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. This post and your video were REALLY informative and helpful. Thank you!

  2. Lauren Mack says:

    I love your posts. So so so helpful!!!!

  3. Thank you for the in-depth instructions and information on spray paint!

  4. Emily says:

    This was the most helpful post! Thank you so very much! I have the sudden urge to spray paint something!

  5. […] wonder about spray paint? Here, this ought to answer your questions. Honor Roll | Related […]

  6. Julie says:

    What a great post- thanks! I am on a spray paint kick myself…my kids are worried that if they stand still too long I’ll paint them too!! (so far, have sprayed a few frames, a chair, various Goodwill finds…what’s next?!!!)

  7. I need to know – what about sanding? Do you completely avoid it? I always want to do these little projects but I feel like my Dad is judging me because I ignore sanding altogether!

  8. Johanna says:

    Great post – I had all these questions and more and now they are answered!

  9. CentsationalGirl says:

    Hi Katie, I like to give anything wood or glossy a light sanding, I find it helps the primer and/or paint cling better, something about scuffing it up. Don’t forget to wipe away the residue!

  10. Thanks for all the helpful advise it has come at just the right time for me as I’m starting my first project.

  11. Amy K says:

    Visiting via Tip Junkie! Thank you so much for this post – amazing information! LOVE that blue clawfoot bathtub!

  12. Gaerda says:

    At last! someone with whom I share a passion for paint!! My family and coworkers I know are wondering about me…but they do like what the finished products look like! ha. thanks for sharing with all of us! I took an 1930’s buffet and YES I painted it, black. I LOVE it! :-)

  13. Wow! Thanks so much for the info on spray painting! I will reference this many times for future projects! :)

    With regard to your section about spray painting bathroom hardware, I recently used Krylon celery spray paint on mine (http://31diy.blogspot.com/2010/09/bathroom-cabinets-from-drab-to-fab.html). It worked out very nicely in the end, but I do have to say it took a lot of spray paint to cover 7 cabinet pulls. I think I had to give them 3 or 4 coats, which used up about 3/4 of the bottle. After the first coat, the hardware sort of absorbed the spray paint and left an uneven finish. I was worried for sure. But with each additional coat, it started to even out and I was happy! This hardware is circa 1980 and made of some kind of metal, by the way. I wonder if I should have used a primer…?

    Again, thanks for writing this spray paint FAQ! Love the way your nightstand turned out!

  14. Justine* says:

    HOLY WOW there is a Spray Paint GOD, Thank you. I thought I was the queen of Spray Paint but you’ve got me beat and what a wonderful writer you are. Love this blog post. So glad that Tip Junkie had you featured so that I could bond with someone who obviously shares my love of Spray Painting anything, even if it is nailed down. yes!!!!
    Here’s to you O’Queen of the Spray Can!! (that was done in my best Budweisser man commercial voice)

  15. malia says:

    this is awesome… thx i’m your newest follower

  16. Ami Allison says:


  17. Jenny says:

    So glad I found this post! (Thanks, notmartha!)

    I do have a question. I inherited an old wood cupboard that turned out to be cheap wood with an original coat of lead paint. I’ve done numerous rounds of paint stripper for lead based paint, and still it is not all off or even all smooth. Should I just get rid of it or is there hope with some level of primer/paint combo? I’m not using it for any kind of food or even clothing, and there are no little kids in the house any more, but I’m still not sure about the safest choice. The guy at the hardware store couldn’t believe that the stripper didn’t take it all off. (Okay, that was a weird sentence.)

    TIA! Love your blog!

