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Spray paint experiment goes awry

How far can one can of red gloss enamel protective spray paint go? What I mean is, exactly how many objects will it coat before emitting that tell-tell aerosol sputter?

Manufacturers of spray paint allow buyers to ponder such mysteries, as they do not include square footage guidelines in the fine print. Labels on spray paint generally advise the user to paint in a well ventilated area, in warm temperatures, out of the wind and in low humidity. Paint dries, according to the instructions, within 2 -- 4 hours and cures in 24 hours when applied in 2 -- 3 light coats in a back and forth motion.

Nothing at all, however, is mentioned about quantity of items, number of inches, or ratio of fluid ounces to particles of air, all of which would help us determine how many twelve ounce cans of red spray paint to purchase for a project.

Nevertheless, you, my gentle reader, can count on me to solve this puzzle.

One 12 ounce can of red spray paint, approximately full, will successfully mark, blemish, blotch, stain, spot or otherwise blot, if not completely cover, the following things, if used in a ventilated, but not breezy, garage: The front of a teal mini van, one Easter basket, three boxes of Christmas decorations, a concrete floor, birdseed inside a plastic container, the plastic container itself, a wheelbarrow tire and handle, a rake, a shovel, one child's left hand, two new tennis shoes, a block of wood, dirt inside of a bag, the bag, and six unsuspecting slugs.

And that is not all.

The same can, when used outside of the garage, will also mar, blight, discolor, splotch or otherwise ruin many other articles: the gate, two gardenia plants, seven mushrooms, a stump, the same child's right hand, three random socks abandoned in the yard, several patches of grass, the patio, a bike helmet, the hose, the heating and cooling units, four trees, one sister, one brother, a sleeping dog, and everything downwind from the aforementioned objects.

It seems to me, in my immeasurable experience, that the amount of time the user has on his hands, rather than the volume of paint, determines the vastness of coverage.

And here's another dirty little secret that companies which make red paint don't print on their stickers: Paint sprayed in the wrong place, or that misses the desired target, dries in 10 seconds and cures within 15 minutes. One coat, even if sprayed on in an unsteady, erratic manner, will sufficiently, and permanently, smother even those items to which the paint producers claim you must first apply their primer. It doesn't matter if it's 2 or 102 degrees outside with a humidity factor of -5 percent or 100 percent.

And you definitely won't learn of erroneous paint mishaps until that 15 minute cure time elapses.

I dedicate this column to my five year old son, without whose meticulous research efforts, I could not have composed it.

And just so you know, he had to complete his inquiry and draw his conclusions, which I assure you really smarted, in an untimely manner, before his aerosol arsenal gasped and spit in empty fatigue. (Thus proving my theory of time versus volume.)

For those of you who dare feign surprise at his mad-scientist mind, let me remind you that this same child also conducted the methodical bubble gum experiment, in which he sought to determine how many chews it takes to reconstitute dried gum picked and scraped from the bottom of a bleacher.



Web posted on Thursday, January 13, 2005











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