Spray paint vs brush paint furniture Outdoors

Last updated on February 1st, 2022

Painting is an excellent way to breathe new life into old pieces or give them a custom look that complements your existing décor. However, choosing to spray paint vs brush paint furniture outdoors can be a challenge, especially if you don’t know the difference. The best method depends on the type of furniture you’re painting and the kind of finish you wish to achieve.

Brush painting is easier to start with but can be time-consuming. On the other hand, spray painting is much faster but can be very costly. If you’re painting exterior wood furniture, then a paintbrush will be easier to work with, but for metal or detailed furniture, spray paint might be a better choice.

Whatever method you choose, it’s always a great idea to apply multiple coats of paint to create a more durable finish. In this article, we will look at the pros and cons of using spray paint or brush paint furniture, and see when it might be better to choose one method over the other.

Spray paint or brush paint outdoor furniture – Factors to Consider

Choosing the right painting method is essential to having a successful project and avoiding certain problems that may come up along the way. However, regardless of the method you choose, make sure the color of the paint matches that of the furniture material. With that in mind, here are the key things to look at when choosing between spray paint vs brush paint furniture.

  • Furniture Material

First and foremost, you should consider the type of material the furniture is made from. Spray paints seem to work best on smooth surfaces such as vinyl, plastic, glass, aluminum, metal, or generally any surface with existing color. Brushing, on the other hand, is more versatile and can work for different materials.

  • Furniture Type

Spray paint is generally recommended for minimal retouching projects and small furniture. This includes chairs, small tables, stools, and benches. On the other hand, brushing is more suitable for projects that involve large surface areas such as a large tabletop or a wood deck. To make things faster, use a round-edge foam roller when working on large flat surfaces, but for retouching small sections, a small brush will do.

  • Paint Pigment

You should also consider the pigment material the paint is made from. Spray paint is usually oil-based, so it produces a more durable finish. It is also easier to clean up since there are no brushes to wash.

It is worth noting that spray paint is toxic and has a pungent smell, so you should have a respirator mask on while using it. Also, it is meant to be used outdoors where there’s a lot of ventilation.

Brush paint is typically latex, so it’s less toxic and suitable for indoor use. However, it requires a paint brush and bucket, so cleanup is usually more difficult. With latex, you can mix different color at a spot for a more custom look using a brush; doing this with a spray doesn’t usually look good, especially if you’re inexperienced. With a good angled brush and a little bit of skill, you can almost always expect a beautiful finish from brushing.

Can you brush paint outdoor furniture?

Yes, you can hand-paint outdoor furniture, especially if it’s made from wood. Unlike metal, a wood finish doesn’t need to be very smooth, so it’s something you can easily achieve with a paint brush.

Spray paint vs brush paint furniture outdoors While it will take more time, painting with a brush will allow you to create a more consistent and attractive finish. You can even get creative by mixing colors on the spot and altering the hue. Also, compared to a spray, using a brush is less toxic and cheaper.

That said, using a paintbrush does have its downsides, which include longer painting times, difficulty in reaching intricate areas and more mess to clean up (you have to wash the brush, roller, and paint trays/buckets).

When using a paintbrush, it’s recommended to apply at least 2/3 light coat of paint for optimal protection from harsh weather conditions.

Why brush paint outdoor furniture.

While brushing may sound old-fashioned, tedious, and slow, it’s a great way to get started on your project quickly. It gives you great control over the work and doesn’t require a lot of tools and materials to set up. Also, using a paintbrush with a foam roller often results in a more consistent and beautiful finish.

Here are the main advantages of paint-brushing outdoor furniture.


  • Offers more color options (you can mix custom colors on the spot)
  • Provides excellent control
  • Less toxic (has minimal fumes and can be applied indoors; no need to wear a respirator)
  • Less expensive than spraying paint (covers more surface area)
  • Requires less masking/covering (only needs a dropcloth)
  • Uses less paint than spraying
  • Provides a more even coverage

The key to creating a beautiful finish is to use a high-quality paintbrush. Apply thin, even coats of paint and pay attention to books and crannies. The good thing about brushing is that it allows you to quickly identify and fix problem areas. That said, hand-painting isn’t “perfect.” It also has a few flaws.


  • Slow and more physically demanding
  • Often requires two or more coats of paint
  • It’s hard to deal with obstructions
  • Can leave behind brushstrokes

Can you use a paint roller on outdoor furniture?

Yes, a paint roller can be used on outdoor furniture. In fact, you are probably better off having both a brush and a roller for your exterior paint projects. Using a roller helps you fill in largeflat sections on the workpiece faster. It also helps to create a smooth finish and ensure no air bubbles are left on the painting.

