I know I'm not alone in this modern world when I say that I love a quick result. Outside of technology and two day shipping (RIP), most good things take time. One small joy we have left that promises an instant transformation? SPRAY PAINT!
While it can be pretty frustrating at times, in the right weather conditions and with the right products, it's relatively simple to start and finish a project that really looks night and day different. Some of my favorite projects have included lamps, mirrors and even larger pieces of furniture! The piece that spurred me to write this post was a dresser I scored off Facebook Marketplace. Many of these lessons learned will come from that experience, but I'll also share some victories from past projects!
Complete multiple, thin layers: So much of my frustration with the dresser project stemmed from impatience. If you're in a hurry, it's scientifically proven that spray paint can sense that and it will ruin your life. The best way to achieve perfection is to complete 2-3 thin coats of paint, letting it dry thoroughly each time. One of the main issues I ran into this time was crackling, which occurs when the top layer of pant dries faster than the thicker layers underneath.
Choose the best quality paint: Spray paint is overall a very inexpensive way to transform something, so don't skimp on the quality. My favorite paint of all time is Behr Paint and Primer, and I was thrilled to discover they had launched a spray paint line as well. I've had good luck in the past with Rustoleum (especially for different techniques) but caution you against any non-name brand paint under about $7.
Buy more than you think you will need: In contrast to normal paint, you have wayyy less control over where paint goes when you're spraying. Couple that with wind, uneven spraying and touch ups and you'll find yourself running to the hardware store 2 and 3 (or 5) times. There are charts online that can help you estimate, but I'd always recommend buying at least one more can than you think your project will require.
Prep appropriately: Keep in mind with spray paint, there is much less leeway in terms of covering blemishes and mistakes since the paint is so much thinner than normal paint. You'll want your piece looking exactly like you want it (sanded/cut/cleaned) BEFORE beginning to paint. If you make mistakes as you go, wait for the paint to completely dry and lightly sand using fine grit sandpaper. Every brand has different recommendations for sanding, so visit their website or read the can beforehand.
Be prepared for cleanup: I did this latest piece in my garage, and realized after the fact that even though I laid down protective covering, the floor still showed outlines from excess spray. The best place to spray of course is outside, but if weather doesn't allow just make sure you have ventilation and move anything within a large radius of your item to account for stray paint. Keep in mind as well that spray paint is oil based, so you'll need much different supplies to get it off skin. My best hack (learned from spray painting the bottoms of my feet blue!): olive oil! You can normally count on water removing water based paint and oil removing oil based paint.
Accessorize: I did end up using a mask since I was spraying indoors and began to get a bit dizzy. Gloves can be helpful depending on the project, but the BEST accessory I've discovered yet has been this comfort-grip handle.
The last thing I'll mention is a "varsity" level of spray painting- it's out there people! One of my
favorite techniques is to spritz water on the surface before painting with silver paint to give a mercury glass effect. There are textured spray paint options, versions that can achieve a "chalk paint" look, glow in the dark, lacquer, and even chalkboard. There are also various sanding techniques, "wet on wet" options and all kinds of ways to take spray painting to the next level as soon as you get some practice.