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How To Fix Blotchy Spray Paint

If you need to fix blotchy spray paint, you have come to the right place! Spray paint is one of the most popular choices for around-the-house jobs. In fact, it’s even one of the best paints for DIY furniture projects. This means more people are asking how to fix blotchy spray paint jobs.

Pink can of spray paint.
Pink spray paint can.

Here’s how you can stop your spray paint projects from becoming blotchy (and how you can fix it if it’s already a little too late!) 

What Does Blotchy Spray Paint Look Like?

Spray-painting takes a bit more skill than painting with a conventional brush. When spray-painted coatings become uneven, are painted in the wrong conditions, or with low-quality sprayers, the paint job can look blotchy. 

Blotchy spray paint jobs look uneven. There are patches of darker color mixed with patches of lighter color. You’ll also be able to see the iconic spray paint marks all over the piece that’s been painted. Those are the classic trails, dots, and drips that come with rough spray paint work. 

Blotchy spray paint also usually appears with a few other spray paint problems. These can be fish eye, bubbling, or pools. There are a few different causes for each of these problems, but they tend to happen together and share most of their common causes. 

Let’s answer the question of the day and show you how to fix blotchy spray paint.  

Spray Paint VS Paint Sprayers 

Painter working with a paint sprayer and aiming to prevent blotchy spray paint.
Painter working with a paint sprayer and aiming to prevent blotchy spray paint.

There are two ways we can spray paint: Either by using a spray paint can or by loading up a paint sprayer with our paint of choice. 

Whether you’re using a can of spray paint to flip some old chairs or you’re busting out the big sprayer to paint the living room, you’re in luck. Both of these techniques are the same when it comes to blotchy spray paint jobs. 

Sure, there are countless differences between these two spray paint tools, but when it comes to getting rid of the blotches, they might as well be the same! This is great news for those of us who are a part way through a project and need to stop these blotches before they get any worse! 

Before we can start fixing the blotches, we need to talk about what causes them. 

What Causes Blotchy Spray Paint

Blotchy spray paint jobs have a few causes, but the one big one is being new to spray paint. 

We’ve all been there. Spray-painting is fast, cool, and fun. There’s a rush that comes with handling a sprayer or a can that makes painting more exciting. It’s easy to get carried away and wind up with a blotchy final paint job, but fixing that is actually really simple.

These skill issues are the biggest concerns of blotchy spray paint. They are caused by improper handling of the spray paint can or sprayer. Beginner mistakes like lingering too long on one spot, stopping your spray on the project, or being too close are all causes of that blotchy spray paint look. 

Even spraying at too steep of an angle can lead to blotches in your final spray paint job. Other factors like improperly mixed spray paint and dirty equipment can lead to blotches. The good news here is that this is a very easy to fix problem. 

Whether you’ve already got blotches, or you’re looking to stop them from ever forming, here’s what you can do to stop blotches in your spray paint. 

How to Fix Blotchy Spray Paint

Almost all of our fixes for blotchy spray paint start before you put your first coat down, but don’t worry. Even if you’ve already gotten through most of your project, you can still undue those blotches without having to totally redo your paint job. 

Here are the quickest, most effective, solutions for a blotchy spray paint job. 

Mix It Up

Spray-painting has a unique vibe and a whole subculture built around it. One of the most iconic signs of spray-painting is the rattle that comes when you shake a can of spray paint. What’s making that classic sound? 

Inside each can of spray paint is a metal, glass, or plastic ball known as a pea. This ball is used to mix up the paint inside the can. When you shake your can of spray paint, you can hear the pea rattling around inside the can. This is how spray paint cans got their nickname of “rattle cans.” 

Mixing up your paint is a vital part of avoiding a blotchy spray paint job. The paint needs to be thoroughly mixed before you get started. You should shake your spray paint can for at least 60 seconds before starting to paint. This is especially true if the can has been sitting around for a while. 

What about paint sprayers? Can we answer “how to fix blotchy spray paint” for mixing sprayers as well as cans? 

While your sprayer might not rattle when you mix up your paint, you still need to make sure it is mixed. Even household, brushed paints need to be mixed before they can be properly used. 

There’s another step you should take before your paint ever hits the wall and that’s learning how to control your sprayer. 

Learn Can Control

Spray painting an old chair in the color pink, while avoiding blotchy spray paint.
Spray painting an old chair in the color pink, while avoiding blotchy spray paint.

Here’s a really quick tip that will dramatically improve your spray paint work: Never move your wrist. 

In the spray paint world, we call the proper handling of sprayable paints “can control.” The better your can control is, the better your paint job is going to look. 

So, what are some can control basics? 

