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How To Fix Spray Paint Drips

Spray paint drips are annoying and unsightly, but they can be fixed with patience and skill. Drips occur when too much paint is applied to a surface, causing it to run down and form blobs, and can easily ruin a smooth finish of your spray paint job and make it look messy.

The question is, what can you do with dripping spray paint? Fortunately, there are ways to prevent and fix spray paint dripping, depending on whether wet or dry. Drips in Rust-Oleum can ruin the look of your piece, so you need to proceed.

If you notice a drip while the paint is still wet, you can try to wipe it off with a rag or lightly brush it with a dry brush to blend it into the surrounding area. If that doesn’t work, you can wait for the paint to dry and then scrape it off with a razor blade or sand it down with fine-grit sandpaper. Yet, be careful not to damage the surface or create scratches.

After removing the drip, you may need to repaint the area with a thin coat of spray paint. In our guide, you can learn more about dealing with an annoying spray paint drip. By the end, you’ll have a better idea of how to spray an object and stop any drips to get the best smooth finish possible. (Learn How To Remove Paint From A Mirror)

spray paints

What Causes Spray Paint to Drip?

Understanding why drips and runs occur in the first place is necessary before you can learn how to spray paint without them. Spray paint will only drip in the first place if there is too much paint, which is the only possible explanation.

Now, “too much paint” is a hazy amount on purpose because you can use the same paint can and technique on two distinct surfaces, and one may drip while the other does not. For instance, a small amount of spray paint will quickly soak into the wood instead of a large amount that may pool on top of plastic or glass.

You could even see the same happening with brush strokes. Why don’t you get them on some surfaces yet see them on a wall as much? As a result, depending on the type of surface you are working with, you will need to modify your technique to fix paint drips.

How Do You Fix Spray Paint Drips?

Spray painting frequently results in drips, so it’s wise to assume this and approach your project with a strategy. Remember that repairing spray paint drips is more straightforward when wet, so we’ll begin there.

1. Use a Lint-free Cloth

Any drips or runs will probably be visible to you as you spray paint because they often appear immediately after you spray them. Take quick stops between each pass to visually inspect your work and catch any drips before they dry. Give it a quick clean with your lint-free cloth or towel if you see a drip.

Use a lint-free cloth or towel at all times. Avoid rubbing lint into the paint while it is still wet, as you’ll create more mess that is harder to fix. Just lightly dab or rub the drip itself; proceed with caution.

Let the paint to dry once you’ve removed the wet drip, then apply one or two more coats to cover up the exposed area. You’re okay to go if the surface doesn’t change from being smooth. You must go to the next step if the surface is a little rough or has an imperfection close to where you wiped it. (Learn How Much Does A Can Of Paint Weigh)

2. Scrape Off Dry Drips Using a Razor Blade

If you cannot catch the drip while still wet, the best answer is to wait until it is entirely dry.

  • Once dry, you can carefully scrape it off with a razor blade or paint scraper with a sharp edge.
  • Place the scraper on the flat, undripped portion of the paint and lightly push, allowing the flat surface to remove only the drip and not the remaining paint.
  • If everything goes to plan, you’ll remove the topmost layer of paint, leaving the painted surface intact.

The blade may scrape up surrounding paint of the drip if you push too hard. This procedure can be challenging when working on an object with angles or details.

3. Use Fine-Grit Sandpaper

For intricately detailed surfaces, curved surfaces, or surfaces, you messed up with the first two techniques. You can lightly sand to cure drips or runs in your spray paint since it levels the paint to the material’s surface.

Remember, it can take a bit longer to sand, yet it can leave you with a smooth finish on your wall, ready for spraying your final coat. Note: You must first remove the dust from the surface after sanding it with a lint-free cloth before spraying additional thin coats of paint.


Fixing Spray Paint Drips On Wood

Because real wood typically absorbs some of the paint as you go, it can be a great surface for spray paint. The absorption has the advantage of decreasing the possibility of runs or drips. Real wood has the drawback of frequently requiring more coats of paint to completely cover it.

The best tips state that spraying primed wooden surfaces with spray paint is advisable to correct spray paint drips on wood and then light sanding the area to remove the flaw.

Before adding extra coats of paint, make sure sand the wood’s surface and wash away any paint particles. Wiping up drips on wood works great since you can typically do it without spreading the drip all over the place. (Learn How To Dry Spray Paint Faster)

How To Spray Paint Without Drips Or Runs?

To help prevent spray paint drips in the first place, there are a few things you can do.

The following are the most effective ways to spray paint and avoid drips or runs:

  • Use high-quality spray paint.
  • Use a good primer.
  • Hold your spray paint can around 10-12 inches from the object surface.
  • Keep your spray can moving in a continuous motion.
  • Apply several thin coats on the material rather than fewer thick coats.

Fixing Spray Painting Runs on Metal

Too much paint on a metal surface can quickly start to run and cause drips, which can ruin a lovely paint job. Wet or dry metal paint drips are easy to cure. Here is more to know about painting metal surfaces using various methods, not just spray painting.

