Do you ever get the itch to DIY something? Ever browse through Pinterest and think, “What a great little weekend project idea” and then realize that the rest of your weekends until Thanksgiving are already committed to weddings, bachelor(ette) parties, baby showers, and dinners? Sad panda that you can’t fit in time for your project ideas?
SOLUTION: SPRAY PAINT.
Honestly, spray painting stuff is one of the most instantly gratifying, quick-to-finish, and easy DIY endeavors out there. And at $5-9 a can, you could forego your Oprah Chai Tea Latte for 2 days and basically break even on a project.
Spray painting projects are also great because you can have zero artistic / crafty skills and still do a perfect DIY job. But if what’s stopping you is that you’ve never spray painted before, here are a few tips to do it well:
1. SHAKE THE CAN A LOT: Before you pull the trigger, shake the spray can for at least 2 minutes. Shake the can up and down, and then in an “X” pattern by twisting the can at your wrist. Bartending skills? Do as you would a cocktail. VERY IMPORTANT: Every 10-15 seconds of spraying, shake the can vigorously again – just to make sure the paint stays evenly mixed.
2. CHOOSE GOOD BRANDS: For most home applications, Krylon spray paint is just fine, and conveniently available at almost every hardware store and craft store. Krylon paints come in matte or glossy finish and are available in many basic colors.
But the absolute best brand I’ve ever worked with is Montana BLACK – created for artists (available in San Francisco at the beloved Flax). The brand comes in 187 colors, and you can change the spray tops for wider spray patterns. Montana BLACK “Goldchrome” is THE closest to a true gold / gilded / gilt look that I’ve used (on the other hand, Krylon’s gold/chrome/silver paints end up looking like you used a metallic-colored spray paint, vs. actually mimicking the look of real metal). You can also find some Montana BLACK colors online.
3. SHORT + QUICK SPRAYS: The instructions on the can will say this too, but make sure to spray at least 6 inches from your subject, and in short, quick motions – you’ll need a couple coats of paint no matter what, so don’t worry if your first coat doesn’t feel opaque enough. Do not hold the trigger down for too long in one place or get too close to your subject, or else the paint will start to streak and drip down your subject, which is a total giveaway that you spray painted it.
4. MIND THE WEATHER: Whenever possible, spray paint outside (city dwellers, find a rooftop and bring a drop cloth). If there’s any breeze, spray in its direction, and try to shield your subject from direct wind to keep debris from blowing onto the wet paint and stick). If there’s humidity in the air, consider that it will take considerably longer for your coats of paint to dry. Rule of thumb: in a hot, dry summer day, 1 thin coat on a non-plastic, non-metal surface will take ~30 minutes to dry to the touch. Otherwise leave at least an hour between coats.
5. PRIME IT: For the smoothest finish, make sure your subject is primed. If the object is porous like wood, sand and smooth the surfaces you’ll spray paint. In general, I recommend using a primer spray paint, especially if you’re trying to paint something plastic. Primers will make your color more opaque and “true,” as well as improving paint adhesion. The Krylon Dual Paint + Primer series works pretty well for a 2-in-1, but I found that I’d get a grey haze sometimes when using the black matte paint, vs. other brands.
6. CHOOSE OBJECTS YOU WON’T TOUCH THAT MUCH: No matter how completely gratifying spray painting feels, the stuff is sadly not magic – it can still chip or pick up your fingerprints. The longest-lasting DIY spray painting projects will often those that you don’t plan to touch / handle very often – for example: picture frames, decorative objects on your shelves, table lamps, etc. I’ll share some of my flea market transformations in a future post.
There are lots of other tips that I didn’t include here, but you can google “spray painting tips” and find more useful articles, like this one!