Can You Spray Paint Wood?

Picture this: you’re sitting in front of a piece of wood furniture, looking at all the nooks and crannies. You’re thinking, “Do I really want to tackle all of that with a brush?” and the answer is probably “No.” Then, you start wondering, “Can you spray paint wood?” After all, it is a lot easier.

Yes, you can spray paint wood. However, you do need to use the right approach for your project. If there’s paint or varnish involved, the wood is stained, or the wood is bare, sanding or priming before painting might be necessary. Choosing the right spray paint is also essential.

If you’re trying to figure out the answer to “can you spray paint wood,” here’s what you need to know, including a step-by-step process to follow.

Can You Spray Paint Wood

Can You Spray Paint Wood?

Yes, spray painting wood is an option. However, it’s crucial to pick out a spray paint designed for the task. Unfortunately, not all spray paints work well on wood, so you want to select a product that specifically states wood is a surface it can handle.

Additionally, you’ll need to factor in a few other points. If the wood is bare, priming before you paint could be necessary. Raw wood can absorb a significant amount of paint, so primer gives you a solid base coat, limiting that issue. However, certain combination paint-and-primer-in-one products might make that unnecessary.

If the wood was painted or varnished previously, sanding and priming could be necessary. Otherwise, adhesion issues could be more likely, leading to bubbling, chipping, or similar problems.

Is a Primer Needed for Spray Paint?

In most cases, primer is a good idea before painting. It gives you a clean surface and helps the paint adhere correctly.

Plus, bare wood is highly absorbent. By using a primer, you may reduce the total number of coats you’ll need, saving you money and time.

For previously painted, varnished, or otherwise finished wood, primer prepares the surface for the new paint. You’ll have fewer adhesion issues and reduce the odds that the underlying color or product will bleed through, leading to a smooth, consistent finish.

However, there are spray paints that serve as a paint and primer in one. With those, skipping primer might be an option.

What Kind of Spray Paint Can You Use on Wood?

Spray painting on wood

Technically, you can use an array of spray paints on wood. You can find options in nearly any finish -including gloss, semi-gloss, satin, eggshell, matte, and flat – with relative ease.

You also aren’t limited in color. There are spray paints in classic shades, trendy hues, and everything in between. Whether you’re looking for a classic black, a bold turquoise, a vibrant tangerine, a soft pink, or anything else, you’ll likely be able to find it.

Spray paint also comes in several types. Often, general-purpose spray paint works on several surface types, potentially including wood. You can also find water-based acrylics and oil-based spray paints. Lacquer spray paint is available, allowing you to get a durable, high-shine finish. You can also find chalkboard and chalk spray paints that work with wood, giving you more functionality or a soft, velvety matte finish.

Ultimately, the biggest key to choosing spray paint for your project is finding one that specifically states it works on wood. Usually, manufacturers list the surface types it adheres to on the packaging, making it easy to see if your preferred product is a viable option.

Can You Spray Paint Wood Furniture Without Sanding?

Generally speaking, it’s smart to sand before painting wood furniture. You want to make sure there aren’t any rough spots before you apply any primer or paint, increasing the odds of getting a smooth result. Plus, if there is an existing glossy finish, spray painting could be essential for proper paint adhesion.

However, there could be instances where sanding isn’t necessary. If the furniture is in good shape and free of rough spots, you may be able to forgo sanding if the wood is bare. Similarly, sanding may be optional if there is paint in a place that’s in good shape – free of chips and cracks – and the finish is flat or matte.

Using chalk spray paint might help you avoid some sanding, too. If there’s a glossier paint in place already, using a deglosser instead of sanding might be an option, as well. Still, sanding before you paint is typically a smart move.

What Happens If You Don’t Sand Before Painting?

If you don’t sand before painting, the biggest determiner in whether you’ll experience a problem is the current state of the surface. When you don’t sand bare wood, you aren’t taking the time to remove any bumps, chips, or other issues, so you might get an uneven result.

If the piece was previously painted or varnished, not sanding means you aren’t addressing chips, cracks, or flaking. Plus, if the finish is in any way glossy, you might have adhesion issues. In turn, bubbling, cracking, and peeling can all happen.

