and are found at real art supply stores (not craft stores). They’ll run you around $10/can, but they do the job in a single coat, dry 3 times faster, don’t smell as bad and you can literally find them in any color you’re looking for!

    If you order them online, or order a whole case of assorted colors at once they’ll be cheaper. In our home we spray paint 99% of our salvaged finds and it’s VERY rarely that we’ll use “hardware store” spray paint — Unless it’s metal and then we love us some Krylon hammered paint. Awesome.


  2. MeganDVD says:

    This post was made for me!!! I have a few things that I am dying to spray but I am ever so hesitant b/c of fear…and a few of those other issues I have run into. Thank you…and now it is time to bookmark this post. :)


  3. Vanessa says:


    Thank you! I love this insightful post on spray paint. Believe it or not, you introduced me to the wonderful world of blogs and spray paint. My life is forever better. I love spray paint because I can spray a coat, not clean up, and then run back inside to nurse a baby. This blog is so helpful.


  4. cassie says:

    first let me say this is not meant tobe a negative comment and i am not an environmentalis. i do try my best to recycle and use low voc paints and primers, but i am curious as to weather you have looked into the environmental impact of using pray paint versus canned paint? liike i said, not trying to be a downer, but i haven’t done the research and wondered if you knew? i tend to stay away from soray paint and use it only when necessary because i am afraid that the aerosol cans are causing damage and it takes me several cans to get through a project that would take less than a quart of canned paint. any thoughts? thanks, cate! i love pretty much everything you do and really enjoy reading your blog!

  5. Yuppie Lady says:

    @MeganDVD …have no fear. Spray painting is so easy and the paint these days are just as good as a gallon of paint. I blogged about this just last week. In my previous home I spray painted my off-white fridge black. It turned out looking like a brand new fridge. So don’t be afraid. I spray paint and paint A LOT!

  6. nice! i agree with everything you said – i’m a spraypaint queen myself. :)

  7. Janell Beals says:

    Great post Kate!! If I ever get people asking questions on this topic I will just send them to this post! I only had trouble with spray paint once, when I went to apply the protective finish, the paint began to lift up from the surface and shrink…it was horrifying! I do believe it had to do with the fact it was in the middle of winter and I was in the garage…with the door open for ventilation. Learned my lesson!

  8. Holly says:

    This has to be one of my favorite posts! So much great information in one place. Now can you just run over to my house and paint a few things for me? It still freaks me out a little.

  9. MIsti says:

    So what color and brand did you use for your White Dresser droors? I LOVE IT!!!!

  10. cassie says:

    and oops- i clearly got up way too early this morning and have not had coffee…. hello typos! and that is supposed to be whether, not weather. ok, now i am going to get my coffee.

  11. a lady i worked with spray painted her old brass taps in her bathroom with rustoleum’s hammered metal paint.. and they look fantastic! as far as i know she has never had a problem with the results. i say – go for it! try it out and if it doesn’t work you are no worse off than when you started – with an ugly faucet that needs replacing :)

    fantastic post – thanks centsational girl!

  12. Sarah Lynne says:

    GREAT post – very informative! And I have to agree that the newer nozzels aren’t as good as the old ones!

  13. Mayka says:

    Wow that was a lot of information, I feel like I need to go spray paint something! I also feel like the SPFC is an untouchable elite group that I want to be apart of… I think I’ve just added 10 more projects into my brain cue.

  14. Kim says:

    THANK YOU!!!!! I have had the supplies for a halloween wreath for a few weeks but scared to spray paint the first step. now, today, it will get started! THANKS!!!!

  15. Suzanne says:

    What an amazing and detailed post. You answered several of my questions and gave answers to questions I didn’t even have! Thank you so much for educating us on the wonders of spray paint. Seriously, I appreciate it.

  16. Sindy says:

    Great post! I recently ordered a mini-sample can of paint from My Perfect Color and they also had the color available in an aerosol spray, but kinda pricey @ 29.99 for just one can!

  17. Shannah says:

    Wonderful post! I’m bookmarking it.

