7 Paint Sprayer Disasters and How to Fix Them

Nobody is perfect. We all make a mistake every now and then. The only problem is that when the mistake involves paint sprayer disasters, the problems can get huge.

Using a paint sprayer is easy. Using one in the right way can be hard.

If you jump right into a project, then there’s a chance that you could experience one of these common paint sprayer disasters.  Don’t worry though. We’ll also show you simple ways to fix each problem so you can still end up with a stunning result.

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7 Paint Sprayer Disasters You Can Fix

Painting with a sprayer can be a quick and efficient way to paint surfaces, whether it be for home projects or professional work. However, even with the most careful preparation and application, mistakes can still happen. In this blog post, we’ll go over some common mistakes that can occur when using a paint sprayer and how to fix them.

  1. Overspray
  2. Spray Paint Cracking, Running and Uneven Surfaces
  3. Spray Paint Drips
  4. Bowtie Effect
  5. Spray Paint Splatter
  6. Wackiness in Tackiness
  7. Missed the Mark


Overspray happens because paint sprayers combine air and paint together in a process called atomization. This makes the paint spray from the nozzle onto your surface easily (otherwise paint is quite thick). Spraying paint always results in overspray. Some sprayers have more overspray than others. Some types of paint are thinner than others and that also leads to overspray.

How to Fix Overspray from a Paint Sprayer

To fix this issue (reduce overspray), you can do a few things.

Make sure your paint is the right thickness (viscosity), choose a sprayer that is known for less overspray, choose the right nozzle for the paint type you’re spraying, practice your technique, and use the right air pressure setting for the paint medium and project that you’re spraying.

To keep overspray from getting on everything, you should cover up everything that you don’t want to get paint on. For example, if you’re painting a wall in your living room, cover all your floors, furniture with plastic sheeting, newspaper, etc., to keep the overspray from landing on your things.

Spray Paint Cracking, Running, and Uneven Surfaces

Holding your paint sprayer too close to the surface being painted can create a few issues with your finished look.  Spray paint cracking as it dries, running paint,  and other issues that result in a surface which isn’t smooth. You should hold your sprayer around 6-12 inches from the surface you’re painting. Check the manufacturers instructions to see what they recommend.

How Do You Fix Paint Runs and Uneven Paint on Wall

Should this happen to you, wait until the paint is completely dry and then sand it with wet/dry sandpaper of 1000 grit.  Chances are you will need to apply a second coat of paint to complete your even finish.

What causes paint runs?
Old paint runs, imperfections in the walls, old nail holes, applying paint too thick. You must make sure to inspect and sand your surface before painting.

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Spray Paint Drips

If you have painted on an uneven wall, without fixing holes and other miscellaneous weird spots, held your sprayer too close to the surface, or applied too much paint in one area, you could end of with spray paint drips. 

How to Fix Spray Paint Drips

The best way is to prevent them from happening at all, by patching and sanding all holes and uneven surfaces on your wall.  Keep your sprayer at least 6-12 inches away from your paint surface and also use a sweeping arm motion to paint. Applying primer will ensure smooth application of your paint and a better looking finished result.

You can also wait for the paint to dry and then sand off the drip with a fine grit sandpaper. Once you have sanded the area, you can spray a light coat of paint over the spot to fix it.

If the drip is particularly large, you may need to use a putty knife to scrape off the excess paint before sanding the area. Be sure to wait until the paint is completely dry before using the putty knife to avoid creating additional damage.

Paint Sprayer Disasters and The Bowtie Effect

Have you noticed that when you apply a line of paint with your sprayer the ends seem wide and thin, but the middle is thick, small, and heavy?

Paint Sprayer Disasters : How to Fix Bowtie Effect

Because you’re using a circular motion instead of a straight motion to apply the paint you’ll get more bowtie effect.

Instead, using a straight motion to apply the paint. Move your sprayer using your arm in a sweeping back and forth motion. Don’t stand in one spot, move along the paint line to get results that are a little more consistent. 

Spray Paint Splatter

Also known as “splatter chatter”.  Everything is going along fine. The wall is looking incredible. Then, without warning, you get splatter out of your paint sprayer and the wall looks terrible.

What happened?  Why is my paint sprayer spitting?  Let’s do some paint sprayer troubleshooting.

How to Fix Splatter Chatter: What Causes Spray Paint to Splatter

If it happened at the beginning of your work, then there’s a good chance that an air bubble was still in your hose.  Priming the hose thoroughly before beginning will resolve this issue.

If it happened later into your project, then you’ve either run out of paint or you tilted the sprayer to far upward or downward. Make sure that your paint/air flow are properly adjusted for the type of paint, your nozzle size, and your paint surface.

It could also be that there is a clog in your nozzle. Clogging is a common issue with paint sprayers, particularly if the paint is not thinned properly or if the sprayer is not cleaned regularly. Clogs can cause the sprayer to stop working altogether or result in an inconsistent spray pattern.

Stop painting and clean it out with a damp rag. Some sprayers come with a reversible tip that lets you blow air through the nozzle to clean out clogs. Make sure that if you take breaks, that you cover your paint nozzle with a damp rag to prevent clogging.

We do recommend that you strain your paint either through a separate strainer or make sure your paint sprayer has a built inline strainer. This will filter out anything that may be in your paint that could clog your nozzle causing splatter while you spray.

Maintain your technique and most splatter can be prevented.  To fix spray paint splatter from your sprayer, you would quickly take a roller or brush and smooth out the splatter on the wall.

Wackiness in Tackiness

Not all paint dries quickly. Sometimes it can take quite a while for paint to become dry enough that a surface becomes useable.

Paint Sprayer Disasters : How to Fix Tackiness

How long should paint dry between coats?  You should always plan depending on the humidity level, temperature and ventilation in your painted area.   It could be 2 hours or it could be 6. 

If you expect it to take less time, you could find yourself in for a very unpleasant surprise. 

Missed the Mark

Painter’s tape can be incredibly useful. Its effectiveness is dependent on its actual placement.

If you have bends or bubbles in the tape, then you have places where the paint can find itself. The end result is a splotchy edge that requires a new paint job to fix.

How to Fix Bad Edges

Press the tape down firmly along all surfaces and double check your edge before starting to paint to avoid this common disaster. Some professionals use a putty knife to really push the tape down in surfaces and in the corners.

Paint Sprayer Disasters Conclusion

A paint sprayer can save you a lot of time, but only if you avoid these common mistakes. You can fix any of the above paint sprayer disasters, which is good news, but with a little planning there doesn’t have to be a mistake in the first place.


What causes spray paint to splatter?

Air bubbles in your air hose, running out of paint, tilted sprayer too far down/up, nozzle/tip on your sprayer could be clogged, paint is too thick for your tip.

Why does my Graco sprayer spit?

Tip could be clogged, paint is too thick for your tip size, you need to filter/strain your paint.

2 thoughts on “7 Paint Sprayer Disasters and How to Fix Them”

  1. I purchased a krause&becker airless sprayer it will not prime at all. The settings are where their supposed to be set at and i’ve pushed the red button on the bottom several and it wont even prime water.

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