THE ART OF SPRAY PAINTING - HOW TO GET A SMOOTH FINISH WITHOUT ANY DRIPS
About 3 years ago I started spray painting my projects instead of using a brush and I will never go back! One coat coverage with spray paint is phenomenally better than one coat with a brush and not to mention you don’t see brush strokes either. Plus an average paint project with a brush used to take me 4-6 hours (including dry time); but with spray paint I cut that down to 1 1/2 hours (including dry time).
Lately I’ve had several people mention to me that they just cannot seem to spray paint anything without getting drips. I get it! I used to struggle with getting a flawless finish but after several years of practice, I’ve learned a few tricks along the way. So if you’re struggling with drips or if you’re just not able to get a smooth finish, I’m sharing the biggest mistakes I see and some tips on how to get a perfect finish.
SHAKE THE CAN A LOT & TEST SPRAY
First and foremost you have to shake the can…like a lot. I typically shake it for a full minute to make sure the paint is fully mixed in there. Then before spraying my object, I spray the paint into the air to make sure the nozzle sprays well. Sometimes, (especially if you’re using a used can) the paint can get clogged in the nozzle which will make the paint spit out. This will not give you a smooth texture and you’ll have to sand it off later. If the paint does spit, you’ll most likely need to pop off the nozzle and switch it out with another spray can nozzle you have lying around. If you switch the nozzle and it still spits, you may just need to get a new can. In my experience I have had a few spray cans that just spit paint no matter how much I work with it. Save yourself a headache later and just use a fresh can that sprays well.
DON’T START OR STOP SPRAYING DIRECTLY ONTO THE OBJECT
This is one of the biggest mistakes I see. Never start spraying or stop spraying while the nozzle is pointed directly at the object. When you first push down or let go of the nozzle the paint may spit a little. The key is to start spraying away from the object and glide it across the object to the other side so that your paint spray never stops while directed at the object. When you’re gliding your paint can from side to side, always spray past the edge of the object to ensure you don’t have paint building up too thick in one area. I’ve got a quick video at the bottom of this post to better explain what I mean!
DON’T SPRAY TOO CLOSE & KEEP IT THIN
This is the second biggest mistake I see. Most paint can instructions suggest spraying 10-12 inches from the object. The reasoning for this is because the further your can is from the object, the thinner your coat of paint will be. A thin coat of paint is much less likely to drip than a thick one so keep your distance. I typically spray one thin coat over everything, let it dry for 30-45 minutes, and then spray a second thin coat for complete coverage.
WIPE THE NOZZLE
If you’re painting a lot, you might notice that your nozzle is building up a lot of paint. Sometimes if it gets too messy it’ll start dripping from the outside of the nozzle/can. Just wipe it off with a rag every once in a while to ensure it’s not going to drip on your object.
SAND IF NECESSARY
Sometimes drips happen even when you’re doing everything right. It’s happened to me plenty of times. Just wait till the paint is dry and lightly sand it with a fine grit sanding block to smooth it over. Paint over it again and you should be good to go!
Here’s a quick video to demonstrate how I spray paint and get a flawless finish every time.
Ultimately, you’re going to need to practice a lot. Spray painting isn’t difficult but it does take a bit of time to get used to the motions. Once you figure out the technique you’ll be spray painting everything…trust me!
P.S. some spray paint brands are fabulous and others have proven to produce poor quality results. If you’re curious what my go to spray paint brands are, check out this post - My Go To Paints, Stains, and Finishes.
Until next time,
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