To prevent roller marks, opt for a high-density foam roller with round edges. Once you’re done with the roller, touch up excess drips with a good angled brush or paintbrush.

Using a paintbrush and roller when working on large pieces, such as a tabletop, is key to creating a more consistent and beautiful finish!

Can you use spray paint on outdoor furniture?

Yes, you can use spray paint on outdoor furniture. It’s much faster than using a brush and won’t leave brushstrokes on your workpiece.

Spray painting is great when you have a piece of furniture with rounded edges and intricate areas that may be hard to reach with a paintbrush. It’s easier to spray small intricate nooks and crannies, especially when you’re working on a wood piece.

spray paint vs brush paint outdoor furniture

The good thing about spray painting is that it can be used for virtually any kind of material – wood, metal, plastic, wicker, and even glass. Talking about glass, spray painting seems to work better with glass furniture as paint clings best to glass when applied with a spray.

Most spray paint is oil-based, so it creates a longer-lasting finish that looks smooth and professional. The drying time is considerably less, but you need to work in a well-ventilated area outdoors due to the toxic odor of the paint.

Overall, spray painting is great if you’re looking to achieve a high gloss, lacquer or satin finish. It may use up a lot of paint initially, but it has a longer lifespan, so you won’t have to repaint the furniture every now and then. To prevent drips, spray each coat thin and evenly.

Can I use a paint sprayer on outdoor furniture?

Yes, a paint sprayer can be used on outdoor furniture. For the right project, it can produce an even finish devoid of brushstrokes or roller marks. However, paint sprayers are usually on the pricey side and cost more than other painting methods

. That said, for some projects, a paintbrush may be able to give you the same result as a paint spray, depending on your level of experience. If you decide to use a sprayer, make sure you get one that is intended for outdoor furniture and the type of material. It should be easy to use and lightweight for comfortable handling.

Why Spray paint outdoor furniture

Spray painting is undeniably the fastest way to paint outdoor furniture piece. You can cover an entire side in minutes and won’t have to deal with brush marks. But then, speed does not always translate to quality. To do a fine job, first, you should know how to use a sprayer well.

Below are some of the main advantages of choosing spray paint.


  • Easy to cover architectural work and textures (especially detailed round portions or hard-to-reach areas)
  • Gives a professional, smooth finish
  • Incredibly fast and easy to apply
  • Spray paint dries much quicker than brush paint
  • Great for smooth surfaces, especially metal, plastic, wicker and resin
  • Creates a more durable finish than latex paint
  • Doesn’t leave brush strokes or roller marks
  • Easy to clean up since there are no rollers, brushes or buckets to wash

Like brushed-on paint, it’s not every time you should use spray paint. Here are the main downsides to be aware of.


  • Typically requires more prep work
  • Usually more expensive (you will be paying more money for less paint)
  • Releases toxic fumes (requires you to work in a well-ventilated space, usually outdoors)
  • Consumes 2-3 times more paint than brushing
  • The nozzle can break unexpectedly
  • Applying paint on windy days can be difficult
  • Takes a lot of practice to be able to apply an even coat

Spray Paint and Brush Paint Side by Side

Next, let’s see how spray paint furniture vs brush painting stack up against each other for different materials.

Spray paint or brush paint outdoor wood furniture

Deciding whether to spray paint wood or brush paint depends on the nature of your project and the type of finish you’re trying to achieve. But generally, brush painting is preferred for wooden furniture, especially if you’re painting large, flat surfaces.

Spraying may work for small retouching projects such as a small chair or bench, but it may not provide a good color grip, whereas brush painting ensures the paint clings better on the wood surface.

With regards to the type of finish, you can spray paint wood if you want a glossy and lacquer finish. While brushing can also produce a good finish, you will need the right set of tools (mostly, a high-quality brush and round edge roller) and have a good grip of the brush (based on your experience level).

Spray paint or brush paint outdoor metal furniture

Here, spray paint is clearly the winner. It is generally much easier and more efficient to spray paint on a metal surface than using a paintbrush, especially if you’re trying to refurbish the furniture quickly.

Spray painting creates an even coat which may be difficult to achieve if you’re using a brush. This is because metal is very smooth; thus, using a paintbrush will likely create brush marks.

That said, if you decide to brush paint metal furniture, you may be able to create a good finish by opting for an oil-based pigment and mixing it with mineral spirits. Also, you need to apply minimal pressure when brushing.

Spray paint or brush paint outdoor wicker furniture

Like wood furnishings, wicker furniture can fade over time due to the effect of the sun.

Painting is a great way to give it a facelift and increase its lifespan. So, which is better for outdoor wicker – spray paint or brush painting?