How to Spray Paint Wood

How to Spray Paint Wood

While the answer to “Can you spray paint wood?” is “yes,” you do need to use the correct approach. Here’s a step-by-step process for spray painting wood:

1. Put on Safety Equipment

For this project, you’ll want a mask, eye protection, and gloves. Spray paint isn’t something you want to breathe or get into your eyes. The same goes for any debris created when you sand. Plus, it’s easy to accidentally get paint on your hands, as well.

2. Sand the Surface

Whether you’re dealing with bare, stained, painted, or varnished wood, sanding first is a good idea. It allows you to address rough spots, degloss the surface, handle paint peels, or tackle other surface-related issues.

The grit level you’ll need could depend on the problems you’re addressing. If there is notable unevenness, you may want to go with a medium grit in the 100 to 150 grit range. For simply prepping paint of handling smaller issues, a fine grit between 200 and 300 could do the trick.

3. Clean the Piece

After sanding, you need to remove the debris. Use a soft, clean rag to wipe down the surface, ensuring all dust is taken off before the next step.

4. Choose a Paint-Friendly Location

Painting is inherently messy. However, if you’re using spray paints, you’ll want to choose the right location before you begin.

Ideally, you want to select an area where overspray won’t be an issue. This could include an open area or a space where you can drape everything in the vicinity with sheeting or cloths. That way, any paint that doesn’t hit the piece won’t adhere to something in the background you’d prefer it didn’t.

Additionally, place a drop cloth underneath the piece to protect your floor. Not only may you need to point in a downward direction, but some of the paint may also drift that way, so you’ll want that coverage.

5. Prime the Wood (Optional)

While priming is usually best, it could be optional depending on the paint you choose and the state of the surface. If you’re using primer, apply it following the manufacturer’s directions. Then, let it fully dry before moving forward.

In most cases, it’s best to flip the piece upside down and start on the underside.

6. Spray Paint the Wood

After using the primer, it’s time to paint the piece. Read the manufacturer’s directions to determine if you’ll need to shake the can during the process and see if it will spray in any direction.

Once you’ve done that, flip the piece upside down. Use long, even strokes to apply the paint, continuing off the edge of the piece before doing the next pass. Make sure there’s a slight overlap as you work, increasing the odds that you’ll get complete coverage.

As you paint, it’s best to do an even coat that’s a bit lighter than to try to load it with paint as you work. If there’s too much paint, drips and other issues will happen. Instead, focus on applying it evenly, accepting the fact that a second coat could be necessary.

If the single coat worked, you can simply let it dry. If not, follow the manufacturer’s guidance regarding how long to wait before applying the next coat. Then, give it 24 hours to fully cure.

Sealing Spray Paint on Wood

If you want to protect the paint job, you may want to use a sealer. Here’s an overview of how to seal spray paint on wood.

1. Choose a Sealant

As with paint, there are many sealants on the market. Look for a product that’s designed to work on the spray paint you’ve chosen.

2. Put on Protective Gear

Sealants can be harsh, so you’ll want to don protective gear. This is especially true if you’re using a spray-on sealant, as you want to keep it out of your eyes and lungs, as well as off of your hands.

3. Use Long, Even Strokes

Once you’re ready to apply the sealant, use long, even strokes. With spray versions, you want to go slightly past the edge. If you’re applying with a brush, go in one smooth motion from edge to edge as you work.

4. Let It Dry

After applying the sealant, simply let it dry. Review the manufacturer’s instructions for drying times, ensuring you wait long enough. Then, you can use the piece.

Can You Spray Paint Varnished Wood?

Yes, you can spray paint varnished wood. You’ll just want to use the right technique to ensure the paint will stick correctly.

Usually, your first step is sanding. Varnish has a glossy finish, so you’ll need to address that before painting. You could also try a deglosser if you prefer, as it will accomplish the same goal.

After that, you’ll want to apply a primer. Choose a primer that sticks to challenging surfaces – such as a bonding primer – as they’ll do a better job on varnished wood. Then, once the primer dries, you can apply your spray paint.

How Long Does It Take for Spray Paint to Dry on Wood?

