Shed-Headz How To:

Painting Successfully with Spray Cans

    July 29, 2010


Having your project professionally painted will usually see great results, but its not always in the budget, and not always practical for projects especially recreational vehicles like bikes, trikes & snowmobiles.

Professionally painted or not, proper preparation of the piece is critical to achieving a good result. For example, when using body filler you have to take the extra time to work the filler, sand and repeat before painting. When applying enamel rust paint over old paint or rust, scraping, sanding and clearing the surface of all loose paint and rust, then cleaning with a degreaser is very important. When refinishing a snowmobile hood or bike gas tank, once body work is done the surface needs to be blown clean of dust, wiped down with tack cloth and cleaned of all grease & fingerprints.

For Project Invader I had some minor body work to complete before painting the hood to fill in a few dings and scratches. All of the sanding was done by hand with sandpaper attached to a long block. A light mist of flat black paint acted as a guide to mark where additional filler was needed to level the surface, and final sanding was completed with 600 grit paper. Lastly the entire surface was wiped down with degreaser and a tack rag to remove any contaminates and dust.


For this project, I chose Duplicolor automotive spray paint from Canadian Tire, purchasing primer, color coat (which dries flat) and clear coat to finish. Reading the directions on each can instructed which products (and part numbers) the manufacturer recommends to use together so that each layer will bond to the previous. If you use the wrong product, the paint may peel away from the previous layer. Many Automotive Parts stores also sell color match paint in spray cans that they custom mix on site, and is usually a decent quality paint.


I always apply paint in light coats until a nice uniform color is achieved. Lightly sanding between each coat removes dust that settles while drying. Primer comes first, followed by color finishing with clear. I usually wait 15 minutes between coats, but I  let it dry overnight when switching to Color, and to Clear coats. The end result of project invader was a relatively cheap, durable, clean paint job.


When painting miscellaneous steel parts like brackets, suspension, frame, etc, I usually use standard enamel rust paint. The parts are scraped, sanded, and thoroughly cleaned before painting. When preparation is done right the finish will last a long time. If your painting exhaust, engine, or brake parts make sure you use high heat paints applicable to what your painting.

Cheers, Mike

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