What Type of Paint Should You Use for Different Surfaces When Spray Painting?

When it comes to spray painting services, there are a variety of paints that can be used for different surfaces. Primer, alkyd, lacquer, enamel, acrylic, vinyl and latex, epoxy, Plasti Dip and chalk paint are all options. But what medium should you choose? How many coats should you apply? Should it be a thick or light paint? Does it need to be diluted? Do you need a primer? Will it work with your sprayer?Primer is often the starting point for many DIY and home improvement projects. It provides an adequate base, indicates imperfections and covers old layers of paint.

First, an initial coat of primer gives the top coat something to “stick” to. Water-based paints, for example, penetrate fresh wood and leave a thin and uneven finish. The primer ensures a perfect coat. Second, many paint professionals use a diluted primer to indicate defects on the target surface.

Painting does not hide imperfections, but rather emphasizes them. By quickly covering the material with a coat of primer, you can see where the surface is uneven, chipped or scratched and fix it with sandpaper and filler. Third, the primer acts like a clean slate that covers old, worn paint and allows a smooth and even coverage. For the paint spray enthusiast, there is one key consideration: the primer is highly viscous. This means that you need a unit with a lot of noise, such as the Iwata LPH440-181 pneumatic, the Control Pro 190 airless or the Wagner MotoCoat HVLP.

An older painting format that has gone out of fashion due to the introduction of modern vinyls and enamels is alkyd. It uses resin or polyester as a binding ingredient which makes it capable of withstanding some serious abuses and repelling water. Therefore, it is used on high-traffic wood surfaces such as hallways, kitchens and bathrooms. In addition, thanks to its powerful binder, you can apply alkyd materials to existing latex paint or to fresh wood without using a primer. Lacquer is available in four main formats: acrylic, water-based, catalyzed and cellulose.

It provides a solid, waterproof and transparent layer which is generally used on metal and wood surfaces such as fine furniture. It's durable yet breathable allowing the base material to flex. To get a mirror-like shine you need to spray it on, let it dry and then sand it down before repeating this process for a stunning French-Polish finish. Enamel paint is dried to a durable, hard and water resistant finish which is often used in areas exposed to high traffic and finger contact as well as model construction and outdoor surfaces such as window and door frames, kitchen cabinets, railings and patio furniture. To achieve the best results you need a fairly powerful unit along with a fine tip or an aerosol can. Epoxy is possibly the densest paint on the market which presents a precise combination of polymers bonded to a latex or acrylic composite.

It's surprisingly durable making it ideal for floors, marine applications, industrial machinery and wind turbines. Epoxy can be found in two parts: resin and hardener which must be mixed before use or as a one-part formula which can be used right out of the can. Plasti Dip is not to be confused with vitreous enamel which is cooked in an oven on porcelain crockery. It's made of powdered glass. Plasti Dip is used when conventional spray paints simply do not stick to plastic.

Paint manufacturers now offer paint specifically designed for this application which sticks together and fuses with the plastic surface to form a super-strong bond. When used on wood Plasti Dip has the appearance of aged chalk paint without needing priming or sanding. However in drywall and gypsum it's prone to chipping so multiple layers are needed to obtain an adequate layer thickness.

Finlay Patel
Finlay Patel

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