    Hey – I linked to you today here: http://shannahhayley.blogspot.com/2010/10/from-eeeck-to-chic.html

    Thanks for your tips on nailhead trim – they were very helpful!

  18. Cathi says:

    I used to tease my mom that, while many kids grew up to the sound of clicking knitting needles, I heard the rattle-rattle of spray paint cans. I, too, have the chromosome for spray paint. Here are a few thoughts to add to yours: 1) Work with the wind. By keeping the wind at your back, starting at the “upwind” part of the piece, and turning your project as you go (to take advantage of the wind), you’ll end up with a much shinier piece. 2) Wear goggles. O.K., I’m 60, and I never thought I’d do The Safety Thing, but several trips to the eye doctor convinced me that I was being careless. 3) If you’re going to spray-paint hardware, make sure it’s perfectly clean. When I couldn’t afford to replace the 1970s hinges in my kitchen, I let them soak in a container of paint remover for a while. It got rid of all the goo and grime. I then painted them with paint from the automotive store.

    I have painted a couple of paper-type lampshades. For one, I used a hammered paint. I’ve also used the hammered paint for the hardware in one of our bathrooms, including the light fixture (taken off the wall to paint). This past weekend, I spray-painted a huge, pleated, paper-type shade with Kilz. It’s going to stay painted with Kilz, because it looks great.

    Re: hammered paint, I’ve painted two sets of kitchen cupboards with the roll-on variety. One set was solid wood, the other was cheap melamine. I took one of the drawers back to Home Depot to show the people in the paint department, and they were blown away. It looks exactly like the Closet Maid garage cabinets we bought. There are some real tricks to using the roll-on hammered paint, so expect a learning curve.

    Thanks for the post. Some of us believe that Xelene is the cornerstone of all great friendships!

  19. Judi Foster says:

    Not only was I thoroughly impressed, I was completely entertained! There was not one thing I disagreed with! I am a spray painter from waaay back and now work in the paint department at Lowe’s (good heavens some of those yummy new paints!). This article should have been in a magazine. Great stuff! I love your writing style……….you make us take in so much info without us even trying to learn anything. You made me want to grab a can and start spraying!

  20. Terri says:

    Hmmm…really interesting piece! thanks for sharing the tips and information!

  21. Leslie says:

    Love your blog! I just received my refillable spray paint can last week, but I haven’t used it yet, so I don’t know how well it works. You just fill it with thinned paint, pressurize with a bicycle pump, and spray away! It sounds too good to be true, but I do have my fingers crossed.

    Go Green Aluminum Rechargeable Spray Can:

  22. SheilaG says:

    Wow, great video! That spray gun thingy looks like it makes a huge difference! Is it a particular brand? I don’t have a True Value nearby, so wondering if I can find it somewhere else.

  23. I LOVE LOVE that dresser that you redid. It look like it came from some expensive retail shop. Great job! Thanks for all the tips on spray paint. I am actually thinking of getting a sprayer soon for my little side business.

  24. Andrea says:

    My first foray into the world of spray paint was this project: http://willowispandrea.blogspot.com/2010/07/funky-old-rusty-tin-project.html I think I’m hooked now! I am having trouble finding that infamous Heirloom White….the search continues!

  25. Sophie says:

    so I haven’t read the comments maybe this was already answered…
    but I had a ridiculously pink flowery dark brass hardware bathroom that I updated to a sunshine yellow and white bathroom. The light fixtures would have been very expensive to replace and involved a lot of wall patching. I opted for spray paint and new glass globes. So I used a nickle finish spray paint on the brass finish metal. It turned out great and looks so much better and only the cost of the spray paint.

    I can’t even remember if I primed it or not…I’m thinking not but I know I gave it 2 coats. But in the high moisture bathroom, after 2 yrs it still looks great.

  26. Sophie says:

    Oh, and I’ve used the textured finish on a tired metal patio set. The finish does look great but it takes an awful lot of paint to do just one chair. So now I’m mid-way through and realizing it probably would have been cheaper to buy a whole new set on clearance. One chair takes almost 2 cans to get good coverage. Perhaps if I had primed it black first I could have used a lighter top coat.

