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Guide to Spray Paint Caps

Our help for artists section includes a spray paint caps guide that will help you find the right caps from terminology to the caps professionals use.

Spray paint caps come in many shapes, sizes & colours and not all are made to be interchangeable between paint manufacturers.  So when ordering always remember to check!  European and American models are normally different as well so you won’t be able to use your European caps on an American can and vice versa,  so if you’re ordering from abroad also keep this in mind.

Before you start you it also helps to understand some of the terminology such as for a cap that will produce a thin line they will often be referred to as a ‘skinny’ cap.  Similarly a cap that will produce a wide line is often called a ‘fat’ cap.

European style caps will work on most cans and are easier on the finger than the traditional US capsAmerican style caps in traditional NY style


Very Thin / Skinny Caps

These caps will produce a very fine line so are great for details, thin lines, light shading, highlights and small areas.  Before using these caps remember to shake your can well before use, only use within recommended temperatures as they can clog quickly.

Skinny Black DotSkinny Grey DotSuper Skinny GoldSuper Skinny CoversallSuper Skinny Molotow
Standard super skinny cap, works on most cans.Super skinny cap that is excellent for fine details, works on most cans.Super skinny cap that has a slower reaction time than some others, works on most cans.Hard and thin spray slightly wider than Super Skinny Molotow, works on most cans.Soft and thin cap similar to grey dot, works on most cans.


Medium / Outline Caps

These caps are general purpose caps that can be used with different techniques to achieve almost anything.

German OutlineGerman Outline UniversalIronlak SharpshooterMTN 94New York OutlineSkinny Banana Negro
Popular cap that produces a sharp medium / thin line and fits some cans (Montana and some others).Decent cap that fits most cans and produces a sharp medium / thin line.Great cap with two modes - when half pressed it will produce a thin, hard line and when fully pressed it produces a line similar to the standard MTN 94. Fits most cans.Great standard cap that is a medium / thin cap that is a bit softer than the German Outline Universal cap (Fits most cans).Medium cap with a soft and thin spray that is good for details, small areas and fits some female cans (MTN Hardcore & some others).Good for thin lines and produces nice clean outlines, only fits some cans (MTN Hardcore & some others).


Soft / Fade Caps

These caps will produce a very hazy finish with really soft edges.

Grey RoundGrey TriangularWhite Round
Soft fading cap that can be used to create very smooth shading, fits most cans.Soft fading cap with a high output and can be very dusty, fits most cans.Softest fade cap and less dusty, fits most cans.


Fat Caps

These caps are great for filling in and produce a wide spray.

New York FatOrange DotRusto Fat
Pretty soft fat cap that fits most cans.Nice fat cap with fairly hard lines and fits most cans.Hard lines fat cap that fits some cans (Mtn Hardcore etc).


Super Fat Caps

Designed for filling very large areas very quickly these caps will also help annihilate your cans just as quickly!

Astro FatPink DotPink Dot Black
Suitable for most cans this excellent cap will produce sharp lines in low & full output mode & doesn't drip.This one is great for gradients and fading as it's a bit softer with a lower output, fits most cans.Fat cap with high output and very clean with little dot pattern, fits most caps and is good for haze effects.


Specialty Caps

Specialty caps because they’re, well, special.

Black CalligraphyRed CalligraphyNeedle CapRed Needle CapStencil CapMixing Cap
Thin calligraphy cap that produces a wide chisel like line, fits most cans.Fat version of the calligraphy cap that produces a wide chisel like line, fits most cans.Straw produces a thin stream of paint that can be used to make great splatter effects, fits most cans.Straw produces a thin stream of paint that can be used to make great splatter effects, fits most cans.Produces a very fine line, requires an additional cap to be fitted inside and can get pretty messy.Attach to two different cans to create new colours.



Before selecting the cap remember to check your cans & the temperature you’re going to be working in.  Most low pressure cans will not react kindly to cold climates and with a thin / skinny cap your can will become clogged very quickly.  When spraying in colder weather you’ve also got to remember that the paint will take longer to dry, sometimes a lot longer meaning that you should be careful of over spraying & drips.  When it’s cold try painting using thin layers that will allow the paint to dry before the next coat is applied, one thick coat will take much, much longer to dry.  It’s also a good idea to stick with cans that have a higher pressure than cans like Mtn94’s (at the very least stay away from skinny caps), try some Molotow cans they have more pressure (check out my best spray paints guide here).

Cap Reaction Time

When you’re working on a new piece the last thing you want is unintentional over spraying or mistakes and some caps will react quicker than others.  Bear in mind reaction time and know the cap you’re using, it’s known that a skinny gold cap will continue to expel paint after your finger has been lifted or sometimes if your cap is near clogging you can get the same problem.

Identifying a mystery cap before use

Probably the easiest way to find out what mystery cap you’re holding is to blow some air through the stem, if it seems like a lot it’ll probably be a fat cap.  If that sounds a little too unscientific (!) try turning the cap over and examine the size of the slit or notch at the end of the stem.  A large slit is going to allow more paint through and will typically signify a fat cap, similarly a smaller slit or none whatsoever will let less paint through so you can bet it’ll be a skinny cap.

Mr Pilgrim