Painting Over Spray Paint

Spray paint is a popular, versatile way to quickly and evenly coat surfaces with color. From DIY furniture makeovers to customizing bikes and more, spray paint allows you to easily change the look of an object. But what happens when you want to change the color yet again or need to paint over that spray painted surface?

Painting Over Spray Paint

The good news is that you can successfully paint over spray paint, whether it’s enamel, acrylic, or lacquer-based. With proper preparation and technique, the new paint will adhere well and cover the old spray painted layer underneath.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about painting over spray paint. Here’s what we’ll discuss:

Can You Paint Over Spray Paint?

The short answer is yes, you can paint over spray paint as long as it’s completely dry and cured first. Just like when painting over any surface, the new paint needs something solid to adhere to.

On a properly prepared surface, acrylic latex paint and oil-based paint will both cover and stick to underlying layers of spray paint. Matching water-based paint over water-based spray paint and oil-based over oil-based will provide the best adhesion.

However, you want to avoid painting water-based acrylic or latex paint directly over oil-based spray paint. The acrylic will struggle to bond leading to chipping, peeling, or cracking of the new paint.

Always check the manufacturer’s recommendations for full cure times before painting over spray paint. Rushing this step is where projects go wrong. But as long as the spray paint has fully dried and cured, you can paint right over it with great results.

How to Prepare Spray Painted Surfaces for New Paint

To ensure proper adhesion, the spray painted surface needs some light prep work before applying the new paint. Here are a few tips:

  • Lightly sand the surface. This roughs up the slick spray painted finish so the new paint has something to grip. Use 220-400 grit sandpaper and focus on any glossy areas.
  • Wipe away any dust. Use a tack cloth to remove sanding debris before painting. This prevents dust nibs and specks in the new paint.
  • Use primer on bare spots. If sanding exposes any bare wood or metal, spot prime those areas before painting.
  • Degloss if needed. For very slick or glossy spray paint, use deglosser or etch the surface instead of sanding. This etches the slick paint so the new coat can bond.

Proper prep removes any gloss and gives the new paint something to mechanically adhere to. Rushing this step can ruin all your hard work, so take the time to properly prepare spray painted surfaces before painting.

What Type of Paint Works Best Over Spray Paint?

Oil and latex-based interior house paints both work well over cured spray paint. Here’s how to choose the right topcoat:

Acrylic Latex Paint

Water-based acrylic latex paints are ideal for painting over water-based and acrylic spray paints. The similar base chemistry allows strong adhesion between the layers.

Latex paints provide good coverage, hide imperfections well, and have a fast dry time. Use latex for painting over spray painted crafts, furniture, wood trim, and more.

Oil-Based Alkyd Paint

For oil-based spray paint, choose an oil or alkyd-based paint for the topcoat. The similar oil composition allows for great adhesion over cured oil-based sprays.

Oil paint provides a smooth, hard finish and unbeatable flow and leveling. Use it for a glossy, protective finish over automotive applications or metal surfaces.

Avoid Latex Over Oil-Based Sprays

Latex paints don’t adhere well directly over slick oil-based spray paint. The differing chemistry prevents the latex from bonding leading to possible cracking or peeling.

If you must apply latex over oil spray paint, take extra steps to degloss and etch the surface first for better adhesion. Or apply an oil-based primer coat first.

Primer Layer

For the best results painting over spray paint, consider applying a primer coat first. The primer creates extra adhesion and improves topcoat coverage.

Use primer when painting a darker color over a lighter color of spray paint. It blocks the color below for better hide. Primer also helps seal and protect bare wood or metal exposed during sanding.

How Long Should Spray Paint Dry Before Painting Over It?

Patience is key when it comes to cure times. The general rule of thumb is to allow spray paint to dry for at least 24-48 hours before painting over it. But check the manufacturer’s recommendations, as full cure times vary by brand.

Here are a few factors to keep in mind when allowing spray paint to fully cure:

  • Spray Paint Dries Quickly – The spray application means paint dries to the touch fast, usually within 30 minutes. But don’t be fooled, drying and curing are very different.
  • Curing Takes Longer – Full chemical cure where the paint reaches maximum hardness and adhesion can take up to 7 days.
  • Oil-Based Spray Paints Cure Slower – Enamel and lacquer-based spray paints have longer cure times closer to 7 days vs 1-3 days for acrylic.
  • Cool Temperatures Delay Curing – Ideal conditions are 65-80°F. Cooler temperatures will slow the curing process.

Be patient and allow spray paint to fully cure before painting over it. This prevents the new paint from dissolving or damaging the spray paint below.

Step-By-Step Guide to Painting Over Spray Paint

Once you’ve confirmed the spray paint has fully cured, follow these simple steps for painting over it successfully:

1. Lightly Sand Surface

Use 220 grit sandpaper to scuff up the surface. Glossy areas need more sanding so the paint can grip. Don’t sand down to bare material.

