Introduction: DIY Spray Paint

Picture of DIY Spray Paint
Making your own custom spray paint is easy and produces some interesting results. Maybe they don't sell the exact colour you're looking for, or you just want to a use for all those old almost-empty cans of paint you have hidden in your garage. Time to put them to good use and make your own spray paint!

Using the spray mechanism found in standard spray cans and some common discarded items you can make your own spray paint. This project uses a bicycle pump to pressurize a small PET pop bottle, and by varying the amount of pressure you pumped into the 'can' and the types of paint added you can produce different effects. The style I got based on the paints I used and the pressure applied is reminiscent of a graffiti mop style.

Enough talk, let's make our own spray paint!

*Inspiration for this project was drawn from the short movie splay

Step 1: Tools + Materials

Picture of Tools + Materials
  • hobby knife
  • drill and bits
  • hacksaw
  • bike pump
  • bicycle inner tube
  • Sugru (or other elastic binding agent/adhesive)
  • empty PET bottle
  • empty spray paint can
  • assorted paint

Step 2: Old Spray Can

Picture of Old Spray Can

To start, find an old spray paint can and depress the nozzle to release any remaining pressure inside. This is important as you risk having the can explode when you saw it open if there's any pressure difference.

Once all the pressurized air has escaped, place the can in a vise and saw around the neck of the can. This will separate the can into the lower housing and the upper nozzle. Keep the upper nozzle and tip out the glass marble found inside the can housing, you can discard the can housing after.

Step 3: Valve

Picture of Valve

Next, we will need a one way valve to pressurize our DIY spray can. For this I used a Schrader valve from an old bike tire, any type of valve will work. I chose this type as it's very common and discarded bike tire inner tubes are easy to acquire from bike repair stores.
Cut the inner tube on either side of the valve, then trim the rubber around the valve leaving a 12mm (1/2") skirt of rubber.

Next, find a drill bit that is around the same size as the valve you're using. For Schrader valve you'll need a 1/4" bit. Drill into the shoulder of an empty PET bottle. Remove any burrs from the drilled opening, then feed the valve into the neck of the bottle and through the new opening.

Drop a small amount of a rubberized adhesive through the neck of the bottle and onto the rubber skirt around the valve, then pull the valve so that the rubber skirt makes contact with the inside of the PET bottle. You may need to poke your fingers through the neck opening to ensure good contact is made. Allow the adhesive to dry overnight.

Step 4: Nozzle

Picture of Nozzle

An opening needs to be made in the cap of the PET bottle to accept the old spray can nozzle. For my paint can I found that an opening slightly larger that 3/8" was required.

I tried a few different types of adhesives here and found that the best results were with Sugru. I was able to mold the sugru putty around the opening and join the old spray mechanism with the PET cap. Allow to cure overnight.

After your assembly has dried and cured completely hook it up to a bike pump and test to ensure you have a hermetic seal, if you have any leaks (you'll know) you need to address this with more glue or to re-glue the parts that aren't sealed. This is critical!

Step 5: Fill With Old Paint

Picture of Fill With Old Paint

If you're like me, you have heaps of old, half-used, miscellaneous cans of paint hiding in storage somewhere. Time to put that paint to good use!

If you are mixing paint make sure you are using like-kinds of paint (latex/acrylic with latex/acrylic and oil paint with oil paint), do not mix oil and latex paints! Mixing dissimilar paints is not advised as it's essentially oil and water. Though, it may produce some interesting results. In fact, ignore my warning, try it. Tell me your results!

Drop your old spray paint marble into the bottle first. then carefully pour your paints into the bottle and fill about 3/4 of the way full. You're going to need a funnel. Since regular paint is quite thick, I diluted my paint with a little water after it was in the bottle. I ad a ratio of about 6:1 paint to water. Experimentation here will produce different results. A thicker paint may not drip as much, but might require more pressure in the bottle (see next step regarding pressurization).

Seal bottle with nozzle cap and shake well to ensure an homogenous mix of paint and water.

Step 6: Pressurize

Picture of Pressurize

Time to pressurize the bottle and make this paint can come to life.

Hooking the valve to the bike pump I found I had good results at about 20psi. Experimenting here with different pressure may produce different effects. It's important to know that over pressurization will cause your paint bottle to fail, most likely at the nozzle connection. Start with a low psi and gradually work your way up.

Keep an eye on your connection during pressurization to ensure no leaks have spring. I had my bottle up to about 25psi and have yet to notice any leaks. Over-engineering your sealed connections is a good thing here.