    At our old house I used the hammered finish on old radiators and they looked great, hid the bumps and unevenness really well.

  27. Shana says:

    Cassie~ The use of CFC’s as propellants in aerosol cans has been outlawed in the US since 1989. Any can of anything that markets itself as “ozone friendly” is just a market ploy, as every can is ozone friendly. Spray paint until you drop, girl!

  28. Elle says:

    I have dabbled and dribbled. But you have just opened up for me a wonderful creative world of opportunity. Oh, I hope winter is very late!

  29. SheilaG says:

    Me, too, Andrea- I’ve looked everywhere for the Heirloom White paint! :(

  30. I am pretty good at envisioning what a piece was going to look like when done, but I had to flip back to the before to see if you changed the hardware on that table! I think I would have not even given that hardware a second chance, and boy would I have been wrong.

  31. Spray paint really is incredible! It makes projects easy and affordable (most times!) thanks for all the great information!!!

  32. Chantelle says:

    Oh spraypaint, how I love thee. I use the hammered finish spray paint all the time and I LOVE it. It works great on cabinet hardware and hides any drips super well. I highly recommend it!

  33. Wow! So informative. Thanks Kate. And I’m loving the London Gray suggestion. I’m gonna have to get me some of that!


  34. Holly S. says:

    Thanks for the great article! I do have a question about painting ceramics. I tried to spray paint some ceramic candle pillars the other day. I used spray primer first followed by white spray paint. It did not stick and instead peeled off. I was reading on the internet that for ceramics you are supposed to use the spray paint for plastic. Have you found this in your experience when painting ceramics? Thank you!

  35. I can’t stop looking at the “new” white night stand! Gorgeous!! Just with a white spray can. Amazing.

  36. Great post! One small piece of advice to those out there looking to spray paint plastic: go Krylon Fusion, and nothing else. I was at my local Lowe’s (where they don’t seem to carry Krylon) and bought Valspar plastic spray paint as an alternative. As it turns out, not all plastic spray paints are created equal… the Valspar stuff bubbled and warped, but I’ve had no problems with Krylon’s product.

  37. Joanne says:

    I love your blog – and your guts! I am still working up the bravery to paint my bedroom furniture. I visit here often, taking cues from you. The new addition above is fabulous! Did you paint and scuff the knobs too? We are moving in December and the next house has a large double garage. Come Spring, I’ma painting!

  38. Caroline says:

    Question for Kate – On the dresser you just finished (5 Stars, btw!) did you also spray paint the hardware silver? Would love to know how you did the silver details on that. Thanks

  39. Great tips. My two cents… I’ve had it “crackle” before if I held the can of spray paint too close to the furniture too long, if that makes sense. I think numerous light coats are better than one heavy coat, which has caused that crackled look for me before.

    For gold, Rustoleum’s gold is very pretty. Krylon’s is awful and looks pink.

    I WILL buy into your custom spray paint line. And I still contend that we should purchase a professional sprayer together and share it:)

  40. Auntie Colleen says:

    You have DONE IT AGAIN! You have taken all the fear out of the project!
    Fabulous, fabulous post!
    THANK YOU!!!!!

  41. sarah. says:

    Montana spray paints are for artists and have a lot of colors, but I don’t know how pricey it is.

    The hammered metal paints are fun to use. Temperature and moisture seem to affect how the hammered look turns out. The stone paints look like fake stone paint, not real stone.

    I want to know why all the shiny silver spray paint doesn’t actually turn out chrome shiny like the cap?!

  42. Yuliya says:

    Thank you for putting this together, what a great resource. Seriously though how hard would it be to develop your own line of spray paint? That sounds like I’m saying it’s easy, but what I mean to ask is, is it absolutely prohibitive unless your Martha Stewart? Or is there any chance it might happen? Because you would have a whole boat full of customers!

    PS I haven’t commented in a while, but I am still here everyday!

  43. A great Q and A. :) I’m one of those readers who’s been around for awhile, and you are one of the bloggers who really inspired me to give spray painting a try!!!

