I am trying re-purpose an IKEA kids table from blue to pink and purchased Gloss Candy Pink General Purpose Spray Paint. I've spray painted the legs and now spray painted the table top with one coat.
I decided that it would be easier to use a roller on the table top. I've color match this spray paint with BEHR dynasty sampler. I started reading about oil based vs water based paint. I think the spray paint is oil based and the BEHR is water based. I also read that oil based paint is more toxic but more durable.
I am trying to understand if this type of spray paint is used to color furniture (wood/metal) or should get acrylic spray paint.
If I want to paint a wooden cabinet would it be ok to use this spray paint? I've read a bunch of blogs on this topic but can't get a definite answer.



That make sense regarding spray painting furniture is a bit easier especially if there are details on it. What about the type of paint when using spray paint vs regular. Is general purpose spray paint oil based? Is it better to get acrylic spray paint which I think is water based? Is there a difference?


Thank you all a lot of great information! Very excited to work on and paint more furniture :)

To follow up on the spray paint information. Is most spray paint that is sold in cans oil based? Especially the once that are sold in Home Depot / Lowes. It's hard to find that information. For water based paint one would buy a can then thin it and use a paint sprayer? It seems that for DIY / Small project it's just easier to buy can of spray paint. What would be a reason to choose to use roller / paint brush?

Next project is IKEA Billy Book case. I guess it would be easier just to use all purpose spray paint for all the shelfs and walls. What do you think?

  • It is all in preparation. Cleaning and sanding the surface. Than any paint will stick.
    – Traveler
    Sep 7, 2022 at 23:08
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    I agree with the comments here, prep, is everything, and I think spraying, whether from a spray gun or spray can is best. Here is a suggestion for good results when spraying: First, lightly coat your piece and let it dry for a few minutes, it's called a "tack coat" It shouldn't completely cover your piece. After a few minutes spray again for the final finish. The purpose of the tack coat is to absorb solvents in the spray quickly and prevent runs. It needs to be semi dry, not completely dry. This has worked well for me for many years. Sep 8, 2022 at 0:58
  • @GeorgeAnderson I've updated my question with a bit more questions regarding type of paint to use. Thanks!
    – Yan
    Sep 8, 2022 at 1:42
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    Be aware that your IKEA furniture was not painted to begin with. It has a high-pressure laminate of the appropriate color/pattern glued on and sealed with heat & pressure. If you want paint (of any kind) to stick to it, you'll need to scuff the surface (a kitchen dish scrubber may be sufficient) to give the surface a "tooth" that the paint can grab on to, or it will likely flake off in a year or two. Also, the paint may be somewhat toxic while spraying and while it's wet, but once dried, it should be completely inert.
    – FreeMan
    Sep 8, 2022 at 12:07
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    @yan yes, but note that the sanding is not to sand it off. Paint will bind to it quite well and you'll have even absorption as with a well primed surface; the point is to roughen it for better attachment. For this step you can use 150 or higher grit paper.
    – P2000
    Sep 8, 2022 at 14:22

1 Answer 1


Spray painting furniture is preferred if there are many detailed angles and textures and hard to reach corners. Rollers and brushes will quickly fill such textures and leave marks.

Otherwise, for large flat surfaces like shelf/table tops or doors, a roller or brush is fine too.

Further, it's easier to get a gloss finish with a thin layer of spray paint, since a roll on requires a thick application.

This is my amateur experience. A professional may get great results with a different tradeoff between the two techniques. Sometimes amateurs need to do it differently to get acceptable results, limited by skill and tools.

As for oil based (a.k.a. enamel) vs water based (a.k.a. acrylic), here is a good overview:

enter image description here

The surface prep for acrylic paints is a bit more involved in terms of applying the right primer. That's why they are a great candidate for the automotive application where prepping and priming is already quite involved, and requires diligence and skill.

Oil spray paint will attach easily without any more prep than sanding and cleaning.

As for water resistance: there are great water based paints and finishes available for surfaces exposed to water, but your options from the manufacturer may be more limited than the vast array of tints and colours that are oil based and water proof. As for pre-canned acrylic spray paint, the options are even more restricted.

Fumes and drytime are usually not an issue when it comes to ikea home furniture refinishing, so for these reasons I'd go with the benefits of oil spray paint.

Ref: https://acrylgiessen.com/en/enamel-vs-acrylic/

To determine wether the base of a spray can paint is oil or acrylic, have a look at the specifications, under "Base Material":

enter image description here

You can also search for "Base Material Acrylic"

Generally there is a line of products under a brand name, e.g. "Max Flex", that is of a specific base. Here they tout the higher flexibility of acrylic paint over the harder enamel paint.

Ref: https://www.homedepot.com/p/GLIDDEN-MAX-FLEX-12-oz-Matte-Black-Interior-Exterior-All-Surface-Spray-Paint-and-Primer-GMF1011-54/319420374

Spray cans are usually the more expensive alternative, but they are easy to use without having to clean spray equipment.

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    It really has to depend upon the finish if a brush or roller is OK. If lacquer, no way will a brush or roller suffice. It must be sprayed. If an oil finish, brushing on is fine, but wipe it down with rags. If a Urethane or Varathane oil based, brushing or rolling might be OK, but I'd still spray it. Sep 8, 2022 at 1:03
  • @P2000 I've updated my question with a bit more questions regarding type of paint to use. Thanks!
    – Yan
    Sep 8, 2022 at 1:43
  • @P2000 Thank again. Great info. I've updated the question again with a few more questions.
    – Yan
    Sep 8, 2022 at 13:30
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    @Yan some more follow up in the answer
    – P2000
    Sep 8, 2022 at 14:19
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    @Yan acrylic is easier to clean, no harmful fumes, cheaper. All together these offset the extra prep work. And you still have to smooth and sand an unprimed surface for oil, so it's not that oil is prepfree. Good luck with your project!
    – P2000
    Sep 8, 2022 at 16:06

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