  18. Catie says:

    You have truly inspired me with your spray painting. I have lots of fun with it. Have put quite a few girlfriends on to your site too. Keep up the good work x

  19. Kelly Diffily says:

    Perfect timing on your post. We’re currently upgrading our bathroom and will be adding a new espresso colored vanity from the “Palencia” series at Lowes (the vanity isn’t online, but here’s the mirror: http://www.lowes.com/pd_156131-66150-20H+VM3037_0__?productId=3257034&Ntt=palencia&pl=1&currentURL=/pl__0__s%3FNtt%3Dpalencia)

    I’m planning on spray painting an existing wood storage unit I have from Ikea, that is currently painted white (its the tall cabinet in the back corner at http://www.flickr.com/photos/47937624@N00/5096376277/)

    So here’s my question oh queen of spray painting: can you recommend the very best spray paint to achieve the same glossy espresso finish to match the Palencia vanity, which is really that dark brown/black color? The only gloss “Espresso” spray colors I’ve found are Rustoleum Universal Spray and Krylon Fusion for Plastic gloss espresso. Or would I be better off doing a Satin finish (i.e. Rustoleum Painter’s Choice Satin Spray in Espresso) + a clear gloss coat?

  20. Megan H says:

    Thanks so much for all the tips ! I am planning on spray painting a nice but very non-matching baker’s rack we were given by my parents and had no idea where to begin! Now I think I might not totally screw it up! YAY :)

  21. Right-on. Wish I’d seen this earlier in my DIY lifetime. :) Although these days I’m not really doing any furniture spray-painting, because it never worked out well for me. What I hated was how many cans I had to go through to cover one piece well. Didn’t really like having all that aerosol waste. Also, I can’t stand how much the paint spray drifts, causing you to have to dropcloth everything in a room. But maybe that’s just me!!!

  22. Thank you so much for such a great post. I’ve had limited spray paint experience but did spray a wicker set for our porch that we inherited with the house (pictured somewhere on my blog) and turned an iron owl a lovely teal blue. Your items are gorgeous and so is your home.

  23. […] can spray paint so many things, including glass, so I used that as my base to get the glitter to stick.  I sprayed a tiny bit […]

  24. Hi
    I have been following your blog for a while and felt inspired to redo some small tables I bought at – yes – walmart a few years ago. They were inexpensive but i like the shape and size. I do not like the colour of the wood. I sanded all surfaces and then wiped with a tack cloth. Then I sprayed 2 coats of Rustoleum multi surface primer in white, with a light sand and rewipe with tack cloth inbetween. After that completely dried I started to spray Rustoleum universal satin all surface paint (fast drying) in satin white. Immediately the drawer front did the crackle /wrinkle thing in 2 spots (looks exactly like your picture funnily) and one of the flat shelves did it also on a corner. I stopped after that and looked into your blog for advice. My husband thinks the primer is not compatible, I wonder if I got all the varnish or finish off the surface but wouldnt the 2 coats of primer have dealt with that? Now he suggests that I sand it down and wipe it with acetone then respray with the paint (not primer). You suggest oil based primer instead after sanding down. Could you just verify with me the next step? I did paint a larger table top that the drawer belongs to and it is fine (fingers crossed). The primer had dried for over 24 hours. Thank you for any advice you can pass on.

  25. […] respirator is essential when spray painting, and the goggles are necessary when particles like paint chips or sawdust go flying.  Safety […]

  26. Cassandra says:

    I read this at about 3am after a teething night disaster with my 5 month old son. After reading this I was so excited I couldn’t sleep – or wait for Home Depot to open. The spray paint gun is A-MAZ-ZING! And I’m shocked at how little I knew about primer. After 5 projects were re-done (ahem, the right way) I am again hooked on spray paint – Thanks!

  27. Deanna says:

    I noticed your wish about winning the lottery and designing your own colors. Have you talked to Rust-Oleum about your wish and a negotiation? Love your work.

  28. Jess says:

    Hey Kate–
    I saw that you spray painted some of your dresser hardware. I’m in the process of reviving an old piece right now, and I’m trying to figure out how to spray paint the floppy old handles. Any tips? I’m afraid the moveable part of the handle will stick after I spray it. Thanks!

  29. Lindsay says:

    Just came across this post and I love it! I’m all about spray-painting — so much easier and faster than painting with a brush.

    For all you spray painters looking for purdy colors: look no more! Montana Spraypaint has an incredible selection of colors. My ex-boyfriend did graffiti art and he used to buy Montana cans all the time. I went with him one time when he was picking out colors and I was was drooling at the number of colors to choose from.

