barb blairbefore & after basics

before and after basics: spray paint

by Barb

Spray paint has long been considered a quick and easy way to spruce up forlorn pieces of furniture, but if you are like me, you can spot — literally — a bad spray job from a mile away. Uneven lines and a spotty appearance are tell-tale signs of “I just want to get this done in an hour.” I personally find that spray painting is not always the easy way out in terms of application. If you are not careful, things can go downhill really fast. I hope these few tips today on Before & After Basics will make your next spray-painting job much smoother! — Barb

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!


  • spray paint (I prefer Krylon)
  • mask
  • painter’s tape
  • mirror or whatever you are painting
  • newspaper
  • craft knife
  • drop cloth


1. Tape off your piece really well. This is one of the biggest mistakes made in spray painting. The paint particles are so small and fly everywhere, so they will get into any little crack available. So be sure to have the areas you do not want painted completely covered.

2. Make sure that you are working in a well-ventilated area, either outside or in a studio with open doors and windows. Please make sure to wear a mask and goggles for your protection, as well. There are harsh chemicals that you will be exposed to, so please read the safety precautions and follow them exactly.

3. Once you have taped off the piece and are wearing your mask . . . ahem . . . begin to spray your piece. Hold the can 10 to 12 inches away from the surface you are painting in order to avoid drips. It is much better to apply three to four coats than to rush it and have a thick, drippy mess. Now the trick to spraying is to start your spray off the piece, and end your spray off the piece. This is how you avoid those awful “spots” that you will get from an uneven concentration in one area. This is a must, especially when working on large surfaces.

4. Allow the paint to dry for at least 20 minutes between coats. I know that the can says it dries in 12 minutes or less, but unless you are painting in the perfect temperature conditions, it tends to take a little longer to dry.

I have a story . . . spray paint and I had some serious bonding time in July when my parents retired and moved here to Greenville! I needed to touch up about eight pieces because they had been spray painted previously, and my dad had already bought all of the spray paint for me . . . without asking me my brand of preference, I might add. I told my dad that I wasn’t going to be able to spray with the paint that he bought because of the nozzle, and he looked at me like I had sprouted horns! Needless to say, I tried his cans and what went down was purely awful. I convinced my dad to get a couple cans of Krylon and see the difference. Let me just say that I totally have a new believer in the power of a fan spray nozzle! There is something to it, and I stand by it completely. The fan nozzles spread out the spray so much more effectively, making smoothness much more attainable.

I completely understand if you do not share my love of the fan nozzle; you use whatever works best for you. I have just used plenty of different kinds in my painting life and have found that this is what works best for me.

Spray away my friends, and beware of spottage!

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  • Great tip about the starting the spray off the project and
    then moving it on! (1st link to Before & After Basics in
    intro paragraph has a double http, so it doesn’t work…)

  • I have a question. I painted a piece of furniture after lightly sanding, and priming, I used Rustoleum Painters touch semi-gloss then decided to spray Rustoleum Painters Touch Clear Gloss to protect. The paint finish then became powdery and lost it’s sheen looking as if it was dusty. Do you have any idea what could have happened? The piece was not solid wood but some type of veneer. Never had this happen before.
    Thank you!

  • Thanks for the ‘know how before you mess up step by step instructions’ !!! I really need these instructions for several upcoming projects.

    Please begin posting new ideas again. Your site is both informative and interesting. Love.

  • hi guys if i were to spray paint something ceramic (a large figurine thing) would i be able to clean/polish it? or does to paint come off?

  • I’m a huge fan. I’ve seen time and time again in blogland how so many can transform something really ugly into something completely different and beautiful with spray paint.

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