How To Fix Uneven Spray Paint (A 7-Step Guide)

Wondering how to fix an uneven spray paint job? We've got you covered!

In this ProPaintCorner.com guide, you'll learn:

  • What you need to know about fixing uneven spray paint
  • The supplies you'll need to do it
  • How spray paint works

And much more!

How To Fix Uneven Spray Paint

Fixing uneven spray paint is an easy home improvement task if you didn’t get it right the first time. 

You just have to be very patient when repainting it. Doing it anxiously and in a hurry might leave you in the same dilemma you were in before. 

Here are some DIY tips and techniques on how to fix uneven spray paint:  

  • Light coats are better than thick coats.
  • Set up your spray gun correctly.
  • Maintain the proper distance (6-12 inches).
  • Use slow and even hand motions at a 90 degree angle to your work.

Before you start fixing your uneven spray paint, I recommend you read this detailed guide...

What You Need To Know About An Uneven Spray Paint Job?

Orange Peel

Just as the name hints, an improperly painted surface can look like an orange peel due to texture imperfections. Brought about by improper set up of the spray gun, spray painting from the wrong angle, pre-mature evaporation of the thinner, and using too much paint, this is one of the most common uneven spray paint errors. 

Paint Drips 

You might have come across paint drips on multiple occasions. They are caused by using the wrong type of paint thinner or using too much thinner.   

Fish Eyes 

Tiny, circular craters on painted surfaces are known as fish eyes. Contamination of the substrate by oil from your skin or tools will cause this uneven spray paint mistake. 

During the spray painting process, be very careful not to let water or oil get into the air stream. The results if you do? Fish eyes will appear on the painted surface.

Did You Know: If kept in a temperature controlled environment, the typical can of spray paint will last up to 3 years!

What Are The Necessary Precautions To Prevent Uneven Spray Painting?

Precautions To Prevent Orange Peel 

  • Use the correct type of spray gun or can of spray paint required for a certain surface and material.
  • Make sure you set up the spray gun correctly. 
  • Prepare a smooth surface by wiping off dust particles.
  • Since orange peel is a result of large paint particles, thinning your paint will give you better results.

Precautions To Prevent Paint Drips

  • Opt for high-quality paint (e.g., Rustoleum). While cheaper paint will get the job done, chances are it will be too thin. Plus, cheaper paints aren't going to last long.  
  • When spraying, hold the spray paint can or spray gun at least 6 - 8 inches away from the surface to prevent the formation of puddles. 
  • Avoid doing one continuous spray. Light coats of paint work better. 
  • Let each coat dry completely before doing the next one. 

Precautions to Prevent Fish Eyes When Spray Painting

  • Clean the surface thoroughly before painting it. 
  • Wear latex gloves to prevent contamination of the painting surface by your body oil.
  • Be cautious with your tools. Your spray can or spray gun should not be leaking.

Supplies You'll Need To Fix An Uneven Spray Paint Job

  • Spray gun
  • New paint (Use Rustoleum for the strongest finish and latex for less demanding projects)
  • Respirator 
  • Cardboard 
  • Drop Cloth 
  • Sandpaper
  • Sanding block
  • Wire brush
  • Alcohol
  • Trisodium phosphate (TSP)

All these supplies can be purchased at the nearest Loews or Home Depot. 

You can choose to use either a spray gun or a spray can.

A spray can is a metallic container that holds paint under high pressure and is fairly cheap to purchase in small quantities.

A spray gun, on the other hand, is anywhere from a $50 to $5,000 equipment investment that looks like a gun and sprays paint. A spray gun is best for painting any area that will require more than, say, five cans of spray paint.

Read More >> How to Remove Spray Paint From Anywhere

How To Fix Uneven Spray Paint: A 7-Step Guide

  1. Prepare the surface
  2. Adjust spray gun pressure and test
  3. Maintain a proper painting distance
  4. Position yourself properly relative to the work surface
  5. Start painting
  6. Do a final check and touch ups
  7. Clean your equipment

Step 1 - Surface Preparation

Surface preparation differs depending on the type of surface you are working on. Here are some detailed steps that will help you prepare your surface thoroughly.

