Can You Spray Paint Fabric? (Here’s How)

Spray painting is a great way to change the color of many surfaces. But, can you spray paint fabric?

You can use fabric spray paint to spray clothes. They have a different formula from regular spray paints. They are made from acrylic polymer and color and there are no additives that can damage the cloth. 

However, some clothes materials are easier to spray than others.

Compatibility

Generally, spray paints stick very well to fabric. This is because most fabric materials are porous and absorbent meaning that the paint will be easily absorbed. For instance, cotton absorbs paint the easiest. 

However, there are exceptions where spray paint doesn’t stick to the fabric. For instance, it won’t stick well to fabrics like leather and polyester. This is because these materials are non-porous meaning that they won’t absorb liquid. 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, they can ruin the cloth. You shouldn’t use regular spray paint on sensitive materials, such as wool. 

Types of Spray Paint To Use

It’s recommended to use spray paint designed for fabric because they have a simple formula that won’t damage the material. Their usual ingredients 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 cloth, 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 apply it.

How To Spray Paint Fabric?

Spraying clothes is easy, but you need to prep them properly to get a smooth and even finish. 

  1. A cardboard
  2. Spray paint for fabric
  3. Detergent
  4. A bucket of water
  5. Pegs
  6. A hanger

1. Wash The Cloth

Wash The Fabric

First, wash the cloth in water and detergent to remove the dirt. Some materials, such as cotton, need to be pre-washed before it tends to shrink over time, and this can prevent good adhesion. 

2. Hang The Cloth

Hang The Fabric

Wait for the cloth to dry, and hang it using a hanger. If it’s a large piece of fabric, using a hanger might be difficult. So you can flip it on a rope and hold it in place with pegs.

It’s better to spray it this way as it allows you to get a good view of the material to prevent over-spraying. It also helps you to wipe off excess paint without pressing it.

3. Put a Cardboard Between Each Side

Put a Cardboard Between Each Side Of The Fabric

You need to put cardboard between both sides of the cloth to prevent you from spraying both sides.

For instance, you might want to spray the front of your shirt with a cream color and the back with dark color. Without cardboard between both sides, you’ll spray the dark 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

Spray The Fabric

Mix the spray can by shaking it for 60 seconds, and use it. 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 apply up to 4 coats of spray paint on the fabric. Ensure to wait until one coat dries before applying the next one. When you paint one side of the cloth, wipe off the excess and leave the coating to dry for an hour. After, you can spray the other side of the cloth.

Remember to use cardboard (or a shield) between both sides to prevent bleeding-through. 

5. Leave The Fabric To Dry

Leave The Fabric To Dry

After you apply the final coating, leave it to fully dry (cure) for 24-72 hours before using or washing the cloth. 

Types of Fabrics:

What Types of Fabric Can You Spray Paint?

Here are the types of fabric that you can and can’t spray paint:

Cotton Fabric

You can spray paint cotton fabric as it is one of the most absorbent materials. 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, one side of the cotton will absorb more paint, while the non-cotton material won’t; this leads to a blotchy finish. 

Polyester

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 material. Since polyester is non-absorbent, oil-based spray paints wouldn’t stick to it. However, if the spray paint contains acrylic polymer, you can use it on polyester.

Linen

You can spray paint linen as its a highly-absorbent materials. Also, since linen is a lightweight material, the coating will dry fast. 

Wool

You can spray paint wool since the material is made from a natural material and it’s absorbent. 

However, ensure to check if the wool has already been dyed. 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.

Denim

You can spray paint denim because it’s an absorbent material. Also, it is strong and less likely to be damaged.

Leather

Most fabric spray paints will not stick to leather because leather is non-porous. As such, you’ll need a sprayer that sticks to synthetic materials. There are also leather-spray paints that you can purchase.

Durability

Regardless of what most manufacturers will tell you, fabric spray paints are not permanent; at least the color isn’t. They usually last between a few months and about 3 years. After this time, the color will start to fade.

There are several reasons why its color fades. First, every time you wash the fabric, you wear the color. Gradually but surely, the color 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 color fade eventually.

You’ll know when the color is starting to fade off the cloth when it has a lighter shade. For instance, if you sprayed blue color on the cloth, it would begin to turn sky or light blue.

Also, you’ll start to notice the color coming off while you are washing the cltoh. If you check the water left after washing it, the water will have the color of the cloth.

However, fabric dye lasts longer. On materials like wool, a dye can last forever. So if you want a permanent color, you should use dye.

Washing

You can wash the fabric but you need to wait for the spray paint to fully dry before you do it. This will take between 24 hours and 5 days. Most manufacturers advise not using the cloth for 3 days before you even wear it which means a longer time before you can wash it.

Final Words

Overall, you can spray paint fabric. It’s a great way to add color to and revive the look of different materials. Just ensure to use spray paint designed for use on fabric, such as Krylon.

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