17 Spray Painting Mistakes & How To Avoid Them

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Spray painting is a great way to completely transform an object, but it can also be frustrating. 

Spray paint seems simple enough – just point and shoot. But there are so many things that can go wrong! The nozzle clogs up, the spray doesn’t cover evenly, or you get drips all over your floor or furniture.

This guide will help by showing you the top spray painting mistakes and how to avoid them happening to you!

spray painting mistakes and how to avoid them

1. Spray Painting When Too Cold/Hot

If you try to paint when it’s too cold, the spray paint will freeze in the nozzle. Then when you try to use it again, the liquid is pushed out in blob-like chunks which create uneven coverage.

Similarly, if you’re painting outside in direct sunlight or in hot conditions, heat can cause your spray paint to dry too quickly and produce a cracked finish.

Best Way To Avoid This Mistake: Always spray paint when the temperature is ideal – usually between 50-90 degrees F.

2. Not Accounting For Overspray

Overspray is when the paint becomes airborne and covers an unintended surface. For example, when you’re painting a wall and your spray paint goes onto the floor!

Or in my case when I was spray painting in the garage & it went all over my car in the driveway!

Best Way To Avoid This Mistake: Cover up all surfaces near where you’re painting with thick plastic sheets (or old curtains, tablecloths, etc). If you want to do a really careful job of minimizing overspray (to save time), you could also use a masking tape border to protect the area from any stray spray paint.

3. Spraying In Windy Conditions

Wind makes the spray paint become airborne, and it will blow everywhere! The wind will carry your spray painting away from its intended surface and onto unintended areas.

Not to mention it’s a waste since more spray paint will end up in the air than on the surface you wanted it on!

If you’re looking to paint outside, avoid windy days!

Best Way To Avoid This Mistake: Wait for good weather before you begin your project, and go somewhere with minimal wind if touching-up is necessary.

4. Poor Ventilation

One mistake people make is not spray painting in a well-ventilated area. This could mean that you’re in a poorly ventilated room or outside with little to no wind. If this is the case, you’ll be inhaling fumes from the spray paint and will feel unwell when you’re done.

My husband tried spray painting our egress in our basement & let me tell you it was a horrible idea! The ventilation was so bad he almost passed out.

Best Way To Avoid This Mistake: Make sure your surrounding area has proper ventilation and avoid spray painting indoors.

5. Not Protecting Yourself

Spray paint can get in your eyes and lungs if you don’t protect yourself from it. In order to avoid spray paint inhalation, so be sure to wear a mask and some safety goggles!

Related: How To Get Spray Paint Off Glasses

spray painting with mask

6. Not Prepping Surface Before Spray Painting

One of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to spray painting is not prepping the surface. The surface you’re painting should be clean, dry, and free of any dirt or residue.

For example, if you’re painting a wooden table, sand down any rough spots first. If your paint is raw wood, the new coat will soak up too much of it and penetrate unevenly. Another example not roughing up glass surfaces with sandpaper first.

Best Way To Avoid This Mistake: Make sure the surface you’re painting is clean and free of dust or residue by sanding down rough spots or wiping off with a wet cloth.

7. Skipping The Primer

If you’re painting on a porous surface, like wood, for example, it’s best to prime first. Otherwise, the paint will soak into the surface and not look uniform or smooth.

Also, if you are spray painting glass, it’s best to use a primer first to have maximum adhesion.

Best Way To Avoid This Mistake: Always do a light coating of primer first on any porous material or glass before using paint.

8. Not Using The Right Spray Paint

Plan on spray painting plastic or fabric? You’ll need to use a specific type of spray paint that is meant for that surface.

If you use the wrong spray paint on plastic, you will run into problems with the paint not adhering properly or peeling off after a few days.

Also, using the wrong spray paint on fabric will cause it to stiffen and crack.

Best Way To Avoid This Mistake: Make sure you purchase the right spray paint for the job, especially plastic and fabric.

spray painting outdoor fabric colors

9. Using An Expired Can Or Clogged Nozzle

If you try to spray paint with an expired can or a clogged nozzle, the spray paint won’t be injected properly and it will create a mess.

