Why is My Spray Paint Bubbling: Causes, Prevention, and Remedy

Why is My Spray Paint Bubbling Causes, Prevention, and Remedy

Why is my spray paint bubbling? Encountering the frustrating issue of spray paint bubbling can be a setback, whether you’re an experienced DIY enthusiast or just a novice in the world of spray painting.

I meticulously prepare the surface, select the perfect shade, and begin my project with passion, only to find unsightly bubbles marring the finish. So, why is my spray paint bubbling, and what are my actions to prevent or fix this issue?

After doing my research, I am happy to share its results with you in this guide, delving into the factors that lead to spray paint bubbles, discussing techniques to avoid them, and providing you with valuable tips to ensure your spray-painting endeavors result in a flawless, professional finish.

Spray paint bubbles are a source of frustration for many, but with a deeper understanding of the causes and some expert advice, you can transform your spray painting experience from a challenge into a rewarding and enjoyable process.

Let’s explore the world of spray painting, understand why bubbles occur, and discover how to achieve the perfect coat of paint without a single blemish.

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Primary causes for spray paint bubbling

In order to fix or avoid a problem, we should comprehend its roots. That’s why it’s essential to understand the primary factors that contribute to the spray paint bubble. Identifying the root causes will empower you to take proactive measures during your spray paint job. Here are some of the principal causes of the spray paint bubble appearance:

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image credit: canva.com
  1. Surface preparation. One of the fundamental factors that can result in spray paint bubbling is an insufficiently prepared surface. The coating should always follow meticulous cleaning. Surfaces that are not cleaned, sanded, or primed properly may trap air or moisture, causing bubbles to form beneath the paint.
    Dirt, dust, and debris contribute to the uneven, rough coating that will look extremely sloppy.
  2. Moisture and humidity. Due to water on the surface being painted or high humidity in the air, moisture becomes a common culprit. When it gets trapped beneath the paint, it can provoke bubbles as the paint dries.
  3. Temperature extremes. Extreme temperatures, especially excessive heat, can provoke paint bubbling. In increased temperatures, the paint dries too fast, and air bubbles can become trapped within the coating.
  4. Old paint and contaminants. If you’re applying new paint over old, deteriorating paint or a surface contaminated with dust, grease, or other impurities, it can disrupt the adhesion of the paint, leading to bubbles and a rough unkempt coat.
  5. Applying thick coats. Applying a thick or heavy coat of spray paint in a single application can overwhelm the surface, preventing proper drying and leading to bubbles. It’s essential to use thin, even coats.
  6. Inadequate drying time. Not allowing sufficient drying time between coats can trap solvents, causing bubbles to form when the second coat is applied.
  7. Using oil-based paint on metal surfaces. When used on metal surfaces, especially without proper priming, it can lead to adhesion issues and spray paint bubble formation.
  8. Porous surface. Surfaces with a high level of porosity, such as untreated wood or certain types of concrete, can absorb paint unevenly and lead to spray paint bubble formation.
  9. Bubbles of air in the paint. From time to time, the spray paint itself appears to contain bubbles. It’s crucial to shake the spray paint can thoroughly before use to minimize this risk.

That was the answer to the question: why is my spray paint bubbling? Being aware of these prime causes for spray paint bubbling is the first step in preventing this common issue.

Prevention is key

After identifying the core of the problem, it’s not complex to develop a prevention strategy. Let’s go cause by cause.

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image credit: canva.com

1. Surface preparation

  • Prevention: ensure that you thoroughly prepare the surface before you start painting. Clean it of any dirt, grease, or loose paint using appropriate cleaners and fine-grit sandpaper. Then, prime the surface to provide a smooth and adhesive base for the paint.

2. Moisture and humidity

  • Prevention: check the weather conditions before the paint job and avoid spray painting on excessively humid days. If moisture is a concern, consider using a dehumidifier in the painting area. Always secure the dry surface and only afterward apply spray paint.

3. Temperature extremes

  • Prevention: paint during moderate temperature conditions. Extreme heat or cold should be avoided whenever possible, as they can both provoke paint bubbling. If painting in high heat, try to do it during cooler parts of the day or in the shade. Otherwise, you risk to end up with pesky bubbles.

4. Old paint and contaminants

  • Prevention: remove old and deteriorating paint before you take on applying the first coat. Make the surface as clean as possible eliminating contaminants, and use appropriate primers when necessary. I highly recommend using primers in your DIY painting endeavors as they will make the whole process much smoother.

5. Applying thick coats

  • Prevention: apply multiple thin coats of spray paint rather than a single thick one. Ensure that each thin coat gets dry completely before applying the next thin layer. This ensures even coverage without trapping air or solvents. Don’t try to save time, you will regret it later. Make more coats for a perfect look and don’t try to decrease their number.

6. Inadequate drying time

  • Prevention: follow the drying times guidelines of the paint manufacturer. Rushing the process can trap solvents and air, resulting in spray paint bubble formation although you may be using an airless paint sprayer.

7. Using oil-based paint on metal

  • Prevention: if using such paint on metal, make sure to prime the metal first to improve adhesion. Use compatible spray paint and primer designed for metal applications. That’s the most effective way to prevent spray paint bubbles.

