Can You Spray Paint Any Surface? (Quick Guide & Resources)

Spray paint is one of the most versatile products in your home improvement arsenal, and it’s a great way to add color or texture to almost anything.

But can you spray paint any surface?

You can spray paint nearly any surface such as wood, metal, plastic, glass, ceramic, concrete, drywall, plaster, masonry, and even cardboard! When buying spray paint, be sure to check the label because it will indicate what type of material or surface the paint should be used on. Different paints work best on different surfaces.

While many surfaces can be spray painted, some may require special preparation or a different type of paint to ensure proper adhesion, longevity, durability and good-looking finishes. It is always best to refer to the manufacturer’s instructions or seek the advice of a professional before attempting to spray paint any surface.

In this article, we will look at whether we can spray paint any surface and provide tips for the process.

Can you spray paint any surface?

Though spray paint can be applied on almost any surface, including paper, plastics, metals, ceramics, glass, concrete, brick, drywall-based walls, stone, etc., some surfaces cannot be painted with spray paint such as Styrofoam.

We must also remember that spray paints may contain chemicals and other substances that are very harmful to our health. These chemicals if inhaled or digested, may cause severe health issues. So, we should not use spray paint on the surfaces where we eat, drink, and sleep.

If we spray paint an item on which we eat food or drink water, say, for example, a plate or glass – the chemical used in the spray paint may stay on these items even after the spray paint dries completely. These chemicals may get inside our bodies and cause serious health problems.

Note that modern spray paint products are designed to be versatile and coat virtually every surface. Pick up any can of all-purpose Rust-Oleum and you’ll be in good shape!

Related: Can you spray paint in the rain?

How to spray paint any surface (step-by-step)

Spray painting can be a versatile and efficient way to add color and a fresh look to various surfaces on your DIY projects.

However, before diving into your project, there are several important factors to consider to ensure successful results. Imagine you want to spray paint an old wooden table or other piece of furniture in your house to give it a new life.

Here’s what you should keep in mind.

Prepare your surface before painting

Make sure the surface you plan to paint is clean, dry, and free from any dust or debris. This ensures that the paint adheres properly and provides a smooth finish. In our example, you would need to clean the table and remove any existing paint or varnish if necessary.

Prime your surface

Having primer on hand is advisable, especially when dealing with bare or uneven surfaces. Primer helps create a smooth and even base for the paint to adhere to, resulting in a more professional paint job finish. Applying primer before spray painting the wooden table will help ensure better adhesion and coverage.

Control your work area conditions

Secondly, consider the environment in which you’ll be working. Spray painting should ideally be done in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling fumes or causing potential health risks.

Outdoor spaces with good airflow or designated spray booths are excellent choices. If you must work indoors, open windows and doors or use fans for proper ventilation.

Plan for weather, temperature, and humidity

Another crucial factor is weather conditions when spray painting outdoors. Avoid windy days as it can cause overspray and uneven coverage. Extremely hot or cold temperatures can affect how the paint dries and adheres to the surface – think runs, drips, wrinkles, or bubbles.

Optimal weather conditions provide better results.

Use the right equipment and protective gear

To achieve optimal results, it’s essential to have the proper painting equipment. A high-quality sprayer or aerosol canister will provide more control and even application compared to low-quality options.

Ensure that your sprayer or canister is in good condition and functioning properly before starting your project. Additionally, have clean brushes or rollers available for any touch-ups or smaller areas that may need attention.

Lastly, select the appropriate protective gear, such as gloves, goggles, and a mask, regardless of the type of paint being used. Safety should always come first when working with spray paints to protect yourself from harmful chemicals.

Remember, selecting the right materials and equipment is crucial for achieving successful spray painting results. Investing in quality products will likely produce superior outcomes and help you master this art form.

What materials can you spray paint?

Spray paint can be applied on many different types of materials, such as wood, metal, plastic (including PVC), cement, fiberglass, glass, ceramic, plaster, masonry, and more.

Different materials require different types of spray paint, so selecting the appropriate paint for the surface is essential for achieving optimal results. Consider factors such as the type of material, its porosity, and its intended use (indoor or outdoor).

For example, if you are planning to paint a wooden surface, using an all-surface spray paint would be ideal as it adheres well to wood and provides long-lasting protection. On the other hand, if you are working with metal, a rust preventative spray paint can help inhibit rust formation and maintain the integrity of the metal.

However, there are certain limitations when using spray paint on each material. Let’s see what they are:


You can easily apply spray paint on wooden objects, but before applying spray paint on wood, make sure that the object has been properly prepared. If the surface is dirty, then first clean it well with soapy water.

After cleaning the surface, sand it lightly with a fine-grit sandpaper. Sanding helps to remove all the dust particles from the surface. Once the surface is ready, apply primer, followed by two coats of the finish coat.


Metal is another type of material that can be sprayed with spray paint.

Before spraying the metal, make sure that the surface is free from rust. Clean the surface with soap and water. Then, sand the surface with 120-grit sandpaper. Apply primer and then two coats of finish coat to prepare the surface for spray painting.


Plastic is another type of material that can be painted with spray paint without any problem. Just follow the same steps mentioned above for preparing the surface. You must know that spray paint will stick to all the surfaces mentioned above, but to achieve the desired long-lasting result, you must prepare each and every surface very well before spray painting them.


First and foremost, glass surfaces need to be thoroughly cleaned and free of any dust or dirt. Use a mild detergent or glass cleaner and a lint-free cloth or paper towel to achieve a pristine surface. For better paint adhesion, it may be helpful to lightly roughen the glass with sandpaper or steel wool. Be sure to clean away any residue from this process before proceeding.

When choosing the spray paint for glass items, look for options specifically designed for use on glass surfaces. These paints often contain additives that promote adhesion and create a smooth finish on the slick surface of the glass. Additionally, they may offer a range of transparent, translucent, or opaque colors to suit your desired look.

Materials on which you can not use spray paint:

As I mentioned earlier that there are some surfaces that we can not spray paint. One of those surfaces is Styrofoam.

Styrofoam is made up of polystyrene, and it is lightweight and easy to handle. It is widely used in packaging, insulation, construction, shipping and transportation industries. But, Styrofoam is not suitable for spray painting because it melts if we use spray paint on it.

Apart from Styrofoam, we should not spray paint the items in which we eat food or drink water, like plates, bottles, and glasses. Also, we shouldn’t spray paint anything where we sleep or the products that we touch frequently.


In most cases, it is possible to spray paint any surface provided that you prepare the surface properly, use the correct spray paint, and use the proper technique.

Remember, selecting the right materials and equipment is crucial for achieving successful spray painting results. Investing in quality products will likely produce superior outcomes and help you master this art form.

  • According to a 2021 Market Research report, spray paint holds approximately 15% of the total market share for paint in the United States due to its versatility on different surfaces.
  • Industry data shows that all-surface spray paints can bond to nearly any surface, being effective up to 70-80% of the time depending on surface type and preparation.
  • A study conducted by KTA-Tator, Inc., a Pittsburgh based engineering firm found that with proper surface preparation, modern spray paints can provide significantly durable finish of up to a decade on surfaces like wood, metal, plastic, masonry and more.

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