July 8, 2013

10 Spray Paint Tips: What You Never Knew About Spray Paint

10 Spray Paint Tips: what you never knew about spray paint. So good to know! Read before your next project!
Here's something you probably know about me by now: I love paint. I love ALL paint. But, if I was forced to take just one to my imaginary deserted island, (the one where they're total jerks and make you choose stuff), I would jam my pants full of spray paint and jump in the boat. 
That's a totally logical opening paragraph. 
I'm sure of it.

I have used spray paint on just about every possible thing you can think of in the past few years, and luckily I started this blog in time to document some of my trial and errors. 
There have been plenty of errors
But, also lots of lovely creations along the way. 

Anyways, spray painting is the easiest, most cost-effective way to transform stuff and there are so many amazing things you can do with it! So, today I'll show you all of the things I've used spray paint on, and share a few tips I've learned along the way.  
These are my 10 favorite ways to use spray paint!

#1. Spray paint small accessories
This is probably my favorite way to use spray paint. 
Mostly because it's a great excuse to be a hoarder of thrift store junk. You can go to almost any thrift store and find random junk. None of it has to match, which is good because it won't match even if you want it to. 
Thrift stores do not listen to reason.

Just look for stuff with a great shape. It works almost every time, and it's a great way to save money. 
My favorite off-white spray paint can be seen here.

10 Spray Paint Tips: what you never knew about spray paint (like how to spray paint thrift store junk and make it look great!). Good to know! Check this out!

I also love using silver spray paint on my thrift store finds, like on the jewelry tray and picture frame in the below picture. 


#2. Spray paint outdated doorknobs
We spray painted our doorknobs a year ago, and it's been one of the most popular posts on this blog. 
Take note, doorknob makers....we care about your wares.
To see my original post with more info, go here.

10 Spray Paint Tips: what you never knew about spray paint (like how to spray paint doorknobs!). Good to know! Check this out!

  Our doorknobs have held up so well that there isn't a scratch on them after an entire year. All you have to do is remove your doorknobs from the door, take them outside, and spray paint them with 2 light coats of high quality spray paint. Let them cure for at least 24 hours before you put them back on the door. The longer they cure, the better. I didn't sand or prime my doorknobs, but instead just opted for a high quality spray paint made for metal. In my experience, this worked really well, and saved me from spending tons of money on new knobs. 

#2. Spray paint light fixtures.
Over the past few years, I've slowly replaced most of the outdated light fixtures in our house. To save money, I searched local thrift stores and craigslist for light fixtures that had a great shape, and then I spray painted them. 
I found a great brass lantern for $5 at a thrift store that ultimately ended up looking fabulous in our bedroom.  All I had to do was take out the glass panels by carefully bending back the little metal clasps with pliers. 
Once the glass was removed, I taped off the electrical wires, and spray painted it silver. I let it dry for 24 hours, cleaned off the glass with some glass cleaner, and then put it all back together again. 
When he grows up, I'll explain what happened to him.
See how it turned out here.

10 Spray Paint Tips: what you never knew about spray paint (like how to spray paint light fixtures!). Good to know! Check this out!

I did the same thing to the chandelier in my office. I found an old brass chandelier on eBay, and spray painted it white. I also added strings of crystal beads to it, and created my own little crystal chandelier. See that post here.
Also, that was one of the first blog posts I ever made.

10 Spray Paint Tips: what you never knew about spray paint (like how to spray paint light fixtures!). Good to know! Check this out!

#3. Spray paint lamps
While we're talking light fixtures, you can also spray paint old lamps! It's a great way to sass up a dated lamp. I spray painted an old thrift store lamp silver and added ribbon trim to a drum shade.
See the 'before' lampshade here. It's worth it.

10 Spray Paint Tips: what you never knew about spray paint (like how to spray paint old thrift store lamps!). Good to know! Check this out!

I also recently spray painted two thrift store lamps in our guest bedroom a high gloss white. It's such a great solution when you don't want to spend $50-$200 on a lamp from the normal people store.
Glossy white lamps seen here.

#4. Spray paint hardware
Spray painting hardware is one of my fave ways to save money. I loved the shape of the hardware I found for my blue dresser, but its original gold color just didn't work with my bedroom decor. See where to get this fabulous hardware for cheap here.

10 Spray Paint Tips: what you never knew about spray paint (like how to spray paint furniture hardware!). Good to know! Check this out!

