- Best General Purpose Spray Paint
- Best Rust Prevention Spray Paint
- Best High Temperature Spray Paint
Best Spray Paint
When small or intricate objects need to be painted, there’s nothing that works better than a can of spray paint. Spray allows you to apply an even coat of paint to an object, without leaving tell-tale brush strokes. Available in a wide range of colors, spray paints make it easy to match decorative items to home decor, repair scratches and nicks in car finishes and provide quick and easy protection from the weather for items intended to be left outdoors.
With spray paint, cleanup is minimal. There are no brushes or rollers to clean and no spray gun to take apart. The only actual cleaning needed is to turn the can upside-down for a moment and spray, allowing the propellant to clear out the nozzle, so that it doesn't clog. If that little step is forgotten, the can may not work the next time.
One does need to watch out for overspray when using spray paint, just as they would with a large spray gun. The process of atomizing the paint tends to cause droplets to float around in the air, landing in places you may not want. For that reason, one needs to be careful about where they are spray painting, selecting a location where the overspray can’t damage anything. For small objects, a makeshift “spray booth” can be made out of a cardboard box.
Due to the small nozzle size, spray paint is thinned considerably, making each coat extremely thin. If a thicker finish is needed, it is recommended to apply several coats. Most spray paints can be recoated within 30 minutes, making it easy to apply several coats. There are also a few high solids spray paints on the market, which build a thicker film per coat.
For the best possible finish, spray in a back and forth pattern which starts and ends past the ends of the object. This will help prevent runs caused by excessive paint buildup at the ends of the object. You should also try and always keep the surface “wetted” so that the new paint is being laid down overlapping existing wet paint. This will help to eliminate the striped effect that is typical of poorly applied spray paint.
Spray paint can also be buffed once dry, to help eliminate any sheen striping. Only buff it if several coats of paint have been applied, as buffing does remove some paint from the surface. Hand buffing is better, as you are less likely to buff though the paint film.
One nice thing that is being done with some of the newer spray paints is multi-colored and textured paints. Both Krylon and Rust-Oleum, the two largest producers of spray paints, offer several different types of multi-colored and textured spray paints. These are excellent for use on surfaces that are not perfectly smooth or that have imperfections, as they hide those imperfections quite well. Paints of this type are not high gloss, which also helps to hide imperfections.
When selecting spray paints, look at the price. Low cost spray paints are just that; low cost. They typically have lower solids, so will provide less coverage. This can be dealt with by applying more coats. A higher cost spray paint will generally be higher solids, providing a thicker film and better coverage. A few spray paints will actually cover in one coat.
Best General Purpose Spray Paint:
Spray paint is the “go-to” paint for many people, when they have a project that they want to do in a hurry. While it is not usable for painting a room in a house, those disposable cans of spray paint are great when you need to touch something up or finish a small project. In just a matter of moments, you can finish that project off and leave it to dry.Most spray paints are oil-based enamels, although there are some lacquers around as well. Either one provides a hard, shiny finish, which is fairly quick drying. Since spray paint comes premixed in a variety of colors, it is convenient and easy to use.
Oil-based enamel paints need to be cleaned up with mineral spirits paint thinner. You should have some on hand whenever spraying paint, just in case you have to clean overspray off of something.
The problem with most spray paints is that they apply a very thin coating of paint. For the paint to spray with the small amount of propellant they can put in a can, the paint’s viscosity must be very thin. This makes it very easy to have sags and runs if the paint is applied heavily. However, single coats won’t often cover effectively, due to the thin viscosity. It also makes it easy to scratch through spray paints, making them less durable than heavier-bodied paints.For spray paints to be used effectively, they need to be layered on in several coats. This allows the paint to flow out, without forming runs and sags. The paint also covers more effectively when multiple coats are used.
To get a good finish with spray paints, it is necessary to paint past the end of the object you are painting, reversing directions off the edge of it. That way, you won’t build up a lot of paint right at the edge, where it can turn into runs. It is also necessary to overlap the coats, so that the new paint is being applied to wet paint. This helps prevent the stripes of contrasting sheen that is quite common with spray paints.
Since you will be painting past the end of the project, a tarp or drop cloth should be used to catch any overspray. Be aware that the overspray from the paint will remain in the air for a while, traveling to land in other places. When painting indoors with spray paint, you can end up with overspray as far as 20 feet away.
Cans of paint that are not fully used should be turned upside-down when done and the nozzle cleaned by spraying propellant without paint through it. This will clear the paint out of the nozzle, keeping it from becoming clogged. In this way, the rest of the paint can be used at a later time.
Rust-Oleum's line of spray paints provides the broadest range of finishes for your projects. This is their basic gloss enamel, probably the most useful paint on the market. Read Full Review
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This hammered finish paint is great for uneven or flawed substrates, hiding the imperfections. Not only is it a textured finish, but the edges of the hammer marks are darker, making it a two-tone finish. Read Full Review
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Like the Rust-Oleum hammered finish, this one is great for use on imperfect substrates. The terra-cotta like finish isn't as rough a texture as the hammered one, but provides a nice smooth, coating that hides imperfections. Read Full Review
Krylon is one of the biggest and most available manufacturers of spray paint on the market. This paint is available in a wide range of colors. The specially designed nozzle reduces overspray and gives precise application. Read Full Review
Best Rust Prevention Spray Paint:
A large part of the reason we paint things, besides to make them look good, is to protect them. Let’s face it, the weather is hard on things that man makes. It doesn’t matter if they are made out of wood, metal or plastic, the effects of weather slowly deteriorate them away. With ferrous metals, this is in the form of rust.
