Can You Use Spray Paint On Fabric? A Detailed Guide

Whether it’s redecorating furniture or giving an old T-shirt a makeover, spray paint offers an easy way to transform the look of fabric items. But before grabbing a can of paint and going to town, it’s important to understand how to properly use spray paint on fabric to get the best results.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Yes, you can use spray paint on fabric if you properly prepare the fabric first and use light even coats of paint meant for fabric surfaces. Read on for more details.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about using spray paint on fabric, including the right steps for preparation, how to apply the paint, tips for achieving the best results, and how to care for spray painted fabric items.

Choosing the Right Spray Paint

Look for paints formulated for fabric surfaces

When it comes to spray painting on fabric, it is important to choose a paint that is specifically formulated for this purpose. These paints are designed to adhere to the fabric fibers, ensuring a long-lasting and durable finish.

They typically have ingredients that help the paint bond to the fabric, preventing it from cracking or peeling over time. Look for spray paints that mention “fabric” or “textile” on the label to ensure you are using the right product for your project.

Consider the finish you want

Before purchasing spray paint for fabric, consider the type of finish you want to achieve. Spray paints come in various finishes such as matte, satin, and glossy. Matte finishes provide a flat, non-shiny look, while satin finishes offer a subtle sheen.

Glossy finishes, on the other hand, provide a high-shine and reflective appearance. Choose a finish that complements your project and matches your desired aesthetic.

Think about the color and opacity

Another factor to consider when choosing spray paint for fabric is the color and opacity. Some spray paints offer a wide range of colors, allowing you to find the perfect shade for your project. Additionally, consider the opacity of the paint.

If you want a solid and opaque color, look for paints that provide full coverage. If you prefer a more translucent effect, opt for paints that offer a sheer or semi-transparent finish.

When selecting the right spray paint for fabric, it’s always a good idea to read product reviews and recommendations from reliable sources. Websites like The Spruce Crafts and Martha Stewart provide valuable insights and recommendations on the best spray paints for fabric.

Keep these factors in mind to ensure your spray painting project on fabric is a success!

Preparing the Fabric Surface

Before you start using spray paint on fabric, it is important to properly prepare the surface. This will ensure that the paint adheres well and creates a long-lasting finish. Here are some steps to follow:

Clean the fabric and remove any residue

Begin by thoroughly cleaning the fabric. Remove any dirt, dust, or stains that may be present. Use a gentle detergent and lukewarm water to clean the fabric. Gently scrub the surface and rinse it thoroughly. Allow the fabric to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

This will help the paint adhere better to the fabric.

Apply a primer or paint meant for fabric

Once the fabric is clean and dry, it is recommended to apply a primer or a paint specifically designed for fabric. This will create a smooth base and improve the adhesion of the spray paint. Primers and fabric paints are available in various colors, so you can choose one that matches or complements the color you want to achieve.

Apply the primer or fabric paint evenly, following the instructions provided by the manufacturer.

Let the primer fully dry before painting

After applying the primer or fabric paint, allow it to dry completely. This step is crucial to ensure that the spray paint adheres properly and creates a smooth finish. The drying time may vary depending on the product used, so be sure to check the instructions.

Avoid rushing this step, as painting on wet or tacky primer can result in an uneven or blotchy finish.

By properly preparing the fabric surface, you can ensure that the spray paint adheres well and creates a professional-looking finish. Taking the time to clean, apply a primer or fabric paint, and allowing it to dry fully will help you achieve the best results.

Applying the Spray Paint

Work in a well-ventilated area

When using spray paint on fabric, it is important to work in a well-ventilated area. The fumes from the paint can be strong and potentially harmful if inhaled in large quantities. Open windows and doors to allow fresh air to circulate, or consider working outside if weather permits.

This will ensure that you have proper ventilation and reduce the risk of any health issues.

Cover your work surface

Before you begin spraying, it is essential to cover your work surface to protect it from any overspray. You can use a drop cloth, old newspapers, or even a large garbage bag. This will prevent any paint from getting on your furniture or flooring.

It’s also a good idea to tape off any areas that you don’t want to be painted, such as buttons or zippers on clothing.

Shake the can thoroughly before spraying

Prior to using the spray paint, it is crucial to shake the can thoroughly. This helps to mix the paint inside and ensures a smooth and even application. Hold the can upside down and shake it vigorously for about a minute.

This will help to prevent any clumps or clogs in the nozzle, giving you a consistent spray.

