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How to Spray Paint Like a Pro

This Old House painter Mauro Henrique has finished a deck with spray paint. What do you need to know about choosing and using spray paint?

Ever wondered about the differences in spray paint and how to use them? This Old House painter Mauro Henrique advises what to look for in spray paint and how to apply it best.

You can use spray paint for a variety of small to medium-sized projects. The variety of spray paint types allow nearly any project the perfect paint for the job. Applying primer before spray painting helps to ensure that your spray paint will have an even finish and smooth out blemishes. Otherwise, you may need several coats of spray paint to get consistent coverage.

Why Apply Spray Paint Primer?

Applying primer before spray painting helps to ensure that your spray paint will have an even finish and smooth out blemishes. Otherwise, you may need several coats of spray paint to get consistent coverage.

However, not every primer is suitable for the same surface. A wood primer spray is not the same as a plastic primer spray paint. They have different properties, and they work on different surfaces. You should first check if the primer you want to buy will be suitable for the surface you want to paint.

Differences in Spray Paints

The variety of spray paint types allow nearly any project the perfect paint for the job.

Lacquer

Lacquer was a very common paint back in the day. It was used to paint various things from house furniture to cars. However, lacquer is no longer used the same way today because of the extra work when using it to paint.

Vinyl

This type of paint is made from water and plastic and is also a lightweight paint. One major advantage it has is that it’s waterproof and weatherproof, making it suitable for use on siding and floors.

Enamel

Enamel is an excellent type of paint that This Old House uses for spray painting projects. Over the years, more people have switched from lacquer to enamel because it lasts way longer. In terms of the number of applications, enamel won’t need more than two applications, making it easier to use than lacquer. It’s a fantastic paint for seasonal changes.

Oil-based paint

Generally, oil-based paints have a glossy finish, and if combined with a resin, they are a bit lightweight. Oil-based paints can be used for indoor and outdoor purposes, making them useful for a wide range of purposes. While oil-based paints take time to dry, they can be used to paint a vast surface in just one application, saving a lot of time.

On the other hand, one must be careful when spraying this paint on a surface because it’s known to produce fumes during application. Therefore, the ideal thing to do is to work outside or in an ample space with the windows open, if one must work within confinement.

The only issue with oil-based paints is that one needs to do some touch-up in a couple of years because it would either fade off, crack or even change color. When you apply a new coat, it’ll retain that attractive look.

How Many Coats of Spray Paint Do You Need?

It is recommended that you apply two coats and allow the proper time frame for drying. Be sure to also sand between each dried coat. Once the final coat is painted and allowed time to dry, it’s time for a clear coat.

Depending on the sheen of paint used, you can also apply a clear coat over spray paint. If you use high-gloss, semi-gloss and you want a shiny finish, you really don’t have to seal it. If you’re using a lower sheen, then you can seal with a water-based sealer.


Resources

To add a finish to the mahogany railing, Mauro uses Rust-Oleum® Specialty Lacquer Spray.

To tape off the railing, Mauro uses FrogTape® Pro Grade Painter’s Tape.

To prime the balusters, Mauro uses Rust-Oleum® 12oz 2X Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover Flat Primer Spray Paint Gray.

All other tools used including sanding sponges, black spray paint, tack cloth, and painters masks can be found at local home centers.