2. Clean and Remove Dust

Wipe away all dust with a tack cloth. Make sure the surface is free of grease and debris before painting.

3. Spot Prime Bare Areas

If sanding exposes any bare wood or metal, apply primer to those spots only. This prevents tannin bleed and rust.

4. Apply Primer Coat (Optional)

For best results, apply a coat of primer over the whole surface before painting. This boosts adhesion and hide.

5. Paint New Topcoat

Use acrylic latex paint over acrylic spray paint. Use oil-based paints over oil-based sprays. Apply 2-3 thin coats.

6. Allow Proper Dry Time

Give paint proper dry time between coats. Latex dries faster than oil-based paints. Let cure 24 hours before use.

Follow these simple steps and you can easily paint over spray paint for a refreshed new look. The same techniques apply to painting over other solid paint finishes as well. Just remember to always properly prepare the surface first before applying the new paint.

Tips for Preventing Spray Paint Overspray

While spraying paint, it’s easy to get overspray on nearby surfaces. This mist can ruin the look of any paint job. Here are some tips to prevent overspray when spray painting:

  • Use drop cloths or paper to mask off any areas not being painted. Tape down edges.
  • Mask surfaces with painter’s tape and plastic sheeting to protect walls, trim, floors, etc.
  • Remove hardware like vents, handles, and light fixtures before spray painting.
  • Spray outdoors if possible for better ventilation and overspray control. Avoid windy conditions.
  • Use “dry fall” spray paints designed to dry before settling. They produce less overspray.
  • Position the spray gun nozzle closer to the surface being painted. Keep it moving at all times.
  • Spray light tack coats first then follow with heavier coats for full coverage.
  • Spray perpendicular to the surface, holding the can 6-10 inches away.

Avoiding overspray takes some practice and effort but prevents hours of cleanup and repainting later. Masking off surfaces and removing items is key. If overspray does occur, remove it ASAP with mineral spirits before it fully cures.

FAQs About Painting Over Spray Paint

Let’s review some of the most common questions about painting over spray paint:

Can you paint latex over oil-based spray paint?

Latex doesn’t adhere well directly over slick oil-based paints. To paint latex over oil spray, the surface needs proper prep to degloss and etch the surface first. Or apply an oil-based primer coat first for better adhesion.

How long does spray paint need to cure before another coat?

Most spray paint types only require 1-2 hours dry time between coats. But always check the manufacturer’s recommendations since the recoat time can vary. Allow the full 24-48 hours for total cure before painting over spray paint.

Does spray paint need to be primed before painting over it?

Primer isn’t mandatory but provides benefits like better adhesion and hiding power when painting over spray paint. Use primer when changing colors drastically or painting over bare wood/metal spots.

Can you use spray paint over acrylic paint?

Yes, cured acrylic paint makes a suitable base for spray painting. Scuff sand to rough up the smooth acrylic surface first. Apply light tack coats of spray paint first, then follow with heavier coats for full coverage. Acrylic spray paint works best over acrylic brushed paint.

How do you get rid of spray paint overspray?

Overspray can stick to surfaces and ruin paint jobs. Remove overspray ASAP before it fully cures using these methods:

  • Mineral spirits or paint thinner dissolves fresh overspray on glass and metal.
  • Mr Clean Magic Erasers can remove spray paint from solid surfaces if caught early.
  • Razor blades or plastic putty knives scrape off overspray carefully.
  • Repaint – Heavily over-sprayed areas may need sanding, priming, and repainting.

Should you sand before spray painting?

Sanding before spray painting helps paint adhere better by improving “tooth” on the surface. Use 220 grit sandpaper to scuff up glossy finishes. Avoid sanding down to bare wood. Wipe away dust then apply light tack coats first when spray painting over prepped surfaces.

How do you get spray paint off skin?

To remove fresh spray paint from skin:

  • Rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover breaks down spray paint on skin when rinsed off quickly.
  • Baby oil helps moisturize as it lifts spray paint off skin. Scrub then rinse clean.
  • Hand sanitizer works similarly to rubbing alcohol to dissolve spray paint on hands.
  • Soap and warm water help scrub away dried spray paint. Use an exfoliating soap for best results.

Can spray paint be used on plastic?

Yes, spray paint formulated for plastics sticks well to cleaned and prepared plastic surfaces. Scuff smooth plastic first. Apply light coats allowing proper dry time between coats. Let fully cure 72 hours before handling painted plastic pieces.


Painting over spray paint opens up new possibilities for refinishing furniture, crafts, and more. As long as the spray paint has fully cured, a new layer of acrylic or oil-based paint can adhere over the top with proper prep work.

Always test a small area first if unsure how new paint will bond over old spray paint. With a little patience and the right techniques, you can paint over spray painted surfaces for an updated, colorful look.

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