How to Fix Blotchy Spray Paint


Last updated: April 7, 2023

Know why blotching occurs and how to fix it with this easy guide.

How to Fix Blotchy Spray Paint

Just like traditional painting with a standard brush, spray painting requires some expertise. You’ll likely end up with blotchy spray paint if you misapply it or work with a substandard sprayer.  

Blotchy spray paint looks uneven on the surfaces, creating a mixture of darker and lighter shades. Fortunately, you can correct this mistake, provided you know how to fix blotchy spray paint. 

That’s what we intend to cover in this article. We will show you how to spot blotchy spray paint and fix it on any surface.

How to Fix Blotchy Spray Paint

The best way to correct uneven spray painted surface is to sand the affected area using fine grit sandpaper carefully, then add a few coats of primer before repainting it to create the desired results.

What Does a Blotchy Spray Paint Look Like?

Unlike conventional brushes, you need more expertise and experience when working with spray paints. Blotchy spray paint is more likely to occur with low-quality sprayers or in poor conditions.  It is usually a mixture of darker and lighter shades of spray paint marks. 

In most cases, blotchy spray paint is a combination of drips, drops, and classic trails that are usually a result of a rough paint job. Blotchy spray paint often resembles fish eyes or can form bubbles and pools. 

Each problem can be caused by a different factor, although they tend to coincide and have similar characteristics. Below is an overview of the possible causes of blotchy spray paint. 

What Causes Blotchy Spray Paint?

While there are several reasons you could end up with blotchy spray paint, new spray paint is a common catalyst. Spray painting is fun, and the idea can make you overexcited. 

It’s common to get carried away and end up with a blotchy mess due to excitement. Fortunately, correcting the mess is just as easy.  

Another possible cause of blotchiness is inexperience. It’s common for beginners to linger too long on a single spot, being too close to the painted object, or mishandle the sprayer.

All of these lead to a blotchy paint job. Additional factors include improper paint mixture and even dirty equipment.  

So if you’ve got a blotchy mess or are looking for ways to spot and prevent it from occurring, this guide covers everything you need to know about how to fix a blotchy spray paint. 

What You Need To Know About Spray Paint Blotches

Before we proceed, you need to be able to identify uneven paint. You’re likely to encounter the following problems when spray painting. They’re the characteristics of a blotchy spray paint known by different terms such as: 

Orange Peel

This is the name given to an incorrectly painted surface that appears like orange peels due to flaws in texture. It’s usually caused by improper sprayer setup and spray painting at the wrong angle. It could also be caused by over-spraying too much paint or premature evaporation of paint thinner.  

Use a suitable spray gun or paint compatible with the substrate to prevent orange peel on your paint job. For example, if spray painting metal, work with a sprayer compatible with metal surfaces and ensure it’s properly installed. 

Also, prepare the surface before spray painting by cleaning and wiping it thoroughly. Since orange peels are also caused by excessive paint, using thin coats or thinning the paint before use will provide better results.

Paint Drips

If you are a regular painter, you may have encountered paint drips during your work. One major cause of paint drips is applying too much or unsuitable paint thinner. 

To prevent this problem, work with high-quality paint like Rust-Oleum. Cheaper paint options can work just fine, but they need to be more durable. 

And while spraying, keep the spray gun or paint can about 6-8 inches away from the object to prevent the formation of puddles. 

Work with a good quality spray gun and thin spray paint and apply them evenly on the surface, not spraying in a single continuous stream.  Also, let each coat dry completely before applying the next coat. 

Fish Eyes

Fish eyes refer to those small round craters that form on painted surfaces. This error in spray paint occurs when the substrate surface is contaminated, especially with oily hands.  

While spray painting, ensure that oil or water does not get into the airflow. Otherwise, you’ll notice your spray-painted surface develops some fish eyes. 

You should also ensure that your surface is clean and wear latex gloves to prevent contaminating it with oily hands. 

Finally, work with a piece of good equipment. Ensure the spray gun or can is not leaking. 

How to Fix Blotchy Spray Paint

How to Fix Blotchy Spray Paint ( Any Surface)

Let’s focus on the initial question: how to fix blotchy spray paint. Below are the steps to fixing spray paint problems on common surfaces, including wood and plastic.

