How to Avoid Runs While Spray Painting

Several used spray paint cans.
What You'll Need
Spray paint
Sanding block
Fine-grained sandpaper
Eye protection
Dust mask or respirator

Spray painting is a great way to cover a large area with paint quickly and easily. If you are doing any project that requires a lot of paint, spray paint will often be the way to go, as you will save a great deal of time and effort overpainting by hand. However, even though applying spray paint is a straightforward process, there are still many things that can go wrong with it. These problems include dripping, sagging, and of course, runs. Because of this, it is important to use the correct techniques when using spray paint. What follows should give you enough information to avoid runs, and help you to remove them if they occur.

Step 1 - Apply Spray Paint Correctly

The main thing that causes runs in spray paint is an incorrect application. In particular, applying too much will often cause runs or other problems. Unfortunately, it is easy for an inexperienced person to accidentally apply paint too heavily. This is because it can be difficult to judge exactly how much paint has been applied already. Naturally, the solution to this problem is to err on the side of caution because while it is quite difficult to remove paint after it has been applied if you apply too much, it is quite easy to add more if it turns out that you applied an insufficient amount.

When applying spray paint, hold your can approximately 18 inches from the surface you are painting. If at all possible, hold it so it is oriented straight up and down; if not, come as close as possible. Spray the paint evenly, never stopping on a single spot. Start spraying a couple inches to one side of your object to ensure you cover everything to the edges and use even passes to cover the entire surface. Once you have applied a small amount of paint to the entire surface, stop and allow the paint to dry. It is quite likely that you will need to apply a second coat, but you will be practically guaranteed to have an even coat of paint that is free of runs and other problems.

Step 2 - Sand the Runs

Unfortunately, it is possible to end up with one or more runs no matter how good you are at spray painting. When this occurs, all is not lost. It is possible to remove runs in spray paint. Obviously, it is better to avoid problems with paint in the first place, as removing them and touching up the areas requires more work.

First, soak a sanding block in water overnight. Then, start off by sanding the problematic areas to remove extra paint. Continue to smooth the surface with fine-grained sandpaper or a dry sanding block.

Step 3 - Fix the Paint Job

Once you have finished sanding, it is quite likely that you will need to fix up a few areas of your paint job. If this is the case, simply spray paint over the areas that need touching up, being very careful to stop long before paint builds up enough to run again. Taking the time to use multiple coats is always a good idea.