Is Spray Paint Waterproof – Pro Painter’s Guide!


Last updated: September 13, 2023

Learn whether spray paints are waterproof or not in this professional painters guide.

Spray paint cans scattered after spray painting job. Is spray paint waterproof

Can spray paint resist water? How well can my spray paint withstand extreme rainy conditions? You might ask yourself these questions when selecting spray paint for your project, especially if it’s outdoors.

If you plan on using spray paint outdoors, then you must choose one that is completely waterproof. You can know if the spray paint is waterproof or not by looking at the label.

In this article, we will discuss what makes spray paint waterproof, how it differs from non-waterproof paint, the various types of waterproof spray paint available, and other related questions.

Is Spray Paint Waterproof?

The answer is both yes and no. Not all spray paints are waterproof; some are just water-resistant. It depends on the brand and the intended use. Most outdoor spray paints are waterproof, while those meant for indoor use are usually water-resistant.

What Makes Spray Paint Waterproof?

Many factors influence the water repellency or resistance of spray paint. However, the most important one is the composition of ingredients.

Most waterproof spray paints contain special additives that add a waterproof element to the paint. Non-waterproof spray paints, on the other hand, do not contain these additives. 

Also referred to as emulsifiers, these special additives help to keep the spray paint stable and ensure it doesn’t split or separate. This makes it incredibly difficult for the paint to get clogged or sticky. In other words, the paint can expand and contract without splitting or separating, allowing moisture to evaporate and not penetrate the surface. 

In reality, these additives contain particles that make spray paint much denser than water molecules. This creates a waterproof layer over the surface of the item. 

It’s worth mentioning that the mode of preparation and application can affect the waterproofing properties of a particular spray paint. This means that even if you use a waterproof paint, it will not be effective (at least in the long haul) if applied incorrectly. 

You must not allow water to get into the painting while you’re at it, or it may cause the area to shrink or swell, breaking the bond between the surface and the paint. 

How To Know If Spray Paint is Waterproof?

The easiest wayhh to know if spray paint is waterproof or not is to check the label. Most manufacturers will state on the label if the paint is waterproof or not. So whether you’re buying online or in-person, make sure to read the product information.

If you can’t find anywhere on the label where it says the paint is waterproof, it’s probably just water-resistant.

In general, most outdoor spray paints are usually waterproof, even if it’s not written on the label.

Another way to know if a spray paint is waterproof is to look at the list of ingredients. If you find words like “alkyd,” “acrylic,” or similar terms associated with water-based paints, then the product is probably not oil-based.

If you’re not sure if a spray paint is waterproof, you can apply a primer beforehand just to be on the safe side. You can also apply a sealant or topcoat after spray painting for additional protection.

Waterproof vs non-waterproof spray paints

The major difference between waterproof and non-waterproof spray paints is their water repellency. Waterproof sprays are impervious to water, while non-waterproof spay paints are not. In reality, most “non-waterproof” spray paints are water resistant. This means they can repel some water even though they’re not 100 percent waterproof.

Generally, all spray paints are broadly grouped into two major categories – indoor spray paints and outdoor spray paints.

Indoor spray paints are formulated for indoor use. So, they usually don’t contain any special additives or coating that would make them waterproof. Instead, some are water-resistant and can resist water penetration to some extent, but not entirely. These spray paints are commonly used to paint interior surfaces and items such as windows, doors, walls, and furniture.

Outdoor or exterior spray paints are meant for exterior applications and are mostly waterproof. This means the paint can withstand moisture and rain. Some common applications of exterior spray paint include garden furniture, boats, vehicles, etc.

Waterproof Vs. Water Resistant Spray Paint.

The terms waterproof and water resistant refers to the ability of a product to resist water penetration through them. While these terms are sometimes used synonymously, there is a significant difference between them.

For instance, waterproof spray paints are designed to offer a much stronger resistance to against water. They are formulated to be extremely impermeable and offer a high level of surface protection even during longer exposure to water or immersion.

