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

Spray paints are not only easy to use. The paint also gives a bright and beautiful finish to the material it’s used on. So, can you spray paint wood?

You can spray paint wood. It’s a very quick option for finishing wood. However, before you can spray paint wood, the wooden surface has to be properly prepped to allow the paint to stick and perform well on the wood. Also, the spray paint to be used has to be designed for use on wood.

It’s not advised to spray paint large wooden items indoors to prevent a build-up of fumes. Spray painting is safer if done outdoors.

But that’s not all. This post reveals more about spray painting wood including 5 easy steps to carry out the task. So let’s dive in.

Can Spray Paint Be Used on Wood?

Generally, spray paints stick properly to wood. This is because wood is a porous material and the spray paint when applied can easily bite into the wood to stick.

However, spray paints won’t stick to sealed or finished wood. This is because the finish or sealant on the wood will prevent the spray paint from biting and sticking properly to the wood.

Also, most sealants used on wood have moisture-resistant features and chemicals included in the formula that can repel spray paint.

So to be on the safer side, only spray paint wood that hasn’t been sealed or finished. For wood that has been finished, you’ll have to remove the finish first before the spray paint can stick.

Types of Spray Paints To Use

What Type Of Spray Paint Can You Use On Wood?

There are dozens of spray paints that can be used on wood. It all depends on the type of finish that you are going for. But you have to ensure that the spray paint to be used is designed for use on wood. If the spray paint isn’t designed for wood, it won’t perform well.

Generally, the best type of spray paint to use on wood is water-based spray paint. This is because water-based spray paints contain a very low levels of paint chemicals and harsh compounds. This means the paint is less likely to damage or discolor the wood.

Also, water-based spray paints don’t require any special prep work and the paint is very easy to use. Asides from that, water-based spray paints also dry quickly. On average, a water-based spray paint coating will get dry in less than 2 hours. This means you can quickly re-coat, sand, and even seal the finish with a top coat.

Also, water-based spray paints perform very well on wood. The paint penetrates the wood grain easily and when dry, it reveals a bright and colorful finish.

However, water-based spray paint isn’t the best option for outdoor wood. If you’ll be working on outdoor wood, it’s best to go for a solvent or oil-based spray paint. This is because solvent and oil-based spray paints are formulated with chemicals and additives to make the spray paint thrive in the harsh exterior environment.

For instance, rust-oleum spray paint has silicone compounds that protect the wood from heat. The spray paint is also moisture-resistant meaning that the spray paint when dry will form a layer that will prevent water or grease from affecting the wood. Krylon and Rust-oleum produce some excellent spray paint options for wood.

Is Priming Necessary?

You don’t have to prime before spraying the wood with paint. This is because the spray paint will stick to the wood with or without a primer as long as the wood doesn’t have an existing finish or sealant.

But without priming the wood first, chances are the spray paint finish will not come out smooth or fine.

The purpose of paint primer is to cover and seal imperfections like cracks and holes in the wood before the paint is sprayed. Without priming first, the cracks, holes, and stains in the wood will affect the spray paint when it is applied.

This can make the finish uneven and rough. But if the wood to be spray painted is clean and smooth, you don’t have to prime it first.However, there are cases where it’s necessary to prime before spraying the wood with paint. 

When is Priming Neccessary?

When Is It Necessary To Prime Before Spraying Wood?

You should prime before spray painting wood in the following cases:

1. If You Are Spray Painting Rough Wood

If the wood feels rough, you need to apply at least 2 coats of paint primer before spray painting. In this case, the paint primer will cover the rough texture of the wood and when dry, the primer coating will be smooth and even.

The smooth primer coating will serve as an undercoat for the spray paint so the finish can one out smooth and fine. Without priming rough wood, the uneven texture of the wood will affect the finish. It’s also advised to sand rough wood before priming.

2. When You Are Working On Patched or Repaired Wood

When you want to spray paint wood that has been patched or repaired, you have to prime it first. When wood is repaired, it will have several marks and compounds on it such as wood filler, caulk, and glue.

All these compounds can prevent good paint adhesion and they can make the finish rough when the spray paint gets dry.

In this case, the paint primer will cover these compounds and marks so the spray paint can stick properly. It’s advised to use thick primer coats on repaired or patched wood.

3. When Working On Wood With Stains

If the wood is riddled with stains like grease, oils, dirt, or even moisture, you have to seal the wood with a stain-blocking and moisture-resistant paint primer. The best option for such wood is shellac-based paint primer.

In this case, the stain-blocking primer will dry to form a layer that will prevent the stains and moisture in the wood from bleeding through the spray paint.

4. If Spraying a Porous Wood

Though wood is a generally porous material, some are more porous than others. For instance, Oak is a very porous wood. When you want to spray paint wood like oak, you need to prime first.

This is because these types of wood will suck paint easily. Without priming, the wood will suck several coats of spray paints since spray paint is usually thin. The primer coating helps to seal the wood so the paint isn’t sucked in.

5. When Working On Fresh Wood

Fresh wood is also very porous so you need to seal it before spray painting.

6. If Wood Has An Existing Stain Or Finish

If you are working on wood that has been sealed or finished previously, you need to prime the wood before spray painting. In this case, the paint primer seals the existing stain so it doesn’t bleed through the spray paint.

