What to Do If Spray Paint Still Tacky After 24 Hours


Last updated: February 6, 2024

Discover the tips and hacks to solve spray paints that remain tacky after 24 hours in this guide.

Spray paint still tacky after 24 hours

You’ve wanted to revamp that room for so long. After a lot of budgeting and planning, you finally did, and boy, don’t you love how the new colors blend with your overall house décor?

But your happiness is short-lived after noticing that instead of a dry shiny finish, the spray paint is still tacky after 24 hours.

You give it another day, then two, then a whole week, and still, your spray paint is tacking. Now you wonder where you went wrong. Did you not follow all the “expert” tips on how to spray paint without the paint becoming tacky? Did you not follow each step to the letter?

To save your work, you’re now looking for ways to fix sticky spray paint. We understand your frustrations, and we’re sorry. Spray paint tackiness can be a nightmare; no painter wants to experience it. 

A few things would cause your spray paint not to dry. It could be excess humidity or moisture, extreme weather (too hot or too cold), or applying the wrong type of paint, among other factors.

Don’t worry if the problem continues for several hours or days, we can help you fix sticky spray paint without causing a costly mess and even provide tips on how to avoid such setbacks in the future. Read on. 

What to Do If Spray Paint Still Tacky After 24 Hours

You could wait it out and let nature take its course or use a dehumidifier and air conditioner to speed up the drying time. Alternatively, you could strip the paint off and start again, carefully and elaborately, while avoiding any potential mistakes that may cause tackiness. Spray paint can be sticky to touch or tacky after several days if you didn’t shake the can well or if the weather isn’t conducive enough to support drying.

Tacky vs. Sticky, What’s the Difference?

Tacky and sticky are often used interchangeably when referring to paint that’s sticky to touch or not fully cured underneath. But these two are different. 

Tacky paint is paint that’s not fully cured, meaning it may appear dry outside, but inside, it’s still wet. Sticky paint, on the other hand, is damp paint that sticks to your fingers when you touch it.

Several factors, such as the mode of application used influence the time it takes for spray paints to dry. 

Spray paint typically dries faster compared to painting with a brush or roller. In addition, oil-based spray paints take longer to dry but can be durable if applied correctly. 

Water-based spray paints tend to dry faster, especially acrylic and latex paint, and they are also less prone to tackiness. Applying thinner coats also helps speed up the drying time

Why is My Spray Paint Tacky?

Spray paint is, in essence, applied via a piece of spraying equipment such as a gun, a can, or a sprayer. There are four reasons why your spray paint would be sticky to touch even after some time. 

1. Not Shaking or Mixing the Paint Properly. 

Spray paints, unlike regular paints, are made with propellants which should be evenly mixed before spraying. 

If you don’t mix or shake the paint properly, the paint and propellants may not blend thoroughly, and the outcome may be uneven or too thick, causing the paint to take longer to dry. 

Similarly, recoating too soon may not create a desirable outcome. Spray paint usually has a thinner texture, and multiple coats are needed to create proper surface coverage. 

However, you should not recoat too soon before the existing coat is dry to touch. Half an hour to one hour is enough for a single coat of spray paint to dry before you apply another.

Otherwise, it will retain moisture underneath, and you’ll end up with a sticky finish caused by a wet undercoat.

2. Temperature Variations.

Temperature affects the duration it takes for spray paint to dry. If the weather is too cold, the paint will most likely freeze.

High moisture and climate are other catalysts for sticky spray paint. If the surface is damp or the weather is humid, spray paint won’t dry within the standard drying time. 

Painting in rainy weather will also slow down drying, and the excess moisture will cause it to be sticky. The standard room temperature for spray painting should always be within 50-90 degrees Fahrenheit, with no humidity levels exceeding 50%.

3. Using The Wrong Paint Type.

While there are many different types of spray paints, each is specific to a particular material or substrate. 

That’s why Rust-Oleum is commonly used on metal surfaces, Krylon on wood and plastic surfaces, etc.  Always ensure the spray paint you use will work on the substrate you want to paint. 

4. Painting Over Sealed Surfaces.

Sealants are created to prevent moisture and have a protective coat This protective layer on sealed surfaces prevents paints from sticking correctly, increasing the time it takes to dry.

The coating will not penetrate the surface if there’s an existing sealant like varnish, lacquer, polyurethane, or similar obstruction. It will just sit there, wet or sticky. 

Usually, the existing sealant not only repels the spray paint but also prevents it from biting into the material, causing the paint to stagnate. And if the paint doesn’t stick, it won’t dry.

Will Tacky Spray Paint Ever Dry?

Yes. It’s not all doom and gloom. If you notice spots of spray paint still tacky after 24 hours, there’s still hope it will dry. You can wait it out or try the following tricks to accelerate drying.

  • Use a box fan on a low setting to speed up the drying process. 

