11 Spray Paint Facts

Today, spray painting is a fast and common method of revamping surfaces. Though the idea of spray paint has been around for more than five decades, it hasn’t changed much. But with spray painting DIY procedures and techniques, painters continually find creative ways to use spray paints to make the world a more beautiful place.

With its widespread use, it’s surprising to note that there are a lot of facts that people still don’t know about spray paint. In this piece, we will fill you in on the most critical spray painting facts that will help you appreciate spray painting and be even more efficient on your spray painting projects.

1. Spray paint can be used on almost any surface

One of the reasons why DIYers and painters love spray paints is that they are versatile and can be used on just about any surface. You can spray-paint surfaces, including:

  • Tin
  • Ceramic
  • Wood
  • Glass
  • Terra cotta
  • Plastic
  • Canvas
  • Styrofoam
  • Papier-mache
  • Mirror
  • Plaster
  • Fiberglass
  • Laminate
  • Ribbon
  • Wicker
  • Concrete
  • Particleboard
  • MDF
  • Metal

But even with such versatility, you should not be tempted to spray paint surfaces that will come into contact with beverages and food. So no, you can’t spray paint your wine glasses, plates or forks except for decorative purposes.

We should also point out that though dried spray paint is non-toxic, it doesn’t mean that it’s food safe – the two terms aren’t interchangeable (they mean different things). Dried paint may be non-toxic, but when ingested, it can have adverse health effects.

2. Using a primer improves spray painting results

You can spray paint a surface without applying a primer first. However, experts recommend using a primer for a couple of reasons, including the following;

  • To smooth the surface and even out the blemishes
  • To improve the corrosion resistance of metallic surfaces
  • To increase the adhesion of the spray paint
  • To help the actual spray paint color to manifest

Without applying a primer, you would have to apply several coats of spray paint to yield an even coverage. This means using more spray paint cans and consequently spending more money.

While you can skip the priming step, it’s imperative to apply a primer to certain surfaces, including;

  • Glossy surfaces
  • Wood
  • Any surface that will be exposed to moisture
  • Any surface that will be placed outside

3. Spray paint results depend on prevailing weather conditions

If it’s cold or wet, you will not get the best spray painting results. It’s because of this that most DIY professionals opt to finish their projects before the weather gets cold. Likewise, you should only take up projects during this time when it’s absolutely necessary and unavoidable. Ideally, you should wait until the humidity levels are well below 65% before you can embark on your spray painting project.

But why do experts advise against using spray paint during cold weather? Well, there are several reasons why this is so. Some of the problems that can manifest include;

  • The paint film can get too thick and cause problems, including tiny bubbles and bumps.


  • On the flip side, the paint can be too thin. This makes it difficult when spray painting because the paint is less durable when it’s thin, i.e. it evaporates fast.
  • The spray can nozzle can get blocked.
  • Paint runs and drips are common when you paint in cold weather.
  • The spray paint takes longer to dry.
  • Color uniformity could be less than ideal.

Even with the above facts working against you, you can still make spray painting in cold weather work for you. Here are some tips to help you get the best results:

Clean the surface thoroughly.

As pointed out above, cold weather affects how well spray paint sticks to the surface that you are working on. In addition to this, dirt and debris affect how well paint sticks to the surface. So while you cannot magically change the temperatures, you can clean the surface to improve the ability of the paint to stick.

Be generous with the primer.

We mentioned that priming the surface is optional depending on the prevailing weather conditions. But when it’s cold, you should always use a primer to improve the paint adhesion.

Control temperatures as much as you can.

If you are painting a piece of furniture, you can control temperatures by painting indoors. If the final destination for the furniture is outside where it’s freezing, at least it has had some time in a warm area, which will help to improve the adhesion

Dry indoors.

Usually, we recommend that you don’t move an object when it’s not yet dry. But this is a special circumstance. The best chance you have of the piece of furniture drying is moving it indoors where the temperatures are controlled. Just be careful not to ruin the paint job during the move.

Be strategic.

We don’t recommend spray painting walls during winter because they can’t be moved. But if you have to, start by taking the temperature of the surface. If the temperatures are below 35 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll, unfortunately, have to pick a different day to spray paint.

Though spray painting during cold weather is difficult and quite challenging, it’s not impossible. You have to be extra cautious and follow the above tips.

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4. Different spray paints serve different needs.

Remember that we pointed out that spray paints are versatile, right? However, to achieve this feature, manufacturers have created spray paints for specific purposes. The different spray paints are clearly labeled to give pointers on which surfaces they should be used. The labels include “enamel,” “high heat,” plastic,” “frosted,” “finished coating” and more.

In addition to this, different spray paint brands are known for producing specific spray paints. Below is a breakdown of what you should expect:


This is a great spray paint brand that has been used on freight trains for ages, and it hasn’t disappointed. Due to its great quality, the brand has grown incredibly popular over the years. We should point out though, that Rust-oleum changed the caps to “all-male.” What this means is that the Rust-oleum spray paint is less customizable without using a separate cap adaptor.