    Here’s the website, specifically the page showing the types of cans they have. Montana GOLD is probably the best line with the most selection:


    They’re all matte finish from what I understand, but they also have a gloss that you can spray over if you want a shiny finish. I believe they’re acrylics as well, so you’ll want to use a primer (which they also sell!).

    This website has a list of places that apparently sell it, but I’m not too sure how accurate it is. But you may as well try it out. There are also plenty of places to order it online, too. http://www.montana-spraypaint.com/home.53.0.html Go there, then go to the “Dealers” link, then click on your country at the left, then it will come up with a PDF link.

    Just thought I’d put my two cents in. :) Hope someone finds it helpful!

  30. Stephanie says:

    I have been following your blog off and on. I am a DIY junkie, but I have a question for a spray paint queen such as yourself. I just took an old rocking chair, striped it (BTW I used Citristrip…it’s ok), and spray painted a granite gray as a base coat. I spray painted part of the chair with rustoleum’s metallic silver, but had to let that sit for 2 weeks as we have had really cold weather and I wanted to wait until the temp was closer to 70 to continue painting. So, after that 2 weeks, the paint still comes off when you touch it. I finished the initial coat of silver today, but am worried as to whether or not I just have a big mess on my hands or not. The color is gorgeous, but no one will be able to sit in the chair-they will look like the tin man when they stand back up. Have you ever had this happen? I have search a lot on the internet about it, but I haven’t found a good solution. Rat because the chair looks stunning. HELP!

  31. Caitlin says:

    Stephanie: just saw a vinyl chair spray painted metallic and I believe the strategy was many, many (as in like, 20) very light coats. My other suggestion would be a final sealing spray, if you can get one in a matt finish as I’m sure you wouldn’t want a gloss one destroying your beautiful metallic luster. Good luck!

  32. Carla says:

    Have spent hours on your blog, wow, the inspiration! Thanks for all the great info. Can you tell me what you did to the pulls and knobs on this little nightstand? I have some similarly colored ones on a piece I am going to redo and love the end look of yours Thanks

  33. ariana says:

    i found this through a comment on re-nest.com and boy am i glad i found ya. you’ve got great advice and it’s great that you have fun with it too..you’re silly, not hardcore serious lol! thanks for this and i’m def bookmarking your site. hope to learn a lot more from ya. :]

  34. Sarah says:

    This is great! When I was a scenic painter at a professional theater we spray painted EVERYTHING. I was very proud of my larger-than-life spray paint cabinet. We would go full workdays doing nothing but spraypainting metal, paint, wood or plastic. Thanks for opening up the word to many newbies!

  35. Jill says:

    I was getting ready to redo my twin boys’ room for their 6th birthday when I spotted you on the Nate show and found your blog. Up until about 2 weeks ago, I never spray painted anything in my life. I was going to buy cheap desks at Ikea – but your blog inspired me to find a Habitat for Humanity Restore and get some old desks (much sturdier than Ikea) to paint the boys’ favorite colors (red and blue). I JUST finished – and they look AWESOME. If I learned ONE thing from this experience – it’s to use ZINSSER Cover Stain Oil-based Primer!!! I thought I could cheat and use just any old oil based primer – (I tried Kilz brand) – but had lots of headaches with paint cracking, coagulating, etc. I went through about 3 cans of Kilz, several sheets of sandpaper, and almost lost by sanity before I decided to try the Zinsser – and viola! – my problems were solved. I should have just listened to you to begin with. Thanks for all of your tips… I can’t wait to start on my old ugly colonial bench – I’m going to paint it white and slap it on the porch – it should be a piece of cake after the desks!

  36. Annie says:

    I love this site & have learned so much. I’m wanting to paint my 2 bar stools & can’t locate the Zinsser oil based spray primer anywhere in Houston. Trust me, I’ve called every place that sells paint products! Even the True Value’s don’t carry the spray. Huge bummer, so I’ve got to paint the stuff on. I’m excited about the project anyway. Thanks for the great tips – I’m not nearly as terrified to do those bar stools now.

