Best Spray Paint for Wood

How to Spray Paint Wood With Spray Cans – Our Guide

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Spray paint’s popularity has grown significantly in the last few years. You no longer do need to pay a professional to do any spray painting you may require. Instead, spray paint has evolved to be easy and convenient to use, thanks to enhanced paint formulae and extremely well-designed aerosol paint cans with fatigue-reducing triggers and all-angle nozzles. These days, many people are turning to DIY spray painting. Spray painting wood seems to be a particularly popular pastime, given that most upcycled furniture is made from some type of wood. This article helps you achieve a stunning finish on your spray-painted wood.



How to Spray Paint Wood Furniture

Painting wood is not a process that has only recently been developed. Even before aerosol spray paint existed, there has been an established process one follows to ensure you achieve the best adhesion and finish for your wooden item. Luckily, we aren’t in the early 1800s so the application is significantly easier.

Tips for Spray Painting Wood


Prepare Your Workspace

Working with any type of paint can prove to be quite a messy process, and when working with aerosol spray paint you run the risk of inhaling the fumes which can be potentially dangerous. You want to ensure that your tools and your workspace are set up and organized before you begin with the application of the paint.

Prepare Work Area for Spray Painting

You will need a tarp to cover your work surface, or any area surrounding your workspace you do not want to damage, and some painter’s tape.

The next step is to protect your skin and airways: put on your face mask, and wear some gloves. Keep in mind that the paint is aerosolized making it very easy to inhale in comparison to brushing paint. Lastly, you will need to ensure you have all your tools at the ready, we suggest you place your tools to the side of you, your dominant hand making them easy to grab as needed.

Wear Respirator for Spray Painting


Prepare Your Workpiece

This is the most important step to ensure a stunning finish. When doing any kind of painting the preparation process is imperative, and it is even more important when painting wood. You will need to start the preparation by sanding down the item’s surface, you can use either a power sander or some sandpaper.

Sand Wood for Spray Painting

If the workpiece you are painting is an ornate item with intricate details and curves then you want to ensure that you are following the direction of the grain when sanding. If, however, you are working with a large flat board then you should follow the board’s length when using a power sander, or sandpaper. When you are happy you have sufficiently sanded down the item, you will need to clean any remaining wood particles from the piece before you can move on to priming the item. When priming the item, ensure that you adhere to the instructions. Some brands of primers will only need one coat, while others may require several layers.

Prime Wood for Spray Painting

Once the primer has dried completely, allow enough time to dry, as advised by the manufacturer’s instructions, you can sand down the piece once again if you wish, or you can simply continue to the next step.


Paint Your Workpiece

When you have finished sanding down and priming your workpiece you can begin painting. If you have not prepared properly before beginning, aerosol spray paint can prove to be quite challenging. The majority of aerosol spray cans contain small mixing balls inside them which you will have to shake to ensure that they are at the correct viscosity. In doing this you will ensure that there is no splatter when you begin spraying.

Spray Painting Wood

When your paint is ready, you can start to spray the workpiece and carefully move your wrist in a smooth, horizontal, uninterrupted, motion across the surface you are spraying until they reach the other end. Continue with this process until the whole surface has been coated with the paint you have selected.

The paint should be allowed sufficient time to dry. If you are uncertain how long the drying time is you can consult the manufacturer’s instructions.

If you feel your surface requires an additional coat, just be certain that the first coat has completely dried, sand down the surface lightly, and apply another layer. Keep in mind that aerosol cans are highly flammable, so any empty cans will need to be disposed of appropriately.




Which Types of Spray Paint Work Well on Wood?

In theory, it may seem like a great idea to coat your wooden item with spray paint. Unfortunately, not all spray paint will work on wood, and certain spray paints could potentially negatively impact the wood.

Using Aerosol Paint Cans for Wood

Knowing which is the correct spray paint to use when working on wood will save you any disappointment, time, and money. Certain spray paints will provide you with a long-lasting finish that will even withstand adverse weather conditions.

Type Of PaintOil PaintAcrylic PaintLatex PaintEnamel Paint
Can the Paint Be Used on Wood?
Is the Paint Waterproof?
Is the Paint Heat-Resistant?
Is the Paint Safe for Outdoor Use?
Does the Paint Penetrate Wood?