The types of spray paint they produce include:

  • High performance
  • High heat
  • Automotive
  • Rust reformer (for use on interior and exterior rusted, metallic surfaces alone)
  • Universal
  • Specialty reflective spray
  • Fabric and vinyl


This was one of the first companies to come up with some of the innovative spray paints we have today. Krylon is the industry leader in color, innovation, and package design. The different types of spray paint they make include;

  • High heat
  • Enamel
  • Industrial maintenance
  • Automotive
  • Special purpose
  • Rust preventative
  • General purpose


This company offers tools for professionals as well as creatives. They are loved for the high-quality ingredients they use. Moreover, their spray paints come in a range of excellent and beautiful colors, perfect for mural painting and fine art.

When these paints are combined with the Montana Tech series or the ACRYLIC markers, they become versatile and a force to reckon with. Some are even winter-proof, making them even more durable.

These spray paints can be used on wood, concrete, glass, metal, canvas, and heavyweight paper. Given their durability, they are perfect for surfaces that will be left outdoors.


This spray paint brand makes one of the finest multi-purpose spray paints in the industry. The spray paint is water-resistant, UV absorbent, and doesn’t fade over time. Also, it helps to protect the surface from rust and dries really fast.

You can use this spray paint on aluminum, steel, plastic, masonry, glass, iron, fiberglass, paper, terracotta, wood, wicker, stone or papier-mache.

PlastiKote is proud to have more than 43 vibrant colors, and its product range is categorized into:

  • Appliance spray
  • BBQ twist spray
  • Chalkboard twist and spray
  • Fluorescent spray
  • Garden games paint
  • Industrial clear acrylic spray
  • Industrial fluorescent paint
  • Industrial heat shield paint
  • Industrial hot paint
  • Industrial metal primers
  • Industrial “rust not” paint
  • Metal protection paint
  • Plastic primer
  • Multi-purpose paint
  • Stain sealer
  • Upside down marking paint


This is a Chinese product. But contrary to the reputation Chinese products have been getting over the past decade, Ironlak spray paint is thick, of high-quality, and goes for a reasonable price. In fact, it has some of the best artists in the world on its sponsorship team.

Ironlak offers cutting edge technology on graffiti. This also includes vibrant colors.

The only downside to Ironlak is that its colors seem to fade a little faster than other spray paint brands.

The spray paint can be used on almost all surfaces.


CRC is one of the few companies that have a great line of products dedicated to both industrial and domestic use. They have two major product categories;

  • Upside down marking spray paints

These can be used on metal, concrete, soil, gravel, asphalt, golf courses, grass construction, nurseries, landscaping sites, and surveying

  • Enamel paints

This type is versatile, quick-drying and suits general use (both interior and exterior). It can be used on surfaces including pottery, wicker, masonry, cloth, paper, metal, wood, glass and plaster.

5. Not all spray paints are heat resistant.

Those who are new to the industry often think they can use any type of spray paint on furnaces, pipes, boilers, heaters and barbecues. But this is inaccurate.

Different types and brands of spray paint are designed for different uses, and as such, have different properties, including the amount of heat they can withstand.

If you want to paint a surface that is exposed to high heat, you should pick a can of spray paint labeled “High Heat.”

You need to consider the temperatures you are working with since different brands have different temperature thresholds even for the High Heat spray paints. Some high heat spray paints can withstand only 750 degrees Celsius on wood and metal, and others can go well past the 800 degree Celsius mark.

6. Spray paint can be dangerous.

Spray painting gives homeowners an easier alternative to complete their DIY painting projects. Spray paints create minimal mess and require little to no expertise to use.

Over the years, manufacturers have perfected the art of creating non-toxic spray paints, which simply means the paint contains minimal amounts of VOCs. But even then, it’s prudent to take necessary precautions by wearing protective gear, including goggles and face masks.

This is because inhaling the spray paint fumes (even for paint with low VOCs) can result in the adverse long term and short term health effects. The kind of health effects that an individual sustains from inhaling the spray paint fumes depends on a couple of factors, including;

  • Amount of spray paint they are exposed to
  • Their general health at the time of exposure
  • Period of exposure to the fumes

The short term effects include:

  • Dermatitis
  • Vomiting
  • Irritation on the skin, eyes, lungs, throat, and nose
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea

The long term effects include:

  • Kidney and liver damage
  • Brain damage
  • Lung cancer
  • Asthma
  • Painter’s syndrome

If you protect yourself from the fumes, you need not worry about the above health effects.

7. Spray paint can be used like regular paint – but there’s a catch.

Let’s start by clearing things up – spray painting, by definition, is spraying paint onto a surface. Most manufacturers package the paint in pressurized cans for easier use, though there’s also the option of using a spray gun. The pressure converts the paint into an aerosol, which travels at high speeds and over a long distance.