  44. Christine Aldinger says:

    very informative and ty for taking the time to do this

  45. Lindsay says:

    I just bought a mirror for $3.99 yesterday and a can of spray paint today with plans to paint the frame….this post was just in time! Thank you!

  46. leah marie says:

    UMMMM, Please pass the word if you find out if/where you can get your spray cans refilled. WHAT AN AMAZING HOPE!

  47. Angie says:

    Thank you for this primer (no pun intended) on spray paint. I’m about to embark on my very first DIY project (a chair to go with my daughter’s West Elm parsons desk). This post is perfect timing.

  48. Wow, Now I know everything and my doubt that spray paints are only for metals have been nicely cleared that it can’t haunt me ever. Thanks so much for putting this Q&A here. It’s gonna be big help almost for everyone into DIYing and paint and brush.


  49. katie f. says:

    We spray painted our kitchen hardware.. it was ugly brass and I wanted it to match our stainless appliances.. but didn’t want to drop the dough on new handles. I did spray prime them.. then used some silver rustoleum. worked like a charm! some of our oft used handles have had to be retouched, but its so easy to just unscrew – spray – and reattach! It’s been about 1.5 years — still going strong!

    It was a cheap-o solution since we plan a major kitch overhaul in the next few years. Why spend the $$ now?

  50. Nearlydawn says:

    My hubby has a super-old farm table from his family… It has great lines, but it is really in need of a fresh finish (old finish got destroyed by hubby in a decopage accident – don’t ask).

    Anyway, he suggested that we “Send it to be dipped and re-finished, it’ll be easier…”, which he immediately recognized was a MAJOR tactical error on his part. :) He retreated, and said, “Unless you want it as a Project!?!?”. Smart man… Smart, smart man.

    I’m already planning how I’ll finish the piece, but I’m 8 mos PG and have to finish this project before I can realisitically start on a painting project. I figure that just gives me more time to plan the right attack… I’m off to look at strippers… Sheesh people, not that kind!

  51. Lisa~ says:

    I am cuh-razy about spray painting! Thanks for sharing your fabulous tips. I totally agree…the limitation on color is frustrating. So I have moved to using a power sprayer. That way the colors are limitless and it’s a pretty easy cleanup. Not as easy as a can of spray paint, but I’ve loved being able to use leftovers from room projects for spray painting. Thanks for the great post! Lisa~

  52. Courtney Moore says:

    WOW! Super informative :) I have been waiting to spray paint a couple bookshelves. Thank you so much for the info!

  53. Rory says:

    I’ve been with your for-evah and I love spray paint as much as you! I find that if I have paint left over from a project I scavenge the house looking for something else to paint that color. I just painted an old cherry side table black plum (Valspar I think) and had most of a can left so I painted a wreath today because I am really getting into purple as a Halloween color.

    But, for crafting purposes, I have to say this glitter spray I got at Hobby Lobby has really ROCKED my world.

  54. Kari says:

    I really like Krylon because of their nozzles. allthingsthrifty.blogspot.com got me excited about spray paint, and she’s a big lover of Krylon.

  55. SamiJ says:

    The Ben Moore store by my house sells empty cans that they will fill with your color of paint. The cans are refillable, but I don’t know if they are as spray-tastic as those prefilled ones…

  56. Callalilly says:


    The fine mist setting is almost as good as my Krylon cans. But for color choice — it can’t be beat! Also, I can switch out with glue and have spray glue! Love, love love it!

  57. Lone says:

    Ahh, this is great. I hope I get around to spray painting my bedside tables this weekend…. I’m itching to get started :)

  58. bego says:

    thanks, thanks, thanks, this post is very interesting. kisses

  59. If that wasn’t the greatest post on spray paint, I don’t know what is! You just answered the priming question for me on a wicker coffee table I’m doing this weekend. I love the way your personality comes through when you write. You are a fun read!

