Sunday, February 14, 2016

Paint It Black: Spray Painting Tips

Last weekend, I had excellent thrift store luck.

This weekend, I had excellent weather luck. The conditions were perfect for spray painting: no snow on the ground, mild temperatures, and no wind. I seized the opportunity to paint my new finds along with the horde of "to be painted" items that I've been collecting over the last few months.

Here's the process I use for successful spray painting.

First, gear up. I suggest wearing latex or vinyl gloves because spray paint is quite difficult to wash off your hands. Wear a respirator/face mask because even outside, the teeny tiny floating particles of paint will find their way up your nose and into your lungs. Be aware that paint particles will almost certainly get on your clothes and shoes.

Next, prepare your work area. I strongly advise against spray painting inside. You will probably end up with a mist of paint on everything in sight, and your house will reek of spray paint for days.

We'll assume you are painting outside. Wait for a day that isn't windy, and paint in the shade if possible.

Lay out your items, spacing them apart so you can get to all sides. I lay out my items on cardboard. When I have several items to paint, I like to put each one on a second piece of cardboard or a scrap of wood so that I can turn the item and/or carry it inside by touching only the cardboard or wood, reducing the risk of marring the still-drying paint.

Next, grab your can(s) of paint and shake 'em up. Shake until you can hear the little ball rattle inside the can, then shake for another minute.

And then it's time to paint... er... prime. I start with a coat of primer. But the technique is the same.

To apply the primer or paint, hold the can a few inches away from the item and spray on a light coat of paint, always keeping the can moving. Sweep back and forth horizontally or up and down, spraying as you go. You don't need to wait for the paint to dry before adding another coat; simply continue spraying lightly until you get the desired coverage. Don't hold the can too close to the item and don't "point and shoot" with the can stationary because you'll likely end up with drips.

You can use the paint of your choice. My favorite is Rust-Oleum Painter's Touch because it covers extremely well. Other types of Rust-Oleum, such as the metallic and textured paints, are pretty good also.

You can use the color of your choice. As noted in the title of this post, I typically choose black. Actually, this time, because I'm sooo totally goth, I didn't just paint my stuff black... I painted it four kinds of black! ;)

I used flat black, semi-gloss black, hammered finish black, and textured metallic black (all Rust-Oleum).

The flat black gives a soft, almost velvety looking finish.
flat black
flat black
vases and candle holders in flat black

The semi-gloss black gives a finish that reflects more light.
candle holder and ravens in semi-gloss black
frame and motif in semi-gloss black

The hammered black gives a finish resembling wrought iron.
candle holders in hammered black
hammered black

The textured metallic gives a finish that not only looks but feels textured. It's also unexpectedly glittery.
house number and frame in textured metallic black

Here's a photo with all four types of black for comparison.


  1. Wow this stuffs all looks great! I wondered about how that little jug would turn out but it looks stunning!

    1. Thanks! I'd come across a picture of a flowery vase painted black and wanted to try it. I was a bit skeptical... but for $2, I didn't have much to lose. :)

  2. Wow, such a great and detailed tutorial! Now if only we could get rustoleum here in Germany... Most of the spray paint I used is not very durable, unfortunately.

    1. That's too bad. :( I've tried a couple brands of spray paint that were awful, and it was very frustrating. I wouldn't be so keen on spray painting if those were my only choices.

  3. Some great finds, and great to remember that you can always dress up things in not nice colours with a bit of spraypaint!

    1. Indeed. That's my best tip for secondhand shopping: Don't worry about the color because you can paint almost anything. :)

  4. I love to see all the redo it yourself stuff gives me sooo many ideas...

  5. Fantastic. I can't wait to start doing this!