Expert Tips on How to Remove Air Bubbles when Painting

Spray paint is a quick and inexpensive way to give practically any surface a nice, smooth painted finish. But occasionally, small bubbles appear as the paint dries, which can be incredibly frustrating. Those small bubbles can sometimes be easily fixed, but other times, they’ll turn what was supposed to be a simple project into a more labor-intensive affair.

As experts in spray paint, we wanted to explain why those bubbles appear, how you can remove them, and how to prevent them from appearing in the first place.

Why do air bubbles appear?

Air bubbles in spray paint may occur for a few reasons:

  1. The coats of paint are too thick. Spray paint should be applied in thin layers. If the coats of paint are too thick, then the top layer of paint dries more quickly than the lower layer. The continued evaporation causes air bubbles to accumulate between the two layers.
  2. The painted surface is dirty. Make sure the surface you are painting is free of dirt, oil, wax, or other contaminants. Otherwise they can interfere with proper drying and cause air bubbles to appear.
  3. You are painting in direct sunlight: Always make sure you are using spray paint away from direct sunlight. The heat from the sun will cause the paint to dry too quickly, which will result in air bubbles.

How can I get rid of air bubbles in paint?

The fix for air bubbles can either be minor or major depending on how extensive the bubbling is.

The Minor Fix

If the air bubbles are sparse and barely noticeable, the process to remove them is fairly simple. First, allow the paint to dry thoroughly. Then, pierce the bubbles with a fine sewing needle. Finally, flatten the bubbles by gently pulling a paint scraper across the painted surface. This will gently release the air from the bubbles and restore the painted look you originally intended. No repainting required.

The Major Fix

There’s no quick fix for projects with extensive bubbling. Those projects, unfortunately, require a do-over. After the paint has dried, use a paint scraper to scrape off as much of the paint as you can. Then use sandpaper to remove any remaining paint.

After the paint is removed, wipe the surface with a damp cloth to remove the sawdust. Next, use dish or laundry detergent to wash the piece, making sure to concentrate on any oil stains or dirt that may not have been removed by the sandpaper.

Once the piece is sanded, clean, and completely dry, it’s time to reapply the paint. Hold the can of spray paint about 6 inches away from the surface. Move your hand at a steady rate to apply the first coat of paint. If you think a second coat of paint is needed, read the instructions on the back of the can to find out how much time the first coat needs to dry. Applying a second coat too soon may result in more bubbling.

How can I prevent air bubbles from appearing?

Of course, the best way to deal with air bubbles is to prevent them from even appearing in the first place. Be sure to follow these best practices any time you are using spray paint:

  1. Clean the surface you want to paint with detergent and a degreaser if necessary.
  2. Make sure the surface you want to paint is completely dry.
  3. Paint in well-ventilated areas. If painting outside, stay in the shade. Avoid painting in direct sunlight or extremely hot areas.
  4. Paint in thin, even coats. Don’t rush, but make sure you’re not going so slowly that too much paint builds up in one area.
  5. Never apply a second coat of paint until you are sure the first coat is completely dry.

These best practices will help ensure your project has a professional looking, bubble-free finish every time. Or, if you’d rather leave your painting project to the professionals, then contact Spray Finishes.

Spray Finishes, a division of Stone Services, has been in the electrostatic spray painting business since 1938. They specialize in on-site painting for both residential and commercial properties, and also have a 10,000 square foot shop for large off-site jobs. Spray Finishes’ friendly and knowledgeable staff is ready to serve you at any of their five tristate area locations. Contact Spray Finishes today for an estimate on your next painting project.

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