Spray Paint Nearly Anything for a Thrifty Spritz of Style

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JustyCinMD/FlickrGet a fresh look for even worn-out plastic lawn furniture with the right application of spray paint.
Want to give your home a fresh, updated look? Consider spray painting.

No, I'm not suggesting graffiti art (although that's beautiful, in the right settings). I'm talking about spray painting some detail or element within your home. You might coat a window with translucent silver and white, for example, to create a restrained "stained-glass" effect. Or you may decide to mask the 1970's lime-green ceramic tiles in your guest bathroom with a more neutral tone.

Still dubious? Let me reassure you: I'm speaking from experience. I saved thousands of dollars by spray-painting my fence, instead of replacing it.

You see, the former owner of my house installed a basic grey chain-link fence around the backyard. Over the years, the fence devolved into an eyesore, and by the time I bought the property, that fence was all-but-screaming "replace me!"

But installing a new metal fence would have cost thousands. Instead, I spray-painted it with a matte black finish, which instantly updated the look of the fence, for a fraction of the cost of a replacement.

Spray-painting may not be a traditional way to upgrade your home, but it's versatile, quick, and inexpensive.

How do you spray paint effectively? Just follow the steps below.

Spray Painting Glass: You can spray paint glass surfaces, such as windowpanes, tabletops, mirrors, or vases. Here's how.

1. First, work the glass over with either 80-grit sandpaper or a chemical etcher. Whichever one you happen to have on hand will work.
2. Next, clean up by removing any dust or dirt on the surface of the glass. Apply a fast-drying glass cleaner to a paper towel and wipe the surface clean. Wait until it dries to move on.
3. Since glass expands and contracts with the temperature, you should prime the glass to make sure that the finished product looks smooth. (This step is optional, but recommended.)
4. Finally, get to spray painting! Stand 10-12 inches away from the glassnand follow any directions for drying that the manufacturer gives on the label. You shouldn't have to wait too long in-between spraying if you want to give the glass a second (or third) coat.

Spray Painting Metal: Want to touch up a file cabinet, bicycle, light fixture, or appliance? You can use spray paint for that, too. A little tip: it's worth it to splurge on a higher quality metallic spray finish, as it contains real metal particles. This will give your object a smoother coat and glossier finish.

1. Get rid of any flecks of rust by using a chemical rust remover, a wire brush, or 120-grit sandpaper. If there is oily residue on your item, put mild dish detergent on a damp rag to rub it off. If there's stubborn residue, use denatured alcohol to remove it. Let your object dry fully before moving on.
2. Get rid of any glossiness by sanding the surface down. Be on the lookout for any dings or chips on the surface. Use a dry tack cloth to remove any dust.
3. Prime the surface, as this will seal and smooth uneven surfaces, help the paint stick, hide stains, and allow the color to come through properly. Wait for everything to dry again as per the can's instructions (about 1-2 hours).
4. Time for painting! Make sure you're holding the can 10-12 inches away, and spray back and forth repeatedly in the same direction.

Spray Painting Plastic: The shutters on your house are a great example of a plastic surface that you can spray paint. If you're bored of having the the same colors as everyone else, spice it up! The same goes for garbage pails, outdoor furniture, or laminate surfaces. Follow these steps to get a fresh look.

1. Use ammonia-based cleaner on older plastic surfaces, and paint thinner on newer surfaces, to ensure that what you're spray painting is spotless.
2. Use fine-grit sandpaper to roughen the surface. You can use a tack cloth to clean up any dust or debris.
3. Optional: prime the surface.
4. Paint your surface. Follow the same directions as stated above of standing 10-12 inches away, and adhere to the guidelines on the can.

Spray Painting Porcelain and Ceramic: Looking to give a little more life to a bathroom? You can spray paint the sink, bathtub, and tile. Other ideas include flowerpots, servingware, and brick.

1. Scuff up the glaze by using 80-grit sandpaper. (If your item is unglazed, start with step 2.) The best way to do this is to create an "X" shape on the surface to make sure you've removed any slickness. Begin on a diagonal, and then cross the area you just sanded in the opposite direction.
2. Use a tack cloth to clean up.
3. Apply your primer.
4. Get painting! You might have to use more than one coat.

Spray Painting Wood: If you'd like to give a piece of furniture a makeover, spray painting is a great way to do it. You can also use spray paint on wicker furniture, wood composite, and cork.

1. Remove all the hardware on the piece (like handles and knobs). If you don't feel confident in putting the hardware back on after you're done, cover it up as best as you can with painter's tape, newspaper, or plastic.
2. Sand down the surface and smooth it out. The surface should be scratch-free. If you're working with a small piece, use one sheet of medium-to-fine grain sandpaper. Liquid sandpaper can be used for larger pieces.
3. Clean the sawdust off by brushing it, dusting it, or vacuuming it up. Don't use a wet rag -- you'll have to wait for the surface to dry.
4. Spray the primer on before the paint, and then go to town with your spray paint once the prime has time to dry and cure.

Old Laptop Gets a Spray Paint Job


Paula Pant owns five houses -- yes, five. No, she's not rich, but she's a real estate investor who built a portfolio of rental properties that cover her entire cost-of-living. She's 30 years old, and she invites you to check out all the details about her real estate purchases -- including the numbers -- on her blog, Afford Anything.
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