  37. Erin Myers says:

    I have an old trunk that is covered with canvas… I’m wanting to do something with it…. either paint over the canvas or possibly remove the canvas and refinish the wood underneath. Any suggestions on spray painting canvas or on how to remove the canvas from the trunk?


  38. Jil says:

    I have a spray paint question for you! We have a large deck with a glass paneled railing all the way around. the panels are approx. 4′ high x 6′ wide. There are several panels. We have birds hit the glass all the time and I feel awful about it. I’m wondering if the Rustoleum frosted glass spray could be sprayed on the glass panels? This way the birds would fly above the glass and not into it. Thanks!

  39. Stacey says:

    Super handy and informational! Used this on my DIY project – painting a buffet! Thanks for the great tips!

  40. Christine says:


    Thanks for all your wonderful and generous DIY tips and tricks. :) I have one question regarding primer. I am refinishing an end table and have applied primer, but noticed after the primer dried that is was very grainy and needs to be sanded again before spraying on the paint color. I gave the table an initial quick sand down, that then wiped the surface clean before applying the primer. I was expecting a smooth finish after the primer so I could, after it dried, spray on the paint. Is it always necessary to sand smooth the primer before applying paint?

  41. Rachel says:

    This is great! Just wanted to share – I spray painted some old “floppy” dresser hardware the hammered black finish about 13 years ago, and it has held up well all these years (and, it has gotten lots if use)! Being a poor college student at the time, and not having blog resources to turn to, I didn’t use a primer. I disassembled what I could (taking the floppy part of the handle off the plate that attaches to the dresser), and just sprayed one side at a time. I think I only did 2 light coats! And I am still pleased with the results today.

  42. What a great post- love spray paint! And a great blog- been looking around for a while and love all the great tips and info. Also, I’m also a fan of cover stain primer.
    Newest follower:)

  43. Nadia says:

    This is such a great post! Quick question: do you need to add a protectant or varnish to furniture that you’ve spray painted? I’d so, what type? Thanks again. I’m a huge fan!

  44. Sullivan says:

    For more spray paint colors check out the Spanish Montana spray paint line (different than the Montana Gold line).. They have several different lines of spray paint in different finishes and each line has usually 100-150 colors.


  45. Rx says:

    Thanks so much for your blog. I’m re-inventing my kitchen. Took down wallpaper & painted. Love it. I’d like to get rid of the 3 pendants over island & matching large pendant over table, but they’re not broken, just brass with clear glass shades that constantly need cleaning (from the grease). Didn’t realize I was such a greasy cook. I’ve considered painting them in a dark bronze (the brass) & then frosting the glass shade. That’d sure help to disguise the grease (when I don’t clean them often, they look frosted). Anyway, I’d really like to change the glass shade to a cylinder shade. I guess I’ll have to go to my lighting store & see if any shade will work. I’ve seen plenty of shades on line to purchase, just don’t know if they’ll work in my application. I hate replacing the lights (they’re not broken or even in bad shape). We live in a throw away country, & if I can just paint & replace the shade, I’d be totally satisfied. Then, I could paint the brass handles on my cabinets. I will definitely prime, then paint these. I certainly appreciate your blog. I look forward to reading it daily. Keep up the good work. You are an inspiration.

  46. Steph R says:

    Thanks for the great tips. Im quickly becoming a spray paint addict!

  47. Courtney says:

    I’m working on a post about the wonders that a simple coat of white paint can do! Linking to this page and borrowing the before and after photos if that’s ok! Everything I borrow will be credited to you of course!

  48. […] got a brand-new light fixture that no one else will have. CentsationalGirl has an excellent FAQ for spray painting almost […]

  49. Angie says:

    OMGOSH, I have the matching bed and dresser that go with this night stand! My grandfather bought it for me in 1977, my daughter use it now!I always wondered what it would look like painted white. If you ever want to get rid of it let me know!

  50. Julie says:

    I found a lot of spray paint colors from Montana. They are meant for spray painting as art, but I used them for a wooden chest, and it worked well!