1. Wet Runs

Use A Rag

If you spot the drip immediately, wipe it away with a lint-free rag. Blot the dripping paint to fix paint drips to make the paint uniform.

  • You risk having cloth fibers or dust get stuck in your paint job if you use a wet, dirty or thick-napped cloth.
  • Try moving your brush back and forth over the area to spread the extra paint if you’re brush painting.
  • If you’re painting with a roller and the sides drip, you may be overloading the roller in the paint tray. Roll the roller over the surrounding area in an overlapping zigzag pattern two to three times to spread the paint and remove drips.

Use Paint Thinner

can of chemicals

If the drip has dried on metal, use a little paint thinner. Add paint thinner to a small cup, and dip a small paintbrush into it. Brush your paint thinner gently over the drip center.

The paint thinner will weaken up the paint and help thin it out.

  • After a few strokes, re-dip the brush in solvent and sketch the drip outline. Repeat until the skinned-over paint is gone.
  • Automotive paint requires lacquer thinner.

2. Dried Runs

Remove the drips with fine-grit sandpaper. Sandpaper around 1000-grit should work.

  • Avoid orbital sanders. An orbital sander can disclose primer or metal/ rust beneath the underlying paint.
  1. To remove extra paint from the metal, lightly sand the drip down. To wear down the drip, slowly rub your sandpaper over it back-and-fort motions.
  2. Use a rougher grit of sandpaper or exert more force if the paint is challenging to remove. The paint around you might get scratched, but you can easily fix that.
  3. To remove the dust, wipe it with a fresh towel.
  4. After you’ve sanded the drip down, the metal will be covered in dust and paint pigment shards.
  5. Remove this dust by wiping the area with a dry, lint-free cloth.

Prevention Of Runs and Drips Tips

Spray Painting

Holding the nozzle of a paint sprayer or can of spray paint too close to the surface will cause drips to lead. If you’re spray-painting metal, keep the nozzle 6-8 in (15-20 cm) away.

An uneven coat indicates you are holding the can nozzle too far away. This will allow you to manage the can steadily, apply an even coat, and prevent paint from running as you work. If it’s super windy, don’t paint outside. If it’s windy, you’ll need to keep the can close to the metal, but if you hold it so close to the surface, it’s difficult to prevent drips.

While spray painting, keep the can moving continuously. Never hold the nozzle down while applying spray paint or a spray gun. Put a drop cloth down or use painter’s tape to cover any places you wish to keep dry if you’re concerned about getting paint all over the place as you move the can back and forth quickly. (Read What Is Base Paint)

Brush Painting

paint brush

If you’re using a brush, load the very tip of the bristles. Don’t fully submerge the bristles of your paintbrush in the paint. Before beginning work, merely dip the lowest 1-1.5 inches (2.5-3.8 cm) of the bristles into the paint.

Only the very tip of the bristles is used to apply paint, and if the bristles are loaded all the way, excess paint will slip down the way as you work. If you’re painting with a brush, load the bristles up and tap the handle end against the side of your paint tray or container. This will remove any large paint globs that can cause the coat of paint to run on the wall.

The brush doesn’t need to be hit super hard. Just give it a few moderate taps to keep your paint from running. Avoid packing corners with excess paint by brushing away from them.

Get an angled brush if you haven’t started painting yet! If you’re painting something that isn’t completely flat, flat brushes are much more difficult to use. This simple technique is applicable to both castings and sheet metal. Hence, you have a few quick fixes if you spray a second coat of paint and get a run or drip.

  • The first, time-consuming option is to let the paint dry before you sand the runoff and end up repainting the coat of paint.
  • To simply take care of the run before the paint dries is the second option. The paint “flash off” or skinning occurs, and here is how it works the best.
  • Dip a small artist’s brush with paint thinner, then lightly brush the paint runs.
  • When you lightly brush the skinned-over paint run with your solvent-soaked brush, the solvent will soften the paint run and the surrounding paint, enabling you to blend the run into the paint surrounding it.
  • Blending the run with the remaining paint coat with solvent creates a glossy, smooth finish.
  • This technique is simple to master but can save many hours of sanding and repainting. It will take a little practice.
  • Insufficient solvent on your paintbrush will cause the run to smear and appear harsh rather than soften.
  • To fix this, lightly wet brush the run with more solvent and then lightly brush it again until the paint blends in properly.
  • The paint will soften and thin to the point where it will either cause another run or reveal the primer underlying the rest of the painted surface on your object if you use too much solvent on your brush.


As we previously stated, these are simple pieces of advice that can help you gain substantial advantages.

You’re in for a treat if you haven’t tried these yet. Just remember to be patient during the initial run and wait for the paint flash off before proceeding to blend it into the surrounding paint, or you could end up starting the entire process again and repaint everything.

How To Fix Spray Paint Drips