Step 7: Spray

Picture of Spray
With your bottle pressurized all that's left is to find a surface to paint! It should go without saying that spray painting people, pets, plants and places that don't belong to you is not nice. Also, it's probably illegal. So be smart when you use this.

My pressurization lasted enough to make the dinosaur shown here and then some, a second pressurization was required to make the buildings. If you're looking to make a larger art installment you'll need to carry your bike pump with you.

Here's a video of my DIY spray paint in action!

Have fun!

Have you made your own spray paint using this method? Post a picture or video link in the comments below and earn yourself a digital patch and a 3-month Pro Membership to!


fullclip765 (author)2017-02-05


murat.tamgili (author)2016-11-01

great idea ! and i have a few advices.

As i see from pictures you don't have good spraying result ;for having better;u migth want to a trick ,it will make u you lose air pressure anyway,if u fix a T connection and at the bottom of hose of spray in side the bottle and place a hose parallel upwards to the empty space letting some pressurized air and causing poor mixture (i don't know we call it like that )so paint will spray better .

YangZ13 (author)2016-08-23


Suslee (author)2016-04-17

I have a bedroom that is paneled with 2" slats. I want to paint it as a room with dark oak floor, walls, and ceiling is like a cave. I painted a section with a paint sample and the color is nice, but the grooves are impossible to get paint into with brush or roller. I think your idea will save the day. I will spray all the grooves first, then use a roller to finish. Time consuming, yes, but the cave room will at last become a place to rest in, not to hurry out of before the monsters in the cave attack.

mikeasaurus (author)Suslee2016-04-18

I'd really like to see that. Please share pictures :)

henryqiu (author)2015-03-02

Mine exploded :(

mikeasaurus (author)henryqiu2015-03-02

Pictures, or it didn't happen!

capsulecorp (author)mikeasaurus2016-04-17

Mine exploded too º-º —

Abagatan (author)2015-08-13

I am so amazed with this DIY spray paint and I want to know if this is applicable for car painting?

CharlineCaisse (author)2015-07-16

My nephew will love it!

MechEngineerMike (author)2015-06-22

Very nice. This reminds me of the 'Preval Sprayer', but I like that yours can be pumped up by hand.

crazywelderguy (author)2015-05-28

In theory could one use the same concept, but instead of using a spray paint can top, use the top from "canned air" to make a refillable compressed air cleaner?
I hate buying canned air all the time!

Probably. Try it out and let us know your results!

JRazziBG (author)2015-04-28

Can i not put the thing that is removed by the bycicle inner tube?

RishiK1 (author)2015-03-14

wow very grate

jackjackboom (author)2012-09-18

does it shoot the paint very far? I have always found a serious deficencie in store bought water guns and am always been looking for better solutions.
I want to fill it with water and use it as a water gun incase you couldn't tell. ;)

aeszok (author)jackjackboom2012-09-18

I would highly doubt it, as the plastic bottle couldn't hold very much pressure at all. You could still modify the instructable, but use a stronger casing instead and maybe attempt to make the nozzle a bit wider or make your own, otherwise it'll just "spray" rather than fire a stream of water.

RichardBronosky (author)aeszok2012-11-04

Actually, PET bottles can hold tremendous pressure. They have to in order to survive shipping. I carbonate my own beverages in 2 liter bottles with a cap that I put a chrome Schrader valve (rubber gives a nasty taste) into. My CO2 regulator maxes out at 60PSI. I've used all of that pressure experimenting, though now I only use about 30PSI. The more important thing is your glue joints. The PET bottle flexes. Your glue is not likely to flex at exactly the same rate. That means failure. I don't have to worry about that because I put my valve in the cap which does not flex.

btop (author)RichardBronosky2014-04-21

I've managed to get upwards of 120psi into a 2L bottle before, goes with bang!

jackjackboom (author)aeszok2012-09-19

ya it was just an idea.

I just saw this & thought if you combine RichardBronosky's cap valve with a small bike pump secured to the bottle, you'd wind up with something like a supersoaker...

sabu.dawdy (author)2013-11-11


turbanator (author)2013-08-24
nice man
rimar2000 (author)2013-07-12

Very useful recycling idea.

Maybe you choose a wrong sprayer, and that is the cause of paint jets instead of spray. Or the paint is too thinned.

mikeasaurus (author)rimar20002013-07-12

The stream can vary with paint viscosity and pressure. The mixture I show I think was both too thin and under-pressured. I kind of like the effect, but with more experimentation you can produce something more consistent.

foobear (author)2013-07-11

wow wow wow, I had no idea this was possible. This is so amazing. Luv!