  51. Linda says:

    I had that nightstand. And the whole set. 1975. 12 years old. It is now spray painted white in my 18 year old daughter’s room and she will not part with any of it!! (my mom insisted on calling the darn thing a “commode”. I was mortified. Needless to say we call it a nightstand! Love this blog. Just found it googling chalk paint. Trying to decide if I can give up my spray paint!!

  52. Jill says:

    I have this set as well…Ethan Allen 1978. My mother also wouldn’t let me get rid of it and it is now in my 8 year old daughter’s room. I was actually going to sell this in a garage sale very soon until I came across your link on Pinterest. This will save me a ton of money and will tie in nicely to her decor…thanks!

  53. Lindsay says:

    I have two of the same nightstands. I was wondering what you did to the hardware to update them.

  54. ali says:

    how did you do the hardware on the nightstand?
    thank you!

  55. CentsationalGirl says:

    Hi Ali, that’s ‘Pewter’ Rub N Buff as I recall – love that product for sprucing up hardware! I may have added a little champagne colored craft paint on top too…. been awhile!

  56. Rose says:

    This is new;
    Places that sell paint for cars (not Pep-Boys) but paints by the pints and quarts, etc. They mix paint in big spray cans as touch ups for big areas on vehicles. There are litterally 1000’s and 1000’s of colors. Each color can mixed in 100’s of shades. When you find a place that mixes and sells car paint, all you have to do is look in their books for which chip you want. They’ll mix it and put it in a spray can for you for about $20. Once I started using car paint on my furniture rehaps, I couldn’t go back to regular spray paint. The color selections are endless. The quality and durability of the paint is superb to all other sprays.

  57. CentsationalGirl says:

    Fantastic information Rose, thank you for sharing!

  58. Ali says:

    I cannot find the canvas white anywhere! Any other recommendations? Ty

  59. Ali says:

    Is the canvas white in the “gloss protective enamel” can?

  60. tgoody says:

    My husband and I are refinishing our bathroom vanity in Rustoleum Metallic oil-rubbed bronze spray paint. That probably sounds weird and I won’t go into the detailed reasons, but it’s a cheap vanity of I guess particle board covered with vinyl and we love the bronze look. My question–do we need some kind of protective varnish/lacquer/whatever as a top coat so we can clean spills and such? My husband thinks it should be matte, whatever we use. I am concerned about durability and being able to clean it. What would be best? Thanks!

  61. CentsationalGirl says:

    Hi TGoody, spray paint is oil based so generally durable but in a bathroom, I’d put a coat of Polycrylic or Varathan on top in a satin sheen, just for added protection and it will make the cabinet easier to wipe down.

  62. tgoody says:

    Thank you so much, Kate! :-) Learning lots from your blog! ;-)

  63. Karen says:

    You have inspired me beyond belief. I had a big job as DMM for 17 boutiques and had to resign dour to health. I finally have a fun “job” again, except I work for my home and my pocketbook is my boss. I’m redoing the whole house and made some oopsies on those new get a deal websites.
    Your help has made me enjoy the mistakes as I make them into beauties. Ok
    “I have an old repainted , chandelier. It’s needs to be repainted and cleaned. How to you detach those little nails from the chandelier to take off crystals and how do you remember exactly where they go? Thanks to you. You are a Goddess!

    I have two old pine side tables. The wood has not been conditioned over the last 20 years bc someone just thought it would do it itself (me)! Should I paint now ? They also have white rings. Buyt they are pretty antiques. I wish I knew how to attach photos thanks oh Goddess Kate!

  64. MR says:

    My local ACE hardware store will put any paint into a spray can for you. You can use one of their color chips to pick a paint or bring in your own paint for them to put into a spray can. It costs about $7 per spray can.

  65. Rachelle says:

    Is it safe to use spray paint to paint a baby crib?

  66. CentsationalGirl says:

    Hi Rachelle, I wouldn’t do it, but others have. Spray paint has a lot of chemicals in it, I’d look for a no VOC latex paint for a crib.

