A coat of paint can breathe new life into just about anything, but just slapping any old paint straight on will generally lead to a disappointing finish. Don’t worry though, there’s really not much you need to know. By the end of this read, you’ll be ready to paint just about anything.
For this article, we’ll be using the Australian Export enamel paints because they’re just so versatile! You can paint wood, concrete, ceramics, steel and a variety of metal surfaces. They are suitable for use inside or outside the home too and can be purchased in aerosol or brush on cans.
So which should you use Aerosol? Or a tin? The aerosol is great for covering large areas easily, without leaving brush marks. From a tin it can be brushed on for small touch up, and is much better for hand painting patterns and designs.
- Safety Gear: Dust mask, eye protection and some gloves
- 400 grit sandpaper (plus some lower grit sandpaper if needed)
- Wire brush
- Soapy water and a brush
- Wax and grease remover
- Rust converter (optional if needed)
- General purpose thinners
- Masking tape & masking paper
- Export enamel primer (grey or white)
- Export enamel colour of your choice
- A selection of brushes if you’re working with tins
Shopping list, what do I need?
Method, how to proceed?
Step 1 - Preparation
Now that you’ve got the shopping out of the way, it’s time to get into preparation. This is the most important part of any paint job. If you’re working with an older, weathered item; grab the wire brush and attack any loose paint, rust or soil from the object. Once all the loose stuff is gone, move on to sanding. Using 400 grit paper will give a perfect key for your new paint so as it doesn’t flake or peel. However, if it needs a little more work, using some rougher sandpaper before the 400 grit will make things much easier.
Once you’re happy with the surface prep, give it a quick wash with the brush and soapy water (this step doesn’t apply to wooden items, they will be fine with a quick dust off). Allow your piece to dry completely before finishing off the clean with wax and grease remover on a rag.
If you’re painting a metal object which has a bit of a rust problem; this will only come back if you paint straight over it. Treat this with the rust converter to be sure it’s truly neutralised.
Step 2 - Painting With Aerosol
We start with primer. Using primer will help your colour to adhere to the surface, and it’s especially important for porous surfaces such as wood, concrete and ceramics. Mask up any areas you don’t want to make a mess of. Then start spraying in a back and forth sweeping motion, slightly overlapping the previous layer.
Always focus on keeping your hand parallel to the object being painted , the natural tendency is to spray in an arc pattern which leaves you with thick paint in the middle and not enough at the edges.
The primer layer will need 24 hours to dry before your next coat. After this, continue with the primer until no further colour shows through, allowing an hour to dry between coats.
Now, after all that prep work comes the fun part – applying colour! Again, one hour drying time between coats and longer if you’re applying thicker coats from a tin. Again, focus on keeping your hand parallel to the surface to lay on the paint evenly.
Step 2b - Painting With Tins
If you’re running the tinned paint through a small air brush or touch up gun; your coating method and drying time should be much the same as an aerosol can. However, with a brush, the drying time can vary wildly depending on how thick the paint goes on. Therefore, you should allow each coat to become touch dry and allow an hour of drying time on top of that before laying down another coat.
Step 3 - Clear Coat
Do I really need to use clear coat with enamel? The short answer is…. you really should. Not only will a clear coat ensure an amazing high gloss finish, it also provides UV protection to keep it looking that way for longer. Apply two to three coats of clear allowing the same drying time between each.
Step 4 - Clean up
Clean up?! Yuck! But it has to be done, and that’s what the general purpose thinners is for. As these enamels are oil based, thinners will get your brushes looking like they were never even used! If you can get any overspray or paint spills quick enough, a rag soaked in thinners will probably clean it up. Just be sure to wear protective gloves and be careful which surfaces you apply it to – thinners is serious stuff!
Enamel paints can take a while to dry completely, especially if you’ve laid a few coats on. Give your item at least overnight to dry and perhaps up to a couple of days. You’ll know it’s not quite cured if it is dry to the touch, yet still feels a little “soft” to the touch.
Once it’s fully cured though, this paint job will be durable in all conditions for years to come.
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