How To Fix Spray Paint Drips

Spray painting is an easy and efficient way to give new life to old objects or add a pop of color to any space. However, one of the biggest challenges of spray painting is avoiding drips because as it dries, paint congeals. But don’t worry; fixing spray paint drips can be a breeze with the right tools and techniques.

The first step in fixing spray paint drips is to let the paint dry completely. It’s important not to touch the drips until completely dry, as this can cause them to spread and become even more noticeable. Once the paint is dry, use fine grit sandpaper or a small drywall knife to scrape away the drips gently. Be careful not to sand away too much paint or damage the surrounding area.

Use a paint scraper or razor blade if the drips are still visible. Hold the blade at a slight angle and gently scrape away the excess paint. Again, be careful not to damage the surrounding paint area or remove too much paint. After scraping away the drips, lightly sand the area with a sanding block or fine-grit sandpaper to create a smooth finish. Wipe the area with a clean cloth to remove dust.

spray paint drip

If there are still visible drips, apply a thin coat of paint using a paint sprayer or brush. It’s important to avoid applying too much paint, as this can cause new drips to form. Instead, apply thin, even coats and allow each thin coat to dry completely before applying the next.

In our guide, you can see that fixing spray paint drips is time-consuming, but with the right tools and techniques, it’s easy to achieve a perfect finish. By the end, you’ll have enough tips and tricks to prevent drips and create a flawless and professional-looking spray paint job. (Learn How To Remove Paint From A Mirror)

What Causes Spray Paint to Drip?

Before you can learn how to spray paint without drips and runs, you must first grasp why they happen in the first place. The only explanation for why spray paint will drip in the first place is if there is too much paint. Because someone can use the same paint can and approach on two different surfaces, one may drip while the other does not; the term “too much paint” is vague in amount.

The same thing could be seen occurring with brush strokes. Why do you notice them frequently on a wall but not on other surfaces? To cure paint drips, you may need to adapt your painting technique based on the kind of surface you are working with.

How Do You Fix Spray Paint Drips?

Spray painting often results in drips, so it’s wise to accept this and approach your project with a plan to fix paint drips.

Note that repairing spray paint drips is more straightforward when the paint is still wet, so let’s start there.

1. Keep a lint-free cloth or towel handy while spray painting

You will likely notice any drips or runs as you spray paint because they frequently appear immediately.

  • Make quick pauses between each pass to visually inspect your work and fix drips before they dry. If you see a drip, quickly clean it with your lint-free cloth or towel.
  • Always use a lint-free cloth or towel. Avoid pressing lint if the paint is still wet since you will make more mess that is more difficult to clean up.
  • When you remove the wet drip, allow the paint to dry completely before adding one or two more coats to cover the exposed area. If the surface doesn’t alter from being smooth, you can proceed.
  • If the paint’s surface is still rough or has a flaw close to where you wiped it, you must move on to the following step.

2. Scrape off dry drips or runs with a razor blade or clean scraper

Waiting until the drip is completely dry is the best option if you can’t catch it while it’s still wet.

  1. When completely dry, you can carefully scrape it off with a razor blade or a paint scraper with a sharp edge until the drips are barely noticeable.
  2. Place the clean scraper on the flat, undripped area of the paint and gently push, enabling the drip surface to remove only the drip and not the remaining paint.
  3. Here, you should only remove the top coat of paint from the painted surface.

If the paint dries and you push too hard, the putty knife blade could scrape up the paint around the drip. Using a putty knife blade or a small drywall knife is almost impossible if you are working on an object with angles or intricacies.

3. Use fine sandpaper to lightly sand the drips or runs

You fell short with the first two procedures to avoid drips in intricate details or curved surfaces. Since sanding levels the drip to the material’s surface, you can lightly sand to remove drips or runs to a smooth finish in your spray paint.

Remember, it can take a long time to do light sanding, but it can leave you with a smooth surface ready for spraying your final coat. Before applying further thin coats of paint, you must remove the dust from the surface sanded with a lint-free cloth. (Learn How To Finish A Garage Ceiling)

spray paint on wood

How to fix spray paint drips on wood

It can be an excellent surface for spray paint because natural wood typically absorbs some excess paint off as you go.

The advantage of absorption is that it lessens the likelihood of runs or drips. The disadvantage of natural wood is that it typically needs more coats of paint to be thoroughly covered.

