Why Does Spray Paint Wrinkle So Much!

Have you ever found yourself asking, why does spray paint wrinkle sometimes, and not other times? It’s very frustrating when you’re trying to get a smooth, even surface of paint, but instead, it all wrinkles up and goes into ridges and blobs and looks a mess. When this happens, you might be confused, especially if you know that it’s suitable for the surface it is being sprayed onto, and there’s no reason for it to behave in this way.

There are a number of reasons for spray paint to wrinkle, such as contamination on the surface, a layer that is too thick, improperly dried undercoats, and more. It’s crucial to make sure that you are applying spray paint to a clean, dry surface, in thin layers, with enough drying time in between each coat. Being careful about your application approach makes it less likely that your paint will wrinkle, so make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Wrinkly spray paint does not look attractive or appealing, and it will often end up flaking off, so you should be careful and make efforts to avoid it getting wrinkled in the first place. We’re going to look at what causes wrinkling and how to avoid it, as well as some top tips for fixing it if it happens, so you can rescue your projects and make them look great again.

Is It Normal For Spray Paint To Wrinkle?

It is fairly common for spray paints to wrinkle, but they should not do so if you apply them correctly, so be aware of this and if you notice the paint is wrinkling or not sticking properly, you should wipe the surface down and start again. It’s very annoying when this happens, but it isn’t too unusual, and if you often use spray paint for various projects, you have a high chance of seeing it wrinkle at least some of the time. Remember that you need a clean surface to apply spray paint to if you want it to adhere well.

If you apply spray paint in the proper conditions, it should not wrinkle; it ought to adhere as a smooth, sleek coat. This is part of the point of spray paint, as it is intended to create the smoothest possible surface, without any brush strokes or roller splatters. If your spray paint wrinkles up – unless you have purchased a crinkly paint – something has gone wrong.

Your spray paint shouldn’t wrinkle, therefore, and if it does, you will need to remove it. It is very frustrating when this happens, but if it does, you will need to know what to do.

Why Does Spray Paint Wrinkle?

Spray paint can wrinkle for a number of reasons, but the commonest are that you have applied too many layers, that the undercoats were not fully dry before you added a new coat, or that the surface was not perfectly clean and dust-free before you started adding paint to it. You also need to make sure that the spray paint you are using is compatible with the surface that you are painting, because if it isn’t, it will not dry properly, or it may react with the surface and cause the finished surface to wrinkle.

Before you start painting, you will often need to sand down the surface, unless it is already porous (e.g. a canvas designed for painting on) so that the spray paint has a good surface that it can adhere to. Next, you should wipe the surface with a damp cloth to remove all the dust and any residue, and make sure that it is smooth and clean; remove any greasy areas or other contaminants before you go any further. Once this is done, you should allow it to fully dry and use a primer that is compatible with the paint that you plan to use.

If you don’t follow these steps, spray paint is very likely to wrinkle, as it won’t adhere well to the surface. This will cause the paint to contract as it dries – forming crinkles and an uneven appearance.

How To Fix Wrinkled Spray Paint On Metal

If the spray paint you have applied to a metal surface has wrinkled, you can repair this with relative ease; you will need some fine sandpaper and some additional spray paint. You should make sure the paint has fully dried before attempting to fix it, however, so wait at least as long as the manufacturer recommends. When the paint is dry, take the fine sandpaper and lightly sand down the lumps and wrinkles until the surface is smooth once more.

If the paint has badly wrinkled, you may need to start with a coarser sandpaper and swap to a finer one, but for minor wrinkles, start with fine paper, as you don’t want to take off more paint than is necessary. Once the surface is smooth, wipe it down with a damp cloth to remove any dust, and then leave it to fully dry. You should not do anything until the surface is completely dry, as the next coat may also wrinkle if you apply it when the metal is still wet.

You should then reapply at least one layer of spray paint to cover the sanded area and give yourself a smooth appearance. It may take several coats; this depends on how deeply the paint wrinkled and how much of the primer shows when you have finished sanding it. If necessary, strip it right back to the metal and reapply the primer before you start painting it again.

How To Fix Wrinkled Spray Paint On Plastic

If you have spray painted plastic and the paint has wrinkled, you will usually need to strip the paint off and redo it, but it’s worth trying another trick before you do this. Take a damp paper towel and spread it over the spray paint that has wrinkled, and then wait for around 10 minutes before carefully lifting the towel off and leaving the paint to dry. The moisture in the paper towel may encourage the paint to relax and spread out again, and although there is no guarantee that this will work, it’s worth a try.

If this does not work, the best thing to do is to sand it down to the plastic and make sure you have created a good key by sanding the plastic thoroughly before you add the primer. This should decrease the chances of it wrinkling again, because it will provide it with more grip for the paint to get into. Apply an appropriate primer and then allow this to fully dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions before you add the spray paint layer.

This should ensure that your second attempt works well, but if you have another failure, make sure that the paint you are using is suitable for use on plastics, and that the primer is also suitable. The primer can make a big difference in ensuring that the paint adheres properly, so don’t neglect this step. Remember that thin coats are also less likely to blister.

How To Fix Wrinkled Spray Paint On Wood

When spray paint wrinkles on wood, it is sometimes possible to just lightly sand it to remove the wrinkles, leaving a smooth overall effect – but this depends on how bad the wrinkling is and how textured the area is supposed to look. It may work if you don’t need a completely smooth surface and if you are using a paint that won’t show the scuffs, but it won’t be suitable for all projects.

If you can’t just lightly sand the spray paint, you will unfortunately have to strip it back down to the wood using a coarser sandpaper, followed by a fine one, and an appropriate primer. This should give you an opportunity to overcome any issues that occurred during the first application, and ensure that the new coat looks great.

Remember that your surface needs to be sanded, clean, and dry before you apply the paint, and the paint needs to go on in thin layers. If you apply the paint too thickly, the undercoat will dry more slowly than the outer coat, and this can cause wrinkling. Leave each layer for around 20 minutes (or longer, depending on the manufacturer’s instructions) before you apply the next one, and you should find that it doesn’t wrinkle too much.


If you are wondering why spray paint wrinkles, there are unfortunately quite a few reasons and it may not be immediately clear what went wrong, especially if you think you have done all the surface preparation correctly. You need to make sure that you aren’t applying thick layers of paint, and that you aren’t putting more paint on before the current layer has had sufficient time to dry. As long as you follow these steps and you do the initial preparations correctly, you should find that the spray paint doesn’t wrinkle, but if it does, you will likely need to sand it down and reapply the paint to correct the problem.

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