Metal Surface

  • Use a moist rag to clean dust and other particles found on the surface.
  • Get rid of any rust that might be on the surface using a wire brush.
  • Use fine grit sandpaper to get rid of any loose paint.

Plastic Surface

  • Use a soft cloth to remove any dirt from the surface.
  • Remove any loose material or base coat texture by wet sanding the surface lightly.
  • Wipe down any oils that might be on the surface using alcohol.

Wood Surface

  • Use trisodium phosphate (TSP) to get rid of any paint coat that might have been used before. 
  • Remove any base coat texture and create a smooth surface by sanding with rough grit and then fine grit sandpaper.

Step 2 - Pressure Adjustments & Testing The Gun

Use the spray gun control knob to adjust the pressure. Adjust it to a low-pressure setting, then test the effectiveness by spraying paint on a different surface to check for pattern smoothness. A good pressure setting will give you a smooth and full pattern. 

If you notice gaps in your pattern or heavy edges, increase the pressure of the spray gun slightly until you get a smooth and full pattern.    

Step 3 - Maintain A Proper Painting Distance

Different guns have different air and liquid pressure, so the painting distance varies depending on the type of spray gun you are using. An HVLP gun requires you to be 6-8 inches from the surface when you are painting. Maintain 8-10 inches from the surface when using a conventional gun. 

Air-assisted airless sprayers can be used 10-12 inches away from the selected surface. Airless sprayers have high pressure and can be used from 12-14 inches away.

Step 4 - Position Yourself Strategically To The Surface

Position yourself strategically to the height of the surface you want to paint. This will help you finish your paint job faster. Instead of moving your wrist only while spraying, move your whole arm horizontally to achieve top-notch results. The spray gun should always be perpendicular to the surface you are painting.

Step 5 - Start Painting

You should never start spraying directly at the surface when trying to recoat it. The trick is to start spraying off to the side of the surface and then gliding your arm towards the targeted surface. 

Similarly, don’t stop gliding and spraying at the edge of the surface. Instead, spray past the edge to prevent too much build-up of the paint. To maintain an even spray across the surface, glide your arm in a straight line. 

Thin coats of paint are better than thick coats, so you should paint one coat of paint at a time and let it dry. Typical drying times are 30-45 minutes, however, the duration might differ depending on the paint you are using. 

Before you start painting make sure you have the correct paint color. Start off by spray painting the first coat followed by the second coat for complete and even coverage, then finish up with a top coat and a clear coat. 

When fixing an uneven paint job on a wooden surface, use polyurethane to produce a clear coat. It gives your wooden surface a hard and solid finish. You can opt for a gloss, semi-gloss or matte finish depending on your preference.

Step 6: Do The Final Check & Touch Ups

A paint job is never complete until you do the final check and touch ups. If you notice any spots or drips, use a dry cloth or fine grit sandpaper to rub the paint smooth and then repaint the final coat again. 

Step 7: Clean Your Equipment

The final step is to clean up your spray gun. 

Follow the manufacturers’ instructions for cleaning your spray gun. The process typically involves spraying either water or solvent, depending on whether you were using water- or oil-based paint, through your spray gun for several minutes until the liquid is completely clear. 

Next, you’ll want to disassemble the gun and further wash paint off of any parts with either water or solvent. Lastly, the instructions may tell you to lubricate any rubber gaskets or other parts.

Congratulations! You’ve now successfully fixed uneven spray paint.

Read More >> How to Get Rid of Spray Paint Smell

Meet Your Pro Paint Corner Author

Phil Ash

Phil Ash

After running my own painting business and 20+ years of painting experience, I’m still learning new things everyday about how to nail the perfect paint job. In addition to myself, I started Pro Paint Corner to connect you with painting experts to provide unbiased answers to all your painting questions.

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Phil Ash

Phil Ash

After running my own painting business and 20+ years of painting experience, I’m still learning new things everyday about how to nail the perfect paint job. In addition to myself, I started Pro Paint Corner to connect you with painting experts to provide unbiased answers to all your painting questions.

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