Also, the paint primer prevents the color or shade of the existing finish from showing through the spray paint. 

Spray Painting Wood Without Priming

When Can You Spray Wood Without Priming First?

You can spray paint wood without priming first in the following cases:

1. If Wood Is Perfect

If the wood is clean, smooth, fine, and without any bumps or imperfections, you can spray it with paint without priming first. In this case, the spray paint will stick and come out smooth since there isn’t anything on the wood that can repel the spray paint or ruin the finish.

2. If The Existing Finish Matches The Spray Paint

If the wood has an existing finish that matches the color shade of the spray paint that you want to use, you don’t have to prime first. For instance, if the wood was stained with white paint and you want to spray white paint too, you don’t need to prime.

In this case, the existing finish will serve as the paint primer or undercoat. All you need to do is sand the existing finish lightly to remove dirt.

3. When You Need A Quick Fix

If you need a quick fix on wood probably to flip the wood for quick cash or to repair an area on the wood, you don’t need to prime first.

How To Spray Paint Wood?

To spray paint wood, you’ll need the following tools and supplies:

  • Medium-grit sandpaper
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • A clean rag or cloth
  • Paint primer
  • Spray paint
  • A sealant (optional)

Here is a quick rundown on how to do it:

  1. Remove the existing finish from the wood
  2. Sand the wood
  3. Apply paint primer
  4. Apply two to three coats of spray paint

Now, let’s get to work.

1. Remove The Existing Finish From The Wood

Remove The Existing Finish From The Wood

The first step is to remove any finish or stain on the wood. If you don’t remove the finish first, the spray paint will not stick or perform well on the wood. You can remove the finish using a paint scraper, stripping compound, or a solvent.

2. Sand The Wood

Sand The Wood

After removing the existing finish, you need to sand the wood. Start sanding with medium-grit sandpaper. Then move on to fine-grit sandpaper to even out the wood grain.

The medium-grit sandpaper will remove imperfections like bumps and pimples in the wood. The fine-grit sandpaper will make the wood smooth and fine.

If the wood is riddled with stains and tannins, you can wet sand to prevent a build-up of dust. However, if you wet-sand, you’ll have to wait a few hours before you can spray paint.

3. Apply Paint Primer

Apply Paint Primer

After sanding the wood, apply paint primer. If you want to spray water-based paint, you should apply a water-based or latex paint primer. If you want to apply oil-based spray paint, you should apply an oil-based or enamel paint primer.

For spray paints, you need 2 coats of paint primer. Ensure to allow each coat of primer to dry before re-coating. 

4. Spray Paint The Wood

Spray Paint The Wood

It’s generally advised to shake the spray paint container for at least 30 seconds before spraying the paint. This is to allow the content in the spray paint to be properly mixed so the paint can come out smoothly.

While spraying the paint, ensure to leave at least 8 inches between the nozzle of the spray can and the wood. This ensures proper coverage.

Also, don’t stay too long on a spot or you’ll have too much spray paint. Allow each coat of the spray paint to dry before re-coat. You should also sand between each coat of spray paint (except for the final one). You’ll need 3-4 light coats of spray paint for the perfect result on the wood.

Is Sealing Necessary?

You don’t have to seal the wood after spray painting. You should only seal the wood after spray painting if the wood will be used outdoors.

Interior wooden items like furniture, shelves, wall frames, and the likes don’t have to be sealed after you coat them with spray paint. This is because these items will be used indoors which means the wood and the spray paint will not be exposed to the elements and harsh exterior environment.

But for wood that will be used outdoors, you have to seal after spray painting. This is because the wood will be exposed to the elements, dust, and handling. All of these will ruin the spray paint quickly. So you need to seal the paint to protect it.

Also, if you spray paint wood items like decks, floors, patios, and the likes, you need to seal them after spray painting. This is because these wooden items experience high traffic and weight so you need to seal the wood to improve the durability of the finish.


Does Spray Paint Protect Wood?

Spray paint protects the wood but the level of protection depends on the type of spray paint that you use. Water-based spray paints protect wood from dust and stains but not from moisture or the elements.

Oil-based spray paints protect wood from dents, moisture, and stains but not from UV rays. Spray paints like rust-oleum paint protect wood from heat, UV rays, and moisture. So it all depends on the type of spray paint that you used.

However, if you want maximum protection on wood, you should use exterior spray paint. Exterior spray paints are formulated with chemicals that make the spray paint finish withstand heavy use, moisture, heat, and other environmental factors.

How Long Does Spray Paint Last On Wood?

Generally, spray paints last between 6 months and 5 years on wood. On average, spray paint will last over 3 years on wood.

However, the durability of the spray paint depends on the prep work carried out before the paint was applied, the type of spray paint used, and the type of wood.

To make spray paint last longer on wood, you should seal the paint with a moisture-resistant or exterior top coat.

How Long Does it Take Spray Paint To Dry On Wood?

It takes spray paint between 30 minutes to 2 hours to dry on wood. It takes 30 minutes to dry enough for a re-coat, but it takes 2 hours to fully dry.

Final Words

Overall, you can spray paint wood as long as you do enough prep work before spraying the paint. Also, ensure to use spray paint designed for wood. To make the spray paint last longer, you should seal the paint with a protective sealant.

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