Spray Paint

For a quick and easy paint job, try spray paint for both indoor and outdoor projects

Spary paint  Buying Guide

Spray paint is a convenient, low-fuss alternative to conventional painting that can be used on everything from small projects to outdoor furniture.

This guide will help you pick the type of spray paint best suited for your project.

Spray Paint Types and Features

Spray paint is classified by how it will be used. Common types include general purpose, decorative and craft, rust-prevention, professional, plastic and specialty. 

General purpose and decorative spray paint

  • Can be used on a wide range of materials, indoors or out
  • Formulated to dry quickly and minimize dripping
  • Available in a range of colors
  • Available in metallic, gloss, high-gloss, flat/matte, textured, stone, antique, crackle and stained glass finishes

Plastic spray paint

  • May not require any sanding or priming and resists chipping and fading
  • Designed specifically for use on plastic, resin, PVC and other similar materials with smooth surfaces that make it difficult for normal paints to adhere
  • Use on lawn chairs, playhouses, toys and more

Rust-preventative spray paint

  • Generally used outdoors and provides a glossy coating that resists fading and cracking in addition to preventing rust accumulation
  • Use on bikes, swing sets, cars, motorcycles and more
  • Some formulas provide a bright, sparkling metallic finish

Professional and marking spray paint

  • Striping and marking paints can be used on blacktop, concrete, soil, wood and grass
  • Use marking paints to indicate utility lines, danger areas and more
  • Professional enamel paints dry quickly and provide excellent gloss and color retention

Specialty paints 

These encompass a versatile array of paints used for a wide range of applications.

The chart below lists some of the more common specialty paints and their uses.

Spray paint type Uses


Washable, moisture-resistant epoxy that can be applied to washers, dryers and more


Converts wood, metal, plastic or glass surfaces to a chalkboard, making it ideal for use in children’s bedrooms and playrooms


Offers a hard finish for tables and other furniture both indoors and out


Decorative yet functional finish that reduces glare and adds privacy to windows

High heat

Resists heat up to 1,200° F, making it ideal for use on grills


Provides a hard, polished, high-luster finish that’s perfect for furniture


Renews the appearance of vinyl upholstery and can be used on luggage, car and boat seats, dashboards and more


Fluorescent colors: While fluorescent colors may be a little too bright for everyday use, they can jazz up a variety of objects for parties and holidays. They also come in handy for making signs or marking safety equipment and other objects you want to stand out from their surroundings.

Spray pattern: If you’re tackling a big job, look for a nozzle with a fan-shape spray pattern that will distribute paint over a larger area. Some nozzles use an oval-shaped pattern instead of a circular one and allow you to rotate them to adjust for horizontal and vertical application.

Cars: You’ll probably want to leave major paint jobs to the professionals, but simple touchups can be easily accomplished with spray paint. Two-component products mix components when the aerosol button is pressed, saving you time and effort.

Special effects: If you’re looking for something different and unique, try mirror finish, rippled effect or glow-in-the-dark spray paint.

Application Tips

While spray paint requires little more than the push of a button to apply, there are cases where you’ll need to do a little prep work.


  • Work in a well-ventilated area to prevent fumes from overwhelming you. If possible, apply spray paint outdoors; keep windows open when painting inside.
  • Shake the paint can for 60 seconds prior to use to ensure that paint is properly mixed. The rattling sound you hear comes from a ball bearing inside the can that stirs the paint as you shake.

Surface prep

  • Wood needs to be sanded and wiped clean, and you may need to prime it. Fortunately, spray primer is available to make your job easier.
  • Remove rust and oil from metal surfaces prior to painting.
  • Lightly sand glass or ceramic surfaces before painting so paint adheres better.

Application tips

  • You’ll likely need to apply more than one coat, depending on your project. Consult the manufacturer’s instructions as to when subsequent coats should be applied, as some paints require that they be added within one hour of initial application or after a certain period of hours or days.
  • When you’re done painting, turn the can upside down and spray for 5 seconds to blow remaining paint out of the nozzle so it doesn’t clog.
  • Painting on humid days can lengthen drying time.
  • Always work with plenty of light so you can be sure you apply the coats evenly.
  • Place cardboard around the object when painting to prevent stains due to overspray and accidental drips.