Our Top DIY Spray-Painting Tips

With the right technique, there’s no easier, faster or more affordable way to apply paint evenly than with a spray can. And getting the knack can be a breeze, when you start with just a few simple tips. The secret — as with so many things — is matching the tool and technique with the task at hand.

Ready to get started? Here’s what you need to know.


Be prepared.

Top tip: Be sure to work in a well-ventilated spot, such as outdoors or in an open garage. Then pick your personal protection like a safety mask, gloves or eye protection. Guard your space by putting down a drop cloth, a tarp, plastic sheeting or cardboard.

Work clean.

Prep the surface by scraping off loose old paint, sanding down rough areas and using a wire brush to remove any rust. Wash with soapy water, rinse with fresh water and wipe down with a lint-free cloth to get the last traces of dirt. Make sure to let your item dry before starting to paint. And of course, protect any areas you don’t want painted with masking tape.

Shake it.

Give the can a vigorous shakeup-and-down until you hear the mixing ball rattle inside, then continue shaking for one minute. As your work progresses, pause from time to time to shake some more.


Dial up.

The key to getting a beautiful application is to match the pattern and volume of spray to the job. That’s why Rust-Oleum’s Stops Rust with Custom 5-in-1 Spray is such a handy choice: Each setting is optimized for a different task. The #1 High Output setting delivers more paint with more power, so you can cover large areas quickly.

Expert Tip: Before spraying, turn the dial to your chosen setting and test on an inconspicuous area or scrap to get comfortable with each of the spray patterns before working on the project.

Start smart.

The #2 Standard setting is a general-purpose one that serves as a good starting point for any project. It delivers a moderate amount of paint, which makes it especially well suited to medium-size areas. And as you see how the paint is going on, you can always switch to a more specialized setting that better suits what you’re doing.

No drips.

The #3 Low Output setting reduces the volume of flow, so you can apply paint precisely onto detailed surfaces without pooling or running. This setting is also handy for edges and other fine details. Another bonus: Since it applies paint less rapidly, you’ll have better control over the application.

Caleb Coppola

Go with the flow.

Long slats are best painted with the band of spray produced by the #4 Vertical Fan. Move the can back and forth evenly from about 10 to 12 inches above the surface to create a smooth coat. For vertical slats, the #5 Horizontal Fan setting makes it easy to apply a consistent coat with an up-and-down motion.

Check your work.

After you’ve given your project a nice, even coat, go back and touch up any spots you missed with the #3 Low Output setting.

Do it again.

For a flawless paint job, resist the urge to lay down a single, thick coat, and instead build up gradually by applying multiple thin ones, waiting a few minutes between each. The can’s label will tell you how long to wait in between. For Stops Rust, apply your thin coats within an hour or wait 48 hours for one coat to dry fully before reapplying. In extreme temperatures and humid conditions, drying times may be affected.

Give it a whirl.

And the last step is … enjoy your creation! And look forward to the next one.

Jeff Wise is a journalist specializing in aviation, adventure, and psychology and was recently featured in the Netflix documentary “MH370: The Plane That Disappeared.” He lives north of New York City and for fun flies gliders and single-engine airplanes.

Source: Home Ideas -

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