Taking the hardware apart and spray painting all the pieces separately was key. I spray painted the handle on one side, allowed it to cure for a full day, and then turned it over to spray the other side. The pulls were originally very dimensional, with the deeper grooves having a darker color. To keep the dimension, I used a little spray paint trick. I first sprayed the handles with a dark colored gold, then finely misted them with a super shiny chrome metallic silver. The gold gets into all the deep grooves, and the silver kind of highlights the raised parts. 
Here are the two spray paints I used. 

 I also love oil rubbed bronze for hardware.  It's not really a bronze at all. It's more of a black with a slight metallic sheen. I love it because it's super versatile, and goes well with both gold and silver accents. I used it on the media console hardware, and it looks great. See the media console I transformed with paint & stencils here.

10 Spray Paint Tips: what you never knew about spray paint (like how to spray paint furniture hardware!). Good to know! Check this out!


#5. Spray paint frames
In the past few years, I have spray painted a small village full of frames.
 Being willing to spray paint a frame opens up endless possibilities while thrifting. You can completely ignore the current color of items, and just pick stuff up based on the shape. Nearly every mirror or frame in our house has come from a thrift store or yard sale, and most have gotten spray painted. One of my favorite techniques when spray painting a frame is to spray some of the deep grooves black first, and then go over it with silver spray paint. It gives it a nice, dimensional look.
See more here.

10 Spray Paint Tips: what you never knew about spray paint (like how to spray paint a frame to give it dimension!). Good to know! Check this out!

I used a similar technique on the mirror in our master bedroom. I sprayed the entire frame with silver spray paint and then this time, I used a dark colored wood stain and brushed it in the deep grooves using a small artist's brush. It's a great way to add dimension to a spray painted frame. And if for some reason you mess up, or don't like the way it looks, you can just go back over it with the silver spray paint.  That's just one more reason spray paint is amazing.

10 Spray Paint Tips: what you never knew about spray paint (like how to spray paint a frame to give it dimension!). Good to know! Check this out!

#6. Spray paint stripes
Spray painting stripes is like two of my favorite things colliding...stripes and spray paint.
It's also one of my favorite spray paint techniques. I used this technique for my DIY jewelry organizer, and it's so easy to do!

10 Spray Paint Tips: what you never knew about spray paint (like how to spray paint STRIPES!!). So cool! Check this out!

I started out with a mirror with a black frame. I primed the frame first with spray primer (because I knew I wanted to sand and distress it in the final step, and I didn't want the paint to just peel off). Then, I spray painted the entire frame with white spray paint. After it had fully dried, I taped off the areas of the frame that I wanted to remain white. Next, I spray painted the frame with gold spray paint, and removed the tape while the gold spray paint was still wet so that it didn't rip up the paint. Once everything had cured for a few days, I lightly sanded small areas of the frame to expose the original black frame, giving the frame a distressed look. I love the way it turned out, and it's still a fave of mine.
Bonus tip: if you ever need to spray paint a mirror and don't want to mess with removing the mirror from the frame, just tape some paper over the mirror with masking tape before spray painting. Once you're done, just peel off the paper and voila!

10 Spray Paint Tips: what you never knew about spray paint (like how to spray paint STRIPES!!). So cool! Check this out!

To see the full tutorial for the striped frame, go here.

#7. Spray paint furniture.
Spray painting furniture is easy. My recommendations are simple. Always use a spray paint primer (Get a gray primer if you are using dark spray paint, or a white primer if you are using light paint). Primer makes your paint adhere to whatever it is that you are painting. Prime it, then let it dry. Then, do 2-3 very light coats of your final color, allowing them to fully dry in between coats. This will prevent dripping paint and prevent that sticky spray paint feel. Here are a few examples of pieces I've painted.
I spray painted our kitchen barstools silver. They look great and have held up really well even with tons of daily use.

10 Spray Paint Tips: what you never knew about spray paint (like how to spray paint furniture!). So good to know! Check this out!

I spray painted our file cabinet with high gloss black (with chalkboard paint on the drawer fronts). The filing cabinet turned out so well that it looks like we bought it that way. Using a high gloss finish on metal creates an amazing factory-like finish. 

10 Spray Paint Tips: what you never knew about spray paint (like how to spray paint furniture!). So good to know! Check this out!

And I painted a rocking chair brown to make it look like a deep espresso wood tone. 