Turbocharged Chameleon (author)2013-03-22

I'd use a 2 liter bottle because they're pressure tested.

candyman3669 (author)2012-09-24

what about replacing the plastic bottle with acrilic?

madmanmoe64 (author)2012-09-18

I'd been planning to make my own airbrush using an electric car tyre inflator and a 2l plastic bottle. Good to know it works in principle.

AndaleTheGreat (author)2011-12-21

I'm gonna do this for a 2 liter and then see if i can find a way to do it with a hose.

aeszok (author)AndaleTheGreat2012-09-18

That'd be awesome, keep us posted.

good idea

caarntedd (author)2012-09-18

Great work I'm trying this.

hurten (author)2012-09-18

I wounder if an aluminum beer bottle would make a good alternative to the pet bottle? Would you be able to get a better, higher pressure seal around the schrader valve? What about soldering the salvaged spraypaint tip to the cap?

aristide202 (author)2012-09-18

Thanks for the cool and low cost instructable
I was in Berlin this summer and I met the most amazing heavy duty PET bottles I ever seen, very thick walled. Just 500 ml but I think it could be easy to connect two of them by a low diameter pipe, in this way the inlet valve would be more protected from paint . One bottle as air reservoir and may be a small scavenged or built pump also , the other for spray nozzle and paint. Unfortunately I only took home one as technology souvenir. Don't you live in Berlin do you ?

#OccupyInstruct (author)2011-12-05

in kinda getting the idea that it comes out in a stream because of the running, i would probably go up to at least 30-35 maybe even 40 PSI for a more even and lighter spray pattern instead of the stream.

would not suggest over 35 PSI on plastic bottle. Unless it is hardened with ducktape - lots of it.

actually, thats not a bad idea... or you could use an aluminum bottle instead and pump it up to 50 if you figure out how to attach the spray cap to a metal lid or bolt that will fit inside the bottle to make it refillable

derte84 (author)#OccupyInstruct2012-09-18

alluminium bottle are also used for gas stoves. They should be safe then :)

Broom (author)#OccupyInstruct2011-12-06

A tight-fit hole for the tube + epoxy/rubber cement would work. The force acting on the spray cap is proportional to the area exposed to the can contents, so a tight fit would only produce slight pressure, and the glue would hold.

ilpug (author)kurshiukas2012-06-16

I would say that is all the seals are well glued, this could easily take 60 PSI.

PET bottles are TOUGH.

derte84 (author)2012-09-18

RESPECT! I always wanted to do that

CaseBoy (author)2012-08-10

I really would not feel safe use a plastic bottle like that.I would recommend using nalgen like this one mainly because they are so strong.

mikeasaurus (author)CaseBoy2012-08-10

These type of water bottles are designed to accept pressurization, the Nalgene bottles are a different type of plastic and not designed to be pressurized and can shatter.

CaseBoy (author)mikeasaurus2012-08-13

oh....well then i guess its safe then.

macboy98 (author)2012-01-31

instead of the spray can nozzle, can we use axe spray nozzle!!!!!! pls reply ASAP!!!! ur kindly me "lol"

tutdude98 (author)macboy982012-04-01

yes but "output" wont be that thick

macboy98 (author)tutdude982012-08-11

Oh , anyway thank u for replyin :D :D

Bangbangboom (author)2012-07-25

Go to your local hardware store and buy one of the cheap pump pressure sprayer's (one with the pump plunger on top to pressurize) you use to spray your garden chemicals with, I got one for $5.

Take it home and pull it apart so as you can remove the plunger itself, put it all back together minus the pump plunger, so you will have a bottle with a small hole in the top, on the other side of the lid is the pressure valve only lets air go in not out.

Fill the bottle around half to 3/4s full with 60% paint and 40 % water.

Get your compressor, with your blow down gun attached and load air into the bottle through the hole, don't worry about over pressurizing it as it will only allow you to get in a certain amount of air anyway and the bottle's on these sprayers are thick enough to take it.

Then start painting, works really well, without all the hassle of trying to build something thats probably going to fail.

ASCAS (author)2012-04-20

Thanks for the idea!!! I find it pretty useful.

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm Mike and I make crazy things at Instructables HQ in San Francisco. Follow me and try a few of my projects for yourself!
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