chicago’s spray paint ban is really irritating

montana gold spray paint

On Friday evening, Aziza B and I trooped out to Evanston, a forty-five minute drive from our neighborhood in Chicago. We parked downtown, walked up to the doors of Blick Art Materials, and found them locked. I knocked on the window, begged, cajoled, pleaded. It did nothing, the doors stayed locked and we went to Urban Outfitters to cheer ourselves up. We missed Blick by fifteen minutes and left Evanston with a pair of pants for me and a rug for her, from a store that also has a location five minutes from my apartment. What a dreamy Friday night.

Non-Chicago readers are probably wondering why we would have to drive forty-five minutes away just to get to an art supply store. Spray paint. All for spray paint. The city of Chicago has banned the sale of spray paint in city limits since 1995. My google research shows that we’re the only city in the country with an outright ban on its sale. The Supreme Court was even involved. And guess what? We still have tons of graffiti in every single neighborhood in this city. But you have to drive or order online to get it for a simple household project. Grrrr.

I went back to Evanston solo on Saturday morning after a stop at Salvation Army, where I found a cute little wicker magazine rack and knew that there would be no rest until it was bright yellow. Blick carries Montana Gold spray paint in about sixty colors. It was heaven. Four different shades of turquoise alone! The clerk assisting had to stand next to me while I picked out my colors and I kept apologizing for taking so long. So many choices, could I spray paint my whole house in these paints, please? I left with ten cans for $7.99 each and got 10% off of my purchase for signing up for their frequent buyer card, which is offered free for a limited time.

I got home and got to sanding. And painting. And being in love with life. I have done tons of spray painting projects around the house (dresser, alley-find nightstand, bricks and a chair, an outdoor set and of course my first spray painting foray with an old spice rack) but never with these paints and these colors. One small hardware store in Chicago will sell spray paint without a contractor’s license (email me for the name of it if you’re not a narc, okay?) but the color options are nothing to write home about. Montana Gold is vibrant, easy to use, and perfectly matches the colors on the rim of each can. I implore you to sand your stuff well while using this particular paint. Other brands are more forgiving with lazy sanders like me but Montana Gold is not one of them. I noticed some crunchy build-up around areas I missed while sanding and did a much more thorough job with my little sandpaper block on my second project of the day. I also got a great tip from a contractor who is doing work in our building– wet sanding. When sanding metal, get your sandpaper or block a bit wet to avoid having to wipe it down ten million times after sanding it dry. Worked like a charm.


spray paint

before wire frame

wire frame after

Now to figure out where these things will live.


10 responses to “chicago’s spray paint ban is really irritating

  1. Hey May,

    Have you guys ever been to North Riverside Mall area? The Michael’s Art & Craft there sell spray paint the last time I checked. (Its been a year or more though.)
    You can always call them:
    (708) 442-5787

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  3. whats the hardware store that will sell paint w/o a contractor license? also are there any blicks that sell paint out of the city but near a cta train stop? i dont have a car so its hard to get paint for me.

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  5. You should have sanded those things before painting, they still look rough.

    • Maybe you should have read the entire post: “I implore you to sand your stuff well while using this particular paint. Other brands are more forgiving with lazy sanders like me but Montana Gold is not one of them.” But thanks for anonymously commenting anyways!

  6. Found your blog whild doing research for the retailer I work for. We usually sell spray paint, but found out from you that we will not be selling the stuff in Chicago. Stil — we have a lot of neat stuff like sanding blocks and sanding paper, paint brushes and rollers and best of all lots of tools. Look for the coupons that will give you 20% off one item. Go to to see what we sell that you might need. We are opening around May 18–25.

  7. Hi….Do you prime the pieces before you paint, or just sand? I have a dresser that I want to paint. What do you use to fix any imperfections, like scratches, a few gouges, etc.? Thanks!

  8. Hahaha you must be joking.Something like that is nothing but just nonsense.

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