Angles ruin spray paint jobs faster than anything short of not mixing your paints. This is why we say to keep your wrist steady while you are painting. When you move the sprayer, move from the arm and the body. The stream of spray paint needs to stay at as close to a 90-degree angle as you can manage. This ensures an even stream of paint hits your target. Changing this angle is going to cause areas to get more paint and others to get less. This is a surefire way to create blotches. 

If you’re new to this or any of the other spray paint skills we’ll be talking about, do what the legends of street art have done for decades: learn on cardboard. 

Just take a scrap moving or shipping box and practice your can control, handling, coating, and anything else you can think of before you take your skills to that living room wall you need to remodel. 

Another key tip in spray-painting is to keep that can moving. 

Keep It Moving

Here are two more quick tips. Never stop moving on the object you are painting and never stop moving your sprayer before you stop spraying. 

Spray paint is much quicker than brush-based painting. You need to keep your sprayer moving in order to ensure you achieve an even stream of paint on whatever surface you are painting. If you slow down or stop, you’ll start to develop blotches. 

We can divide this into two tips. The first is to never stop on the object you’re painting—if you can help it. While this might not be possible if you’re using a sprayer to paint your kitchen walls, it is an essential tip for smaller projects. You should try your best to paint off your subject and then stop spraying. This ensures that all of the paint that hits the subject is even and the final, uneven spray that leaves the sprayer won’t ruin your project. 

You also need to stop moving after you stop spraying. If you stop moving the sprayer before you stop spraying, you’ll have a small circular blotch wherever you end up. 

To sum up: keep moving that sprayer, and you’ll avoid one of the biggest causes of blotches. 

Another can control tip is how to know the right distance to paint from. 

Spray From the Right Distance 

Spray painting a cabinet door from proper distance to avoid blotches.
Spray painting a cabinet door from proper distance to avoid blotches.

Whether you’re using stain or paint, the paint brush needs to be right on the surface you’re painting. The opposite is true with sprayable paints. They need to be held a good distance from the surface to ensure an even coating. 

The right distance depends on your project, your goals, and the type of sprayer you are using, but here is a good general rule. You should try to keep your prayer around 6 to 8 inches from the object you’re painting. This ensures and even application of paint. 

What happens when you paint too close? 

Blotches. That’s what happens. If you’re too close, the spray paint will build up and drip leading to uneven, blotchy coating. 

Speaking of coats. Lighter is always better with spray paints. 

Light Coats Are Better

Not sure how hard you should go on your first pass? When it comes to sprayable paints, lighter is always better. 

Taking a light first pass will let you get a good understanding of how your paint and your sprayer behave. This light pass will also help you get an even coating. With spray paints, it’s best to do multiple coats rather than try to get it all done in one pass. 

When you try to do a heavy coat with spray paint, you’ll get drips and blotching. Unlike with a brush, you can’t just quickly catch those little mistakes and smooth them over. They would need to be sanded down, but we’ll get to that later. 

If you’re taking multiple passes, you need to clean your equipment in between each coat. 

Clean Your Spray Paint Equipment

Cans and paint sprayers need to be cleaned in order to ensure they are applying an even coat. Just like with cleaning paint brushes, you can’t paint very well with gear that is caked up with dried paint. 

When a sprayer nozzle becomes clogged with paint, it can create uneven paint streams or even spray out drips of paint rather than a fine mist. With spray paint cans, you should only ever need to clean the removable nozzle, but paint sprayers require a deeper clean. 

Each manufacturer has their own instructions for cleaning, and you should follow those for the best results. Cleaning regularly ensures that your sprayer applies an even coat. This is especially important for large projects like painting an entire wall. You need to know that your sprayer will be giving you the same results from start to finish. 

What should you do if you already have blotches? 

Use a Fine Sanding Block

Carpenter working with spray paint paint.
Carpenter working with spray paint paint.

Here’s where our friend the sanding block comes to the rescue! 

Blotches are hard to handle without taking them back down first. If you have blotches on your project, here’s a step-by-step guide to fix them. This guide works just as well on interior walls as it does retro furniture. 

  1. Let the blotchy area dry.
  2. Use a fine grit sanding block to sand down the blotchy area.
  3. Try to sand it down until it matches the surrounding area as best you can.
  4. Resume painting your next coat.

That’s it! Fixing blotches can be as easy as sanding them away. This fix works best if you have small blotches that cover just a little bit of your final project. If you have large blotchy areas, or it effects your entire project, it might be time to start over. 

Wrapping it Up

Don’t forget to practice all of the skills you’ve learned here on a piece of cardboard or scrap wood before you tackle your first project. These tips should help keep you blotch free and even help you fix those small blotches that pop up along the way! We hope our guide has answered “how to fix blotchy spray paint” once and for all! 

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