How to Fix Sticky Spray Paint? (3 Methods)

Spray paints dry faster than many other types of paints. So, when it doesn’t dry or if it turns sticky, you know there is a problem. So, how to fix sticky spray paint?

If the sticky spray paint is still wet, you can fix it by drying it manually with a hairdryer or heater. If the coating 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 coating. 

However, if the coating has been contaminated or dried in its tacky state, you’ll need to remove it from the surface with a paint stripper

Why Is Your Spray Paint Sticky?

The main cause of sticky spray paint is because you applied too many coats of it. You can also over-apply it if you spend too much time on one spot while spraying. 

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

Here are other reasons why this happens:

1. You Recoated Too Soon

Spray paints are usually thin and you need multiple coats for proper coverage on a surface. However, you need to leave enough dry time between each coat before applying the next one. They take an hour to dry enough for a recoat. If you recoat it 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. 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 it on wood, the paint will not dry and will turn sticky because you used it on the wrong surface.

3. Wrong Drying Conditions

Like all paints and finishes, spray paints also need to be applied in optimal drying conditions. Before applying it, 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 coating 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 coating will turn sticky.

4. 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 coating 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 it, 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, the coating will not stay on the surface as it should and can eventually get contaminated and turn sticky. This is very common when for dusty or filthy surface.

6. High Moisture Levels

Spray paints dry when used in high-moisture areas. If the surface is damp, the coating won’t dry. If the coating is exposed to moisture leaks or rainfall, it will also not dry. Any sort of exposure to moisture will cause it 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 coating will remain tacky and will not dry. If the spray paint remains tacky for over 24 hours, the chances of it drying later are reduced because the coating would have been contaminated.

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

It’s recommended the fix the cause within 24 hours because if the 24-hour mark is passed, the chances of the coating drying are reduced. 

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

Related Read: Spray Paint Dry Time?

How To Fix Sticky Spray Paint?

Spray paint won’t dry for different reasons. You must find the reason why the coating has turned sticky and fix it. Here are a few methods:

1. Use A Hairdryer

Use A Hairdryer

Since the coating is sticky because it isn’t drying, exposing it t to heat from a hairdryer will increase the rate of evaporation so it can dry faster. If you don’t have a hairdryer, you can use a heater, or 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 coating – the rag will soak moisture on the 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 coating for a few minutes. 
  5. Turn off the hairdryer and leave the paint to dry.

2. Use Talcum Powder

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 coating 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 coating to appear different so only use this method if you’ll put decorative items or furniture over the finish. If the finish 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

Here is a guide for this method:

  1. Sprinkle talcum powder over the tacky coating. 
  2. You can use a paintbrush to gently touch up the coating so the talcum powder works well (optional).
  3. When the spray paint is dry, you can apply an extra coat of paint to cover the spot.
  4. 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 Finish

Strip The Sticky Spray Paint

If nothing works, strip the finish off the surface. You should only do this if the finish remains tacky 24 hours after applying it. 

For this 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 finish.
  2. Wait 30 minutes.
  3. Use a plastic putty knife or a scraper to scrape off the paint stripper (the spray paint will come off too).
  4. Repeat the steps above for leftovers
  5. Clean the surface with mineral spirits and then with clean water. 
  6. Leave the surface to dry for 24-48 hours.
  7. Sand and prime the surface.
  8. Re-apply the spray paint.

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.

Spray Paint Has Dried If:

Here are expert tips to know when the finish has dried:

  1. If the color of the paint is fully set on the surface. If the finish hasn’t dried, the color will appear lighter or deeper than it is. 
  2. If the coating becomes hard and strong. 
  3. When you can sand the coating, it has dried. If the finish is still wet, you can’t sand it as it will clog the sandpaper. 

Related Read: Fixes For Other Spray Paint Problems

Preventing It From Turning Sticky:

  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.
  4. Ensure the surface is clean and dry before applying it.
Tony Adams
Tony Adams

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,

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