How To Make A Spray Can Paint Job Look Good (10 Hacks)

We all know the feeling of messing up a spray can paint job. Trying to make a spray paint job look good can be such a hassle. If you've ever found yourself asking how to make a spray can paint job look good, you've come to the right place.  

A spray paint job can get botched because of so many things. Paint buildup in the corners runs, and even a stray hair can botch your perfect paint job. But there are ways to mitigate each issue you can run into while spray painting to get a good paint job. With each tip below, you will be able to make even a spray paint job look professional. 

You don't need much to make your spray paint job look good. You need a can of spray paint, sanding paper, cardboard boxes, newspapers, and painter's plastic or tarps.  

paint sprays on table

How To Get A Good Finish With Spray Paint 

Getting a smooth, professional finish with spray paint can be annoying. All you have to do to get the smooth finish you want is to wait a few days until the paint is completely dry. Once the paint is completely dry, you can rub it with fine-grit sanding paper, then paint over it again. 

Also, try to avoid spraying too much spray paint. Applying too much paint will cause the surface to crack because the paint on top will dry faster than the paint underneath. Instead, wait for the first layer to dry completely before applying another. When using multiple coats like this, you will make a smooth and flat finish.  

To get the professional finish you want, you must repeat the painting process multiple times. Once your paint is dry, sand it again and add some more layers. Fresh paint is easily removable, so you can keep trying until you get the paint job you want.   

10 Tips To Make Spray Paint Jobs Look Better

1. Disassemble Your Project (If Possible) 

One way you can get the perfect paint job is to disassemble it. Take a look at your project and see what you can remove from it to make it easier to paint it. If possible, take it apart as much as possible. You'll be able to see what you're doing and cover spots you wouldn't have been able to before.  

2. Stay Parallel To The Work Surface  

A common mistake most painters will make is not staying parallel to their project. If sprayed at an angle, the paint from the can will dry out before reaching the project's surface, creating unwanted rough textures and dull finishes. Spraying from the wrong distance will also cause this issue.  

3. Clean Out The Nozzle  

Always clean out the nozzle of your spray paint cans before and after working on a project. To clean out the nozzle, hold the can upside down and begin spraying until no more pigment shows. Afterward, wipe the tip clean with a rag. Doing this prevents clogging that can affect the can's spray pattern.  

4. Avoid Dust  

Dust will almost always ruin your spray paint jobs, but it is avoidable. For smaller projects, painting them inside a cardboard box is all you need. If you have a larger one, you need to create a poly booth. 

5. Apply A Tack Coat First  

Applying a tack coat will help hold the paint in place and reduce runs, especially when painting a vertical surface. To spray a tack coat, spray a light mist from your can onto the project, then let it sit for about five minutes. 

6. Hang Your Projects While Spraying Them  

If you have smaller projects, hanging them from your ceiling can help. Spraying them this way will allow you to paint at every angle possible and see everything at eye level.  

7. Apply Multiple Light Coats 

Applying multiple light coats instead of one or two heavy coats will help mitigate runs on your project.  

8. Clean And Swap Your Nozzles  

Nozzles can be interchanged between spray cans universally. If you have a clogged nozzle, you have two options, clean it or replace it. Swapping the nozzle is easier, but you could clean it if you don't have any extras. To clean out a nozzle, remove and soak it in some nail polish remover or acetone. 

9. Read The Instructions! 

Most people will skip over this important step and start spraying right away. However, the instructions contain important information, so read them! 

10.  Move At The Right Speed  

Once you see a wetting effect, you should move the can along. You'll get shinier and more finished paint jobs doing this. Moving in different directions will also reduce zebra stripes.  

spray paint cans

How To Tell That A Finished Spray Paint Job Is Good? 

A good paint job will have a smooth surface with a nice shine that is clearly visible. There should also be no zebra stripes or runs, just a smooth, glossy finish. The spray should be fine, with no discernible dotting on the surface.  

What It Should Look Like on Different Surfaces 

Of course, the material you spray will dictate how the paint settles and what the appearance will be. 

  • Metal 
    After you have primed the surface and done multiple coats of spray paint, the metal should look matte, with a smooth, even finish and no noticeable spots. Of course, if you’ve used a glossy paint, the paint should look shiny. If you notice any imperfections, you can use a piece of sandpaper to smooth the surface. The paint itself should be smooth, with no bumps. 
  • Wood 
    If the wood has been varnished or polished, you'll need a coat of primer to get your spray paint looking good. Otherwise, you can spray straight onto the wood itself. After two or three coats, the color should be solid and either glossy or matte, depending on which finish you choose. If you didn't sand or prime, you might notice some imperfections in the wood. However, if you sanded the wood gently before spraying, you should have an even coat with a fine finish. 
  • Plastic 
    Plastic may be the trickiest of all to get right. You need to sand it (especially if it has a glossy finish), but not too much, or you may ruin the plastic and create a texture that will appear no matter how many coats you spray.  If you’ve primed the plastic correctly and been careful as you spray, you should have a smooth coat, fine grain, and no visible imperfections.  

Benefits Of Using Spray Paint On Various Surfaces 

The main benefit of spray paint is that products made of this material can last longer.  

Instead of replacing things that need a coat of paint, repaint them to extend their life and look good. For example, if you have an old worn-out table, you can spray paint it to give it new life. A fresh coat of paint can make your table look new and expensive, no matter how scratched it was before. 

Benefits on Metal 

Metal can be a challenge to paint with a brush, so using spray paint gives you an easy, clean finish each time. Plus, your metal will be protected against corrosion with a layer of spray paint. 

Benefits on Wood 

Painting wood with a brush can leave streaks and can take days to dry. On the other hand, spray paint gives an even finish and dries much faster. Like a varnish, the paint will act as a layer of protection on the wood, keeping it safe from everyday wear and tear. 

Benefits on Plastic 

Of all the materials, plastic probably has the least benefits from spray paint. It needs the most care to prime, and you need a steady, cautious hand when applying. 

That said, if you intend to use your plastic outside (for example, if you want to paint your plastic lawn furniture), the paint will act as a layer of protection, keeping the plastic in better shape for longer. In addition, the color will last and be more sun-resistant than the native colors. 


Frequently Asked Questions 

How do you prevent tiger stripes when spray painting? 

Be aware of your technique, angle, distance, and pressure of the spray can while painting. Practicing these will prevent tiger stripes when painting. 


How do you fix blotchy spray paint? 

It is quite easy to fix a blotchy spray paint job. After you have let the paint dry, spray a few more coats over the blotchy areas until it looks even.  


Conclusion

Hopefully, now you know how to make spray paint look good on whatever you use it on. It can save you lots of money if you can repaint whatever you want, no matter how old it may be! 


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