How to Paint With an Aerosol Spray Can

Updated February 21, 2017

Painting with an aerosol spray can requires practice and technique so that an even layer of paint to applied to a surface, to give a smooth finish. However, more complex techniques enable you to blend different colours to create artistic effects. Graffiti artwork is an example of what results can be achieved by doing this. However, more common uses for painting with aerosol spray cans include touching up the paintwork on cars, decorating models or spraying metallic doors, which require basic aerosol spray can abilities.

Mask off the area that you want to cover in aerosol spray paint to prevent painting areas you do not want to. Do this by cutting lengths of masking tape and placing them along the edges of the area you want to paint.

Check that the lid is on the aerosol spray can, and then hold it firmly at the base with one hand. Shake the can for two minutes to mix the paint thoroughly.

Remove the lid and make sure the nozzle is aligned correctly. The plastic button on top of the can has a hole on its side, which should line up with the paint nozzle behind it. Twist the plastic button until this is achieved if it is not already in line.

Place one hand around the upper half of the spray can, then place your index finger on top of the plastic button.

Hold the spray can between 12 and 18 inches away from the surface you want to paint.

Use long sweeping hand movements to move the spray across the area you want to paint. Press the button just before you move over the area you want to paint, as this avoids missing it or creating patchy work.

Spray a light coat of paint first, and then leave it to dry. Then repeat Steps 4, 5 and 6 to gradually build up the layers of paint. This avoids clumsy, patchy paint work and will create a smoother, more professional finish.

Remove the masking tape to reveal the crisp edges of your paint work.


Paint with aerosol spray cans in a well-ventilated area, or open windows and doors to increase air circulation in smaller spaces.

Things You'll Need

  • Masking tape
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About the Author

Based in Bristol, Philippa Jones has been a music journalist and script writer since 2007, working across a range of radio programs in the U.K. and Australia. Her articles have appeared in "Impact Magazine," "The Mic" and in local newspapers. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in politics from the University of Nottingham.