If the nozzle is partially clogged, using it will mean that the paint sputters and runs, making your project look bad. If it is clogged, you can clean it out first before using it.

Best Way To Avoid This Mistake: Buy fresh spray paints and test them before you start a painting job. If you’re not sure if your can of paint is expired or clogged, it’s best not to use it! Also, keep in mind that most cans of spray paint only last for a few years.

spray painting clogged nozzle

10. Not Elevating Objects To Be Painted

If you’re planning on painting something small, like a vase, for example, don’t just set it on the floor or a table.

Instead, elevate it onto something to raise its height, like old pieces of wood. This will help you reach all angles so you don’t have any missed spots!

Best Way To Avoid This Mistake: Raise your objects! Putting something small underneath will allow you to get every spot the first time.

11. Spraying Too Lightly Or Too Heavily

If you spray paint too lightly, there won’t be enough paint to make your project look professional. But if you spray it too heavily, the paint will run and create drip marks.

Check out our ultimate guide on how to spray paint for all the tips and tricks for the perfect spray paint job.

Best Way To Avoid This Mistake: Learn how to spray paint and what motions to use to get the best results. Remember, practice makes perfect! Don’t be afraid to try out the technique on a scrap piece of wood until you are confident.

12. Not Observing Proper Recoat Times

The amount of time you need to wait before applying another coat of paint is called the recoat time.

The majority of botched spray paint jobs can be attributed to people not observing proper recoat times. If you apply another coat of paint before the previous coat has had time to dry, there will be an overlap, and unevenness, peeling, cracking, or dripping will occur.

Best Way To Avoid This Mistake: Pay attention to the brand’s instructions on your can of spray paint (they usually include more information on recoat times). Make sure you read this information before you begin your painting job!

Related: How Long Does Spray Paint Take To Dry?

13. Trying To Fix Wet Paint

The most common mistake people make is trying to fix wet paint. It’s too late! If you try, the only thing that will happen is a bigger mess. When you try to fix wet spray paint, you’re adding more paint and it can cause the previous coat to run.

The best thing to do is let your first layer dry before adding a second or third layer. Otherwise, you’ll only make the problem worse!

Best Way To Avoid This Mistake: Don’t touch it until it’s dry! You can also check out these tips to help dry spray paint faster.

14. Not Sanding Between Coats

If you don’t sand the surface that was just painted, there will be unevenness in your project. It’s best to sand down between coats in order to create a smooth surface.

If you’ve painted an item only once, the only parts that might need sanding are the edges; if you’ve already sprayed it twice, all areas will likely need to be sanded before another coat is applied.

Best Way To Avoid This Mistake: Sand down your project between each layer of paint to create a smooth surface.

15. Not Shaking Paint Thoroughly

If the manufacturer recommends shaking the can for two minutes, make sure you shake it for two full minutes before you begin your project. If there is too much paint on the surface, it can drip and cause unevenness.

It’s best to start with a new spray paint can than one that wasn’t shaken or has been sitting for a long time as it may result in poor results.

Best Way To Avoid This Mistake: Shake your can for two full minutes before beginning your project.

16. Mixing Different Paint Colors

Not all blacks are created equal! Make sure you have enough spray paint for your project. Mixing different spray paints is an amateur mistake that can happen to anyone. You should use one type throughout the entire project to get the best results possible.

Best Way To Avoid This Mistake: Have enough spray paint! Don’t rely on a single can of paint; get two or more if necessary.

17. Not Cleaning Up Right Away

If you’re not cleaning up immediately after use, then the spray paint can dry on your hands or surfaces. This can make it hard to wash off and can become extremely frustrating!

Best Way To Avoid This Mistake: Always clean up your spray painting equipment after use! If you do get some spray paint on yourself don’t worry, there are many ways to get spray paint off the skin without using harsh chemicals.


Spray painting can be a little intimidating, but if you know what mistakes to avoid and the right steps to take when it comes time for your project, it doesn’t have to be. When it comes to painting, practice makes perfect!

So what do you think? Are there any other spray painting mistakes that we’ve missed or that you’ve encountered? Comment below and let us know your thoughts! Don’t forget to check out our ultimate guide on how to spray paint for all the tips and tricks for the perfect spray paint job.

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