Hold the can 6-10 inches from the surface

When spraying the paint onto the fabric, hold the can approximately 6-10 inches away from the surface. This distance allows for better control and helps to prevent the paint from pooling or dripping. Holding the can too close may result in an uneven application, while holding it too far away may cause the paint to disperse too widely.

Apply light, even coats

Instead of applying one heavy coat of spray paint, it is recommended to apply light, even coats. This technique helps to prevent the paint from saturating the fabric, which could lead to stiffness or cracking once it dries.

Start with a light mist and gradually build up the color with additional coats if needed. This will allow the fabric to retain its flexibility and ensure a more professional finish.

Let each coat fully dry before adding another

After applying a coat of spray paint, it is important to let it fully dry before adding another. This allows the paint to adhere properly to the fabric and prevents any smudging or smearing. Depending on the type of paint and fabric, drying times may vary.

It is recommended to follow the instructions on the paint can for specific drying times. Patience is key to achieving the best results!

Achieving the Best Results

When it comes to using spray paint on fabric, achieving the best results requires some careful preparation and attention to detail. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your project:

Use painter’s tape to create sharp edges and patterns

For clean lines and crisp designs, using painter’s tape is a must. It allows you to create sharp edges and define patterns on your fabric. Simply apply the tape to the areas you want to protect, ensuring it is firmly pressed down.

This will prevent any unwanted paint from seeping through, giving you a professional-looking finish.

Consider using a spray paint specifically for fabrics

While regular spray paint can work on fabric, using a spray paint specifically designed for fabrics can yield better results. These paints are formulated to adhere well to fabric fibers and provide long-lasting color.

They are also flexible, allowing the fabric to maintain its softness and flexibility. Look for spray paints labeled as “fabric spray paint” or “textile spray paint” for the best outcome.

Apply enough coats for full coverage

When using spray paint on fabric, it is important to apply multiple thin coats rather than one thick coat. This ensures better coverage and reduces the risk of the paint cracking or peeling. Start with a light misting coat and gradually build up the layers, allowing each coat to dry before applying the next.

This will result in a smooth and even finish.

Be patient and allow proper drying between coats

Patience is key when using spray paint on fabric. Allow each coat to dry completely before applying the next. Rushing the drying process can lead to uneven color distribution and smudging. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for drying times, as they can vary depending on the type of spray paint used.

It’s better to wait a little longer for each coat to dry than to risk ruining your project by rushing the process.

By following these tips, you can achieve great results when using spray paint on fabric. Remember to always work in a well-ventilated area and protect your work surface with newspaper or a drop cloth. With a little practice and patience, you’ll be able to create stunning designs on fabric using spray paint!

Caring for Spray Painted Fabric

Once you have successfully spray painted your fabric item, it is important to take proper care of it to ensure its longevity. Here are some tips to help you care for your spray painted fabric:

Let the paint cure fully before using the item

After spray painting your fabric, it is crucial to allow the paint to cure fully before using or washing the item. This typically takes around 48 hours, but it’s best to check the instructions on the spray paint can for specific drying times.

Rushing this step may result in the paint not adhering properly to the fabric, leading to peeling or fading.

Wash gently by hand or use delicate cycles

When it comes time to wash your spray painted fabric, it’s important to handle it with care. To avoid damaging the paint, it is recommended to wash the item by hand using a gentle detergent or to use the delicate cycle on your washing machine.

This will help to ensure that the paint remains intact and vibrant.

Avoid high heat from dryers or irons

High heat can be detrimental to spray painted fabric. It is best to avoid using high heat from dryers or irons, as this can cause the paint to melt or peel off. Instead, opt for air drying your fabric or using low heat settings if necessary.

This will help to preserve the quality of the paint and the fabric itself.

Touch up paint chips as needed

Over time, it is possible for spray paint to chip or fade on fabric, especially with regular use and washing. To keep your item looking fresh and vibrant, it’s a good idea to touch up any paint chips as needed.

Simply use a small brush or sponge to carefully apply a small amount of paint to the affected area, allowing it to dry fully before using or washing the item again.

Caring for spray painted fabric is essential to maintain its appearance and durability. By following these tips, you can ensure that your spray painted fabric items will continue to look great for years to come.


With the right spray paint and proper technique, you can successfully transform all kinds of fabric items with a fresh coat of color. Just be sure to choose a fabric-friendly paint, properly prepare the surface, apply light coats, and allow ample drying time between coats.

Follow the care instructions to help your spray painted fabric creations withstand washing and regular use. Armed with these tips, you can unleash your creativity and refresh fabrics with spray paint for a fun DIY project.

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