5 Spray Paint Tips For Your Next Furniture Makeover

Refurbing an outdated piece of furniture with paint can be a fun and rewarding project. You could take the long route and grab brushes and rollers, which is definitely the go-to for certain techniques and styles such as shabby chic, artsy, or textured finishes. But, if you're looking for a simple, solid coat that won't take long to complete, then spray paint is your best option. 

Keep in mind that spray painting isn't always the cheapest option and it still requires time and effort for a professional-looking finish, says Paint Sprayer Judge. Some benefits of spraying versus hand painting include a smooth finish without dried brush strokes, faster drying times, and an easier cleanup. A negative part about spray painting is that the paint dust gets everywhere — your hair, nostrils, clothes, skin, and anything else in the nearby vicinity. So, make sure you wear protective equipment, cover up anything nearby, and paint in a well-ventilated area. With a little practice and some helpful tips, you'll be painting like a pro. The most challenging part will be picking the paint color!

Choose the right type of spray paint

When selecting a suitable paint, consider the material of your item, whether it will be kept indoors or outdoors, and the type of sheen you prefer — either gloss, semi-gloss, satin, or matte. According to Acrylicus, there are also 10 variations of spray paint: general-purpose, lacquer, epoxy (interior and exterior), enamel, acrylic, oil-based, high-heat, chalkboard, frosted, and rust-preventive.

Acrylicus recommends general-purpose spray paints for most types of wood furniture because they're made with high-quality ingredients that adhere well to most surfaces and, with proper application, they're designed to last the entire life of the painted item. Another great option is spray-on chalk paint. Chalk paint has a smooth, matte type of finish that might not be suitable for all projects. Paint producer Krylon, makes a chalk paint that is ideal for furniture as it can stick to most surfaces and doesn't need a primer.

Buy the right amount

Once you've chosen the appropriate paint, make sure you purchase enough to complete the project. The amount will vary depending on many factors including the surface area and texture to be painted. My Perfect Color notes that, as a general rule, your item will need an absolute minimum of two coats, with bright colors requiring as many as five thin layers for full coverage.

Interestingly, Paint Topics explains that it takes about two teaspoons of paint to cover a square foot of space. That doesn't help a whole lot when you're using an aerosol spray can, but what it does tell you is that one can will go a long way. According to Lowe's, a 12-ounce can of Krylon will cover 12 feet. But as stated earlier, there are factors that alter that estimate, so buy more than you think you'll need and keep your receipt to return any unused cans.

Prepare the spray area thoroughly

Your spray area likely needs more preparation than the actual piece of furniture. Overspray, which is the collective droplets released from the sprayer that drift past your target in an almost invisible cloud, is a serious concern, says Modders Inc. Covering surfaces with plastic sheeting will protect things from overspray, but when outside, which is the best place for spray painting, be aware that wind can carry droplets quite a distance.

Wind poses other challenges to spray painting; it not only carries overspray but also any paint exiting the nozzle, which means less paint landing where you intended. Plus, dust and debris travel in the air, landing in the sticky fresh paint. Modders Inc suggests bringing your work inside to dry when possible to prevent damage to the fresh surface. Portable tent-like structures often referred to as paint tents or spray booths can prevent fly-away paint and are available at many home improvement stores for under $100.

Using aerosol spray paint indoors is not recommended, but with the right precautions, it can be safely done. According to DC Paint Solutions, wearing the proper protective gear is essential. They also advise using extraction fans designed for commercial use rather than any household fan and making sure to open all the windows to ensure the best airflow possible.

Practice before you begin your project

Shake, shake, shake that can and then shake it some more! Love and Renovations urge DIYers not to skip this step because better-mixed paint yields a better-finished result. Find something to practice on like a spare piece of wood or cardboard. Give yourself a little space, about six to eight inches away from the targeted area, just slightly to the side of the piece you'll be painting. You want the spray to begin before actually touching the furniture so that you don't end up with a concentrated area of paint from the initial spray.

Love and Renovation say to move from left to right in a swift sweeping motion, covering the item in a thin layer of paint. Lingering too long on any one spot or changing direction while the spray is focused on your item instead of off to the side of it will result in drips and blotches. Be sure to wait several minutes between coats to allow the paint to dry, and remember that several thin coats will be necessary to achieve a solid cover.

Consider a trigger converter for larger projects

Larger projects will require a considerable amount of spray painting, which can become very tiresome to your trigger finger, says From House to Home. To avoid hand cramps and finger fatigue, you might want to consider a handy gadget that attaches to the top of the spray can and converts the nozzle function into a hand grip instead. Basically, this attachment turns the spray can into a spray gun.

Rust-oleum makes one called the Comfort Grip that affixes easily to spray cans. Other brands include TPC Global, Spraycraft, and Uni-Pro, which can be found online or in local retail stores for around $10 or less. Alternatively, Harbor Freight sells one for under $5 that is designed to produce more consistent spray results that create a higher quality finish. This item isn't necessary, but it can make the process more enjoyable and result in a beautiful, professional-looking finish that will last for years.