The finest advice suggests lightly sanding the area to remove the fault after spraying prepped surfaces with spray paint to fix drips on wood.

Sand the wood’s surface and wash away any paint flecks before applying additional coats of paint.

How To Spray Paint Without Dripping or running?

To help avoid spray paint drips, you can do a few things.

The best ways to spray paint and prevent drips are:

  • Make use of premium spray paint.
  • Use a good quality primer.
  • Hold your spray paint can 10 to 12 inches away from the old object surface.
  • Maintain a constant motion with your spray can.
  • Instead of using fewer thick coats, apply multiple thin coats to the primer.

How to Spray paint a metal toolbox?

A beautiful paint job on your toolbox restoration could be ruined by too much paint on a metal surface, which can rapidly start to flow and cause drips.

Metal paint drips, whether wet or dry, are simple to fix.

Here is more information on painting metal surfaces other than with spray paint.

1. Wet Runs

Use A Rag

  • If you notice the drip immediately, wipe it away using a lint-free cloth. Blot the pouring paint to stop drips and even out the color.
  • If you use a wet, unclean, or thick-napped cloth, you risk having rag fibers or dust lodged in your paint job.
  • If you’re brush painting, try moving your brush strokes back and forth across the area to spread the surplus paint.
  • You may overload the roller in the paint tray if you paint with a roller and the sides drip.
  • To spread the paint and remove drips, simply run the roller over the surrounding area twice or three times in an overlapping zigzag pattern in the opposite direction.

Use Paint Thinner

  • Use a little paint thinner if your drip has dried. Once added to the cup, a small paintbrush should be dipped into the paint thinner.
  • Over the drip center, lightly brush your paint thinner.
  • The paint will become brittle and easier to thin with the help of more solvent.
  • After a few strokes, re-dip the brush in solvent, then draw the drip outline.
  • Continue to fix paint drips for a bit longer, and the skinned-over paint has gone.
  • Repaint with your final coat.

2. Dried Runs

  • Use fine-grit sandpaper with a grit of about 1000 to remove the spraypaint drip.
  • Lightly sand to remove any remaining paint drips after you let the paint flash off. Rub your sandpaper back and forth over the drip to gradually wear it down.
  • Wipe it with a clean towel to remove the dust.

Note: Avoid using orbital sanders. An orbital sander can remove rust or metal close to the underlying paint. If removing the paint is difficult, use a rougher sandpaper grit or apply more power. The paint around you might get scuffed, but you can simply replace that. (Read What Removes Gorilla Glue)

How to Prevent Spray Paint Drips?

If you want complete coverage without drips, here are some tips to avoid paintbrush or spray paint dripping.

Spray Painting

Drips of paint will happen if the nozzle of a paint sprayer or can of spray paint is held too close to the surface.

  • Set the nozzle 6-8 in (15-20 cm) away if you are spray painting metal.
  • You are positioning the can nozzle too far away if the coat is uneven. This will enable you to control the can consistently, apply an even coat, and prevent dripping spray paint as you work.
  • Don’t paint outside if it’s very windy. If it’s windy, you’ll need to keep the can close to the surface, but if you keep the can so close to the surface, it’s tough to prevent drips in your rust oleum.
  • Keep the can constantly moving when spray painting. While using a spray gun or spray paint, never hold down the nozzle.

brush painting

Brush Painting

  • Load the very tip of the bristles if you’re using a brush. Don’t wholly dunk your paint brush’s bristles in the paint.
  • Only the very tip of the bristles is used to apply paint, and if the bristles are loaded all the way, extra paint will fall out as you work.
  • If you’re painting with a brush, load it up and tap the handle end against the side of your paint tray or container. This will remove any big paint globs that can cause the paint coat to run.
  • If you haven’t started painting yet, get an angled brush! Flat brushes are far more challenging when painting something that isn’t entirely flat.
  • Castings and sheet metal can both benefit from this straightforward technique. If you spray a second coat of paint and encounter a run or dripping paint, you have a few quick remedies.


As we’ve already mentioned, these straightforward pieces of guidance can significantly benefit you when spraying or brush painting to get a smooth finish. (Read Standard Socket Sizes Guide)

You’re in for a treat if you haven’t tested these yet. To avoid repeating the procedure and repaint everything, just be patient during the initial run and wait for the paint to flash off before blending into the surrounding paint.

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