8. Porous surfaces

  • Prevention: seal porous surfaces with an appropriate primer or sealer before applying spray paint. This prevents uneven absorption and bubble formation on the spray-painted surface. Using a primer is very effective for obtaining the best possible quality of the coat.

9. Air bubbles in the paint

  • Prevention: Before spray painting, shake the spray paint bottle vigorously as per the manufacturer’s instructions to disperse any bubbles of air within the paint. Test the paint on a small surface area to ensure it sprays smoothly before applying it to your project.

Use the experience of avid painters and take these preventive measures — you will significantly reduce the risk of encountering spray paint bubble appearance in your projects.

Proper surface preparation, mindful paint application, and environmental considerations are key to achieving a flawless finish and enjoying your spray painting process without unexpected setbacks.

Damage control: how to fix spray paint bubbling?

So, the irreparable has happened.

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image credit: canva.com

You got the bubbled spray paint. Don’t despair, it’s not as irreparable as it seems.

Here’s what you can do.

1. Identify the bubbles

Examine the surface to identify where the paint bubbles have formed. This is crucial to determine the extent of the issue.

2. Wait for complete drying

If the bubbles are small and the paint hasn’t completely dried, allow it to dry thoroughly. Sometimes, small bubbles may self-level as the paint dries.

3. Lightly sand the affected area

For more stubborn bubbles, use fine-grit sandpaper to lightly sand the bubbled spray paint areas. This way, you’ll easily get rid of the “blemishes”.

Make sure that you do it gently to avoid damaging the surrounding paint. Sand until the surface is smooth.

4. Clean the surface

After sanding, clean the area to remove dust and debris. This ensures a clean surface for repainting.

5. Reapply paint

Apply a thin, even first coat of paint to the sanded area. It’s important to match the color and type of paint as closely as possible so that the second coat integrates organically into the original coat.

6. Feather the edges

Feather the edges of the new paint into the existing paint to blend it seamlessly. This helps to avoid visible lines or ridges.

7. Allow to dry

Let the repaired area dry completely. This will ensure the new coat adheres properly.

8. Inspect and repeat if necessary

After you let the paint dry, inspect the repaired area. If any imperfections or spray paint bubble remains, repeat the process until you achieve a smooth, flawless finish.

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Note: If the bubbles are extensive or the paint has become severely damaged, you may need to remove the affected paint entirely (first and second coat), address the underlying issues, and then repaint the entire surface for the best results.

Paints prone to bubbling

Certain types of paint are more prone to bubbling than others due to their composition and properties. Here are some types of paint that are commonly associated with a higher risk of bubbling:

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Oil-based paint

Oil-based paints can be more prone to bubbling, especially when applied on surfaces that are not adequately prepared or primed.

Latex or water-based paint

While water-based paints are generally less prone to bubbling than oil-based paints, they can still bubble if applied in humid conditions or on surfaces with trapped moisture.

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image credit: canva.com

Paint with High Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Paints with high VOC content can be more prone to bubbling because they release a significant amount of solvents as they dry. These solvents can become trapped beneath the paint and create bubbles.

Low-quality paints

Paints of lower quality or those that have expired may be more prone to bubbling.

It’s advisable to use reputable paint brands and check the expiration date on the product.

Note: It’s important to note that the propensity for paint to bubble can vary depending on a combination of factors, including the specific paint brand and formulation, surface conditions, and the application process.

To minimize the risk of bubbling, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and best practices for surface preparation and paint application.

Final stroke

The appearance of those frustrating bubbles can be a stumbling block for even the most avid DIY enthusiasts. However, with a comprehensive understanding of why spray paint bubbles occur and the knowledge of how to prevent and address them, you can transform your painting experience from a source of frustration into a rewarding and satisfying painting process.

We’ve explored the most substantial causes behind the spray paint bubble formation, from surface preparation and moisture issues to temperature extremes and the types of spray paint used.

Armed with this knowledge, you’re now better equipped to take proactive measures to avoid spray paint bubbles, preventing these unwanted blemishes in your projects.

Should you still find yourself facing a spray paint bubble appearance, we’ve also discussed how to sort out the issue efficiently. With a little patience and attention to detail, you can fix spray paint, restoring the smooth, professional finish you envisioned.

When it comes to paint bubbles, not all paints are created equal, and certain types are more prone to this issue.

It’s crucial to consider the type of paint, surface conditions, and proper application techniques to minimize the risk of encountering spray paint bubbles.

As you embark on your next spray painting endeavor, armed with the insights and techniques shared in this guide, you’re well on your way to achieving the perfect coat of spray paint, free from those pesky bubbles.


How do you fix bubbling spray paint?

Fixing bubbling spray paint involves sanding the affected area, cleaning it, applying a thin first coat of paint, and giving it time to dry perfectly and only then carrying out the second coat.

What causes air bubbles when spraying paint?

Bubbles of air in spray paint can result from factors like moisture, improper surface preparation, extreme temperatures, and when the paint is laid in a layer that is too thick.

Why is my second coat of paint bubbling?

Bubbling on the second coat can occur if the first coat hasn’t dried to the full extent, but you already start with the second coat. Also, there may be issues with preparing the surface like failing to ensure its clean and smooth condition.

How do you fix ripples in spray paint?

To fix ripples in spray paint, sand the affected area, clean it, and reapply paint in thin first, then second coat, allowing it to dry properly in between the coatings.

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