Quick Tip: Why spray paint finish is sticky

I have had quite a few queries on why a spray paint finish is sticky, so this post explains how to get the perfect spray paint finish.


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I use Rust-Oleum spray paint a lot, and I mean a lot. I use it on wood, plastic, ceramic, steel or anything else that can be sprayed. In fact, I have been using Rust-Oleum spray paints since they were first launched in this country almost 10 years ago. When I receive queries on why spray paint goes tacky or is sticky, there are a few reasons that could cause this, and I thought it would be a great idea to share just a few problems to avoid when using spray paint.





1. Spray paint nozzle spits

One of the problems you may encounter when using spray paint is that it spits out blobs of paint rather than a fine spray. The main reason for this is due to the fact that the can hasn't been shaken well enough. Whether it is a brand new can or one that has been left in storage for a long time, every time you use a can of spray paint it needs to be shaken well. Not only that, you also need to shake the can during use.


Most spray paints have an agitator ball in them that helps to mix up the product. When you start shaking the can the agitator gets shaken around to loosen the paint at the bottom of the can. If you don't shake well, the paint isn't properly mixed and can spit instead of spray.





2. Spray paint nozzles clogs

When using spray paint, you might encounter a problem where the nozzle on the spray can clogs. One of the reasons for this is not shaking the can well enough before use, in which case larger particles of spray paint lodge in the nozzle.

A quick solution to this problem is to remove the nozzle and pop it in some lacquer thinners to remove the blockage. If you have another can on hand, swap the nozzles so that you can continue with your project.





3. Spray paint dries tacky or sticky

There are a few reasons why your spray painted finish is tacky or sticky:


- Apply too much paint

The first mistake you can make is to apply too much spray paint. If you look at the image above you will notice that on some areas the paint has started to pool, particularly on the edges at the top. These areas will take longer to dry than other areas, and when a second coat is applied over the top, the first coat hasn't had sufficient time to dry properly.


- Allow sufficient drying time between coats

If you fail to allow sufficient drying time between coats, the bottom layer will still be wet and will cause the next coat to be tacky to the touch.


Don't try to speed up the drying process with fans or heat guns! Let the paint dry naturally.

- Spray in the shade

Here in South Africa, when the days can be very hot, it helps to work in a cool, shady area, or to wait for a cooler time of day to do your spray painting. Spray painting in direct (hot) sun can also effect the plasticizers in the paint to become sticky rather than dry properly. So avoid painting in direct sunlight whenever possible.



If your paint finish is sticky after painting in direct sunlight, use a soft, lint-free cloth and Mr Min or furniture polish and gently wipe over the finish to allow it to cool and dry thoroughly.



Watch the Rust-Oleum video below for more helpful tips you can use when spray painting.




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