Spray painting is a great way to change the color of many surfaces. But, can you spray paint fabric?
You can spray paint fabric but only if you use spray paint designed for fabric. Fabric spray paints have a different formula from regular spray paints. Fabric spray paints are made from acrylic polymer and color.
There is no chemical or additive in fabric spray paint that can damage the fabric. Some fabric materials are easier to spray paint than others. So which fabric is easy to spray paint and which is difficult? Also, what type of spray paint do you use on fabric? Find the answers to these questions and more in this post.
Does Spray Paint Stick To Fabric?
Generally, spray paints stick very well to fabric. This is because most fabric materials are very porous and absorbent meaning that the paint will be easily absorbed by the material. Cotton for instance soaks spray paints heavily.
However, there are exceptions where spray paint doesn’t stick to the fabric. For instance, spray paints don’t stick very well to fabrics like leather and polyester. This is because these fabrics are usually non-porous meaning that the spray paint wouldn’t be absorbed by the fabric. As such, the spray paint will not stick and can be easily wiped off.
You should only use fabric spray paint on fabric. Though regular spray paints will also stick to the fabric, the spray paint will ruin the fabric. Sensitive fabrics like wool should never be spray painted with regular spray paint.
What Type of Spray Paint Can You Use on Clothes?
The best type of spray paint to use on fabric is fabric spray paint. These spray paints have a very simple paint formula. The usual ingredients in fabric spray paint are color, a solvent (usually water), and acrylic polymer.
All of these compounds can’t etch or damage the fabric so they are safe to use on even clothes. Use can also use Krylon paints and dye on fabric. Dye is usually made from just colorant which explains its usual colorful finish.
But to spray dye on fabric, you’ll need to do a few things first. You’ll need to thin the dye properly to ensure it’s as light as possible. Then you need to load the thinned dye in a spray gun and spray the fabric.
How To Spray Paint Fabric?
To spray paint fabric, you’ll need the following tools and supplies:
- A cardboard
- Spray paint for fabric
- A bucket of water
- A hanger
1. Wash The Fabric
This may seem unnecessary but the first step is to wash the fabric in water and detergent. This is to remove dirt. Also, some materials like cotton need to be pre-washed before spraying them with paint. This is because cotton tends to shrink. So wash the fabric first.
2. Hang The Fabric
When the fabric is ready, hang it using a hanger. If it’s a large piece of fabric material, using a hanger might be difficult. So you can flip the fabric on a rope and hold it in place with pegs.
It’s better to spray the fabric this way. It allows you to get a good view of the fabric to prevent over-spraying. It also helps you to wipe off excess paint without pressing it into the fabric.
3. Put a Cardboard Between Each Side Of The Fabric
You need to put cardboard between both sides of the fabric to prevent you from spraying paint on both sides.
For instance, you might want to spray the front of your shirt with a cream color and the back with black paint. Without cardboard between both sides, you’ll spray the black paint on the front and the back. The cream paint will also be sprayed on both sides.
The cardboard serves as a shield to keep the paint where it is supposed to be.
4. Spray The Fabric
The next step is to spray the fabric. Before you spray the fabric, ensure the paint is properly mixed. You’ll need to shake the can for about 60 seconds to achieve this.
While spraying, don’t take your arm back. You should paint in a sweeping motion. Keep your arm straight and don’t bend your wrist or you’ll create an arch. You can spray up to 4 coats of paint on the fabric. Ensure to leave enough dry time between coats. Remember to use cardboard.
When you are done spraying one side of the fabric, wipe off the excess paint and leave the fabric for at least one hour to dry. After, you can spray the other side. Again, remember to use cardboard or a shield.
5. Leave The Fabric To Dry
The final step of this project is to let the fabric dry. In some cases, you’ll need to heat or bake the paint for it to set in the fabric. Check the manufacturer’s instructions to know if you need to heat the paint.
