How to Undo Spray Paint

September 20, 2012  —  Written by Julia Marcum 

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Remember when I committed the crime of the century earlier this week and spray painted our new-to-us quirky coffee table oil-rubbed bronze…and it came up…flat? 75% of commenters agreed, the brass was better.  I should note, Chris doesn’t care for the brass.  I think his words were, “Brass and smoked glass together make me gag.”  That being said, he didn’t like the black either.  So he and I agreed the black had to go–it was making a very interesting table seemingly ordinary. So I researched and racked my brain and hit the hardware store.

And came up with the magical solution!  Err…I just bought it and used it.  But, I am here to tell you it works pretty well.  Supposedly it works on stone, concrete, brick, metals, vinyl, glass, factory baked auto finishes, fiberglass, and wood too.  And since we are in the middle of (coming out of?) a spray-paint-happy phase in decor I think this is something we can all learn from.

The photo on the right was taken this morning…which is weird because a similar photo was taken last week for Monday’s post…but I promise, the black paint it gone and the table has been restored. The product I used was called Goof Off (I heard about it in some car forum) and there were a bunch of different types at the store.  I went to Home Depot and there were at least 7 different forms of Goof Off.  Some were used to take off tar, oil, latex paint, etc.  My eyes gravitated toward this one:

Spray paint is used for graffiti, so uhh, should do the trick, right?  It was $6, which seemed cheap enough to give it a try.  Next time I would have also picked up some latex gloves, too because–my hands!! They are really stained.

That actually looks better than they do in real life.  So, gloves people.  Removing the spray paint wasn’t too difficult.  The instructions say to spray the product on a cloth and rub it on the surface, but I found spraying it directly on the table and a little on the cloth too (we actually used an old t-shirt) made for quicker work.  Here’s a short video of the process so you don’t have to wonder what exactly I mean by “quicker work”:

Phone + Night= not the best quality video, but now you know what you can expect if you have spray-paint remorse like we did. As for the finish, we noticed some parts look shinier than others.  Unfortunately, we can’t remember if it was like that before we painted and un-painted it.  A little patina doesn’t hurt, but if we do decide to stick with the brass, I’m sure we could always buff it up if we wanted to.

You may be wondering if the brass is sticking around now.  We’re going to live with it while the room evolves.  I like it. Chris doesn’t. But since we still have a lot of accessories to add to the room, we’re in no rush to change it or decide we love it.  In short, we’ll keep you posted.

Do you have any spray-paint remorse?  Or have you completely re-done (or undone) something within the same week? Are you team-brass or team-black, or maybe you are still rooting for something else.

What do you think?

  1. C Dee says:

    If the table had an undercoat of paint from a factory, so you think the graffiti remover would damage it as remove the spray paint?

  2. I love spray paint!! I do wish there were a wider range of colors. I’ve learned to do several very light coats to avoid drips.

  3. E.Lynn says:

    Probably shouldn’t leave a comment as I like the black way better . The brass to me is out of date , the black seems more modern and matches your stuff better. I may be the oddball but I think the brass cheapens it . Im glad I read this post , I’ve been a little spray paint happy trying to bring more color into my house and some of the pieces just didn’t look right so I will definetley try the goof off.

  4. I don’t LOVE the brass, but I don’t hate it. :) I’ve heard of Goof Off but never used it. Thanks for taking one for the team! There’s a LOT I need to use this for…

  5. Amanda C says:

    I love the idea of Blue Magic! But if you want save your hands or just go another way, I think the uniqueness of the table would look awesome painted a color in a high gloss. Maybe a green, a red, or yellow color would be striking with the navy in the room? Or maybe it should be white with the smoked glass?

    But I think the Blue Magic would be especially gorgeous in your space though! Good luck!

  6. Kathy Westwood says:

    PS-I like the brass better, for what it’s worth!

  7. Kathy Westwood says:

    Yup. Definitely had spray paint remorse, but it was my feet that were the problem! I didn’t put down a big enough floor cover in the garage to handle straight across spraying. So the paint went on the cement floor, which I then walked in, including shavings from an earlier project that didn’t get swept up enough. I had the most interesting “hammered black metal-color” feet you’ve ever seen. Thanks to an extremely coarse pumice stone from Sally Beauty and a lot of hair conditioner, I had clean feet, and the best pedicure I ‘ve had in a long time. I won’t be making that mistake again any time soon. Thanks, Julia for the tip. Now maybe I can get the red, black and white spray paint (3 separate projedects) off my garage floor!

  8. s_akester says:

    So happy that you guys found a way to get it back to it’s original glory, I must admit the ORB made me kinda sad. I had a weird momrnt today when I spied your tables kinda cousin (square version with not as nice details) on my local craigslist today (for free) It has clear glass so it might be a good visual for Chris to see if it helps his gag reflex!

  9. Kate says:

    could you replace the smoked glass so that Chris doesn’t gag? :) Not sure what that would cost.

