Does spraying on a finish waste a lot? Or is it just me?

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Forum topic by Bill1974 posted 08-12-2014 04:16 PM 1331 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Bill1974's profile


126 posts in 3188 days

08-12-2014 04:16 PM

I have only made a few pieces of furniture and I have, either used a rattle can or I sprayed on the finish. I have also sprayed on dye and also wiped on stain.

On one item A small tv stand I sprayed on a dye, it was maple and I wanted it dark. I know it’s not the smartest way to do go. I am learning, slowly that is. I sprayed on a general finished dry stain and for a small tv stand ended up going through 3/4’s of a quart of it. I know a good amount of it did not make it the tv stand as there was dried dye dust on everything else in the garage. But brushing or rubbing it on were not getting the results I was looking for. I put a finish from a rattle can on it and it was ok, coverage on the top was not smooth and consistent, which I guess is the limit of the rattle can and trying to keep a wet edge.

On another piece (5 foot long entry bench), I used a oil based stain on cherry and it used less than a quarter of the quart by brushing it on and wiping the excess off after a few minutes. This went exactly as I had hoped and turned out great. On this piece I sprayed on General Finishes water based satin polyurethane. The end result was pleasing and I think it looks nice. I was worried as I applied the first coat as it looked like it was beading up and not going to level out and was going to have a really bad orange peal look, but it turned out fine. I have two coats on and i think a third would be better. I ended up going through a quart just to get get two coats on.

I really like the consistent smooth look from spraying but it seems like a lot of the material does not make it on the piece being finished. I would expect some material waste with spraying, but i am thinking that there is something with my technique, equipment, setup that is causing me to go through more material than I think I should be using. If i had to guess and it’s a guess, I would expect that I would have gone through a quart to half a quart to finish the piece if i had brushed on the finish.

As for what equipment i used, I used a Harbor Freight 20 Fl. Oz. HVLP Gravity Feed Spray Gun with a 1.5 tip. I had the pressure at the gun around 30 psi. I played with all the adjustments on the gun to get an even pattern and a consistent looking application of the finish. I tried higher pressure but there seemed like more over spray and bounce back and lower pressure didn’t seem to spray as finely as i though it should. Technique, I was mainly spraying a horizontal surface, and was spray about 5 to 6 inches away.

So is it normal to go through this much stain and finish material when spraying or is something I can change to not have as much waste?

The bench is very similar to this one,

4 replies so far

View Earlextech's profile


1162 posts in 2893 days

#1 posted 08-12-2014 05:17 PM

Spraying from a compressor wastes about 40% of what you spray. With HVLP you only waste about 10% or less.

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

View Ripthorn's profile


1458 posts in 3188 days

#2 posted 08-12-2014 05:28 PM

Depending on your spray technique, the answer will change. I spray a lot of guitars, and to get a nice even application, you start off the piece a few inches, press the trigger, then move at a constant rate and go off the other end of the piece several inches. You are wasting some material at the end. Additionally, with something irregularly shaped, you lose more material by spraying off the sides. Also, the type of finish will somewhat dictate how much gets used. Something like lacquer I can go through really quickly, whereas polyurethane seems to last a little longer. I think it has to do with how many coats you need for your desired finish.

Brushing and wiping will get most all of it on there, it’s true, but ratios are really hard to determine. The best way would be to use some of your leftover (if you don’t plan to use it for anything else) and spray one side of a scrap board and wipe the other and see how much material it takes. Maybe measure out like 2 oz for each side or something and see how much remains after treatment.

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

View JAAune's profile


1853 posts in 2519 days

#3 posted 08-12-2014 05:47 PM

Technique and equipment will make a lot of difference but yes, spraying does result in more loss than brushing or wiping. It sometimes requires the use of more solvents to get the finish to atomize properly which increases the consumption of solvent.

-- See my work at and

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2564 days

#4 posted 08-12-2014 07:13 PM

It’s the price you pay for going first class.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

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