Waterproof paints are perfect for use on surfaces where there is high risk of water exposure or immersion such as boats, outdoor furniture, or bathroom areas.

On the other hand, while they can withstand some level of water and moisture exposure without getting damaged immediately, water resistant spray paints are not formulated to withstand heavy or prolonged exposure to water.

This, therefore, means that they create a barrier that resists water for some time but will eventually allow water to penetrate to the surface if the exposure is prolonged.

Types of Waterproof Spray Paint

The market is filled with different types of spray paint with different levels of water resistance. The best option for you depends on your project. In the following sections, we will consider the most common ones.

Is Rustoleum spray paint waterproof?

Yes, Rustoleum spray paint is both waterproof and rustproof. It’s made up of high-quality pigments and resins that protect metal surfaces from corrosion.

Rustoleum spray paints are usually oil-based, which makes them perfect for exterior surfaces. While they are mostly used for metals, they will work on most surfaces.

Some Rustoleum spray paints also contain primer and so don’t require priming beforehand. But, in general, priming a surface before spray painting will give you a good result.

Is enamel spray paint waterproof

Oil-based or lacquer-based enamel paint is usually waterproof though it doesn’t stick to all surfaces without priming or preparation. For instance, you can apply it on untreated wood without priming but not on stone or metal. For the latter, priming is an important step if you want the paint to last long. You don’t need to add a topcoat or sealer when using oil-based enamel paint.

On the other hand, acrylic enamel paints are not waterproof or suitable for exterior surfaces. If you must use them outdoors, then make sure you apply a primer and topcoat to ensure the paint lasts long.

In general, enamel spray paints are glossy and fast-drying. They also last longer than lacquer and don’t usually need more than two coats. A primer is not always required, but it can help you achieve a stronger and more permanent bond.

Is krylon spray paint waterproof

Yes, Krylon spray paint is waterproof, just like Rust-Oleum. In fact, Krylon and Rust-Oleum are the most popular brands when it comes to the best waterproof spray paint. So, they are perfect for outdoor applications.

Like Rust-Oleum, most Krylon sprayers have primer added to the paint, so you don’t need to apply primer separately.

Also, Krylon spray paint is available in a wide variety of vibrant colors, so you won’t run out of options.

Is acrylic spray paint waterproof

No, acrylic spray paint is not waterproof. Instead, it’s water-resistant once it fully dries. The degree of water resistance varies depending on the brand.

In general, we recommend applying a clear coat or sealant (such as varnish) over the paint to waterproof it. This is extremely important if you’re painting an exterior surface. But in most cases, acrylic paint is best suited for indoor use.

Using acrylic outdoors without applying sealant causes the paint to peel and bubble sooner in adverse weather.

Is clear spray paint waterproof

Yes and no. Having a transparent color is not necessarily a sign that a spray paint is waterproof. Spray paints are available in different colors and finishes, including solid colors like black, blue, and white, and a non-solid color (or clear).

So, a clear spray paint is ideal if you don’t want to alter the existing color of the surface you’re painting. Particularly for wood surfaces, it’s perfect when you want to showcase the natural grain.

Is clear coat spray paint waterproof

Yes, it is. In fact, clear coat paint is often used to waterproof a non-waterproof paint. It is a type of sealer applied on top of spray paint. This means you must spray the surface before applying a clear coat. As earlier indicated, proper preparation and applying the spray paint carefully are necessary to achieve the desired result. 

How to make a non-waterproof spray painted surface waterproof?

The best way to waterproof a non-waterproof spray paint is by applying a waterproof topcoat or sealer over the paint. A topcoat/clear coat helps to protect the surface from water damage.

By applying a topcoat, you don’t need to add another layer of spray paint to waterproof the surface. This way, you can save money from not purchasing another spray paint.

