Spray Paint Distressed

I refinished yet another piece of furniture this week (although it is the first for my blog!) and this time I used a technique that I have never used with furniture before – spray paint. I remember precisely when the idea struck. I was at the home improvement store getting some spray paint for a completely unrelated project and I saw this beautiful grey color. I can’t believe the plethora of colors available in spray paint nowadays! So I picked up the can and was struck by genius -“I wonder if I can spray paint my furniture piece?” So I figured I can always give it a shot and if it doesn’t work out, I will just repaint then refinish as usual with traditional products.

Now, recognizing the fact that I have never really worked with spray paint on a large piece of furniture I was a little leery of using it. I was nervous it would look cheap, and I really can’t have a cheap looking piece of furniture, especially one I created. I just refuse. Well it turns out I was half right. After I painted the piece, before I got to the distressing part – it was none too pretty. I thought I was going to have to redo the whole piece. I’m still not quite sure why I proceeded to the distressing stage with the way it looked at the freshly painted stage. I suppose I just held out hope that all would work out. Thank goodness for that one little iota of hope, because as soon as I started the distressing, I realized how great the piece was going to be when it was finished.

I have experienced this sort of “uh oh” moment before when painting and distressing with standard latex, chalk or milk paint, but it is usually in regards to the color of paint, not the paint itself.

All in all I had a great time refinishing this piece. I learned a lot about the strengths and weaknesses of spray paint, and I finished the entire piece in like two hours, start to finish. That is definitely a record for me. These are the attributes of the paint that I noticed; Strengths: great for small pieces, super fast, really easy, user friendly, quick setup and cleanup. Weaknesses: uneven finish without many layers, finish isn’t as nice as traditional paint, colors aren’t as rich as other paint types, not so great for larger pieces of furniture. The spray paint overall just kind of lacks the true opacity, or depth that more traditional paint types give to furniture. I’m not sure if that makes any sense?  Regardless, I’m sure there are many people who would disagree with me about spray paint being less aesthetically appealing on furniture than traditional paint, just as I’m sure there are many painting purists out there who can’t even believe I tried painting a piece of furniture with spray paint. But, you never know until you try, so I encourage you all to give it a go whenever you are curious, and see what you think. You never know, you just might get a great five dollar furniture makeover out of it!!

In conclusion, I don’t think I will ever use spray paint on anything larger than a chair in the future. Spray paint really can’t be beat when it comes to very small or metal items, but medium to large furniture pieces is just not it’s strong suit.

Here was my process:

I first dragged out the piece of furniture and set it on the grass, no drop cloth or anything. I figure we mow every week, so the painted areas of grass will be gone by the next time we mow right?


Then I just went to town. Be sure to shake your paint thoroughly. I know it seems obvious, but you’d be surprised. Paint one coat, wait for about ten minutes, then paint again. Continue until there is an even finish throughout the furniture piece.


I used a traditional latex paint in a creamy white that I had on hand to paint the detailing. I ran out of spray paint before I was able to finish the feet, so I painted those white as well.


For the distressing portion I used both a coarse and a fine grit sandpaper. I find it easier to work with flat sandpaper when it is folded into thirds or quarters to make it fit into the hand nicely. Don’t apply too much pressure, just a light touch will get the job done. Never forget to distress the areas that would naturally get the most wear – the corners, edges, and around the handles. This will lend a more authentic feel to your piece.


Here is the difference in effect that coarse and fine grit sandpaper give you. The coarse is on the left, fine on the right. Notice how the fine paper gives a smoother mark? Both are great, just depends on the look you are going for, I wanted both.


And of course a before and after. I really did like the piece in it’s before state, I think I had just outgrown and gotten bored with it’s look. But I looove the new neutral look of the piece. Pure classic simplicity.


And just a few more shots for good measure. 🙂



Not too bad for five bucks!!





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