8 Most Common Spray Paint Mistakes (& Fixes)

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Reviewed by
Eral Kadrija

Tony Adams

Because of the light flow and additives of the spray paint, you can make mistakes while spraying it. These mistakes can ruin the finish. 

Some mistakes might not even let the finish dry. Today, we are going to look at common spray paint problems, why they happen, and how to fix them. Let’s dive in.

1. You Sprayed The Wrong Side

If you spray without a paint shield, you can spray the wrong side of an item. That’s why using a paint shield is recommended.

To fix it, you can wipe it off with a damp rag if the coating is still wet. However, if it has dried, you can remove it with a solvent. 

To clean water-based spray paints, use warm water, soap, and a soft brush. For oil-based spray paint, use mineral spirits or rubbing alcohol to remove it. For stubborn oil-based stains, use a soft brush.

2. Bubbles in Spray Paint

Before you spray paint, you must shake the paint can to get the particles mixed. But, if you shake it too hard, you will create bubbles in the coating.

Spray paint bubbles can also form if you spray porous surfaces. That’s because porous surfaces have pores that trap air, and the trapped air will cause bubbles to form as the finish dries. 

To fix it:

  • Pop the bubbles. 
  • Sand the surface with a fine-grit sandpaper.
  • Apply a coat of primer.
  • Spray a few coats of paint and leave to dry.

3. Spray Paint Cracking

If the spray paint dries too fast, the finish may crack. That’s because the paint particles don’t have enough time to harden, and the finish won’t be durable. 

Spray paint can also crack if you apply it when the temperature is too high or too low. If the temperature is too high, the coating will dry too fast and develop cracks. Also, if the temperature is too cold (below 40F), the finish will crack due to frost. 

If you don’t leave enough time between coats, the spray paint won’t dry properly and will crack. Also, if you apply thick or too many coats, the finish will develop cracks. But, this is rare because spray paint is thin. 

To prevent it from cracking, clean and prime the surface before painting and leave enough dry time between coats. To fix cracking spray paint; sand, clean, and prime the surface, then re-apply it.

If you notice small cracks on the finish, you can cover them by applying a light coat over it. However, the best way to fix this is to prevent it in the first place.

4. Spray Paint Dripping

If you apply too many coats, the finish will drip. That’s because there’s too much paint on the surface, and the excess paint will start to drip.

This happens when spray painting wooden surfaces. Once the wood pores are filled with paint, the excess paint doesn’t have where to stick and will drop to the floor. 

The finish will also drip if the paint doesn’t stick well. This happens if you apply it on non-porous surfaces such as plastic and glass. Since the material is non-porous, it won’t absorb the paint, leading to weak paint adhesion that can cause the paint to drip and come off. To prevent this, always apply a primer first so the spray paint can stick.

Also, if you apply light coats, the spray paint will drip. That’s because a thin coat won’t stick and will drip. To prevent this, don’t over-thin the coating. To prevent the finish from dripping, don’t apply more than 4 coats. 

To fix spray paint drips, let it dry, then scrape the excess off the surface using a paint scraper. Do it neatly with a flat object to prevent ridges and bumps in the paint coating. Once the coating is scraped, sand the surface with a fine-grit sandpaper. 

5. Spray Paint Is Sticky

Spray paint will turn sticky if:

  1. You apply too many coats.
  2. If the paint didn’t dry properly. 
  3. If You didn’t leave enough dry time between coats. 
  4. You use poor-quality paint.

To prevent it from turning sticky, leave enough dry time between coats. Also, use high-quality paints, and don’t apply more than 4 thick coats.

To fix sticky spray paint, help the paint dry by increasing the temperature around the coating. If the temperature is high enough, the evaporation rate will increase, and the coating will dry faster.

To dry the coating faster, use a hairdryer, electric fan, or open windows and doors to allow proper ventilation. 

You can also fix it by applying a paint remover over the finish for a few seconds. The solvent will remove the excess, but won’t remove the entire coating. However, you must wipe the solvent after a few seconds or it can remove the entire coating. 

The last resort to fix it is to remove the paint and start the spray paint application again. This way, you get rid of the bad sticky paint and apply a new coating.

6. Spray Paint Looks Blotchy

If you apply too much spray paint in the same area, it will turn blotchy. Blotchy spray paint looks uneven; some parts of the paint will have a lighter shade, while others will have a darker shade. This will cause irregular dry time and a blotchy look on the paint.

Also, using different brands on the same surface can cause the finish to appear blotchy because there will be color and flow variations. Also, keeping the paint nozzle too close to the surface can cause the finish to turn blotchy.

You must shake the spray paint before applying it. But, if you don’t shake the bottle enough, the paint particles won’t mix properly, and the coating will have varying colors and look blotchy. 

To prevent blotchy spray paint, spray the entire surface evenly, and don’t apply more than 4 coats. Also, keep it 8-inches away from the surface. 

To fix blotchy spray paint, use a rag to dab the blotched-looking areas. The rag will remove the excess on the blotched area and fix the problem. If this doesn’t work, apply more spray paint over the non-blotchy parts of the surface. 

The last resort is to remove the coating and start all over. This time, apply even coats.

7. Spray Paint Keeps Wrinkling

Spray paint wrinkling is caused by improper surface preparation. If the surface you are painting is dirty, the filth will make the finish wrinkle.

It can also wrinkle if there’s a chemical reaction between the paint and the solvent used to clean the surface (before painting). For instance, if you use alcohol to clean a surface and don’t wipe the alcohol residue, the alcohol will prevent the paint from drying, and the finish will wrinkle.

If you paint over rough surfaces, the texture of the rough surface will cause the finish to wrinkle. Spraying paint in a cold or moist environment is another reason why this happens.

To prevent spray paint from wrinkling, prep the surface before painting properly. Also, leave enough dry time between coats, and don’t spray in a cold environment (under 50 degrees). 

To fix wrinkled wet spray paint, remove the entire finish, sand the surface, and re-apply it. If the wrinkled paint is dry, sand the finish, then apply 2-3 new coats.

8. Spray Paint Looks Like Orange Peel

Spray paint will turn orange if the paint dries too fast. When the paint solvent or thinner evaporates too fast, the paint particles won’t bond properly and will break down. This makes the finish look like orange peel.

It will look like orange peel if you use improper painting techniques. For instance, not priming the spray gun before panting. An orange peel can also be caused by a chemical reaction or exposure to UV rays.

To prevent an orange peel finish, thin the paint before you spray, and use the right type of spray gun and the right size of nozzle. 

To fix the spray paint orange peel finish, wet sand the finish, and re-apply it.

To wet sand it:

  1. Dip waterproof sandpaper into the water.
  2. Use wet sandpaper to sand the orange peel-looking areas.
  3. After, wait for the surface to get dry.
  4. Then thin the spray paint lightly and repaint the surface. This will resolve the mistake.

Final Words

Mistakes while spray painting are common, especially if you are a beginner. But, you can skip these mistakes if you do enough prep work and use the sprayer correctly. Two coats of stain-blocking primer can also help to avoid these mistakes. 

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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