Spray painting is generally recommended for wicker furniture. This is because most wicker furniture has many joints and narrow spaces, which can be hard to reach with a paintbrush. Also, with the proper preparation, spraying will ensure you get a smoother and high-quality finish.

That said, make sure you know the type of wicker you’re working on, so you can apply the proper cleaning methods and preparation. Also, use spray paint that is specifically intended for outdoor use.

Verdict: Spray paint furniture vs brush, which way?

There are different ways to apply paint to a piece of furniture; spray painting and brushing are just two of them. The method you end up using will depend on the piece you’re repairing. But with each technique, it’s essential you know how to use it correctly (whether it’s a brush or a sprayer).

For a quick facelift on small pieces such as a stool, bench, or chair, spray paint might be a better choice. It is also the way to go if you want to get a smoother finish on certain materials such as metal, wicker or plastic. However, for larger furniture, a brush is usually more efficient though it will take more time and effort. The color also clings better!

Our recommendation is to use both methods when possible to achieve a great finish. For instance, if you have a piece of furniture with detailed areas as well as large flat surfaces, you can use a sprayer for those areas that are difficult to reach and work the brush on the larger areas.

Best types of paint for outdoor furniture

There are different types of paint for outdoor use. The best one for your project will depend on the furniture type and material. You can also go with multi-surface outdoor paint if you’re not sure about the material. The paint seems to work with almost any kind of furniture.

Here are the four main types of outdoor paint for outdoor furniture.

  • Oil-based Paint

Oil-based finishes are known to be very durable, but they can be difficult to apply compared to other paint types. The paint doesn’t chip easily and can be applied with a paintbrush for better adherence. It leaves fewer brushstrokes when dried and doesn’t require additional topcoats.

If you have any outdoor wood piece that needs protecting, an oil-based paint might be a perfect match.

  • Latex Paint

Latex paint is another excellent choice for outdoor wooden furniture. It provides protection from harmful UV rays, especially during the hot summer months. This ensures the color of the furniture and finish remains intact. That said, latex finishes are not as durable as oil-based finishes.

  • Chalk Paint

Chalk paint is very convenient to use and offers a unique style. Most types don’t need any prep work but may require additional topcoats. You can apply it directly on most surfaces that are clean and dry. That said, chalk paint will almost always give a matte finish and may need to be sealed with wax to create a more durable finish.

  • Milk Paint

Milk paint doesn’t contain any solvent but comes in many color options. It has quick-drying and doesn’t fade easily if properly maintained. Aesthetics-wise, you can expect a farmhouse look.

FAQS Spray Paint Vs Brush Paint Furniture Outdoors

Do you save paint spraying vs brushing furniture?

It’s pretty obvious spraying consumes more paint than brushing. And this is mainly because sprayers use an atomizer that releases the paint in tiny droplets. Unfortunately, only a fraction of these droplets ends up on top of the furniture while the others drift away. This is a common problem with spray painting furniture, and there really isn’t much you can do to control it. Generally, you will end up using 3 times more paint when you use a sprayer than when you use a brush. And despite using less paint, brushing will often give a thicker coat.

What is the best paint for outdoor metal furniture?

The best paint for outdoor metal furniture is spray paint – specifically, an oil-based spray paint that is designed for exterior metal furniture. It can be applied directly on the rusty surface of the metal and may dry within an hour. But it’s best to give it a few days to cure completely before you start using the furniture again. This helps to increase the lifespan of the paint finish.

Also, make sure you choose spray paint that is weatherproof, rust-resistant and doesn’t easily corrode.

What paint to use on outdoor wicker furniture?

No single paint is an all-time favorite for wicker furniture. This is because wicker is made from different materials and compositions, so the best paint depends on the type of wicker. But generally, spray paint is preferred because most wicker furniture have a lot of tight corners and narrow spaces. Specifically, enamel spray paint will work with most types of wicker furniture but if you want something more general-purpose, then opt for an all-purpose spray paint.

Is Rustoleum spray paint waterproof?

Yes, like most outdoor spray paint, Rustoleum spray paint is waterproof. It can resist water, rust, and other external factors that plague home surfaces. However, it needs to be applied correctly if you want the color to last. Most times, this involves preparing and sealing the surface.

What is the best paint for outdoor wood furniture?

The best paint for outdoor wood piece depends on the condition of the wood, how much you use the furniture, and the type of finish you are looking to achieve. For most projects, latex paint is the way to go. You can either use water-based latex (best for unfinished wood) or oil-based paint. The former offers faster drying time while the latter provides a more durable finish. However, if you’re more interested in getting an antique look, then use chalk paint or milk paint.