10 Spray Paint Tips: what you never knew about spray paint (like how to spray paint furniture to look like wood!). So good to know! Check this out!

To get a wood-like look with spray paint, I used a dark brown spray paint with a semi-gloss finish. It makes it look kind of like a piece of espresso colored wood. It's a great way to update any piece of old furniture when you don't like the color of the wood, but don't want to re-stain it.
I wouldn't do this on grandma's fine antiques, but if you're looking for a quick and simple update, this is a great option.

You can also check out how I recently used Oil Rubbed Bronze on the end tables in my guest bedroom. It was a bit of a gamble, as I had never done that before, but I adore the way it turned out.

#8. Spray paint curtain rods

 Did you know that you can find perfectly fine curtain rods at thrift stores? It is true, my friends. I find them there all the time. Rather than pay $50 per window just on curtain rods, I buy $3 curtain rods from thrift stores and spray paint them the color I want. I usually go with ORB or silver, depending on the room. I've done it in every single room other than the living room. A girls gotta splurge once in a while.

10 Spray Paint Tips: what you never knew about spray paint (like how to save money by buying curtain rods at thrift stores and spray painting them!). So good to know! Check this out!

I used ORB (Oil Rubbed Bronze) on the rod in the above picture. To spray paint curtain rods, I spread out a big piece of sturdy cardboard in the yard (My neighbors love this, I'm sure.) and spray paint the rod a couple of times on each side, turning it and allowing it to dry in between. That's really all there is to it.
 You can see my spray painted curtain rods in action here.

#9. Spray paint dated bathroom fixtures
We had a lovely two-toned set of fixtures in our guest bathroom. I replaced what I could afford, and then just spray painted our faucet. It has held up perfectly for nearly 2 years now. 
You can see the details here.

10 Spray Paint Tips: what you never knew about spray paint (like how to spray paint fixtures!). So good to know! Check this out!

#10. Holiday decor
I love decorating for the holidays, and I approach holiday decor just like I do everything else: I hunt it down at the thrift store. Last year I found tons of ornaments that I used to decorate our tree, and to make an ornament wreath (See the latest ornament wreath I created for just $10 here!). I used the lid of the box the ornaments came in to prop them up while I spray painted them. You can see more details here.

10 Spray Paint Tips: what you never knew about spray paint (like how to spray paint ornaments!). So good to know! Check this out!

I did something similar for Halloween, too. Except this time I found little pumpkins at the dollar store and spray painted them silver. I used a chrome metallic to make them super shiny and reflective, and you would never know they were spray painted! My little spray painted pumpkins made for a great centerpiece! (See more here.)

10 Spray Paint Tips: what you never knew about spray paint (like how to spray paint holiday decor!). So good to know! Check this out!


And that's it!Those are my 10 favorite things to do with spray paint.
As you can probably imagine, when I first started playing around with spray paint, my cheap factor totally took over and I only bought the value spray paint. Lesson learned. After probably a year. And hundreds of ruined trinkets. 
Most of that stuff has since met its fate in the dumpster.
The lesson I learned is this: You almost always get what you pay for when it comes to spray paint.
 I've used all sorts of different brands. My favorites are Rustoleum, Krylon, and Valspar. I prefer the quality of Rustoleum over anything else, but sometimes use Krylon and Valspar as they both have more color options than Rustoleum (atleast that I can find here locally). Since I mostly paint house stuff that I need to last awhile, I usually go with Rustoleum. Their most durable (in my experience) is the Rustoleum Universal. It's a little more expensive, but worth the $3 extra bucks. The three in the center (below) are my favorites: Pure Gold, Titanium Silver, and Oil Rubbed Bronze. The Titanium Silver is more of a brushed nickel silver and is great for almost anything. When I'm in need of a shinier chrome silver, my go-to is Rustoleum Bright Coat (far left). It has a gorgeous shiny finish. My favorite white is the Rustoleum Painter's Touch Gloss White. That stuff is amazing for little accessories...it seriously gives a flawless, ceramic-like finish. 
(All product links take you to my Amazon Affiliate shop.)

10 Spray Paint Tips: what you never knew about spray paint. So good to know! Read before your next project!

So those are my 10 spray paint tips for today!
I hope you've enjoyed them!
Thanks so much for stopping by! 
If you want my 10 tips on how to use spray paint, go here.

'Til next time!