  • If you were painting indoors, open doors and windows to improve air circulation 

  • If you are working on a small project, take it outside if the weather isn’t too harsh or too cold to improve the chances of it drying faster.

Whichever tip you apply, the best way to dry sticky spray paint faster can be summarized in three points: improve air circulation, decrease humidity, and increase temperature.

Spray paint still tacky after 24 hours

What to Do if Spray Paint is Still Tacky After 24 Hours?

If you can’t wait for your paint to dry after 24 hours, expose it to heat to facilitate evaporation and drying. Use a hairdryer, a heater, a radiator, or a thermostat to administer heat to the object or increase room temperature. Here’s what you’ll need to get the job done. 

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

Start by dabbing the tacky coating using the clean rag to soak up the moisture build-up on the surface. You can then turn on the hairdryer and adjust it to medium heat of 100 degrees.  

Now hover the hairdryer above the coating for 10-15 minutes before switching it off and allowing the substrate to dry. 

If the paint remains tacky after using this method, consider stripping the paint. You’ll need the following:

For this method, apply a good amount of paint stripper, thinner, or acetone on the sticky paint finish and leave it to sit for half an hour. 

Now take a putty knife or a plastic paint scrape off the tacky paint. Continue scraping gently until all the paint comes off.  You can then use mineral spirits to clean the surface. 

Allow the surface to rest for an hour, then sand with sandpaper before rinsing with clean water and wiping with a clean rag. 

Now prime the surface and reapply a new coat of paint, following the recommended spray painting best practices to avoid repeating the same mistakes associated with paint tackiness or stickiness.

What to Do to Avoid Sticky Paint

We’ve explained why your spray paint may become tacky and how to fix such problems. Now let’s examine some tips and hacks to help you deal with tacky spray paint.

If you can follow these best practices while working on a painting project, you won’t have to contend with a messy paint job. 

1. Shake Up the Can

This may sound mundane, but you wouldn’t be amused to know that your paintwork is messed up because you didn’t shake the can. Or you did but didn’t shake it properly. Imagine such a simple step being the cause of so much frustration.  

Failure to shake the paint can often result in uneven layers that remain tacky for several days after application. 

Shaking the can well allow the paint and propellants to mix and blend thoroughly for easy paint application. This will, in turn, accelerate the paint drying time resulting in a smooth, even finish. 

2. Use New Paint 

Once the paint has stayed longer on the shelf beyond its use-by date, the solvents begin to evaporate or break down. When this happens, the paint loses its texture and ability to adhere to the material or dry faster. 

That’s why it’s much better to use new spray paints instead of one that’s stayed on the shelf for some time. If you must use old paints, shake the can well and prime the surface to improve adhesion. 

In addition, ensure the temperatures are conducive and the environment is not too humid to ensure the paint dries within the recommended time. 

3. Use a Higher-quality Paint 

Another reason your paint is likely to remain tacky for long is using the wrong kind of paint. Working with high-quality paint is proportional to achieving a high-quality paint finish. 

On the other hand, working with poor-quality paint is a recipe for messy runs and tackiness. When shopping for the ideal spray paints, go for established brands like Rust-Oleum and Krylon, whose quality is guaranteed. 

While at it, ensure you pick the correct paint type compatible with the substrate you intend to paint. It’s more advisable to pick spray paint with a built-in primer such as oil based paint to give your painted surface better coverage with fewer coats. 

With such paints containing a primer, you won’t have to worry about adhesion or stickiness caused by delayed drying. 

4. Paint in Warm Enough Temperatures 

Temperatures play a significant role in why your spray paint is still tacky after 24 hours. The recommended room temperature for spray painting is usually 50 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. 

If the temperatures are lower than this, adhesion will be a problem, and tackiness will be inevitable. If the temperatures are higher than 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the paint will dry quickly, creating a cracked or webbed finish. 

The same can be said of high humidity levels, which will lengthen the drying time as the paint stays wet. 

5. Always Prime the Surface Properly 

Priming is essential to spray painting, and you should always bear that in mind. If you skip this part, you’re only preparing for problems that would arise from a lack of adhesion. 

Primers help create a uniform bond between the paint and the material, as well as improve durability. It’s one sure way to prevent paint tackiness or stickiness after application. 

Whenever you paint a porous surface like wood or rubber, always apply a primer to avoid the paint soaking in the material and becoming tacky. 

6. Clean and Prepare Surfaces Properly

Surface cleaning and preparation is another crucial step in ensuring the paint sticks better on the substrate without being tacky. Part of your surface prepping should involve removing pollutants like oil and dust. Do this with soapy water, a wet rag, or a degreaser. 

You should also sand the surface to remove stubborn impurities and create a smooth texture that will accommodate the primer and paint. 

Any bumps on the surface that may compromise the desired finish should be removed with sandpaper or a putty knife. 