  60. Do I have exciting news for you? Lowe’s now offers custom mixed spray paint! That’s right, you pick the color, they mix it and some how magically put it in your standard aerosol spray can! I’m not sure the price but being able to get the perfect shade of yellow or blue is worth quite a bit in my book. I haven’t tried it yet but I’ll be sure to report back when I do! I still get goosebumps just thinking about it!

  61. Sonny says:

    thank you so much for all this very valuable information. you answered most of my questions in your post.. I have a federal style 4 poster bed and I really want to paint it– have wanted to for 2 years now , but just cant muster up the courage to do it.
    I swear its like they dipped it in plasticote– thats how it looks and feels anyway..
    I thought about testing the rail on the far side of the bed in a small spot to see if it would take primer.. Do you think thats a good idea? or should I just got for it..
    sanding is out of the question as the posts are very deeply detailed…
    thanks in advance for anything you can suggest..

  62. J says:

    question: my baseboards in the bathroom are so rusty and i’ve tried to remove it but with no success. can i spraypaint them or is there another solution to it? i just figure maybe paint and heat are not a good mix… thanks!

  63. Elizabeth says:

    I would love to know what paint you used to paint your hardware on that sidetable you shared with us. I love the sheen to it. I’m wondering if I can do the same look you’ve got going with that hardware but with black paint. I haven’t decided what color to paint the hardware on the dresser I’m working on… Please do share! :)

  64. Kristin says:

    Thank you Kate for so many wonderful tips on spraypaint!

  65. CentsationalGirl says:

    Elizabeth ~ I have discovered a new trick and it is good. I spray painted the hardware the same color as the nightstand. When it was halfway dry, but still sticky, I took my favorite craft paint (‘Metallic Taupe’) which is gorgeous champagne color that floats between gold and silver, and hand painted the hardware. It dried along with the spray paint to a very hard finish, giving me the color I desired with a craft paint/spray paint combo.

    Otherwise known as “experiments I have conducted that actually work”.


  66. CentsationalGirl says:

    Sonny, I feel your pain. That’s the beauty of spray, it can go where sanding cannot go, and brushes leave drips and strokes. I would test the primer in an inconspicuous spot, say the back of the headboard? Let it dry. Add a layer of your spray paint color of choice. Try to scrape it off with your fingernails. Be mean. Then if you’re comfortable with the adhesion with the products you have used, then just go for it.

  67. CentsationalGirl says:

    J: When you say your baseboards are ‘rusty’ which occurs with various metals, I’m wondering what you mean. With moisture, I’m more concerned about mold. Most baseboards are made of wood or MDF, confused by your ‘metal baseboards’. Moisture that leads to rust can lead to mold as well, especially in a bathroom. In my opinion, spray paint in your circumstances is not recommended in a small bathroom space because you’re working in small quarters and the dust/residue will only land on your other interior surfaces. Spray paint is best used outdoors in well ventilated areas. Also, it’s probably a band aid where you need an operation for removal and replacement. If you’re unable to pry your baseboards yourself, you may wish to seek professional help in removal and replacement. Also, I’ve always primed and painted baseboards with a brush on formula. I hope this is answering your dilemma, but still perplexed by ‘metal’ baseboards.

  68. Carolyn says:

    Thanks for all that information! I feel like I have come accross all of the issues that you talked about!

  69. Tara says:


    I could just see you explaining to Gilligan on the island, “No, let’s not use the paint for SOS,we can do the cocoanut mailbox! Can’t you just go find some rocks and spell it yourself?? I’m busy!!” :0)

  70. Jenny says:

    love the nighstand! what a score! great post on paint, thanks! off topic, your backdrop design on your page header would be such abeautiful wall stencil!

  71. Great informative post! I’ll have to keep this one in the archives for when I feel like breaking out the ol’ paint can.

  72. These are great tips, Kate! My mom finally jumped on the spray-paint bandwagon recently and turned a very tired old wicker hamper and wicker trashcan from faded/chipping white to a lovely moss green. I was so proud of her! :)

  73. Michelle says:

    Thanks so much Kate! I also wanted to share that some paint companies can take regular paint and put it in a spray can made by Seymour. I recently purchased a quart of oil based paint (Rockport Gray) from my local Ben Moore store and they made me up a can of spray using some of the paint from the quart that I purchased. This made getting a tough spots on my furniture piece a breeze. You can have any colour made in a spray paint this way!