10 Spray Paint Tips: what you never knew about spray paint. So good to know! Read before your next project!

That's all for today! 'Til next time!
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  1. Wow! This post is great timing. I'm planning to paint my 15 year old outdoor iron furniture this week. The white paint has oxidized and comes off on your clothes when you sit. Also flaked off in some spots. I was wondering about using a primer and will definitely do that now. I'll let you know how it turns out!

    Thanks and have a great day!

    1. There's also spray paint that prevents rust! That might be a great option for your outdoor furniture!

    2. A woman after my own heart! I LOVE spray paint! Especially silver! I've done many projects indoors & out. Light fixtures, picture frames, furniture, planter pots, kitchen accessories, etc....! Appreciate the new information. Thanks!

  2. Seriously brilliant! I never would have thought to spray paint ornaments and some of the other things! Your brain is very creative- either that or it's the paint fumes. :) I seriously had that punch line in my head and had to think of a delivery. It's 1:30am, that was the best I could do. :)

  3. I just did my first DIY with spray paint, and I must say, I absolutely love it! Its super easy to use and can make anything look like new!

  4. Giving it a second go on my scratched doorknobs with your advice and tips. About halfway through after using the real orb spray paint and letting them cure longer, so far so good......Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. I love when you do run down posts like these... and I love me some spray paint :)

  6. Yes, yes, yes! I don't like the textured tiny dots finish I sometimes get when I spray paint - do you know what I'm doing that causes that? I use the good Rustoleum stuff. Also as an FYI you can spray paint picture mats! I get frames with mats from the thrift store,take out the ugly art,and spray to get a black frame with a white mat. So much cheaper and more awesome. Also... "normal people store", hahahah!

    1. Yes, I do that all the time!! Love doing that! Also, not sure about the dots...I've never had that happen before! Maybe you have a clogged nozzle? I might try running some hot water through it.

    2. If the wind is blowing it will also cause a rough "dotted" texture. I think some of the paint dries before it hits the project.

  7. I just went thru your blog of spray paint, and I am inspired. I guess I'm so used to Modge Podge and glue guns that I forgot the third part in the trinity. And to that I offer up my apologies. Love your sight. Keep it coming.

  8. Love this post! I am also a big fan of paint, all kinds, but spray paint never ceases to amaze me. Rustoleum is my fave, too, but I buy other brands for the colors just like you. I haven't used the really shiny silver before, but will give it a try!

  9. So glad to see others who are as crazy about spray paint as I am. Ha! ;)

    Great tips! :)

  10. this is undoubtedly one of the BEST diy posts I have ever read!
    you are a rock star ~ SO glad I happened upon your blog.

  11. This post is perfect timing for me. I just spray painted my first project. Bought cheap spray paint to see how it turned out; and its ok. You can check it out here and let me know what you think (if you like and/or have time)... http://blondiesbargains.blogspot.com/2013/07/restyled-thrifted-retro-artichoke.html I would appreciate your feedback and I am definitely heeding your advice in this post. Love it!

  12. As always, wonderful suggestions, Virginia! Thanks for such a wonderful blog. I look forward to seeing it pop into my email ; )

  13. Yup! Spray paint is the cat's meow for sure! In fact, one of my mottos is "Never underestimate the power of a can of spray paint!" Love your stuff :-)

  14. Love it! Just yesterday, I stray painted the metal railing in my stairwell. :) I plan to do the door knobs sometime soon as well. Thanks for the great idea!

  15. Your comment about cheap paint is soooo true! I used Dollar store paint on a few projects and was very disapointed! Also when spraying foam insulation boards (also good for picture frames) the Rustoleum works better than the Valspar (test a sample before spraying the whole piece - learned that the hard way).

  16. I loved this post, Virginia. Hubby and I re-do furniture to sell and have spray painted some pieces before, too. I will definately pin this post for future reference.

    Once we re-painted an old white dining table for a bachelor friend with a silver top and black legs. He loved it. We also spray painted a junked dresser we picked up on the curb a high gloss black, replaced the knobs with silver ones, then glued one of those $5 long closet mirrors to the top to disguise the damage it had. Our total investment was less than $45 and we sold the dresser for $150. Not bad for a weekend hobby!