I’ve had things rust their way to garbage. The hubs of a trailer I built became so rusted that the wheels couldn’t be removed. The bottom of my wheelbarrow rusted through, so that when I loaded it with gravel, the wheelbarrow’s bucket fell apart. In both cases, the paint had chipped away, leaving the bare metal to the ravages of rain and moisture. Since I live in a high humidity area, it didn’t take long for rust to eat away enough of the metal to destroy it.
All paints work to keep rust at bay; at least they do so to some extent. Paint seals the surface, helping prevent moisture from coming in contact with the metal and causing it to rust. Even so, there are some paints which are specifically designed with rust preventative properties, so that they will help ensure that rust does not form.
Generally speaking, these rust inhibiting paints are all oil-based products. Using water-based paints to stop rust would be rather counter-productive, considering that water is what makes steel and iron rust. Oil blocks out the water, helping to prevent the possibility of that rust forming.
While it is possible to paint these rust preventative paints directly onto rusted metal, you are better off cleaning the rust off the metal first. A thin patina of rust won’t really cause any problem, but if the rust is thick enough to prevent the paint from adhering to solid metal, the paint will end up chipping off with the rust, leaving the metal bare and exposed.
A good strategy for protecting slightly rusted steel and iron is to phosphate it before painting it with these rust preventative paints. This is done by treating the metal with a phosphating metal treatment. This acid-based product, chemically changes the surface of the metal to iron phosphate, including the existing patina of rust. Please note that it can’t work the same way with deep rust. The phosphating solution is green in color and causes the steel to turn black.Although not a primer, the phosphating solution is a great way of preparing steel for painting. When rust preventative paint is applied over it, you can be assured of a long-lasting, durable finish.
If you're looking for a tough, durable coating, PlastiKote Chassis & Grille Guard is what you need. This is a spray epoxy coating, which resists cracking, chipping and peeling extremely well. Read Full Review
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Z-Line's enamel paint is a high-solids formula; something actually quite unusual to find in spray paints. As such, it builds a thicker film, which is excellent for protecting the metal from moisture and rust. Read Full Review
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Krylon makes a wide variety of spray paints, including the nicest looking rust protection paint on the market. This multi-colored paint provides a good looking, textured finish, which is dry to the touch in eight minutes. Read Full Review
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Rust-Oleum's V2100 Spray Enamel is another high solids paint, providing a heavier coat than typical enamel spray paints. This paint comes in a wide variety of colors, which go on with 50 percent thicker than most spray paints. Read Full Review
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While this looks like stainless steel in a can, it isn't really. However, it is tinted to look just like 316L stainless. It provides excellent rust protection at temperatures up to 250 degrees. Read Full Review
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Best High Temperature Spray Paint:
High temperature paint is specialty paint for use in areas where normal paint would be damaged by heat. The most common places for this are automotive engines, barbecue grilles and ovens. In those cases, normal paint, even normal enamel paint can’t handle the high heat and will scorch, eventually peeling.
The main reason for painting engines and grilles is for appearance. Show cars typically have their engine components painted, except for those that are chrome plated. Engine heads and especially exhaust manifolds can get extremely hot, making it difficult to keep these parts looking good. The other engine parts do not need a high temperature paint, although it may be used for those applications, in order to make the paint match better.
If priming under the paint, which is recommended, a high temperature primer must be used as well. Although the high temperature paint won’t scorch over normal primer, the primer will burn, causing the paint to peel. Some high temperatures paints will work on metal, without priming, eliminating this problem.
As the most common paint application for high temperature paints is automotive, special care should be taken to ensure that the parts are cleaned of grease and dirt, before painting. While the paint may appear to stick over grease, it will peel quickly, as the grease itself is soft and doesn’t provide a good substrate for the paint to adhere to. This is actually the biggest problem associated with using these paints.
Not all high temperature paints are created equal. The maximum temperature rating on them will vary, depending upon the paint’s formulation. Before selecting a paint, it is important to verify the maximum temperature for the application where it will be used and select the paint accordingly.
This enamel paint from Rust-Oleum is part of their family of high heat paints. They produce others as well, although this one is specific for automotive applications. It will withstand temperatures up to 2000 degrees. Read Full Review
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This high temperature paint is a ceramic and silicone base, designed to handle temperatures up to 2000 degrees. The combination of ceramic and silicone makes this an extremely durable finish. Read Full Review
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Dupli-Color's engine paint is formulated to exactly match the manufacturer's original color for the car. While this paint won't handle as high a temperature as some others, it is ideal for restoration work and show cars. Read Full Review
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This high temperature spray paint from Krylon is designed for use on gas grilles, fire pits and wood burning stoves. It can withstand temperatures up to 1200 degrees for short periods of time and 600 degrees continually. Read Full Review