  74. Katie says:

    Wow, great tips!!

  75. OK, seriously. What a great post on spraying tips! You even got a decorative painter to look up and out to spray paints, prairie dog style. (We usually spray with an HVLP sprayer.) I had a bad experience with a frosting spray (my home, front door, side glass panels, so so bad) and realized it was all about my prepwork. So kudos with the talk on priming and good preparation. Beautiful blog — so glad I found you via the Nate Show design blogger/Twitter lovefest. (I don’t believe we met that day…bummer). Have a wonderful week!

  76. Julie says:

    Thanks for the great info! I only just discovered your blog a couple of weeks ago and I AM INSPIRED! In fact, I hit Lowe’s and Home Depot today and bought 4 cans of spray paint. I am planning to spray paint the “lovely” polished brass sconces, towel bars, and knobs found throughout my entire 1996-built home, either with antique brass or oil-rubbed bronze metallic. Did not know that these products were available or even that I had this option until I have the cash to replace all my fixtures! Thanks for the inspiration and information CG!! Love your blog.

  77. Marie says:

    I’m so happy you wrote this post!! I just moved last week from an apartment to a house. We’re (read: my boyfriend and his dad) are renovating the basement and we have lots of other projects coming up! I thought of spray painting a few of the original things we found in the basement. Can’t wait to start my projects, but you better believe I’ll be checking your blog before I begin!! PS. I’m so excited to re-do our laundry room – you may or may not remember I posted yours a couple months ago! xoxo

  78. Charla says:

    This is super! I do have one more question. What did you use to clean the brass on the fireplace before painting it. That project is on my To Do List for this fall. Thanks for sharing.


  79. Kerry says:

    Thanks so much Kate! I used ORB on my bathroom brass fixtures…I didn’t even remove them from the sink,bath tub and wall! Just left them in place taped around them and put up a cardboard shield and wala quick paint job!! Lol and they look lovely and no problems and they have been painted over 5 mths. now. I did remove the glass and bulbs from the light fixture. I would be happy to show pics.but I don’t know how to upload them for you.

  80. tammylee says:

    I think that “j” meant baseboard heaters. My husband is a contractor and we see them rusty all the time. If this is the case they can be removed, there is a face plate that slides off horizontally then you will see the exposed little metal fins. Most likely covered in dust debris etc. it’s hard to get the vacuum in that tight area. Then if you look with a flashlight you will see in the back of the heater unit screws or however else they were attached to the wall. You should be able to remove them by unscrewing the screws and then pulling the unit straight up flush with the wall. All that will be left is the actual heating fins/unit. The rest is just dressing. Sand , prime, spray paint! and re- install in reverse of how you removed them. :)

  81. tammylee says:

    i forgot to mention in my explanation above that there are end caps that come off. usually just slide to the left or right and then you can slide the face plate off horizontally. sorry i skipped that step

  82. allison says:

    Thank you for all of the information- this is superbly helpful! Here is a question that I can’t seem to find an answer for: Can you paint over an already spray painted item, and how would you do that? I found a lovely chandelier that had been previously painted (it is metal, and they put a gold finish over it). It seems to be chipping in areas, and I would really like to spray it a “Non-gold” color. However, do you suggest trying to strip the metal? priming and painting over it? Just spraying it and hope that it works out? Any suggestions would be very helpful!

  83. michelle says:

    Lovin’ this. I’d really like to know how you got the finish on the hardware. Did you rub off some of the paint? It’s GORGE!!!

  84. Monika says:

    I have discovered your website only a few days ago but am impressed already. Unable to decide what to read first. I saw your video Spray Paint 101 and was wondering where I could find the spray paint gun like the one you have attached to your spray paint can? I have looked at Home Depot and Rona but all of their Spray paint guns are separate units into which you add a paint. I would really appreciate your help.