Types of Fabric You Can Spray Paint
Here are the types of fabric that you can and can’t spray paint:
You can spray paint cotton fabric. Cotton fabric is one of the most absorbent and easiest fabrics to spray paint. However, you need to ensure the fabric is 100% cotton. If the fabric isn’t 100% cotton, spray painting it will prove difficult because the other material will not be as absorbent as the cotton.
So you’ll be needing more spray paint on one side and less on the other. Also, the spray paint will not dry at the same time which can affect how bright the finish will be.
You should also use a paint shield while spray painting cotton. This is to prevent unwanted colors especially while using multiple spray paint colors.
You can spray paint polyester fabric. But, only if you use spray paint that can stick to synthetic materials since polyester is not natural.
Polyester is made through a chemical reaction that produces a non-absorbent fabric. Since polyester is non-absorbent, spray paints wouldn’t stick to the material.
Oil-based spray paints especially don’t stick to polyester fabric. However, if the spray paint contains acrylic polymer, you can use it on polyester.
Linen is a highly-absorbent fabric material that can be easily spray-painted. Also, linen isn’t a very sensitive material so most fabric spray paints will go well on linen. Also, since linen is a lightweight fabric, spray paint will get dry very quickly.
You can spray paint wool since the material is made from a natural material. This makes the spray paint also stick well because wool is very absorbent.
However, ensure to check if the wool has already been painted or dyed before spray painting. It’s a common practice to dye wool and if the wool has dye, it will be difficult to spray paint it. Also, the content of the spray paint can react harshly with the dye and damage the wool since wool is sensitive.
Tip: If the wool has dye, don’t spray paint the wool.
You can spray paint denim since denim is absorbent. Also, the fabric is strong and less likely to be damaged by spray paint. Spray painting denim is a very common practice. You might have even noticed spray-painted denim being worn by graffiti artists.
You can spray paint leather. But, most fabric spray paints will not stick to leather because leather is non-porous. As such, you’ll need spray paint that sticks to synthetic material to spray paint leather. There are also leather-spray paints that you can purchase.
However, you should know that you’ll need multiple coats of spray paint to change the color of the leather. Usually, you’ll need at least 6 – 8 coats.
Fabric Spray Paint Won’t Last Long
Fabric spray paints don’t last very long. Regardless of what most manufacturers will tell you, fabric spray paints are not permanent; at least the color isn’t. Fabric spray paints usually last between a few months and about 3 years. After this time, the color will start to fade.
There are several reasons for this fade in color. First, every time you wash the fabric, you wear the paint. Gradually but surely, the paint will fade. Also, every time you put on the fabric if it’s a cloth, you expose it to the elements, sweat, and possible spills. All of this will make the paint fade eventually.
You’ll know when the color is starting to fade off the fabric when the fabric has a lighter color shade. For instance, If you sprayed blue paint on the fabric, it would begin to turn sky or light blue.
Also, you’ll start to notice the color coming off while you are washing the fabric. If you check the water left after washing the fabric, the water will have the color of the fabric.
However, fabric dye lasts longer on fabric than spray paint. On fabrics like wool, a dye can last forever. So if you want a permanent color, you should use dye.
Can You Wash Fabric After Spray Painting?
You can wash the fabric after spray painting but you need to wait for the spray paint to fully dry before you can wash the fabric.
This will take between 24 hours and 5 days. Most manufacturers advise leaving the fabric for 3 days before you even wear it which means a longer time before you can wash it.
I’ll advise you to leave the fabric for 5 days before washing it. Also, after spray painting fabric, it’s best not to wash the fabric with any other cloth. You should never use bleach or any strong detergent on the fabric either. If not, you’ll ruin the fabric.
Overall, you can spray paint fabric. It’s a great way to add color to and revive the look of different fabric materials. Just ensure to use spray paint designed for use on fabric.
Krylon paint makes good fabric spray paints. Also, don’t use any spray paint that contains chemicals or oils on fabric. Such spray paints can discolor and etch the fabric.