  10. I LOVE the mix of the brass and the black! It looks fabulous!

  11. Erin {Home Everyday} says:

    I’m not sure what I like better. I like all things shiny, and I agree that the brass is better than the bronze, but there’s something about brass that bothers me. I know it is coming back though and with some more accessories it may look totally different.

  12. Anne-Marie says:

    I agree with all the commenters who said to keep it brass and have new clear glass cut. The brass makes the room look so much richer.

  13. Anna Rose @ The How-To Gal says:

    Team brass!! My hubby always comes around when we disagree on home decor. Give it time :)

  14. Nicole says:

    Oh Julia, I am absolutely in love with your table. It is so…different and awesome. Love it! As for black or brass….i’m torn. I love the warmth and visual interest the brass adds to the room, but I just can’t put my finger on why it just doesn’t do it for me. And I’m with you on the black,no go for sure. You guys are amazing….love how the room is evolving!

  15. Ha! I am with you on the Goof Off AND Magic Eraser… they really are (both) magic, aren’t they?!?

  16. I vote for the brass! I used that same product to get paint off tile in my bathroom– yeah for ‘goof off’! Also, one though for Chris– if the combination of the brass and the smoked glass is what gets to him you could consider having new glass cut in the non-smokey variety. I’m with Chris on the smoked glass (it reminds me of something that resides in the house of… well, a smoker)!

  17. Sara says:

    I love the brass, for sure :) I think it’s best to keep it like that for awhile. You never know, given some time your hubs may like it in the room…ya never know! :)

  18. Katie says:

    Team brass x1000! I get why he doesn’t like the smoked glass/brass combo, but I would try getting new clear glass cut to replace the smoked glass. And then I would be temped to just paint the black legs glossy white or silver (the black parts – not the brass!!), but I’d probably try photoshopping first to check out the look before doing it.

  19. Oh my goodness! Amanda! That Blue Magic stuff looks like it would be exactly the look Chris would go for. Still so shiny! Glad to hear you had great results with it. I’ll be sure to let you know if we give it a try in the coming weeks. My hands need a little break right now.

  20. Suzanna says:

    My husband is a HUGE fan of Goof Off! We used a ton of it while painting/working on floors/etc. when we moved into our first house this summer. He loves Goof Off like I love Mr. Clean’s Magic Erasers. 8-)


  21. Amanda @ Our Humble A{Bowe}d says:

    That’s a handy little tid bit to keep in my back pocket. :) Also, love that Chris ended the video with “Greta’s crying.” That’s usually what happens at our house, too. Ev needs to sleep with his plastic ice cream cones/Nerf dart gun/stuffed animal. Ha. BTW, I tried Rub N Buff on metal yesterday and it wasn’t successful. However, I switched gears and used Blue Magic and it worked like a charm. Here’s a post about a past project: But I’ll have another post about the whole project next week. :)

  22. Team Brass all the way! I love it!

  23. The spray does say it would work on wood! But I would try it in an inconspicuous spot first to make sure it doesn’t damage the wood. Good luck!

  24. Hahahahaha! That PSA is hilarious. We’ll have to be more mindful of that.

  25. Mary says:

    Oh no! Looks like you’ve got a case of Vertical Video Syndrome!!

    (On another note – I like the shiny-ness of the brass, but I’m not a gold person. I like the idea of going for a silver/nickel colour)

  26. Jessie McKinley says:

    Who knew spray paint could be undone??? Way to go for figuring that out! I’ve been trying to decide what to do about my kitchen table/chairs that I started painting…but didn’t like it half way through. I wonder if it’d work as well on wood… I just may have to try it :)

  27. Kathy says:

    Team Brass all the way.

  28. Thanks Julia! That’s true I wonder about what products we could find here!

  29. Me either! Whew. I would love to tone down the brass color. I’ll have to check out that rub n’ buff. Would we lose the shine with it?

  30. Wow. That first attempt at satin nickel must have been so disappointing. Awesome that they let you return it. I’ll have to remember that one. I just checked out the Painted Hive’s post too on the “Metal Effects” product. But I don’t know if we could get it here in the US. Thanks for all the tips Callie!

  31. Kristen Mc says:

    wow! didn’t know that could be done! er, un-done. if you want to tone down the gold, may i suggest some rub’n’buff in something like a “grecian gold”. good luck!

  32. I love that you un-spraypainted something!! I’ve sometimes wondered how hard it would be as I enthusiastically go about ORBing everything in my house, haha. :) It’s true that the ORB made the table a bit flat…but also I’m not a huge brass fan..the 90’s are just too recent for me ;) I liked your suggestion of the brushed nickel, but it’s so hard to find a good spraypaint for that (I tried it here actually!

    What about….some kind of rub-on paint/burnish that would give the brass more patina, like an antique-y distressed character? I know distressed isn’t really in your palette though. But it might lend some nice depth/texture. I think did some burnished metal project some time ago…I’ve been thinking of trying some from Amazon to see how it works ;)

  33. Emily Ryzak says:

    YES! I’m so happy it all worked out. I LOVE the brass.

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We believe we should all love where we live.

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