How to Fix Sticky Spray Paint? (3 Methods)

Spray paints dry quicker than many other types of paints. So, when your spray paint isn’t drying or turns sticky, you know there is a problem. Here’s here is how to fix a sticky spray paint.

If the sticky spray paint is still wet, you can fix the stickiness by drying the spray paint manually with a hairdryer or heater. If the sticky spray paint has dried unevenly or some areas of the paint are tacky, you can sprinkle talcum powder or baking soda (absorbent agents) on the sticky parts to absorb the moisture in the spray paint.

If the sticky spray paint has been contaminated or dried in its tacky state, you’ll need to remove it from the surface with a paint stripper. This post reveals more ways to fix sticky spray paints including tips on how to prevent a sticky spray paint. Let’s dive in.

Why Is Your Spray Paint Sticky?

The cause of sticky spray paint is that the paint is not drying and the main reason for this is the over-application of the spray paint. This happens when you apply more than the required number of spray paint coats on the surface.

You can also over-apply spray paint if you spend too much time on one spot while spraying the paint. This will cause you to over-apply the spray paint on that spot causing the spray paint to dry more slowly than other areas on the surface.

When you apply more than the required number of spray paint coats, there will be too much spray paint on the surface than the surface can absorb. As a result, the excess spray paint coats that aren’t absorbed will not dry and will turn gooey or sticky after a few hours. However, over-applying the spray paint isn’t the only cause of a sticky spray paint finish.

Here are other causes of sticky spray paint:

1. You Recoated the Spray Paint Too Soon

Spray paints are usually thin and you need multiple coats of the paint for proper coverage on a surface. However, you need to leave enough dry time between each coat of the spray paint. Spray paints generally take an hour to dry enough for a recoat. If you recoat the spray paint before the existing coat is dry enough for a recoat, the whole finish will not dry and will turn sticky.

The stickiness is caused by the wet undercoat that wasn’t allowed to dry enough. Since the first coat wasn’t dry enough before the recoat, there will be moisture trapped between each coat causing the whole finish to remain damp and sticky for several hours.

2. You Used the Wrong Type of Spray Paint

There are so many types of spray paints and each type is specific to a material or surface. For instance, Rust-Oleum spray paint is specific to metal surfaces.

So if you use Rust-Oleum spray paint on wood, the paint will not dry and will turn sticky because you used it on the wrong surface. Also, using oil-based spray paint instead of water-based spray paint can also prevent the finish from drying.

3. The Drying Conditions Are Less Than Optimal for the Spray Paint

Like all paints and finishes, spray paints also need to be applied in optimal drying conditions. Before applying spray paint, the room temperature has to be within 50-90 degrees Fahrenheit. The level of humidity should also be lower than 50%.

If any of these drying conditions aren’t met, the spray paint will turn sticky. For instance, spraying paint when the room temperature falls below 50 degrees F means the paint will take longer to dry, and if the room temperature is cool enough the spray paint will turn sticky.

4. You Spray-Painted on a Sealed Surface

Spray paints when applied bite into the surface rapidly to stick. If there is an existing sealant like varnish, polyurethane, or lacquer on the surface, the spray paint will not bite into it as it should and will eventually turn sticky.

The reason for this is that the sealant on the surface would repel the spray paint making it impossible for the paint to stick. Since the spray paint doesn’t stick, there is no way it will dry properly.

5.  You Didn’t Prep the Surface Properly

Before applying spray paint, the surface needs to be wiped, cleaned, sanded, and primed. If you skip any of these steps, your spray paint will not stay on the surface as it should and can eventually get contaminated and turn sticky. This is very common when you spray paint on a dusty or filthy surface.

6. High Moisture Levels

Spray paints dry when used in high moisture areas. If the surface is damp, the spray paint will not dry. If the spray paint is exposed to moisture leaks or rainfall, it will also not dry. Any sort of exposure to moisture will cause the spray paint to turn sticky.

Will Tacky Spray Paint Eventually Dry?

Will Tacky Spray Paint Eventually Dry?

Tacky spray paint will eventually dry only if you fix the tackiness in time. If you don’t fix the cause of the tackiness, the spray paint will remain tacky and will not dry. Also, if the spray paint remains tacky for over 24 hours, the chances of it drying later are reduced because the spray paint would have been contaminated.

When spray paint gets tacky, it’s usually not the end of the line. If you can fix the cause of the tackiness before the spray paint gets contaminated, then it will dry eventually. But if you don’t fix the cause and the spray paint is allowed to remain tacky, it will not dry and will remain tacky.

You should also know that tacky spray paint generally stays good for 24 hours. If the tackiness isn’t fixed within 24 hours of applying the paint, chances are it won’t dry again. This is because the spray paint would have been contaminated by dust, debris, and dry air within the 24 hours after its application. When the spray paint gets contaminated, it will not dry again but if you can fix the tackiness within 24 hours, you will still end up with a good finish.

Do You Have To Wipe Excess Spray Paint From Surface?

You don’t have to wipe off excess spray paint from a surface after application because spray paint is designed to stick and stay on the surface as a top coat. If you wipe the spray paint after application, you’ll smear the finish.

Related Read: Spray Paint Dry Time?

