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The History of Spray Painting: When & Where Was it Invented?

If you are a painter or just a do-it-yourselfer, you probably use spray paint all of the time. However, you may not have ever stopped to wonder where exactly it came from. Knowing all about spray paints’ humble origins won’t improve your technique, but it will make for an interesting anecdote at the hardware store.

If you have ever wondered about the history of spray paint, today’s article is for you.

Read on for a quick history of everyone’s favorite paint tool.

paint brush divider

When & Where Was Spray Paint Invented?

While contemporary spray paint would not come about until the mid-twentieth century, its early origins stem from the 1890s.

Joseph Binks, who was working at a retail store at the time as a decorations director, invented a handpump that could quickly whitewash the walls of his store.

This device had some qualities in common with the paint sprayers of today (mostly only in the department of efficiency) but it lacked one critical component: Pressure.

It’s the pressurized container that makes spray paint what it is, right? Right.

It would take a while for the aerosol can to be invented. This handy piece of technology would come to be in the year 1927 as Norwegian inventor Erik Rotheim looked for a better way to wax his skis.

man prepares to spray undercoat paint

It would take twenty more years for anyone to ever think of using the aerosol can for painting.

In 1949 Edward Seymore of Sycamore Illinois would be the first to use a pressurized aerosol container to rapidly apply paint.

The idea wasn’t taken very seriously at first, with many people seeing it more as an interesting novelty product than an actual tool.

Seymore, however, saw things differently. He realized quickly that he had come up with something special, and built an entire company around his idea: Seymore of Sycamore. The company still exists to this day, and has expanded its services. However, back then its sole purpose was to connect the world with spray paint.

The World Post Aerosol Paint Can

Since Edward Seymore brought his idea to the world, the paint game has never quite been the same. Now, just about everyone uses spray paint. Handymen, homeowners, painters, graffitists. Spray paint truly is everywhere.

It creates home improvements, touch ups on furniture, and even some really beautiful art. And yes, we did say art. Grafitti gets a bad rap, often rightly so. However, when done the right way with proper permission and respect it can serve as a beautiful enhancement to the cityscape.

The world at large owes much to Edward Seymore’s ingenious little invention.

aerosol paint can

paint brush divider


And there have it. The history of spray paint. In macro terms, the spray can is a relatively new piece of technology, but its impact on the world around us is undeniable.

Homeowners and professional painters a like are very lucky to have the paint spray can at their disposal.

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