  67. Adelaida says:

    Hi, newbie here and I’m wanting to spray paint my sons crib but don’t know if its safe. My son bites the side rails and I’m worried about the chemicals in the paint. There are plastic side rail protectors at toys r us, I was planning on getting anyways. Please let me know what you think! :-)

  68. Michelle Webb says:

    A few years ago when I designed my craft room I wanted my peg board to be a nice color – other than the brown. My husband took me to a paint store where they took regular paint colors and turned them into spray paint. It was really cool. I think it is becoming more common now.

  69. jan rosinski says:

    great info…found you while pinning!

    thank you.

  70. […] How-to guide for Spray Painting everything […]

  71. CentsationalGirl says:

    Hi Adelaida, I would not use traditional spray paints on a crib for that reason, but that’s just me. I’d choose a no VOC latex paint for a crib.

  72. Jan says:

    My brother used Krylon spray paint on the carpet of a used car he purchased! He would spray lightly, let dry, then brush with a stiff brush. He did this several times and the finished result looked and felt like new carpet!

  73. Jud Johnston says:

    What about spray painting a lamp, presumably fired ceramic with a glaze on it. Use a primer first? Any special type paint required? I’ve spray painted lots of stuff myself, and have been nodding affirmatively through all your comments.

  74. CentsationalGirl says:

    Hi Jud, most spray paints are oil based so they adhere well, but with slippery ceramics, a coat of primer is best!

  75. Hi, CentsationalGirl,

    I don’t have a current project, but am an avid spray-painter, so I’ve really enjoyed reading through this site! Glad to know I’m not alone in my Spray Paint Obsession. :-)

    As an artist, I believe color to be critical to good mental health, and there’s no quicker, easier way to ‘redecorate’ than by grabbing a fresh can of paint and trying something unexpected.

    Thanks for the great read (and some really useful user’s comments, too)!

  76. Patsy Clevenger says:

    I just purchased an end table (painted blue) to redo for a lake cabin. I either want it white or distressed with a little blue showing through. I’ve never done anything like this before and I’m not very handy, but I really want to learn. Where should I start?

  77. CentsationalGirl says:

    Hi Patsy, you can use Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Old White right over the top and then lightly sand it, that would give you the look you want!

  78. Kay S says:

    I am planning to spray paint an ornate (plastic I am guessing) mirror with lots of fanciful design and holes in the frame. Do you have any good tips on even coverage for inside the holes? I watched the beginner video and am anxious to start the project now that the weather has cooled to a reasonable temp (unlike the 110 degree too many days this summer).

  79. Jodie says:

    I have white wood blinds that have started to chip off. I thought I could lightly sand the loose paint off then spray paint them. I used the RustOleum White Satin Primer/Paint in the new trigger can. When I sprayed it on 11 blinds it instantly wrinkled. Do I need to sand all of the paint off the blinds or prime first? I appreciate your advice.

  80. CentsationalGirl says:

    Hi Jodie, yes spray paint can be temperamental like that. Crackling means the spray paint encountered bad temperatures, debris, or improper surface preparation. Unfortunately, you do need to sand it down where it cracked and then prime over it.
    So sorry that happened!

  81. CentsationalGirl says:

    Hi Kay, I spray painted an ornate mirror a few years back and I highly recommend several light coats. Sometimes where the paint can’t quite reach you have to fill in by hand, I spray a small amount of the paint into the plastic top so it’s still in liquid form, then use a small artist’s brush to apply it where necessary. Good luck!

  82. Terrie says:

    My husband has spray painted bathroom light fixtures–brass to brushed nickel–that turned out fantastic. He also spray painted in brushed nickel a wall-hung brass-plated lighted makeup mirror that I’d had for years. That was over 5 years ago and there have been absolutely no problems with it even though it’s on the wall right outside the shower! He even spray painted the body of a golf cart (disassembled first). But he’s an excellent painter (not professional) so I take all my spray painting chores to him! Lucky me!!!!

  83. Kevin says:

    Quick question about the splotch spray paint commentary. I just sanded and sprayed a tabletop with black enamel and have this problem. Did I read somewhere on your blog that the laquer layers will even that out, or am I going to need to sand and/or use that matte spray you mentioned above?

