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Achieving the best results from spray paints

Spray paints are popular tools for a variety of home decorating projects. They are easy to use, give professional-looking results, and allow you to paint many objects that are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to paint by any other means. In addition, they require minimal cleanup, will not spill, and are easily stored.

To achieve best results, follow these tips:

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* The first step in any professional-looking paint job is proper surface preparation. Clean all dirt, grease, and any other excess matter off the surface to be painted - paint will not adhere to a dirty surface.

* If the surface is either extremely rough or glossy, sanding may be necessary.

* To blend ingredients, shake the can vigorously for at least one minute after it begins to rattle.

* Before beginning to spray, test spray on some other object - a scrap of wood or piece of newspaper.

* For best results, keep the spray button 10 to 12 inches from the object, holding it parallel with the surface. (The manufacturer may suggest a slightly different distance, so check the label instructions.)

* Press the spray button all the way down and move the can evenly over the surface.

* Lightly overlap each spray stroke.

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* Release pressure on the button just before you end each stroke in a ''follow-through'' type motion.

* Shake the container frequently during the job to ensure proper consistency of the paint.

Safety should be an important consideration. Observe the following safety practices when working with spray paints:

* Read the label. The manufacturer's directions can best tell you how to get the safest and most satisfactory results.

* Work in a well-ventilated area. Avoid working in small, enclosed areas where the air circulation is poor.

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