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GEAR NOTES - SPRAY PAINTING TIPS
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Spray Paint gets a bad rap in so many venues, and it's almost ALWAYS due to the USER, and NOT the paint!
As is ALWAYS the case with DIY projects, the main problem with spray paint is... the people who use it. I've seen a LOT of butchered spray paint jobs, and they always come down to the same problem... USER ERROR.
I hear many folks complaining that spray paint runs or drips (user error), that it doesn't adhere well (user error) or that it doesn't wear well and chips/scratches easily (user error). All of these issues come down to folks who DON'T READ DIRECTIONS, or simply don't understand the process.
A lot of these user errors happen in "rush jobs". If you're in a rush to paint and use a piece of gear... don't bother. Wait until you have some real time to invest in the paint job. If you do the "rush job", and the results are less than satisfactory... don't complain about the product!
Here are the ways that every step of a "rush job" can hurt the end results:
In point of fact, MOST people simply skip surface prep and jump straight to painting... with terrible results. Glossy surfaces, oils, waxes and other surface conditions WILL prevent proper paint adherence to your project. The most common issue when painting plastics is "mold release agent". This substance prevents plastic from sticking to the mold during manufacturing... and it will also prevent paint from sticking to your project! There are specialty paints that are advertised to overcome this, but in reality, MOST paint will adhere to plastic if it is properly prepped!
If you want to see good paint adherence and durability, you MUST thoroughly clean and degrease and then rough up your surfaces with fine sandpaper or 3M type scouring pad. This will give the spray paint a better surface to cling to. Decent prep also means good ventilation, good lighting, and a dust free environment. It might also involve hangers or clips to suspend an object so you can access all the surfaces you want painted (or masking to keep other surfaces free of paint).
- PRE-PAINT - Another thing people do is to skip or rush the paint mixing. When the manufacturer tells you to shake thoroughly for at least a minute... they MEAN IT. I shake rather vigorously for about 2-3 minutes. If you don't have a consistent mixture, you will not get proper drying/adherence! When you actually start painting, plan to stop every couple minutes for another 10 or 20 seconds of shaking. That little marble inside the can was put there for a reason... make it rattle!
People tend to try for one-coat coverage. They put spray paint down WAY too thick. This is where drips, runs and other cosmetic issues come into play. The can should be at least a foot from what you are spraying. The can should NEVER stop moving. When done properly, the first coat should look like you've faintly misted the surface. The second coat should have most of the surface covered, but with some areas still showing through. By the 3rd or 4th pass, you should have a nice, solid coating with no runs or drips.
This is yet another step that most people don't understand. The can may claim the paint is "dry to touch" in 1 hour (or even a few minutes)... but that does NOT mean the paint is DRY... in fact it's nowhere near dry. Most spray paint takes 24 hours to reach somewhere between half to 2/3 hardness. It will continue to harden over many days and finally reach peak hardness after as much as a week or two. Translation: If you paint your favorite hunting rifle the night before the hunt, don't expect the coating to hold up to abuse in the field. Giving it at LEAST a week in a warm, dry place is going to work wonders for overall durability.
By now you might be realizing that spray paint is NOT made to be a time saving method. If you're still reading this, you're the patient type who reads instructions. That's a good thing... spray paint was made for people like you!
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