    Great website. Thanks so much for the info (and the help!!)!

  84. CentsationalGirl says:

    Hi Kevin, try the Polycrylic and I used a foam brush, worked on my piece!

  85. Bridget says:

    How did you treat the hardware on the side table to get that beautiful silvery color?

  86. Molly says:

    Thanks Kate! Love your blog and you have great tips!!

  87. Krissy says:

    I have a question that has gone unanswered by every hardware store I’ve gone too!! I want to paint my stove!! I have been eye ballin the high heat spray paint for a month now, I just don’t know how smart or even how good of an idea this is!! Do you have any recommendations? Or even the advice that this is a horrible idea?

  88. CentsationalGirl says:

    Hi Krissy, I haven’t seen appliances painted but I know the epoxy exists for some in white and a faux stainless steel color, but that is for dishwashers and fridges I presume. I have not heard of a stove painted and I’d hesitate to do it but you might find more information with a search online.
    Good luck,

  89. KEELE WINTER says:

    Can you spray paint interior walls? I want to do my little girls bedroom wall and don’t want to break out the rollers and trays and stuff. Would love to just throw a cover over the furniture and start spraying a wall. I’ve searched everywhere online and can’t find anyone that’s done this without an airless sprayer that professionals use. I just want to try a can of Rustoleum, have you ever tried this? Thanks!

  90. CentsationalGirl says:

    Hi Keele, I don’t advise spray painting indoors due to airborne toxins, I have not done it, and the products advise to spray paint only in well ventilated areas. You can invest in a paint sprayer for indoor latex paint but they can be costly. I’d recommend a standard roller!

  91. Kika says:

    I’ve just inherited this whole set from my sister in law and plan on using it in my teen daughter’s room. I’d like to paint it, but I’m concerned with how the laminate top will hold up. Any suggestions and paint tip before I get started on my project?

  92. CentsationalGirl says:

    HI Kika, you can paint laminate as long as you use a good bonding adhesion primer, I like Zinsser’s ‘Cover Stain’ in the brown can.

  93. Rebekah says:

    Hi, i stumbled onto your website and i just wanted you to know how much i am enjoying it. I have been a long time lover of painting furniture despite the comments from my husband (i drive him crazy with my hatred of most unpainted woods), but i have never had knowledge of the correct types of paint. Your tips are great (and funny). THANK YOU!

    PS. I am about to attempt spraypainting wicker. Wish me luck:)

  94. Linda Harding says:

    Just wanted to say I love your blog–the tips are great and I really appreciate your sense of humor!

  95. Melissa says:

    Hello, Love your site. I had just gotten a piece of furniture (buffet?) that I wanted to chalk paint. Did so, and it cracked/bubbled. Bought a hand sander, sanded it, spray primed it – and that bubbled too!! How do I fix this so it cooperates?! The problem area is the top; its laminate from what I can tell and has a second section that sits on top of it – could that be why the paint isn’t sticking right (chalk and primer)? Because of some weird chemistry between the two items? I didn’t want to use the top item because the laminated sides have cracks/peels in them and figured it wouldn’t last long after being painted…Any suggestions?

  96. CentsationalGirl says:

    Hi Melissa, that’s unfortunate. With laminates it’s best to use a good bonding primer, I prefer Zinsser, it adheres very well. You can try that on top, or look into the Peel-Stop primers, also made by RustOleum.

  97. Barbara says:

    I have a brass lamp that I have taken apart. I want to spray it to have a silver mirror finish. What to you recommend?

  98. CentsationalGirl says:

    Hi Barbara, the mercury glass spray paints are worth looking into for that.

  99. Marcie says:

    I have scoured the internet for an answer to my spray paint question and can’t find it. I don’t trust the guys at my Lowe’s…but you seem to be the queen of spray paint so I am hoping you can help.

    I want to spray paint my bathroom vanity lights. They get warm to the touch so I am concerned about safety. Should I opt for a high heat spray or would regular be OK? High heat has such limited colors :/


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