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Trash to Treasure, using spraypaint to refinish curb-find furniture

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Step 5: HOW TO PROPERLY APPLY SPRAYPAINT

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When I spraypaint there are a lot of things that I keep in mind.  
 
SURFACE PREP BETWEEN COATS

between every coat I lightly sand the surface then wipe it down with a tack cloth to get off any dust.  When I sand I'll first feel & inspect the surface.  If the surface is smooth then I'll use fine steel wool to rough up the surface.    I use size 000 steel wool.  This is not to be confused with an "SOS" pad.  This steel wool you get from a home center.    I like to use it to smooth out the little ridge that you get along the tape edge that you get between colors.   

PREP THE CAN
shake, shake & shake some more.   Shake your spray can at least a full minute before painting (longer if you havent used the can in a while)  It's a real pain but there's nothign worse than your paint coming out chunky because it wasn't properly shaken.   KEEP THE CAP ON THE CAN WHEN YOU SHAKE IT!!!   I had the tip fail on a can once and as I shook and it splattered paint all over me and all over the piece I was painting.  Not a happy day.
A tip that I've heard that I've used a few times is to put your paint cans in a bucket of hot water prior to painting.   The idea is that you get better flow if you warm up the can & thus get a better finish.    To be honest the only time i've done this with primer paint where the can hadn't been used for a while (over a year).   I shook the can for a while, the sound of the ball just didn't sound right.  I was getting spray but I was worried about it dying or sputtering, so I warmed the can.   I'm honestly not sure if this helped or not.   All I can say is that it painted fine.

WEAR A GOOD QUALITY PAINTING RESPIRATOR MASK!!!!
with sanding you can use a simple dust mask with rubber bands but with painting, especially spray painting you need a good quality mask.  The mask I have cost $30 and is best money I ever spent.  Your lungs will thank you.

WEAR GOGGLES WHEN YOUR FACE WILL BE WITHIN THE "CLOUD ZONE"
When i'm painting the inside of drawers, I have to lean over and look down into the drawer.  The sides of the drawer will trap the spray paint overspray and create this "cloud" of paint.  I'm sure this has a name, I call it the "cloud zone".   Most of the time I don't like using goggles so I can better see what I'm doing but when I have to paint within the "cloud zone" I always wear goggles.  The kind which seal to the sides of your face and will keep that paint dust out of your eyes.   This is also where it's critical to wear a good quality respirator mask as opposed to a simple dust mask.  You don't want to be breathing the cloud.

USE A SPRAY HANDLE FOR CONTROL
I prefer to use a spray handle when painting.  I get much better control & my finger isn't killing me when I'm done.
Unless I'm painting vertical trim or vertical stripes, I always paint in horizontal pass's, releasing the trigger between each pass.   Krylon paints really work well for this because they have the adjustable nozzle which can be set for either horizontal or vertical painting.
Overlap each pass by about a quarter of the area.   This is where it's critical that your can has suffficient paint to completly cover the area that your painting without pausing.   With each pass the wet paint will blend together and the pass lines will vanish.   If you pause to exchange cans in the middle of a surface your previsou pass may set enough that they're will be a visible line where one can ended on the the next began (especially if you had to take a couple minutes to shake the new can).  If the coat that your putting down isn't the final coat that's not really a problem because the next coat will blend out the edge.
Be careful when you remove the spray handle because you can accidently spray...yourself in the face......yes.....I did that.  for the record.....spray paint does not taste good.  point the can away from yourself and away from your work when you pop off the handle.

DO MULTIPLE THIN COATS INSTEAD OF 1 THICK
do thin coats and build up the pain in layers.   move at a steady speed without pausing until the spray tip is past the edge.  Thin coats dry faster than thick coats so usually an hour is plently of time between coats.   don't worry if your first few coats don't completely cover. patience. just keep adding thin layers until you get a good coverage.
If you get runs, don't panic. let the coat dry thoroughly, sand out the runs and keep going  (re-prime if required)

ALWAYS PAINT IN EVEN HORIZONTAL OR VERTICAL STROKES. NEVER CIRCULAR OR RANDOM!!!!!
Keeping the can approx 6 inches and perpendicular to surface, make steady horixzontal or vertical pass's.  start and stop the trigger outside of the piece.  if you start the trigger on the piece you'll get a glob of paint and runs.  release the trigger beween each pass.

MOVE YOUR ARM, NOT YOUR WRIST
When you paint, move your arm, not your wrist.  when you pivot your wrist it changes the distance the the spray can is away from the surface and the can is no longer perpindicular.  you wont get even coverage and this will often cause orange peel.

MAKE SURE YOUR CAN HAS ENOUGH TO DO COMPLETE SURFACE.
with each paint stroke the wet paint will blend into the previous stroke.   If you run out of paint in the middle of a face and you have to pause to get and shake another can, the previous stroke may dry so that the new stroke wont blend out and there will be a visible line.   If this is an early coat that's no big deal becuase subsequent coats will cover this but you don't want this on the final layers.

Save your low cans.  Use those for smaller areas.

Always paint in a well ventilated area and always always always use a high quality mask. 
I paint outside with the piece elevated on a table so that I'm not bending over.  I prefer to paint with the surface vertical.  If the horizontal surface is small (small table top), I'll go ahead and paint it horizontal.   If the horizontal surface is large I'll flip the piece on it's side so that the surface is vertical.

I paint outside in my back yard.  Because of this the sunlight is not hitting all sides evenly, so what I do is place a board on a small table and put the piece on that.  As I'm painting I will rotate the piece so that whatever surface I'm painting is in direct sunlight.   When your painting the same color as the previous coat and the surface is in shadow, it's very difficult to tell the wet edge between pass's so that you get an even color wash.

I absolutely love painter pyramids.   When I first heard of these I thought they were stupid, then my local hardware store put them on sale so I got some and now I swear by them.  There is nothing worse than getting a run on something and it puddling up where the piece sits on the table and dries like that.   With pyamids you don't have to worry about that.   One thing to be careful about with pyramids is that you don't bump the worksurface when your piece is proped up.   Your don't want your piece to go tumbling down and ruin your paint coat.  I learned that the hardway.   It that does happen, it's really no big deal.  just wait for the coat to dry completely, sand off any smudges and keep painting. 

How to deal with "orange peel"
Often with spray paint you'll get a sandy texture on the surface. This is caused by holding the spray can to far away from the surface. The spray paint will clump in the air and dry before leveling out, leaving a sandy texture on the surface. When this happen simply sand the area until it's smooth using a fine grain sandpaper. If it takes agressive sanding to get the texture off, re-prime the area before applying color.

WHEN DONE PAINTING SPRAY THE CAN UPSIDE DOWN
you don't need to do this between every coat but when your done painting for the night, take each spray can and do a quick spray holding the can upside down until no paint comes out.   This will keep the nozel clear and prevent clogs and splatters.  
if you have a nozel that does clog, rather than tossing the whole can, grab a nozzle from another can to use.

ELEVATE YOUR PIECE.
As a general rule I always elevate what I'm working on so that I'm not bending over to paint.  I get more control and a more even finish.   Obviously with large pieces like dressers this isn't possible, but even those pieces I'll elevate a foot or so.

For my worksurface I have an old wooden card table on which i've set a 4x4 piece of plywood.    I like the plywood because I'll occasionally need to screw something to it in order to hold it steady for painting.    Usually for the pieces I'm doing this one surface is enough.   Because I'm doing 3 projects at once I wish I had a much bigger surface because i can't paint everything at once.  I have to paint a couple parts, let them dry, set them aside in order to paint the next part.  
 
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