  17. I saw the pic of the stool you painted silver and wondered it you remember where you purchased it from?

  18. I'm about to go spray paint crazy haha!! Thanks!

  19. Perfect post!! Answered all of my spray painting questions, thanks Virginia! I am redesigning my living room and spray paint has seriously been an answer to prayer :)

  20. Hi! I've been redoing my room and I would love to use spray paint as a tool for changing the look. However, my mom doesn't want me using it because she says that you inhale a lot of it in the process. What is your experience with that and how do you think I could (partially or fully??) prevent it from happening? Thank you so much! Great post :)

    1. Hi Emily!
      I just wear a little mask and spray paint all my items outside in the fresh air. That way you don't expose yourself to any of the fumes. You can get a little mask at any hardware store for just a few bucks. Hope that helps! :)

  21. HI! Firstly your blog is super awesome!! Second, I'm planning on spray painting some mirrors, picture frames, and bottles white and I wanted to know which white spray paint you recommend and if I should buy a primer too? There are sooo many options! (matte, flat, satin, gloss... so confusing!)

  22. Hi,
    Love your blog!!! Just wondering if you could give some advice on the best white spray paint for picture frames, mirror frames, etc.(flat or satin or glossy?) and if primer is necessary?

  23. Spray painting, though it looks so easy to do, does have important factors to consider to achieve that perfect and even coat of paint. The distance of the nozzle to the object you're trying to paint, the size of the nozzle itself, even the length of time you should spend in one area. I am pleased to hear that after some errors while trying to do some spray painting projects, you finally got the hang of it. And what have you got here? Truly beautiful projects! Thank you for sharing what you learned with us and good luck to all of your future projects!
    Li @ Renewal by Andersen

  24. Hi! I love love love your projects and tips! I see that you said to use a gray primer under dark colors and s white primer under lighter colors. I'm spray painting a chair frame gold and would like it to look as close to real gold leaf as possible. I even saw that krylon has a ruddy brown primer. Any idea which of those (white, gray, brown) would be best to use under metallic gold spray paint (specifically Montana gold "Goldchrome")? Any guidance you have is much appreciated!

  25. I have spray painted light fixtures, door handles, cabinet knobs, frames,etc. I also spray painted the ugly brass trim on my gas fireplace (house from the 90s). I used black matte heat resistant spray (used for grills). Looks beautiful and classy without the shiny brass.

  26. You turned on a light bulb in my head! Thank you for the information on which spray paints are best. I have a little entry way table I am going to sand and refinish matte silver. You have given me the courage to tackle this project!

  27. Thank you for a wonderful post! I have about 30 small glass taper candle holders and am wanting to spray paint them to have a "chrome" finish. I've tried Silver Krylon Metallic Spray paint but it's still giving me a silver finish rather than the mirror-like chrome finish. Any suggestions on how to achieve this look? Maybe a certain type of spray paint...Thanks!

  28. Spray painting ornaments!!! Genius!!!!

  29. This post is amazing! So you never sand anything? I have some white IKEA curtain rods that I'm about to spray paint Rustoleum GOLD but it seems sanding is recommended first. I'd rather skip this step! Your paint never flakes off? I'd love to hear your feedback! Thanks!

    1. Hi Lauren! I've never sanded anything I've spray painted beforehand. I just spray paint it! (I mean, unless there is already some sort of paint or finish chipping off the item, and in that case, you should probably sand it smooth first.) I do occasionally sand afterwards though with super fine grit sandpaper if I've spray painted a wood surface. You don't have to, but it makes it so super smooth and professional looking! Hope that helps! xo

  30. Love your post! I have few dark brown wood frames that I was thinking of spray painting in metallic bronze color. Do you think I need to prime before I spray paint? If yes, can or spray primer? Any suggestions? Love to get your feedback. Thanks!

  31. You are amazing! I had to leave a comment and thank you for sharing all of this, its truly appreciated. And the weirdest thing is, I have the exact same old victorian style dresser as you, and I was going to get rid of it because its old and smelly, but now I am ecstatic to paint it! Thanks again and your home is absolutely beautiful! Camelia

  32. I LOVE this post! I found this while googling the best spray paint to use on a mirror. I think I've discovered a new awesome blog!!
    Anyway's do you know what kind to use on a mirror?! Here's my project... Dollar store wall cling letter, stick them on the mirror and then spray paint the mirror. Carefully remove stickers and Voila!! Cute picture mirror with a saying on it!!! Hope you can help!

  33. This post is so helpful! It has given me inspiration! One thing I have figured out is the difference between the glossy look and matte look :) Thanks for all the tips! Merry Christmas!


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