Spray paint is a great way to get a job done quickly, and this method will work on a variety of materials. But getting a smooth, even coat requires a touch of skill—and some of the most important tips aren’t written on the can.
Start Smooth, Finish Smooth
A sprayed coating is smooth and reflects light in a way that makes surface flaws obvious. So, before you paint your item, sand it smooth and go over it with primer. That may mean applying several primer coats, with each coat lightly sanded before proceeding.
Spin Your Work
Put the item you’re painting on a lazy Susan, then rotate it as you paint to ensure even coverage.
Get Your Hands Out of the Way
To paint small items, like fasteners, stick them through a sheet of cardboard.
For Bigger Projects, Use a Big Dropcloth
Don’t waste time taping together newspapers that might fall apart as you paint. Instead, use a large plastic or cloth dropcloth that provides plenty of backdrop for you to move the spray can past the object.
Do a Pattern Test
Spray a test shot onto a piece of plywood to see the spray pattern that the can produces. You can adjust your technique and hold the can closer or further from the target, depending on the spray pattern.
Use Tougher Products
When you need a high-gloss coating that resists rust and chemicals, take a tip from the auto-body industry and use a 2K (or two-component) spray paint. Like epoxy, the resin and solvents stay separate until you’re ready to paint.
Clean While You Paint
Another great crossover from the auto-body industry is the scouring pastes that clean and abrade a surface at the same time. They’re especially helpful when preparing an irregularly curved surface for paint.
Hide Knots with Shellac
To prevent sappy tree knots from bleeding through a top coat of varnish or paint, use sprayable clear shellac or a primer (usually white) that contains shellac. Shellac is a natural plastic that seals in odors and stains, including the sappy discoloration surrounding a tree knot.
And Hide Grain With a High-Build Primer
Grainy textures in wood tend to show through with most spray paints, leaving you with a still- rough and unfinished-looking surface. If you’re painting something like fir plywood, use primers and top coats labeled “high build.” They’re thicker and still dry quickly, so that you can apply multiple coats. If you really want to cover the grain, you can always use a thick coating such as Plasti Dip or Liquid Armour.
Perfect Your Oval
Glossy surfaces and hammered textures show imperfections in a way that matte surfaces don’t, so make sure you apply paint perfectly to them. What does that mean? First, use a spray- can holder like the Rustoleum Comfort Spray Grip, which holds the can in a pistol grip and permits a more natural sweeping motion as you spray. Also, make a few trial passes over a scrap piece of wood to determine how quickly to move the paint and how far away to hold it. The ideal positioning will leave you with a distinct and consistent oval of paint across the surface.
Don’t Forget To Clean!
The smoother the surface of the item you’re painting, the smoother the coat of paint will be. After scraping and sanding a surface, don’t forget the most important step: Remove all dust with a vacuum, followed by a tack cloth.
Originally posted on Popular Mechanics