Paint spray cans for wood

How long it takes for spray paint to dry on wood depends on the product and the thickness of the coats. Generally, oil-based paints take longer to dry than their water-based counterparts. However, the paint line can also play a role.

Additionally, other factors may affect drying times. For example, if you’re in a humid climate, drying times are longer than if your area is arid. Similarly, when it’s colder, drying times are longer than if it’s warmer.

However, most spray paints are dry to the touch in anywhere from 15 minutes to one hour, depending on the product. But it can take a full 24 hours for the paint to completely cure, so it’s best to wait at least that long before using the item.

Can You Spray Paint Already Painted Wood?

Yes, you can spray paint over painted wood. In this situation, you’ll want to start with sanding. That way, you can even out the surface, address imperfections, and handle any glossiness that may keep the paint from sticking.

It’s also wise to determine if the existing paint is water-based or oil-based. That way, you can choose a primer or spray paint that either matches the paint type that’s already there or that is designed to bond with that paint.

Once that’s addressed, you can prime (if needed) and paint. The number of coats required could depend on the color you’re covering and the new hue you’re applying. Some shades tend to bleed through more than others, so it may take an extra coat or two to get the right coverage, especially if you forgo the primer.

Can You Spray Paint Over Stained Wood?

You can spray paint over stained wood. However, you’ll want to use the right approach. Otherwise, the stain may bleed through the paint in areas, altering the color and creating an uneven finish.

Ideally, you want to begin by sanding the surface, ensuring it’s smooth and any issues are addressed. Plus, sanding lets you handle any glossiness that may have come with the stain, increasing the odds of solid adhesion.

After that, you want to use a reliable primer. There are primers that are designed specifically to deal with the stain, ensuring it’s locked behind the primer. Essentially, it prevents the tannin bleed that can cause discoloration. However, other options can also work, including many bonding and certain one-coat primers.

Once you’ve applied the primer, spray painting shouldn’t be an issue. Just follow the manufacturer’s directions regarding the number of coats, and you should be in good shape.

Best Spray Paint for Wood

If you were trying to figure out the answer to the question, “Can you spray paint wood?” you may also be wondering with spray paints are best. While many options can do an admirable job, there are a few products that stand out from the pack.

Here is a look at some of the best spray paints for wood.

Krylon Colormaster Paint + Primer

Krylon GIDDS-800143 K05150807 Colormaster Paint + Primer, Semi-Gloss, White, 12 oz.If you’re looking for robust, reliable spray paint for wood, Krylon Colormaster Paint + Primer is an excellent choice. It’s specifically designed to work well on wood, as well as metal, plastic, and more. Additionally, it combines brilliant color with exceptional coverage, all while drying in 10 minutes or less.

One benefit of this product line is the array of colors and finishes. Whether you prefer the look of gloss, flat, or anything in between, you can find solid options. Along with classic colors like black, white, and beige and traditional bright hues like sun yellow and true blue, you can get your hands on trendy colors. Plus, the line includes metallics, allowing you to capture the look of other metals in just a few passes with the can.

When it comes to application, this Krylon spray paint features an EZ Touch no-drip tip that combats runs. You’ll have maximum control while maintaining comfort and efficiency, ensuring your product can move forward with ease.

Rust-Oleum Chalked Spray Paint

Rust-Oleum 302592 Chalked Ultra Matte Spray Paint, 12 Ounce (Pack of 1), Aged GrayIf you prefer the smooth, chalky finish, Rust-Oleum Chalked Spray Paint is an excellent choice. The end result is soft and matte, making it ideal for a variety of projects. Plus, this product line comes in an array of colors, both classic and trendy.

This oil-based spray paint provides solid coverage quickly and is dry to the touch in just 10 minutes. It also offers one-coat coverage, allowing you to paint up to 12 square feet with a single can. You also don’t have to do a lot of prep. While primer is recommended for bare wood or those high in tannins, it isn’t necessary in other cases. Just remove loose paint and rust, sand glossy areas, and you’re in good shape.

Application is also easy with this Rust-Oleum spray paint. The can works at any angle, allowing you to get hard-to-reach spots with ease.


If you were wondering, “Can you spray paint wood?” you should now have your answer. As long as the surface is prepped correctly and you choose the right spray paint, you’ll usually be in good shape.

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