How To Be A Spray-Paint Connoisseur

Spray Paint. It has so much promise, but who amongst us hasn't started with that smooth, shiny can in their hands, and ended with it dripping and clumping all over their hands and the nozzle? Forget about the item you even set out to paint!! 

I started experimenting with spray paint a year or so ago, as a way to quickly change the color of an object for a project or photo. After many (MANY) failed attempts, I picked up a couple tips and tricks and I'm excited to share them with you!

Violet Tinder Studios

Besides the paint can, here are a few other useful things to have:

  • Drop cloth or tarp (paperbags/newspaper will work, but a drop cloth is leak-proof and reusable. You can get them inexpensively at Home Depot or Amazon)
  • Painter's tape (useful if you're painting an object multiple colors)
  • Clear MATTE spray paint (to finish off your color)

1. Start by laying your item on the drop cloth. Ideally, place so that the most amount of sprayable space on the item is face-up. (In this case, the bottle below is upright, rather than on it's side.) To give it the smoothest finish possible, wipe it down for dust, grime, or moisture. You want it as smooth and dry as you can! If you'll be painting the item multiple colors, tape it off for the section you want painted, making sure to press the tape securely so there's no color leakage.

My Technicolor Dropcloth

My Technicolor Dropcloth

Violet Tinder Studios

2. This is important! (And something I still struggle to remember every time, ha.) SHAKE THE CAN VIGOROUSLY 2-3 TIMES, until you hear the ball clicking inside. This mixes the color up so it all comes out evenly and helps keep the texture consistent.

3. Then, STEP BACK AT LEAST 5-6 INCHES FROM THE ITEM- any closer, and the color will go on too thickly, creating drips. Move your hand quickly in and up-and down, left-to-right (or vice versa) motion, so that the item gets a light, smooth coat. Don't worry about it covering everything. Ideally, it should be light enough to visibly need another coat. If it's any thicker, it will likely drip + smudge. (You can see in the photos below that after one coat, it still needs more paint- this is the point you want to set it aside to dry for at least 10 minutes.)

Violet Tinder Studios
Violet Tinder Studios

4. After letting the initial coat dry for 10-20 minutes, repeat step three with another coat. I usually find two steady even coats is enough for most items, but some might need a third. In that case, set the item aside to let the second coat dry before adding the third.

5. When you've finished with the color, let the whole thing dry for at least 30 minutes. Ideally, it would be left alone for an hour or more, but if you need it faster, you can test it's dryness by lightly touching the edge.

6. Most colors, even when mostly dry, will still be prone to smudges when you pick them up. This is where the clear matte coat comes in! Think of it like a quick-dry top coat for your nails. Spray it on the same quick, even, top-to-bottom fashion, making sure to stay back at least 6 inches. There's nothing worse than spraying on perfect color, only to mess it up with the clear coat. (Ok maybe a few things... but, still.)

7. Once you're done with all of the painting, let the item sit in a well-ventilated area for another 30 min-2 hours. Patience is key!!! When it's fully dry, you'll be able to manhandle it, but grab it too soon and it will smudge. 

8. Once it's dry... admire your handiwork and then go spray paint ALL OF THE THINGS!!! 

Violet Tinder Studios

Was this helpful? I'd love to see what you create!! Tag me in your photos on social media- @violettinder, and leave your comments below!

xx Natasha