How To Spray Paint Furniture

The question I get asked the most is - 'Jayde, how do you spray paint furniture?' Well you're in the right place if you're keen to find out.

Right before I dive in, let me clarify - this post will be stepping you through how to spray paint furniture using an air compressor and paint gun, not an electric powered spray gun.

What are the benefits of spraying furniture?

It produces a smooth, brush stroke-free finish, quickly.

If you are flipping furniture for profit your time is money and if you're working on a hutch, dining set, or spindle back chairs you will be investing a huge amount of time/money painting by hand. Not to mention the cost to your sanity! Am I right chair flippers?! 

It allows you to batch spray multiple pieces of furniture at one time (with the same colour) walk away and come back 2 hours later for a second coat. 

Here are a few pieces I sprayed to show you what the finished products can look like - you can leave it super smooth but you also have the option to distress.

What equipment do I need?

You'll need:

1) An air compressor.

I use a twin pump, 50 litre, 220 litres per minute, direct drive, 3.0 horse power motor compressor purchased from Trade Tools.  

You need to ensure that the compressor you're buying has enough grunt to power a spray gun for an extended period without cutting in and out to refill the air tank. I suggest shopping at retailers where trades people buy their tools and speaking to their customer service team.

It's also worthwhile at time of purchase to think about what other tools you may want to use in your work, to ensure your machine can power everything you want to throw at it. For example, I use my air compressor to power my staple gun for upholstery work. I will never use a handheld manual stapler again after seeing how quick and easy fixing fabric is from an air powered staple gun.

Like all tools you buy, you'll need to maintain and service the compressor periodically, be sure to read the instructions as each one is different.

2) A low volume low pressure (LVLP) or high volume low pressure (HVLP) gravity-fed spray gun

 

I personally choose to use an air powered LVLP, gravity-fed spray gun (informed by my experience using an electric spray gun) because it:

  • produces a finer finish;
  • provides greater control over spray pattern and volume;
  • is cost-effective in terms of paint consumption;
  • is light and easier to manoeuvre across surfaces.

HVLP spray guns put out more paint and are great for applying finishes on other mediums but I find for furniture finishing a lower volume fits the bill.

Paint spray guns vary greatly in price and it pays to do your research. You need to remember, that tradies use equipment on a commercial scale so don't freak out seeing guns priced at hundreds of dollars - people in car body shops use these things all day long and require guns to be built for heavy usage.

As time goes on, you may like to purchase additional guns reserved for particular finishes ie. dark paints and/or sealants.

3) Spray gun stand

This is a very useful, inexpensive tool (not essential) because it allows you to stand your gun upright and fill the plastic hopper with paint/finish on a bench. It's a great place to rest your gun between coats also.

4) Hose and fittings

If your air compressor doesn't come with an air hose you'll need to buy a hose at a length that will reach from your power point to your spraying site. 

You will also need the relevant fittings/attachments for the hose and gun. This is not exactly straight forward, there are many different attachment types, male and female, and I suggest when buying the compressor and hose you ask what fittings you need. It's important you buy the right ones because otherwise the air will escape.

5) Respirator and eye protection

It's super important to wear a respirator to protect your lungs while spraying and to shield your eyes, particularly if you're using toxic primers or sealants.

How to spray

Now that you've got the gear - it's time to practice spraying! Emphasis on the word 'practice.' 😅 This is going to be a learning curve and with practice you'll soon master the technique.

Step 1.

Put down dropsheets to spray in an outdoor area or a tent. 

Step 2.

Apply protective gear and on your practice run fill your hopper with water only.

On your first go - fill your spray gun hopper in the stand with approximately 250-300ml stirred and strained water based finish. Add 10% of water to hopper till you achieve a pouring cream consistency, add more as needed and stir.

I haven't needed to dilute Made By Paint's Chalk and Clay Paint by any more than 10%.

I recommend using the 1 litre tins of Chalk and Clay Paint as they offer the best value for money (especially if you want to spray multiple pieces) compared to other 500ml furniture paints.

Step 3.

Connect your spray gun to your airhose and turn on the air compressor allowing the tank to fill. Yes I know, it's noisy!

Step 4.

Get familiar playing with the dials on your gun each one is different - typically you can adjust the fluid volume, air volume and spray pattern. On your practice run, spray water on a fence or piece of carboard/paper. 

You'll need to adjust the nozzle to spray across or up and down on your surface.

Step 5.

When spraying pull the trigger in before you hit the surface and make sweeping motions horizontally or vertically and don't stop till you're off the other end of the surface, then release your trigger finger. Overlap by 50% on your next sweep through. 

Step 6.

Once your first coat is applied, place your gun in it's stand and wait 2 hours. Return to apply a second and subsequent coats till you reach your desired opacity.

Step 7.

Let dry overnight, then apply 'Polyseal' using your LVLP gun alternatively apply a finishing wax or oil. Be gentle with your piece till it's fully cured in approximately 3 weeks time.

That's it folks! That's how I spray furniture 😀.

I hope that this has helped to demystify what's involved in spraying furniture and that you're more informed about what equipment is required. There are great benefits to spraying furniture and I hope that you'll have a go and see for yourself.

Remember, practice makes perfect!

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