Airbrush Vs Spray Paint – Key Differences Explained

If you are starting a new home improvement project, you might be wondering about the differences between airbrush vs spray paint. This article will have all the details you need.  

Airbrush painting uses a small airbrush gun and a compressor that puts air into the gun. The air carries the paint through the gun and out onto the surface.

Airbrushing is so popular because it's easy to use, and it makes very realistic-looking artwork that could have been done by a professional. You can also use many different types of paint with an airbrush gun, including water and solvent-based paints, making this a very versatile painting technique.  


The painting is completely done with a fine spray mist creating a fine film paint without brush strokes or stripes. It’s a very unique style. You can also airbrush painting on many different surfaces, and it can be used in all areas of art.  

This is also a good painting technique if you want to paint a large surface area with a thin and even coat of paint. Using an airbrush will save you time and provide you with a smooth, even surface. 


  • Superior finish  
  • Faster painting  
  • Used on many different surfaces  
  • Used with paint and varnishes  
  • Creates a professional looking finish 


  • Not everything can be airbrushed  
  • Only makes thin coats  
  • Materials can be expensive  
  • Can’t make fine details  

Spray Painting (Overview + Pros & Cons) 

Spray painting is another popular painting technique that is easy to use. Once you have the process down and you know the best tips and tricks, it's one of the simplest ways to paint things.

It's also very quick. In addition, using spray paint doesn't require many materials; you only need to buy the cans and the colors you want to use.  

Spray paint cans are readily available at many different home improvement and craft stores, as well as online marketplaces like Amazon. Some brands are more expensive than others. Spray paint is straightforward to use as all you need to do is shake the can and then get spraying.  

Like the airbrush method, though, you need to make sure you have the proper technique and coat the surface in even and solid coats. This process will be made easier if you ensure that you have a clean surface and a clean room to paint in, as dust particles can collect under the paint.  

person holding spray paint


  • Nozzles can be switched to find the best fit  
  • Much quicker than brush paint  
  • No brush marks or bubbles  
  • Paint dries fast  
  • Affordable option 


  • Has to have even coats, or it looks bad  
  • Paint can build up in the corners  
  • The nozzle has to be cleaned well  
  • Dust can affect the project  

Airbrush Vs. Spray Paint Cans: Which Is Better To Use? 

For Plastic Painting 

Both types of paint are not ideal for plastic painting because the smooth surface causes the paint to run off easily. Try using a plastic primer before applying any paint to make sure it adheres to the surface. Airbrush painting will work a little better than spray paint on plastic 

For Skin Painting 

Any paint you use on your body needs to be labeled as skin safe. You should not put spray paint on the skin as it does have some chemicals in it that make it unsafe to have on your body. 

Airbrushing is better for skin painting, and you can even use unique airbrush makeup, depending on the project you are completing.  

For Metal Painting 

Spray painting is better for metal surfaces. It dries quickly, and the paint will adhere easily. If you want to use airbrush paint on metal, you can. However, you need to make sure you buy special metallic paint and a metal brush nozzle.  

For Wood Painting 

Airbrushing is better for wood painting as many artists and woodworkers use this technique to make designs on their projects.

Airbrushing furniture is also a popular method of painting. If you want to use spray paint on wood, make sure you buy a brand that says it is suitable for wood.  

For Glass Painting 

Airbrushing glass is a popular art form as you can use it to make decorative plates, glass tables, or even hangings around the house.

It's also a cheap DIY project compared to what you would buy at a store or online. You can also spray paint glass just as easily, but it may be more difficult to achieve small details.  

flexio 300 sprayer

For Painting On Canvas 

You can use spray painting and airbrush painting on canvases, and both are relatively easy to use. Spray painting allows you to have an even more even painting other than a paintbrush. Airbrush painting can also be used as long as you have an even canvas, so you might want to sand it before you begin to paint.  

Airbrush Vs Spray Paint FAQs

Can you use regular acrylic paint in an airbrush? 

Yes. You can use many different paint types in airbrushes, including acrylic paint. Always check the paint you buy and make sure it can be used in an airbrush.  

Can you airbrush indoors? 

You can airbrush indoors if you have proper ventilation. You also need to make sure you have a face mask, gloves, and fans in the room.  

Can you use spray paint in an airbrush? 

You can use spray paint in an airbrush as long as it’s the consistency of skim milk or thinner. You also need to make sure there are no large particles in the paint that can clog the airbrush.  

Can I use automotive paint in an airbrush? 

You can use any kind of paint in an airbrush, including automotive paint. You need to make sure it's as thin or thinner than skim milk, though. If it's not, you need to thin it before using it.  

Why is my airbrush not spraying paint? 

Airbrushes can stop working if the paint you put in them is too thick. It might also need to be tightened or cleaned. Make sure you are cleaning the airbrush often and thoroughly between each use.  


Airbrushing painting and spray painting are both nice painting techniques that can be used on a large variety of surfaces. Both have their pros and cons but are efficient ways to paint.