How to Fix Enamel Paint Mistakes? (Easy Solutions)

Enamel paint is oil-based and has a thick flow; because of that, you will face different problems before, while, and after applying it. Most of the problems are caused by improper surface preparation or paint.

Here are 5 mistakes of enamel paint and how to fix them:

1. Wrinkled Enamel Paint

Enamel paint can start to develop wrinkles a few days after applying it. The wrinkles are caused if the paint doesn’t dry fully before you use it. This is when paint goes through a process known as surface drying, where the top layer dries, but the underneath doesn’t. When this happens, the wet paint underneath will cause wrinkles on the dry top coat.

Wrinkles on the paint will start as single irregular lines and then start to link, forming a web of wrinkles over the surface.

Here are other reasons why this happens:

  1. Cold Weather – If you apply paint at cold temperatures, the paint will start to contract until it forms wrinkles.
  2. Thick Coats – Since enamel paint is oil-based, its coating has many oily deposits. If you apply thick coats, the coating will have too many oils and take longer to dry. Since the paint remains wet for a few hours, the finish will develop wrinkles.

To fix wrinkles in enamel paint, scrape off the paint, sand the surface, and re-apply the paint. 

Here is a guide to do this:

  • Use a paint scraper to scrape the wrinkled enamel paint. 
  • Sand the surface to remove the paint. 
  • Smoothen the surface with fine-grit sandpaper. 
  • Wipe and clean the dust off the surface. 
  • Apply a stain-blocking primer.
  • Re-apply paint. 

If you paint over wrinkled enamel paint with another coat, the new coat will also develop wrinkles. 

2. Bubbles In Enamel Paint

Bubbles in enamel paint will form if air gets trapped between coats; once the coat dries, the trapped air will form bubbles in the finish. Sometimes the bubbles will cause tiny tears and holes in the coating.

Here are other reasons why this happens:

  1. Stirred Too Hard – Since enamel paint is thick, it’s common to thin it before applying it. However, air pockets will get trapped in the coating if you stir too hard or fast while thinning it. So, once you apply the paint, these trapped air pockets will form bubbles in the finish.
  2. Porous Surface – Porous surfaces, such as fresh wood, have many pores. Sometimes, the air gets trapped inside the wood pores, so once you apply paint, the trapped air will cause bubbles in the finish. To prevent this, you must apply a stain-blocking primer before painting.
  3. Wet Surface – If you apply enamel paint over a wet surface, the paint adhesion will be weak. Since there’s poor adhesion between the paint and the surface, air can get underneath the coating and cause bubbles. 

To fix bubbles in enamel paint, pop the bubbles, sand the surface, and re-apply the paint.

Here is a guide for this:

  • Pop the bubbles in the paint.
  • Leave the paint to dry.
  • Sand the surface with fine-grit sandpaper.
  • Touch up the surface by applying two enamel paint coats. 
  • Allow the paint to dry.
  • Smooth the surface with fine-grit sandpaper. 

If the bubbles are caused by improper surface preparation, you must remove the enamel paint, fix the surface (check for water leaks), and re-apply the paint. 

3. Sticky Enamel Paint

Enamel paint turns sticky if it doesn’t dry properly or takes too long to dry. This usually happens if you apply paint during cold temperatures, re-coat the paint too soon, or apply it over wet surfaces.

Enamel paint dries once the solvent (water or oil) evaporates from the coating. So, if you re-coat while the solvent hasn’t evaporated yet, the finish will turn sticky because the solvent won’t allow the new coating to stick. Also, the old coating will still be wet, preventing good paint adhesion. 

To fix sticky enamel paint, improve the evaporation rate so the paint dries faster. 

Here is a guide for this:

  • Open all windows and doors to increase airflow.
  • Use a hairdryer to increase the heat around the coating so it dries faster.
  • Use a dehumidifier to reduce the moisture in the atmosphere.
  • Turn on the fans in the room.

These things will speed up the evaporation and the oxidization process of the coating. However, if you tried all of these and the paint is still sticky, you must remove the paint because there’s a surface problem. If the paint remains sticky for several days, there’s a water leak underneath the surface.

Here is what to do:

  • Dissolve the enamel paint with mineral spirits.
  • Use a paint scraper to scrape off the paint.
  • Find and fix problems with the surface (such as a water leak).
  • Apply two coats of a moisture-resistant primer paint
  • Re-apply the paint and allow it to dry.

4. Enamel Paint is Turning Yellow

Oil-based enamel paint will turn yellow because of its high volume of natural (or synthetic) oils in the formula. While drying, the paint will leave behind oily deposits on the surface. The yellowing starts as a tiny spot, and these spots gradually spread until the coating develops a yellow or amber-like look.

You can’t fix yellowing enamel paint since the cause of the yellowing is in the formula of the paint. However, you can reduce the yellow tint by doing this:

  • Apply light coats so there are fewer oily deposits on the surface.
  • Thin enamel paint before applying it.
  • Sand the yellowing spots with fine-grit sandpaper as soon as they appear.

5. Enamel Paint is Cracking

Enamel paint starts to crack or split if the paint dries too fast. If the paint dries too fast, the paint particles don’t have enough time to bond, so the paint coating will be weak. The cracks start small, but as time goes by, these cracks will get bigger and allow air to get underneath the paint, causing the paint to peel off.

Enamel paint can develop hairline cracks if you over-thin the paint. That’s because the coat will be too thin and crack under minimal contact.

Unfortunately, the only way to fix cracking enamel paint is to scrape off the finish and re-apply it. This is because the paint will be too weak to be painted over. After re-applying the paint, seal it with polyurethane to protect the finish from impact and dents that can cause it to crack.

Final Words

To avoid enamel paint mistakes, prep the surface and paint properly before applying it. Some mistakes can be fixed by sanding and touching up the paint, and some can’t. The best way to fix any painting problem is to remove the existing coat, find and fix the surface problem, and re-apply the paint.

Tony Adams

Tony Adams

Woodworker, Interior and Exterior Painter, Flooring Specialist

Tony is a professional painter and an author of DIY Geeks. Tony has completed over 1,000 painting projects for his clients. It's safe to say he knows what he Is talking about.

Eral Kadrija

Eral Kadrija

Lead Editor, Home Renovator

Eral has a passion for home renovation and repair. Over the years, he has bought, renovated, and sold 7 old homes. Using his experience from different DIY projects he created DIY Geeks.

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