We highly recommend using the same brand of topcoat as your spray paint. This ensures there’s no problem with the reaction between the chemicals. In this case, you can spray paint the surface and then apply the clear coat after the paint dries.

However, if you use a different brand of clear coat, the different chemicals can react and cause peeling or bubbling.

How to Apply Waterproof Spray Paint

The process of applying waterproof spray paint is relatively simple. Always start by checking the directions given by the manufacturer. You can also follow the steps below:  

  • Prepare The Surface

Before you start spray painting, check for dents, cracks, and other imperfections on the workpiece. If you find any, make sure to sand it first before you proceed. The surface must be smooth before applying coats of paint. 

In addition to sanding, you may also need to prime the surface. Primer helps to create a consistent base for your coats and also minimizes stains and other imperfections on the workpiece. But not all paint jobs require a primer. 

Perhaps, some spray paints (like the ones discussed here) contain primer. 

  • Protect The Work Area.

In addition to the item you’re painting, you should also protect the work area by covering surrounding areas you don’t want to paint. You can use tape or newspaper for this purpose. For larger items, you can use a protective sheet. 

Make sure your workplace is well-ventilated, and you have your mask on. It’s best to paint outside, but if you decide to work indoors, open the windows and doors to ventilate the place. 

  • Apply Multiple Coats of Paint.

Before you begin spraying, shake the can vigorously for a couple of minutes. This is important to prevent any bubbling or cracks on the surface and to ensure the paint is evenly distributed.

Now, you can start spraying the workpiece. We recommend 2 to 3 thin coats, but you can add more depending on the nature of your project. Allow each layer to dry completely before you apply a fresh one. 

The time between coats will depend on the particular product you’re using. Some spray paints may require 15-20 minutes to dry, while some may take up to an hour for each coat. 

Move the can back and forth and keep it at a safe distance (6-8m) from the surface.

  • Allow Proper Drying

After painting, give the surface at least 24 hours to dry or for as long as it needs to cure fully. 

Most waterproof spray paints will be dry to touch in a few hours or even 30 minutes. Don’t make the mistake of handling the objects during this time. Wait until the paint fully dries because it’s only after this time that the waterproof effect kicks in. 

One way to make the paint dry faster is to use thin coats of paint. Also, temperatures above 65 degrees will encourage fast drying. If you’re working indoors, you can run a space heater or dehumidifier. 

The Best Waterproof Spray Paints

When it comes to the best waterproof spray paint, you can’t go wrong with either Krylon or Rust-Oleum. Here are the top three options from both brands. 

Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch 2X Ultra Cover

The Painters Touch 2x Ultra Cover Spray Paint by Rust-Oleum is an oil-based formula that offers superior coverage and long-lasting protection for various surfaces, including wood, metal, and plastic. Even though it’s oil-based, it has a low odor and offers fast project completion; it dries to touch in under 30 minutes and covers up to 12 square feet per can.

The paint dries to a “vintage” satin finish with a hint of gloss but not flat. The satin finish provides excellent hide and greatly reduces surface imperfections.

Interestingly, this is a paint and primer combo. This means you don’t have to prime the surface before applying the product. Likewise, no sealant is required afterward. 

We recommend using 2/3 thin coats for a consistent finish. You may need to reapply the coating after some months to maintain its integrity.

The Rust-Oleum spray paint can is easy to use, even for beginners, and applies neatly. It has a comfort spray tip to reduce finger fatigue. The Any-angle spray feature allows you to spray in any direction. 

Drying time is about 20-30 minutes between coats, while coverage is about 12 square feet per can. Make sure to allow each coat to dry completely before applying another one. Once completely dry, the paint is able to resist peeling and chipping over time. 

