Tips on Spraying Metallic Paint

spray image by Dragana Petrovic from

Working with metallic paints can be tricky and requires a lot of practice to become familiar with the products and their various application methods. It is possible, however, to apply an attractive metallic finish with practice.

While the results will vary, depending on your skill level and the individual project, it helps to acquire some tips for using metallic spray paints to make the learning process a positive experience.

Working Conditions

While it is not always convenient, it is best to work in a controlled environment where you can control weather conditions as well as provide a clean, stable area to work. Aerosol cans work better in temperatures 21.1 degrees Celsius and higher with less than 50 per cent humidity in the air. Colder temperatures hinder drying times, and high humidity causes streaks and discolouration in the paint finish. Protect nearby areas with dust sheets and avoid working in windy conditions, which causes excessive over spray in areas and may possibly blow debris onto your paint coats. Wear protective clothing, dust masks and goggles.

Surface Prep

The quality of your project depends much on the amount of surface prep you do. Clean your project with a mild household detergent to remove dirt and grime. To avoid contaminating the surface with oils from your skin, limit how much you handle the item. If possible, build a hands-free setting on which the object rotates on a shelf or is posted on a sturdy stick or rod. Create a porous surface that bonds with the metallic paints properly by sanding the object with sandpaper. Apply a coat of primer suited for the material you plan to paint (i.e. wood, plastic or metal primer).

Spraying Tips

Always follow the manufacturer's directions on the spray paint before using. Shake the spray can vigorously for at least two minutes before spraying and again for one minute for every 10 minutes of use. Hold the spray can or gun at least 12 inches away from the item you plan to paint. Test the flow of the spray paint by first spraying on a scrap piece of material. Test the colour fastness and compatibility of the paints and your project by spraying the paint onto an inconspicuous spot. If the paint adheres properly to the paint surface, it is fine to proceed.

When spraying metallic paints, it is better to spray with overlapping light sweeps instead of one heavy coat. Begin by spraying off the project and across the surface of the material in one long swipe for a smooth coat. It is important to note that no amount of polyurethane will even out or conceal minor defects. If you make a mistake, allow the project to dry, sand the paint layer off and begin again.

Protective Top Coat

Not all metallic paints withstand exterior weather conditions, so protect the surface with a protective topcoat; however, the topcoat may diminish the metallic appearance and create a dull finish. Experiment with polyurethane or lacquer sealers on scrap material to find the right product for your finishing needs.