Oil-Based Paint

Oil paints have been available since the beginning of the 7th century, so it is not surprising that they work well when applied to wooden surfaces. Keep in mind that wood used to be one of the only affordable mediums available for artistic expression to “everyday folks” back in the day, and offers the additional bonus of being very resistant to moisture and heat. This paint can be used to decorate your house, create stunning art pieces, or elaborate murals.

Oil-Based Spray Paint for Murals

What makes oil paint such a special substance? Well, paint usually functions as a form of surface covering, which means that the paint coats the surface of a particular item without penetrating the surface. On the other hand, when using oil paint, the pores of the wood fill up with paint and create a bond with the small wood fibers that are deep below the wood’s surface.

This is good for two reasons, the first being that a coat of oil paint will last a lot longer than other types of paint, and secondly, oil paint will offer you the additional benefit of protecting your workpiece from elements such as heat, termites, and water damage. Oil paint used to be the only option you could purchase and was readily available. Thanks to development and research in the paint industry we now have access to latex and acrylic paint too!


Acrylic-Based Paint

Paint has been available for years, so when we say that acrylic paint is new to the market, you need to think of “new” in terms of decades, not months. Before the end of the 1940s oil paint was extremely popular. Oil paint thanks to its durability and versatility, had long been used on practically everything in a variety of industries. Around this time acrylic paint was discovered. It was cheaper to produce, and simpler and safer to work with. Acrylic paint became quite popular with consumers and manufacturers. Much like oil paint, acrylic paint is very durable and provides resistant to exterior factors.

Spray Paint for Art on Wood and Canvas

Acrylic paint will provide you with UV resistance, this means that workpieces that you have coated with this type of paint will not be subject to splitting or premature fading much like oil paints. Acrylic paints unfortunately do not bond with the wood fibers as oil paints do. Acrylic paint will therefore not provide the durability achieved with oil paint or be able to ensure its adhesion to the same level that oil paint does. This of course does not mean that acrylic paint is not an effective option. Acrylic paint works well under most conditions and is significantly cheaper.


Latex-Based Paint

A top-end product always has its counterpart. The counterpart is normally good, but no match to the original product. From Burger King and McDonald’s to Coke and Pepsi, acrylic paint has latex paint. While both types of paint are great, acrylic paint is the better of the two options when it comes to painting wood. You may wonder why? Acrylic paint is made up of a base that contains resin and pigment that assist in creating a good bond to the majority of wooden surfaces. Latex, however, has a water base that sinks deep into the wood fibers but does not form any type of bond that is nearly as strong as the strength acrylic paint provides.

Does this mean you shouldn’t use latex paint on a wooden surface? No, instead it means that latex paint does not provide the same level of durability or resistance to removal as acrylic paint does.

Latex Spray Paint for Crafts

You will be able to remove latex paint using just a bit of soap and water and some elbow grease. Acrylic paint is significantly more stubborn. You may then wonder why you would even choose to use latex paint then? Latex paint can last a reasonable amount of time and will continue to give you a vibrant finish.

You will need to ensure you do not expose the item to extreme conditions like excessive moisture, heat, impact, or abrasion. Latex paint can be applied to decorative items and applications where you are trying to keep your costs to a minimum, and where good adhesion to wood is needed.


Enamel Paint

Now that you are aware that latex paint is seen as an offshoot of acrylic paint, we also need to look at the less popular, but still unique sampling of oil-based paints. A more consistent paint than other, enamel paint still warrants its small mention. A solvent-based paint, enamel paint is similar to its counterpart, oil-based paint. You may have seen enamel paint being applied to bathroom decorations, sculptures, ornaments, furniture, and pottery.

How to Paint Wood with Spray Cans

Enamel paint has many of the same properties as oil paints, as previously mentioned, including, but not limited to offering resistance to heat, impact, moisture, and abrasion.

While oil-based paint dries to a smooth finish, enamel paint provides an almost glossy, smooth finish that is similar to glass. Enamel is a great option if you are eager to create a sheer glossy look without having to do a variety of treatments normally required to achieve this effect. Enamel coatings are normally oven-dried or kiln-dried to achieve the ideal gloss finish, but if you do not have access to these facilities, it is not a problem.

