How To Get A Smooth Finish with Spray Paint

How to Get A Smooth Finish with Spray Paint

It is never a certainty that spray paint will perform in the ways that it is intended, and this is due to multiple factors. As a matter of fact, there is actually an art to getting spray paint to come out smooth, so here we will teach you how to get a smooth finish with spray paint.

Buying spray paint in a can is meant to be a convenience rather than a performance factor. You have the paint in the color you need ready to be applied, and it also spares you the trouble of setting up a paint sprayer.

The trade-off to spray paint is that the finish quality may not be as good in comparison. The construction of the spray can might not give you the most favorable results, or something inside the can, such as a clog or misshapen plastic part can hinder the can’s performance, causing the finish to not be as good or as effective.

But fortunately, there are ways that you can overcome any and all the shortcomings of the cans of spray paint that you buy, so that their finish looks just as professional as a top-of-the-line paint sprayer.

What You Will Need to Follow This Tutorial

While painting with spray paint is made to be easier and more convenient, there is some prep work that we recommend you do to ensure the finest results from your paint. You are required to have the following items on hand as you prepare your spray paint.

The cans of spray paint that you want to use.
Sheets of sandpaper.
Your primer of choice.
A pair of gloves.
A mask or respirator.
Sheets of tarp or old newspaper.
Cloth for cleaning.
One or two paint brushes.

If the room or application that you want to paint is rather large, you should also consider getting a painter’s smock or change into old clothes that you do not care to get paint on. If you have long hair, we also recommend tying it back so that you have a lesser chance of getting covered in paint.

If you intend to paint something that is already painted, you will first need to remove the paint completely from it. To remove paint, we recommend denatured alcohol or nail polish remover.

Additionally, if you have a spray booth available to use, you can use it as your setting to paint an object and avoid having to paint outdoors with the interference any possible weather or environmental hazards.

Step by Step Instructions

Spraying paint should not be a quick job that you can do in half an hour. Instead, it should be a longer process that involves some planning ahead of time.

Step 1. Choose which day to begin your painting.

If you have a spray booth that you can use, this might seem like a less important step, but to those that do not, picking a day or weekend ahead of time to paint your application is important to ensure the best results possible.

Turn to a weather forecast to look for suitable painting days. The ideal weather for painting is calm, cloudless, windless, and with no precipitation expected. Days with excessive sun and hot air are also days you should avoid, as the heat can cause the paint to dry faster than you’d like. Look for any series of days in your forecast with no rain and next to no wind with temperatures that are 75 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.

Step 2. Gather your supplies.

In the days leading up to your project, gather and/or purchase all of your supplies that you need to spray paint your application. Refer to the list of supplies that you need to get and keep them all in one place leading up to the day that you have decided to commence your spray paint.

On the day when you start your painting project, set up your tarp or newspaper so that no paint or other chemicals get on your floor, grass, driveway, etc. Be sure that the area where you decide to spray your paint isn’t in the way of any oncoming cars or pedestrians.

Step 3. Prepare to spray paint.

Your application needs to be clean, smooth, and free of any old paint to ensure a successful transition in color and a smooth finish. If your application already has a coat of paint on it, sand it off with sandpaper or apply denatured alcohol or nail polish remover to remove this paint.

If you have scratches in your application, sandpaper can also smooth these scratches out. It is important to buff or smooth out any noticeable scratches, or else these scratches can stand out more once you apply your paint over it.

And of course, be sure to clean your application of any debris and old paint. If you paint over any debris, it can either mold onto your application, making the finish rough, or it will peel off, leaving an unpainted area on the surface. With water, wash any and all debris from your application and dry it quickly with a dry, white cloth.

Step 4 (Optional). Apply your primer.

If your primer comes in a spray can, spray it onto your application as normal. If you need to paint your primer on yourself, apply primer to your surface with your paint brush of choice. Paint it as you would apply paint the traditional way and be sure that all areas are covered with nice, even coats. Once you have applied your primer successfully, wait for at least 24 hours to apply a coat of paint onto your application.

Step 5. Paint your application with your first coat.

When your application is clean, smooth and ready for paint, you can start to spray. But before you paint your surface, test the paint on a newspaper or scrap material. With new spray paint, there is always that tuft of hardened paint that comes out first before the wet, soft paint. This spray paint should come out in a mist that travels in a cone-like pattern.

Shake the can of spray paint well before removing the cap. With the nozzle about 12 inches away from the surface of your application, spray from one corner to the other on a horizontal path.

Work your way on the area adjacent to the one that you last sprayed, going from one side to the next until the area is covered. Shake the can in between each area that you spray to ensure that the paint always comes out evenly, as well as always coming out in the right color.

Step 6. Clean the nozzle of your spray can.

One flaw about spray paint is that the nozzles can easily get clogged the longer you use them. Before starting a new coat, clean the spray nozzle with water and a clean cloth. If paint hardens inside the nozzle, paint can sputter out and create a rough, unappealing finish. After cleaning the nozzle out thoroughly, test the spray paint on newspaper. It should come out in a smooth finish.

Step 7. Paint with a second coat.

Spray paint is known for drying quickly, but you will still need to wait a while before applying another coat of paint. Wait for no less than 20 minutes for your first coat to dry so that your paint doesn’t have a chance at developing any cracks or wrinkles.

Such is the case with Step 5. Shake your spray can before each area that you paint to ensure even colors and finish. Carefully spray from one side to the next.

Step 8. Apply coats on areas still unpainted.

Often the case with objects, you will always have one or more of the sides facing the ground or floor. Once your coats of paint dry entirely, pick your object up and place it on the ground with the unpainted side up. Repeat steps five through seven for this side of your application so that it looks just as your other sides did when you painted them. This might take longer than just painting all the sides at once, but it will ensure that all sides will not get smeared when you turn the object over to paint.


After two successful coats of paint, you should get a super-smooth finish that looks like your application was painted in a factory. The application should look highly appealing, should sport the color that’s on your spray can and should last a number of years before it starts cracking. This process is important in order for you to get the utmost satisfaction from your spray paint.

Thank you for reading about how to get a smooth finish with spray paint. Did you like this tutorial? Please share this article if you enjoyed it. Have a question that we didn’t answer in this article? Please leave your questions and comments in the section down below! 

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