How To Fix Sticky Spray Paint? (3 Methods That Work)

Here are three effective methods to fix a sticky spray paint finish:

  1. Use a hairdryer to dry the sticky spray paint
  2. Use talcum powder to absorb the moisture in the spray paint
  3. Strip the sticky spray paint

This guide will show you how these methods work, when to use them, and the tools and supplies needed for each method of drying sticky spray paint.

1. Use A Hairdryer

Use A Hairdryer

The first method to fix a sticky spray paint is to use a hairdryer. Since the spray paint is sticky because it isn’t drying, exposing the paint to heat from a hairdryer will increase the rate of evaporation so the spray paint can dry faster. If you don’t have a hairdryer, you can use a heater, a radiator, or increase the room temperature using the thermostat.

For this method, you’ll need these tools and supplies:

  • A clean rag
  • A hairdryer
  • A pair of gloves
  • A face mask

Here is a guide to this drying method:

  1. Use a clean rag to dab the sticky spray paint – the rag will soak moisture on the spray paint surface.
  2. Plug-in and turn on the hairdryer.
  3. Set the hairdryer to medium heat (around 100 degrees F).
  4. Move the hairdryer around the sticky parts of the spray paint for a few minutes.
  5. Turn off the hairdryer and leave the paint to dry.

Tip: After drying the sticky spray paint with a hairdryer, you can turn on fans to help the spray paint cure quicker.

2. Use Talcum Powder To Dry The Sticky Spray Paint

Use Talcum Powder To Dry The Sticky Spray Paint

Talcum powder is an absorbent that soaks up moisture. The idea here is to sprinkle some talcum powder directly on the spray paint and leave it to soak up the moisture in the paint. You can also use baking soda powder instead of talcum powder.

However, you should know that this method is ideal for areas that will be covered with furniture or items. This is because the drying powder will cause the spray paint to appear different so only use this method if you’ll put decorative items or furniture over the spray-painted area. If the spray paint finish will be exposed, you should use another drying method on this list.

For this method, you’ll need these tools and supplies:

  • Talcum powder or baking soda powder
  • A bristled paintbrush or chip brush
  • A face mask

Here is a guide for this method:

  1. Touch the spray paint to know which part is sticky or tacky.
  2. Sprinkle some talcum powder on the tacky areas of the spray paint.
  3. You can use a paintbrush to gently touch up the sticky spray paint so the talcum powder works well (optional).
  4. When the spray paint is dry, you can apply an extra coat of paint to cover the spot.
  5. Leave the paint to dry.

Tip: After using the talcum powder, you can make the spot look better by scuffing the finish or sealing it with varnish or oil-based polyurethane.

3. Strip The Sticky Spray Paint

Strip The Sticky Spray Paint

The last method to fix a sticky spray paint is to strip the sticky spray paint. This is the last resort that should be used when all other drying methods have failed. You should use this method for sticky spray paint that remains sticky after 24 hours and for spray paint that has been contaminated.

For this drying method, you’ll need these:

  • A paintbrush
  • Chemical-based paint striper
  • A paint scraper
  • A face mask.
  • A pair of gloves
  • Sandpaper

Here is a guide for this method:

  1. Apply a generous amount of paint stripper directly to the sticky spray paint.
  2. Leave the paint stripper to dissolve the sticky spray paint and dry for 30 minutes.
  3. When the paint stripper is dry, use a plastic putty knife or a paint scraper to scrape off the paint stripper and the spray paint.
  4. Repeat the steps above for leftover spray paint.
  5. When all the paint has been removed, neutralize the chemical paint stripper residue by wiping the surface with mineral spirits and a rag.
  6. Leave the surface to dry for 24-48 hours.
  7. Sand and prime the surface.
  8. Reapply the spray paint properly by following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  9. Allow the new spray paint to dry.

Tip: If you don’t have a paint stripper, you can also use acetone or paint thinner to remove the spray paint. But, be gentle with these solvents as they can also damage the surface if used carelessly.

How Do You Know When Spray Paint Is Cured?

Here are expert tips to know when your spray paint has cured:

  1. When the spray paint cures, the color of the paint will be set fully on the surface. If the paint hasn’t cured, the color will appear lighter or deeper than it’s meant to be.
  2. The spray paint will become hard and strong.
  3. When the spray paint cures, it can be sanded smoothly. If the paint hasn’t cured, you won’t be able to sand smoothly as the sandpaper will get clogged with spray paint film.
  4. When spray paint has cured, it won’t produce any smell. The paint will only smell when it is still wet and hasn’t dried fully.

Related Read: Fixes For Other Spray Paint Problems

How To Prevent Spray Paint From Turning Sticky?

Here are expert tips to prevent your spray paint from turning sticky during and after application:

  1. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying the paint.
  2. Only spray paint in ideal drying conditions (above 50 degrees Fahrenheit and below 50% humidity level).
  3. Leave enough dry time between coats of spray paint.
  4. Use the right spray paint. If the paint isn’t recommended for the surface you want to spray paint, don’t use it.
  5. Ensure the surface is clean and dry before applying spray paint.

Final Words

In summary, there are several reasons for sticky spray paint but when your paint gets sticky, you can still fix it. To do this, you just need to find the cause of the stickiness and fix it to allow the spray paint to dry. You also need to fix the sticky paint within 24 hours.

If the spray paint is allowed to remain tacky after 24 hours, it will get contaminated and might not dry eventually. Finally, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying spray paint to prevent it from turning sticky.

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