Enamel Spray Paint on Wood

Should you decide to apply enamel paint to wood you need to be certain you are using enamel-based paint. Why do we mention this? Well, more recently a manufacturer might refer to enamel as a finish instead of an actual type of paint. This is a result of the finish’s popularity growing. We, therefore, recommend you consult the content list of the product and be certain it is not water-based paint. If not, as previously mentioned, you could have a coating that does not provide resistance to harsh conditions.



What to Consider When Buying Spray Paint for Wood

There are so many brands out there that produce an assortment of amazing aerosol spray paint products for wood, but are not all created equal. There are positive and negative characteristics of aerosol spray paints you will need to take into consideration before purchasing spray paint to ensure you get exactly what you require.

How to Choose Spray Paint


Wood Penetration

It is quite easy to spray paint wood. The finish you end up with will be impacted by whether you prepared your workpiece before starting, the technique you use when applying the spray paint and of course the quality of the spray paint you have selected. On average, the paint will last longer the deeper it is able to penetrate the wood. Deep wood penetration will provide your wooden item with additional protection from the elements, such as abrasion, insects, and mold. You will achieve the best penetration using either oil-based paints or enamel paints, making them perfect for outside use.

Spray Paint on Raw Wood


Finish and Texture

Most of the time painting a wooden item is a way to provide aesthetic appeal. You will therefore need to think about the finish and texture your chosen paint will provide when you spray paint wood. You can achieve finishes from matte to flat, enamel, eggshell, and even have the option to create custom finishes like rough or raised finishes.

Spray Paint on Raw Wood

Choosing the right finish and color combination can seem overwhelming as you want to select something that suits the type of wood you are working with, while also making it stand out. Luckily manufacturers have an assortment of products available both online and in-store for you to choose from, and most of them offer samples of finished items illustrating the finish they offer.


Dry Time

If you are a DIY enthusiast who doesn’t have a lot of time on your hands to wait for something to dry, or you are working in a commercial capacity, chasing a deadline, then the drying time of aerosol wood spray paint is very important. You may have fallen in love with a particular color as it matches your overall aesthetic and color scheme.

Wait for Spray Paint to Dry

Luckily most aerosol spray paints will be dry in roughly two hours, while others will be dry to the touch in a matter of minutes! At the end of the day, you will need to take the time you will need to do preparation, available time for the application, the type of wood you are working with, and the drying time of your chosen paint into consideration, particularly if you are working on a time-sensitive project.


Paint Versatility

Spray paint is favored by DIY enthusiasts and professionals alike for an assortment of different applications. Spray paint is particularly favored thanks to its ability to save one time, and in many cases, money.

Spray Paint Versatility

While this article covers the best wood spray paint, you should also take into consideration selecting a spray paint that can be applied on an assortment of different surfaces, giving you the peace of mind that regardless of the surface you need to tackle, you have the correct tool for the job. Certain of the paints we have previously mentioned can be applied to not just wood, but also plastic, vinyl, metal, and even ceramics.

Most paints can be purchased in packs of twelve, so you can purchase either a variety pack with an assortment of colors or twelve of the same color if you are working on a larger project.


You are now equipped with the relevant knowledge to be able to spray paint wood furniture. You know which sprays paints will work well on wood, what the best spray paints are when working with wood, what to consider when looking for good spray paint for wood, how to spray paint wood, and how different types of spray paint adhere to the wood, You can now go and get your paint and try out your new wood refurbishment skills!



Frequently Asked Questions


Do You Have to Sand Furniture Before Spray Painting?

It does not matter what surface you are painting; you will always need to ensure the relevant preparation steps are followed before you can begin painting. The majority of surfaces will require you to sand down the surface before priming to increase the surface friction. The increased surface friction will ensure adequate adhesion.


Is It Safe to Spray Paint Furniture?

As there are aerosol spray paints available on the market for practically any surface you wish to tackle, it is completely safe to spray paint furniture. It is of course a given that you will need to wear the relevant protective gear when you are working with aerosol paint products.


Can You Spray Paint Wood?

Can you spray paint wood? Of course! Applying spray paint to wood is a simple process and is an affordable option to create a high-quality, smooth, finish for your wooden item. There are so many stunning products available these days that will offer you an almost perfect professional finish on any workpiece whether it be metal, wood, ceramic, plastic, and even vinyl!

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