Prepare the Surface Adequately

The preparation of the surface differs depending on the type of substrate you’re working on. But generally, always use a moist cloth to remove dirt and dust on the surface. Fine-grit sandpaper would do the job perfectly, especially where there is dried or loose paint.  

Plastic Surface Preparation 

For plastic surfaces, clean them thoroughly with soapy water, then wipe them with a dry rag. A little sanding and a moist cloth can also help remove loose surface textures or damaged paint coats. If the surface contains oil contaminants, clean it off with rubbing alcohol.

Wood Surface Preparation 

Wooden surfaces with old dried paint can be cleaned with trisodium phosphate (TSP) before spraying. Scrap off or sand away the old coat to smoothen the surface up. Good quality rough grit and fine-grit sandpapers are the primary tools needed to get the job done. 

Learn to Control the Can

One sure way to increase the quality of your spray paint is to learn how to control the can or spray gun. Always work with one hand without shifting to the other since that would create an imbalance and uneven outcomes. 

Can control is what determines the outcome of your paintwork. The better you can handle it, the more satisfying the results will be. 

Ensure the spray paint stream is within a 90-degree angle to enable you to manage it and maintain a consistent stream of paint.

If you can’t master the can, consider practicing on paper. A moving or shipping box is recommended to practice everything you need to know, such as controlling the can and applying consistent layers. 

And while at it, remember to move the spray paint sprayer continuously to avoid uneven spray paint like orange peel.

Spray from a Distance

Spray guns are not the same. They differ in the pressures used to fit air and liquid, so the distance of painting will depend on the type of spray gun you use. If you use the conventional spray gun, maintain a distance of at least 6-8 inches from the surface. 

On the other hand, a distance of 10 to 12 inches from the target surface is recommended if you work with an airless sprayer. 

Such sprayers have high pressure and can be used even at a distance of 14 inches away. 

Work with Light Coats

If you’re unsure how to make the best outcome from your first attempt, consider applying a light coat. This will help you observe the behavior of the sprayer and the paint. 

A light first attempt also helps achieve an evenly coated paint layer. Just remember that the beauty of spray paints is applying several coats to achieve a smooth finish. 

On the other hand, thick layers can cause drips and blotchiness, which you want to avoid by all means. 

Because with spray paints, it’s impossible to catch tiny errors as they occur. You’ll have to let the imperfections dry, then sand them and reapply the affected areas. You want to avoid that tedious process, so the lighter the layers, the better. 

Get The Position Right 

Another essential factor in fixing blotchy spray paint is getting the position right. You want to position yourself strategically at the highest point of the target surface if you want to complete the job faster. 

Positioning yourself strategically means you will comfortably move your arm horizontally while spray painting instead of bending your wrists. So get yourself in a good position to get the desired outcome. 

Start Painting

When doing the actual paintwork, resist the urge to spray directly to the surface and instead stream to the sides and move your arm horizontally to achieve the desired pattern and consistency. 

And while at it, be sure you’re working with thin paint. Remember our tip on applying thin layers? You need to take breaks of 30-45 minutes between coats to allow it to dry, and thins coats are the most recommended.  

If you encounter blotchiness on a wooden surface, apply a gloss, matte or semigloss polyurethane to improve the texture of the coat. 

Clean Your painting Equipment

As with paint brushes, you need to clean your spray paint cans and sprayers to maintain their functionality. 

You can’t achieve a uniform coat using clogged paint cans or sprayers with dry paint. If your can nozzle is clogged, it will release uneven drops instead of fine mist. 

Therefore, clean up the nozzles after a painting session and thoroughly clean up the sprayers to avoid clogging. 

How to Fix Blotchy Spray Paint on Metal

Now that we have covered a few ways to deal with spray paint imperfections on different surfaces, it’s about time we explored how to fix blotchy spray paint on metal. Here, you’ll have to use a little paint thinner if the drip has run over the metal. 

If a bubble is about to dry, take a small cup of paint thinner, dip it, and dab it on the affected area using an artist’s brush. Apply only a bit of the thinner with a few brush strokes and wait a minute to let it absorb into the paint. The hardening drip will thin out automatically. 

