Fast Guide to Fixing a Paint Run

A gathering of paint supplies.
  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 20
What You'll Need
Rubber band
Putty knife or utility knife
What You'll Need
Rubber band
Putty knife or utility knife

Running, sagging, and wrinkling in paint is the result of paint applied too thickly. The paint either drips down the wall, leaving a thick line behind, or wrinkles when the surface dries before the heavier paint below. If you notice a paint run on your wall, don’t panic. Fortunately, it is possible to repair a paint run without painting the entire wall.

Prevent a Run

Prevent these paint problems by applying paint in thin layers and smoothing drips and runs while they are still wet. Make sure nails or picture hangers are removed from the wall. Sometimes painting over and around these will cause paint to run. Stretch a strong rubber band around an open paint can, centering the band across the middle of the can opening. Wipe excess paint off your brush across the band as you go.

TIP: Painting professional Pam Estabrooke, of ProTect Painters, notes that, “The more tint a paint has added to it – meaning it’s a dark color — the heavier it can be. Just be aware of this when starting your project and keep an eye out.”

Repair a Run

To repair a paint run or a sagged or wrinkled paint surface, use a sharp putty knife or razor blade to scrape and sand away the flaw. Apply fresh paint in thinner coats over the area, until it is even with the surrounding surface. Don’t rush. It will take about 15 minutes to remove the run and repaint the area.

Peeling, running, crackling, dripping, and sagging are all common problems that are sometimes only noticeable after the paint job is finished. Periodically stepping away from the wall and inspecting areas you have previously painted can sometimes catch these issues before they are thoroughly dry.

Use these simple fixes to smooth away paint flaws and refinish imperfections. They will ensure you have great looking walls and paint finishes.

Pam Estabrooke, district manager of ProTect Painters, contributed to this article.