What We Liked

  • Suitable for interior and exterior surfaces
  • Quick drying
  • Long-lasting protection from moisture, chipping, and peeling
  • Easy application )perfect for first-timers)
  • Very affordable
  • Rich vintage color finish

What Could Improve

  • Has odor

Rust-Oleum Stops Rust Hammered Spray Paint

If you have an old metal piece or hardware that needs refinishing to remove imperfections like rust and cracks, then consider the Rust-Oleum Stops Hammered Spray Paint. As the name suggests, the paint is formulated to remove character marks, scratches, and other imperfections from pitted or rusted metals. It doesn’t only hide the flaws on the material but also leaves a nice finish. 

Specifically, it leaves a hammered metal finish that comes out black in the indents and copper along the edges. It’s perfect if you want something elegant and slightly casual but not too distracting. The textured look helps to minimize imperfections on the surface while providing a protective coating that prevents rust. 

The paint is suitable for interior and exterior use and works for other materials besides metal. These include wood, concrete, masonry, and more. 

For rusted metals, apply the paint to cover the rust spots. A primer is not required, but we recommend using one if you want to get a better look. We also advise cleaning the surface thoroughly before applying the primer prior to painting. 

Unlike other sprays, with this one, fewer is better. For items with an uneven surface or a lot of details, one or two thin coats are usually recommended but feel free to use extra to get a more raw metal look. For a relatively flat finish with a nice clear-coat shine, one thick coat is usually enough but be careful not to allow the paint to drip while drying as that can result in streaks. 

In general, we recommend 2-3 sprays for maximum coverage. You have to wait 2-4 hours between coats and up to 12 hours for full curing. This is important to allow the drying gases to vent out. 

Make sure humidity is low (40 percent or less) and temperature is above 70 degrees; otherwise, it will take longer to cure and may never dry completely. 

What We Liked

  • Nice looking hammered finish
  • Holds up well indoors and outdoors
  • Wider finger pad to reduce fatigue
  • Easy to use
  • Leaves a great texture and rock-hard finish
  • Superior rust protection

What Could Improve

  • Slow drying time

Krylon GIDDS-800143 Colormaster Paint + Primer

Like other Krylon spray paints, the Krylon Colormaster works really well for protecting outdoor items in wet and humid climates on a shoestring budget. It is suitable for both indoor and outdoor projects and can be used on any type of material, including metal, rubber, and plastic. Besides waterproofing, it also protects items from fading. 

One of the major highlights of the paint is the price. It is significantly priced lower than other brands, especially if you purchase multiple spray paint cans. So, it’s perfect for budget buyers. 

The sprayer is easy to use, even for beginners, as long as you follow the directions. It doesn’t smell as bad as most outdoor spray paint, but you still need to ensure proper ventilation. We recommend working outdoors, so even if you have something inside that needs spraying, you can move it outside. 

Regarding the number of coating, for wooden items, you will need 2-3 coats to achieve the desired results. Plastic and rubber may require a few extra coats for good color and solid coverage. 

The paint dries quickly (in 10 minutes or less). This means you can apply up to three coats in 30 minutes, which is just incredible! Make sure to wait the full amount of time between coats in order not to compromise the paint quality. Once dry, the paint leaves a durable crystal clear gloss finish that doesn’t detract from the beauty or color of the item underneath it. 

Ensure the temperature and humidity levels are low enough before you use the paint. Also, shake the spray can before and while painting.

The paint smells a bit strong, so make sure there’s proper ventilation in the area. 

What We Liked

  • Nice transparent gloss finish without tarnish
  • Perfect for wet and humid climates
  • Cn be used indoors and outdoors
  • Quick drying
  • Paint and primer combined
  • Very affordable

What Could Improve

  • May look too glossy on some surfaces

Benefits of Waterproof Spray Paints over other spray paints

There are many advantages of using waterproof spray paint over other types of paint.

Durable: First, if you’re painting an item that might get wet, waterproof spray paint is your best bet. It creates a permanent paint job that will last for years, and you can use it both indoors and outdoors. However, the longevity of the paint is highly dependent on how well it’s applied. So it’s extremely important it’s applied correctly.