  85. this is going in my bookmark folder…stat!
    Thank you so much for the tips!

  86. Stacey says:

    I just have to say, I would have NEVER purchased that table with the way it looked originally but I absolutely LOVE what you did to it! Now I’m inspired to go to the local thrift shop and find something super ugly to snaz up like you did! You’re inspiring! Thanks!

  87. Life in Eden says:

    Hey, need to get me one of those guns. Just painted 2 twin beds last weekend with that exact wide top spray, comfort tip non-sense — made no difference. I’m thinking though that you can still use the gun, just remove the wide top tip and replace with standard. I did notice it seemed to spit more than others. But the color was the one I needed!

    Also, question — anyone have experience painting doorknobs and hinges? Our house has a mess of finishes and these are yuck brass. But I’m afraid to either gum up the moving parts or have them all chipped in a year. Thoughts?

  88. CentsationalGirl says:

    Hi Life in Eden ~ the new guns (seen in the picture) actually fit over both tops so they can be used with the Old School and Comfort Tip nozzle designs. I’ve seen doorknobs and hinges spray painted before, but I know what you mean about gumming up the parts. Best way: remove them entirely, spray, and reinstall.

  89. CentsationalGirl says:

    CalaLily and Amanda, you just made my day. I am definitely trying out those ideas for refilllable spray cans, brilliant! AT LAST AT LAST !!!!

  90. CentsationalGirl says:

    Allison, yes you can spray paint over previously spray painted metal. Sand any areas that may be chipping off, then give it a dose of bonding primer like Zinsser. Spray paint with your color of choice.

  91. Karen says:

    Kate, thanks for this great info! A couple questions for you (apologies if these are stupid questions, I am a newbie):

    1) you say in the video to clean the piece thoroughly – is there a specific product you use to clean with? or are we just talking about a damp rag?

    2) does using spray paint affect any distressing you would do afterward? I have seen you use the candle method, but I normally prefer sanding – does using sandpaper after spray paint work for distressing?

  92. Linda H. says:

    Have you ever painted a ceramic pot/planter? If so, did you prime that? I have been hunting for some black pots for topiaries. I can’t find them, but have found several that I liked that were not black. I could end my eternal hunt, if I could only paint the beige ones.

  93. Alyssa says:

    You are a spray paint goddess! I’m bookmarking your post so that I can refer to it during my next spray painting job (which may just be this weekend, should the weather hold).

  94. Kacey says:

    This is such a great wealth of information! I’m sharing on my blog today – hope you don’t mind!

  95. Cat says:

    I have used the BM oil spray paint. They fill the cans with any color you want. It is expensive though. You have to buy a quart of your paint and then they charge per can which is alot compared to regular spray paint. I would not se the artist spray paints. They are for art and NOT tough. In fact you can paint/draw over many of them. Thanks for the info

  96. Megan says:

    hubby spray painted the light fixture in the bathroom. I *believe* he used a white spray paint that was designated for appliances? (he used it on top of our old dryer also) and it is still perfect over a year later… no issues with moisture in the bathroom!

  97. simplygrove says:

    Great post!! I spray paint all of the time and I still learned sooo much!! xxoo

  98. Annessa says:

    I just wanted to share with you the result from taking your advice and jumping in there to spray paint! I purchased a coffee table at our local Goodwill for $22.99 and 2 cans of spray paint at OSH – of course, heirloom white. Hello Gorgeous! My husband and neighbors were so impressed and I love the way it turned out. You just can’t buy new solid wood furniture like this in the store for a decent price anymore. And the particle board stuff doesn’t hold up to real family use. This was a great solution for us and I’m excited to try more. Check out the pictures on our blog…if you want. Thanks again for your inspiration!

  99. Alessandra says:

    Hi! I love your blog! I am your newest follower!

  100. Sarah says:

    This nightstand looks amazing! Quick question – in the video it looks like it has a shiny, varnished finish on the top. How do you deal with this? Did you sand it first? Can you spray paint over a varished surface? I have a wood desk that I’d love to paint, but it’s shiny/varnished surface makes me nervous.


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