How Many Coats of Spray Paint? (Explained!)

Spray paint is easy to apply, dries in time, and offers a good finish quality. But, how many coats of spray paint do you need?

You must apply at least 2 thin coats of spray paint on any surface. You must apply 2-4 thin coats of spray paint for proper coverage.

However, the number of coats depends on the spray paint type and the surface you are painting. Also, you must only apply thin coats of spray paint and wait 1 hour for each coat to dry. 

This post reveals more about the number of spray paint coats, including expert tips to know when another coat is needed. Let’s dive in.

Why Does The Number of Coats Matter?

The number of coats determines the finish’s quality and the spray paint drying time. However, you must apply thin coats of spray paint so the paint can dry evenly and faster.

If you apply multiple thick coats of spray paint, the paint will take longer to dry. For each extra coat you apply after the third one, the paint will take 2 more hours to dry. 

Besides affecting the dry time, the number of coats also determines the color shade of the finish. The more coats of spray paint you apply, the darker the color finish will get. That’s because more coats of spray paint mean more paint pigments (or color) on the finish. The increased levels of pigments will deepen the color of the paint. 

The number of coats also determines the spray paint’s level of protection. For example, rust-oleum spray paint is designed to protect the metal from rust, but you need the right number of coats to get rust protection. If you apply less than the required number of spray, the spray paint won’t protect the metal. On the other hand, if you apply more than the needed number of spray paint coats, the finish turns sticky.

So, you see that the number of coats matters when it comes to spray paints.

When To Apply an Extra Coat Of Spray Paint?

When To Apply an Extra Coat Of Spray Paint?

To know if you need an extra coat of spray paint, inspect the color of the previous spray paint coat after it dries. If the previous spray paint coat looks lighter than you wanted, apply another coat of spray paint.

For instance, if you want a green finish, but you get a light-green finish when the paint dries, you must apply another coat of spray paint to archive a deeper paint finish. For every coat of spray paint you apply, the color shade of the finish gets deeper.

You must also apply another coat if you are painting over an existing color and the paint underneath is bleeding through. In this case, an extra coat is needed to seal and cover the existing color. 

You can also check the manufacturer’s instructions on the spray paint bottle to know if you need another coat. Spray paint manufacturers often include the number of coats needed for different surfaces.

Don’t Apply Too Many Coats of Spray Paint

When To Apply an Extra Coat Of Spray Paint?

More than 5 coats of spray paint are too much because the finish will get ruined. You only need 3-4 thin coats to get a good finish.

If you apply too many spray paint coats on a vertical surface (such as walls or fences), the paint will drip and run off the surface.

Because there is too much spray paint on the vertical surface and nothing for the paint to stick to, the paint will drip off the surface and create a long sticky finish. Also, when the sticky spray paint dries, it will be riddled with lines, bumps, and blemishes, and the finish might crack.

If you apply too many coats of spray paint on a horizontal surface (such as a tabletop), the finish will take longer to dry and might turn sticky. When spray paint turns sticky, the finish will attract filth and start smelling. 

The worst thing about applying too many coats of spray paint is that you must fix the finish afterward. So, instead of enjoying the new finish of spray paint, you must spend extra hours whipping off the excess spray and sanding the finish. Sometimes, you must remove the entire spray paint finish and re-apply it. So, whatever you do, don’t overapply spray paint.

Don’t Apply Less Than 2 Coats

Don't Apply Less Than 2 Coats

If you don’t apply enough coats of spray paint, the finish will be weak and won’t protect the surface underneath. You will also get a light color shade finish because there will be fewer paint pigments on the surface. 

The minimum amount for spray paint is 2 coats. That’s because spray paint coating is thin, and you need at least 2 coats for proper coverage and durability. Most of the time, 4 coats of spray paint is enough.

If you don’t apply enough spray paint coat, the finish will be thin and can be dented and damaged easily. In addition, a thin spray paint coat won’t protect the surface underneath from damage or water. With fewer coats, the color shade will be lighter, and the paint underneath will bleed through.

Spray Paint Dry Time Between Coats

You must wait 1 hour between coats of spray paint. Each coat has enough time to dry and harden to support the next coat.

Oil-based spray paint requires more time to dry between coats, while water-based spray paint can be re-coated within 30-40 minutes. 

However, you must wait 2 hours between coats after the third coat of spray paint. That’s because the more coats of apply, the longer spray paint takes to dry.

To know if the spray paint is dry enough for a re-coat, use the sandpaper method. Wipe ultra-fine sandpaper across the spray paint finish; if the paint gets into the sandpaper, the finish isn’t dry enough for a re-coat. If the paint doesn’t get into the sandpaper and the finish looks textured, you can apply the next coat of spray paint.

Spray Paint Number of Coats For Different Surfaces

Metal

You need at least 2 coats of spray paint on the metal. That’s because metal surfaces need protection from air and moisture to prevent rust.

If the metal surface isn’t coated with enough spray paint, it will be exposed to air and moisture, which causes rust.

However, if you use Rust-Oleum spray paint, you need only 1 coat of spray paint. That’s because this spray paint is thick and formulated with chemicals and additives that protect the metal. 

The number of coats for metal also depends on the condition of the metal surface. For instance, if the metal surface is defective and you want to cover the damaged spots, you need more coats of spray paint to fully cover those spots. You can also check the manufacturer’s instructions to know for sure.

Plastic

For plastic, you need 1 coat of spray paint. However, if you want a deep-colored finish, you can apply 2 coats.

But, you shouldn’t apply more than 2 coats on plastic because plastic isn’t porous, so spray paint won’t stick properly. If you apply too many coats of spray paint on plastic, the paint won’t stick and will drip off the surface.

To help spray paint stick to plastic, you must sand and prime the surface first. 

Wood

For a normal finish, you must apply 2 coats of spray paint to the wood. For a deeper finish, you can apply 3 coats of spray paint. 

However, if the wood has an existing color that you want to cover, you must apply 3 coats to prevent bleed-through.

If the wood is primed or sanded, you don’t need many coats because the finish can become too thick. 

Furniture

On furniture surfaces, you need 2-3 coats of spray paint.

You must apply more spray paint coats for high-traffic furniture to protect the surface from damage and scratches. However, for decorative furniture, you don’t need too many spray paint coats; 1 coat is enough.

On Car

You need 3-4 coats of spray paint on a car. You need more coats of spray paint on cars because cars see a lot of friction.

Frequent washing, stains, dust, UV rays, heat, rain, and dents can remove the spray paint off the car. So, you need enough spray paint coats to handle all of these without chipping prematurely.

However, you must only use automotive spray paint on cars, and you must apply primer before applying spray paint. 

Final Words

The minimum spray paint coats is 2, while the maximum is 4. If you apply less than 2 coats the finish will be weak and won’t protect (or cover) the surface underneath. If you apply more than 4 coats of spray paint, the finish will take longer to dry and turn sticky.

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