Suitable for Different Surfaces: Waterproof spray paints can be used on most surfaces. These include but are not limited to wood, plastic, metal, bricks, iron, ceramic, and even paper. The paint adheres securely with the surface, creating a foundation that can withstand wear.

Easy to Clean: Another benefit of waterproof spray paint is that it’s easy to clean. Cleaning residues of paint jobs done using regular paints can be particularly challenging. This is because sometimes the paint can peel off while you’re cleaning it. But this is not so with waterproof paints. Most can be cleaned using just soapy water or mineral spirits, depending on the solvent.

Multiple Colors: Even though the primary motive for using a waterproof spray paint is to seal a surface against water damage, it doesn’t mean you should use just any color. You always want to choose a product that is compatible with the existing color of the surface you’re finishing. Luckily, waterproof spray paints are available in different colors, so it’s easy to choose something that complements your decor, whether it’s clear, black, white, or even purple.

Prevent Mold Growth: Painted walls can become a breeding place for mold and mildew when they stay wet for a long time. Waterproof paints prevent dampness and stop the spread of mold and mildew. This is because when applied to your walls or furniture, they create a layer that stops moisture from seeping into the surface.

Budget-friendly: Most waterproof spray paints are priced between $6 to $20. This makes them among the most affordable options when compared to other paint types.

Quick Drying: Most waterproof spray paints dry to touch in about 10-30 minutes and are ready to use in a few hours. So you don’t have to wait for days to start using the item again. They are also fast and easy to apply, even for beginners.

FAQs – Waterproofing spray paint

Does Rain Wash Off Spray Paint?

Yes, rain washes off spray paint, which stops it from bonding and drying properly. In most cases, the paint will run, thereby creating a mess. For this reason, it’s highly recommended not to spray paint in the rain.

Do You Need Primer for Spray Paint?

Not really. If the material you’re spraying is smooth and doesn’t have any pores, then a primer is not required. However, for porous surfaces, you will need a primer to help the paint adhere to the surface.

Is spray paint toxic?

Many standard spray paints, especially oil-based options, contain VOCs (volatile organic compounds) such as toluene, xylene, acetone, etc. These chemicals can be extremely toxic if ingested or inhaled in a large amount. Also, contact with the skin can cause irritation or burns. For this reason, you should wear protective clothing and ensure there’s enough ventilation in the area you’re working.

Is Spray Paint Permanent?

Yes, most spray paints are permanent. However, drying time varies depending on the base (solvent or water). In any case, complete drying is required to ensure paint becomes permanent on a surface.

Can you spray paint in the rain?

No, this is not recommended, even if you’re using a waterproof product. Rain will wash the paint away before it even gets a chance to stick, which may leave hideous streaks on the surface. Such projects take longer to cure any may chip or peel. To avoid this, it’s best to spray paint on a clear, sunny day. If you can’t get a clear weather, then use the garage or shed.

How Long Does Spray Paint Last Outside?

The lifespan of spray paint depends on several factors, such as quality, thickness, number of coats, and prevailing weather conditions. In general, you can expect the paint to last 3 to 5 years if you apply it correctly.

Does Spray Paint Come Off in Water?

If the paint is still wet, then you can wipe it off with water. However, fully cured spray paint, especially oil-based formulas, will require more than water to come off. You will also need soap and quite a bit of scrubbing power. It might be a bit more challenging if the paint is on a porous surface. In this case, we recommend you use a power washer.

Summary – Waterproofing Spray Paint

To conclude, most outdoor spray paints are waterproof. Make sure to check if spray paint is waterproof before purchasing it. The easiest way to figure this out is to look at the label.

Waterproof spray paints offer loads of advantages over other paint types, such as quick drying, longevity, easy cleaning, mold prevention, and low cost. However, like every other paint product, the effectiveness will depend on how well you prepare the surface and apply the paint.

So, take time to properly prepare the workpiece before painting; otherwise, the surface may not hold up to water for long.

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