Now, if you like a particular spray paint a lot, but would like to brush-paint it on a surface rather than spray it, you can. However, you should note that you’ll be in for quite a bit of work. You can “harvest” the spray paint from its can. There are lots of YouTube videos showing how you can achieve this.

The safest method is fixing a straw to the nozzle and spraying away into a container that has a protective covering on its opening. This covering helps to prevent the fumes from escaping.

When harvesting and decanting the spray paint, you should note that a lot of paint will be wasted through coating the inside of the straw and the container. And second, since spray paint is highly volatile, you will have little time to paint it onto any surface before it becomes extremely thick or dries up. As such, you’ll have to work fast.

So yes, you can use spray paint like regular paint, but the hassle isn’t worth it. Both regular and spray paints have their pros and cons and should be used as intended to avoid waste and unprofessional results.

8. Spray paint can be waterproof.

Depending on the project you have at hand, you might want to use waterproof paint. And while spray paints are designed to last long and dry fast, it doesn’t mean that they are all waterproof.

Your best bet of getting waterproof spray paint is choosing outdoor spray paint. This type of spray paint is almost always waterproof regardless of the brand. All brands indicate as much on the packaging.

Having waterproof spray paint doesn’t mean you will automatically end up with a waterproof surface. For the best results, you need to follow the spray paint instructions to the letter as detailed on the packaging. Pay close attention to the preparation and application phase.

9. Spray paint doesn’t stick to high gloss paint.

Now, before your heart sinks in despair, read this section to the end. Though it’s true spray paint can’t stick on high gloss paint (even when you apply a primer), there are ways to make it happen – prepping the surface before painting.

Yes, this is one of the few instances where you MUST prep the surface before spray painting it. Part of the preparation phase includes lightly sanding the surface, then wiping off the resulting dust and applying a primer to improve the paint’s adhesion and spraying results.

Note that if you don’t prepare the base coat well, the spray paint coating will peel off once it’s dry, leaving unsightly patches on the surface.

10. You can use spray paint on your car.

Spray painting is one of the simplest and most inexpensive ways of painting a car. You can use spray paint to fix up minor scratches without leaving darker spots on the surface. However, for best results, you’ll need to do some thorough cleaning and sanding to create a smooth base on which you’ll apply the primer.

Speaking of primers, you’ll need to apply several coats of your chosen primer to achieve a high-quality finish.

We should also stress the need to adhere to spray painting safety rules. This means spray painting your car in a space that is well ventilated and always wearing goggles and a face mask.

11. Spray paint takes a short time to dry.

Yes, in comparison to regular paint, spray paint takes a shorter time to dry. But even then, “a short time” is relative.

Many factors come into play in determining how fast spray paint takes to dry. Before we get into the details of the drying process, here are some numbers to give you some perspective:

Assuming that you are using high-quality spray paint, it will take between 20 and 30 minutes to dry when applied to plastic, and between 36 and 38 hours when applied to metal. Spray paint takes the shortest dry time when applied to wood – between 10 and 15 minutes.

These times are only applicable when considering one factor affecting the drying time. Below are the different drying stages.

Surface dry

This is the first drying stage. The drying process starts with the evaporation of the solvent in the paint, which leaves a thin solid paint layer on the surface. But still, any dirt and debris can stick to the surface.

Touch dry

At this stage, the paint is harder and feels more solid. The reason we call this stage “touch dry” is because you can touch the surface without having the paint stick to your fingers. However, if you apply a lot of pressure, the paint can get damaged.

Hard dry

At this point, the paint is harder and even more solid. The paint layer doesn’t come off easily, though you can still leave fingerprint impressions on the surface if you apply enough pressure.

Thorough dry

This is the last stage, where the paint is completely dry. Some of the factors that contribute to the drying time include:

Type of surface

This is the factor that we took into consideration when giving the drying time when we started this section. While the different surfaces take different times to dry, you should also consider the fact that they each need different types of spray paint for gorgeous results.

The thickness of the paint sprayed

The thicker the layer of paint, the longer it will take to dry. The great thing about spray painting is that you always have ample control over the thickness of the paint you spray on a surface, unlike when brush painting.

Environmental factors

This is obvious. If it is too humid, then the spray paint will take longer to dry than if it was less humid.

Type of spray paint you use

The formulation of spray paint used also plays a big role in the drying time. The fastest drying paint is currently polyurethane spray paint or epoxy paint. The paint is surface dry within the first 5 minutes and is hard dry in less than an hour. On the other hand, lacquer paints dry fast, but they take about 3 hours. And lastly, latex or enamel spray paints usually take about 8 hours to hard dry. If the paint is layered on thick, it might take an entire day.

Knowing how long the paint takes to dry will help you improve your results and minimize errors.

Spray painting is easy and fast. However, to achieve the best results, you need to know about spray painting. Knowing how fast paint dries, the best spray paint for specific surfaces and how to spray paint in cold weather will all come in handy in helping you achieve the best spray painting results. And when the opportunity presents itself to learn more about spray paints, seize it and learn as much as you can.

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