Paint Sprayer vs. Spray Paint

Paint Sprayer vs. Spray Paint

Hot summer days are the perfect time to get a little spray painting done outside. But does your project require some cans of spray paint, or should you purchase or use a paint sprayer? I’ll share how I usually decide what to use today, so you can start planning your next weekend painting project!


Cans of spray paint cost about $3-$4 each. I use the type that has primer already built in. For leggy items and items with a weave your coverage will be fine, but start using cans of spray paint on a large span and you will blow through paint rather quickly. Large segments of furniture will also highlight uneven painting.

If you are painting a large piece of furniture such as a cupboard, a wardrobe, or a large table, purchasing a liquid paint and using a paint sprayer will be much more economical. Your choice of paint colors will also be unlimited.

Vintage metal chairs


Vintage metal patio furniture is a perfect candidate for spray paint cans. Prep the pieces with some sanding to get off any loose paint layers and allow the new paint to adhere to the scratched up surface.


Wood and wicker are softer materials. Water based liquid paint applied with a paint sprayer seems to give a more flexible finish. And using a paint sprayer allows a much wider flow of paint, which covers larger expanses better and more even. An old carpenter friend tipped me off to adding a little Floetrol into the paint as an additive. It thins the paint a little, which is better for the sprayer, and maximizes how the paint functions and dries.

When using a paint sprayer, it’s always good to have a brush handy, in case you spy some drips.

Thin Coats, built up slowly are best.

There’s nothing worse than applying too thick of a layer and getting drips. Take your time and apply several thin coats.

Apply from different directions.

Spray from one side of the piece for one coat and then stand on the other side for the next coat so you get all the angles.

Always start on the underside (if it needs to be painted).

Use a plastic squeeze handle when spraying with spray cans. It will save your pointer finger from terrible arthritis. They’re usually available right next to the spray can display.

Small cubbys

Mail sorter unit

So here’s a test…which paint application did I choose for the cubbies above? (Because brush painting anything with cubbys is torture).

I used cans of spray paint for the small, orange cubby’s because they were small and they also were made of a fake-ish wood that had kind of a shiny finish.

I used the paint sprayer for the large white cubby and also painted a few other large furniture pieces white at the same time. This piece was made of soft pine so it soaked up watery, latex paint (+primer) perfectly. I definitely had to spray from all the angles for different coats to make sure all those spaces were painted. After I stenciled the numbers,  I gave the whole piece a coat of poly with my poly sprayer {which you can learn more about in “Wagner Sprayer”}. It provides a nice, satin finish and will increase wearability.

Rattan chair

The rattan chair, above was also painted with the paint sprayer. A small piece like this could be painted with a couple of cans of spray paint, but I really do prefer the feel of a liquid paint on wood pieces. If you were painting one little wicker chair for the garden, a can of spray paint would totally be fine. But if you’re painting a wicker set of chairs, loveseat and a side table? The paint sprayer would be the way to go.

Hope that helps you make some decisions as to how you’re going to paint your next project! If you have any further questions, please ask away in the comment section, below.


Paint sprayer vs. Spray paint

4 thoughts on “Paint Sprayer vs. Spray Paint

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s