With the surface cleaned up, ensure the can nozzle is clear of clogs that may cause the paint to come out unevenly. If you apply the paint and it turns out sticky, use talcum powder or baking soda to absorb the moisture and help the paint dry faster. 

7. Check Your Nozzle

If your spray paint isn’t turning out as expected, it means there’s a problem with the nozzle. It could be clogged with paint from previous usage, or there are oil residues blocking the flow of air. 

You can fix this problem with a needle or pin, which you can use to remove the blockage. 

Alternatively, use a paint thinner to dissolve the residues. Most importantly, always clean the spray paint nozzle after use and store the canister upright to prevent clogging. 

8. Check the Humidity

Excess moisture can significantly slow down the drying process of your spray paint, leaving it sticky. You can avoid this by confirming the amount of moisture present. 

If it’s raining or extremely humid, avoid spray painting until the weather is clearer. Also, do not apply paint on a wet surface, or the paint will not dry quickly. 

If the weather is constantly humid, consider working indoors and use a dehumidifier and air conditioning to counter this problem. 

9. Ensure Proper Paint Storage

Finally, proper paint storage helps retain the quality of your paint, so if you want to avoid stickiness, better store them in good condition. By good, we mean a cool, dry place away from harsh weather elements like direct sunlight and extreme cold. 

The lid should also be tightly shut to prevent possible leakage. One storage trick I have mastered, especially when I don’t plan to use the paint immediately, is wrapping them in a plastic bag or container and keeping them in the cabinet. 

You should also try that if you want to maintain the quality of your paint and use them later. 

How Does Humidity Affect Paint Dry Time?

Always ensure the humidity levels are between 40 and 70 percent for best results when spray painting. 

Since paint dries through evaporation, humidity which is excess water in the air, prevents the paint solvents from evaporating adequately, leaving the paint wet for longer than necessary. 

To check the level of moisture in the air, use a hygrometer. Remember that some spray paint types can still dry despite the humidity levels. This information should be indicated on the can of your spray paint. 

If the hygrometer indicates higher humidity levels above what’s recommended for the spray paint, use a dehumidifier to reduce moisture levels, or consider postponing your project to a later time when the weather is more conducive.  

Finally, wooden surfaces tend to absorb a lot of moisture and should not be painted when the humidity levels are higher if you want to avoid spray paint sticky and tackiness. 

Can I Use Talcum Powder to Fix Paint Tackiness?

Yes. When spray painting surfaces prone to friction, such as a door, you can use talcum powder to reduce the moisture and help the paint dry faster.  

If you’re painting a wall that’s turning stickier instead of drying, you could use the powder to absorb the moisture. Just be sure to get it on a small area first and ensure it can be brushed off when necessary. 

If the outcome is satisfactory, go ahead and use it. If the spot remains damp and sticky to touch, do not use talcum powder, or you’ll compound the problem. 

FAQS: Spray Paint Tacky After 24 Hours 

Will Tacky Spray Paint Eventually Dry?

Yes. Tacky spray paint will dry eventually only if you take the proper measures to fix the problem. If you leave it as it is under unfavorable weather conditions, the tackiness will not go away. If your spray paint remains tacky for more than 24 hours after application, the chances of it drying are minimal since there’s a high likelihood that the paint could have been contaminated. You can wait for another 24 hours, then consider stripping the paint and starting again.

How Do You Fix Tacky Spray Paint?

To fix tacky spray paint, sprinkle some talcum or dusting powder over it, then gently run your hand over the surface for the power to absorb the paint. You can repeat this process until the paint is no longer wet or sticky to the touch. 

Will Auto Wax Fix Tacky Paint?

Yes. You can buff away tacky spray paint like you would with your car. This option is similar to using talcum powder, especially in areas with high friction or the most used furniture items. Wet paint is susceptible and can be damaged by scraping or bumping. Use auto wax on the tacky surface to prevent it from potential damage. 

Will a Primer Keep Paint From Becoming Sticky? 

A primer helps promote adhesion. With a primer,  you only need to apply thin layers of paint, which will dry faster than thick layers. In addition, a primer eliminates the need to apply several layers of paint, which would take longer to dry.  

What Would Cause Spray Paint Not to Dry?

Poor surface preparation is a primary catalyst, followed by failure to prime the surface. Using the wrong type of paint on the substrate is another good reason, like unconducive weather elements. High humidity levels are another factor likely to keep the paint from drying. 

Summary – Will Tacky Spray Paint Dry?

As we have seen from this guide, several factors can cause the paint to become sticky. When this problem persists for longer than necessary, you’ll need to find ways to fix the problem and also learn the best practices to avoid running into the same issues in the future. We created this guide to help you to avoid such frustrations with spray paint. 

Now that you know what to do in case some spots of spray paint are still tacky after 24 hours and also understand what causes spray paint to become sticky (surface contamination, humid climates, applying too much paint, etc.), refer to this guide to paint beautiful smooth finishes in future and spray paint tacking will be a thing of the past. 

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