Add bits of the paint thinner with light brush strokes until the paint is completely gone. You can apply a new light coat on the spot to create an even finish on the entire surface. 

How to Fix Blotchy Spray Paint on Wood 

Unlike metal, fixing uneven spray paint on wood is difficult and impossible. That means you’ll need to be extra careful when spray painting wood surfaces to avoid blotchiness. Still, if you encounter a problem, you can fix it by repainting the wooden item repeatedly. 

First, allow the imperfect paint to dry, then sand it with a fine-grit sandpaper. This is recommended for fish eyes and paint drips since they’re likely to cause bumps on the surface. 

So to fix blotchy spray paint on wood, sand away these defects, and once the material is transparent, reapply the paint to achieve the desired finish. 

How to Fix Blotchy Spray Paint on Car 

Don’t give up if you attempted to spray paint your car and it flopped. You can still fix uneven spray paint on the vehicle, but you’ll have to redo the work repeatedly. 

Again, this is a relatively straightforward process you can follow and complete without much hassle. 

You just need smooth or medium grit sandpaper to sand it out, then wash it with soapy water or a degreaser to create a clean, velvety surface. 

Add a few coats of primer if needed, but this is optional. You can repaint the area then protect it with a new clear coat as a final step. 

How to Fix Blotchy Spray Paint on Furniture

Uneven paint can be challenging to handle without first taking them back down. If you encounter imperfections on your furniture, the following guide can help you fix them:

  • Allow the blotchy spot to dry (there’s no other way around it, unfortunately)
  • Once again, fine grit sanding will block and flatten them out to the desired area.
  • Repaint your next coat, letting the layers spread out evenly and maintain proper control. 

It’s that easy. Fixing uneven spray paint on furniture can be easier if you don’t mind redoing the job. It needs a little paint and good sandpaper to get it right again. 

But if you’re dealing with large blotchy spots, you’ll have to start all over again on the entire furniture.  

How to Prevent a Blotchy Spray Paint Job?

You can take many steps to ensure you don’t end up with blotches when doing a paint job. We’ve covered some of these tips in this guide. 

However, mixing up your paint is another essential step that can save you a lot of frustrations in the name of blotchy surfaces. Ensure you mix the paint thoroughly before using it by shaking the can for at least two minutes. 

This method is recommended for spray paints that haven’t been used in a while. Also, be sure to clean or clear the nozzle if it’s blocked. 

Good quality spray paint, good surface preparation, functioning equipment, and spray painting expertise are everything when you want to prevent a blotchy spray paint job. 

FAQS – How To Fix Blotchy Spray Paint

How Do You Make Spray Paint Look Even?

You can try different solutions or adopt various techniques like wet sanding and metallic effect spray paint. Both of these methods are excellent ways to create an even look on the surface. 

Why is My Spray Paint Uneven?

If you didn’t shake the can properly, you would likely have problems creating an even finish. Another problem could be the distance between you and the surface being painted. 

Shaking the can for at least 60 seconds and maintaining a 3-6 inch distance from the object will prevent such problems. 

Finally, ensure the can cap and nozzle are appropriately adjusted to avoid spilling and losing more paint. 

What Causes Paint To Look Blotchy?

Priming is an essential step in spray painting. Skipping it or doing it incorrectly can cause problems like blotchiness. Applying inadequate coats of paint can also create an imperfect finish. 

How Do You Smooth Spray Paint?

If the distance between you and the surface is too wide, the pressure from the sprayer can cause the paint to harden and dry faster. The result will obviously be undesirable. To fix this, press a paper towel against the spray nozzle to suppress the air inside the can and make the paint smooth. 

Content SummaryHow To Fix Blotchy Spray Paint

Blotching is a common problem most spray painters face and can be quite frustrating. When you encounter such problems as fish eyes, orange peels, or paint drips, you may not know how to deal with them. 

Having encountered similar problems while taking on spray painting projects, we understand the frustrations and created this guide to help you out. 

We hope you find it helpful and will reference these tips next time your work develops a blotchy finish. 

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