Why Is My Spray Paint Sticky? (With 7 Easy Steps To Prevent It!)

Most people buy spray paint because they want something quick and easy to use to get their project over with without a headache. Unfortunately, even spray paint can cause issues if you aren’t careful. If you read this article because your spray paint feels sticky, don’t worry!

Spray paint is sticky when it has not been shaken properly or has started to dry but hasn’t yet fully dried to the touch. Depending on the type of paint used, the surface being painted, temperature, and humidity, spray paint can take as little as 5 minutes or as long as several hours to try. Usually, just waiting for your paint to try is the best advice.

In this post, we’ll look more closely at why your spray paint is sticky on various surfaces and lots of tips for speeding up the drying process and making things go a little smoother next time.

Why is my Spray paint sticky?

Although there are some differences, at the end of the day, spray paint is still paint.

Regardless of what spray paint you are using, there are two major reasons spray paint will feel sticky or tacky to the touch.

Paint is wet

When any paint, including spray paint, is wet it will feel sticky to the touch and will remain sticky until it has fully dried.

Fortunately, this is an easy problem to fix, just do nothing! Eventually, the paint will dry and you won’t have to worry about stickiness. Be careful, however, as thicker coats of latex paint can be scraped off and stick to objects such as furniture fairly easily.

Paint is not mixed properly

Unlike regular paints, spray paint is mixed with a propellant inside the can and they are designed to be evenly mixed before spraying.

If you fail to properly mix your spray paint can, this mixture of paint and propellant will be off and you might have some issues with the paint that comes out. Likely, the paint will just be a bit thick or uneven – both of these issues will cause the paint to take longer to dry.

Will tacky spray paint ever dry?

Yes, sticky or tacky spray paint will dry eventually. Usually, you just need to wait a little longer for it to try. To help speed things along, you can try the following:

  • Point a box fan at the surface that you are trying to dry more quickly but be sure to use a low setting so that you don’t cause any runs in the paint.
  • Open up a window to let more air circulate into the room (when painting indoors).
  • If you are painting a small object, take it outside into the sun to help it dry faster.

However you do it, the best approach is to increase the temperature, increase air circulation, and decrease humidity.

How to fix sticky spray paint on rubber?

Rubber is a tricky surface to paint, especially for spray paint, because the surface is meant to be flexible which causes the painted surface to move and stretch more than other surfaces.

Another problem with rubber is that is can absorb some of the solvents in spray paint, creating a tacky feeling on the surface because the chemical composition of the spray paint has been affected.

To fix sticky spray paint on rubber, your best bet is to cover it with a coat or two of clear paint. Since the original paint color will act as a barrier between the rubber surface and the clear coat, the solvents will remain intact and your clear coat will be able to dry normally with a non-stick surface.

If you aren’t able to cover your painted rubber with a clear coat, you could also try a heat gun on a low setting to see if you can cause the paint to set better and lose some of the stickiness.

How to fix sticky spray paint on wood?

You can fix the sticky spray paint on wood by using the same method that you would use to fix it on rubber.

However, if the wood becomes too damaged, you will need to remove any paint on it and start over.

This is because once the wood gets too sticky, the only way to fix it will be by sanding down or replacing your piece. Make sure you are using high-quality spray paints on wood to avoid this issue!

7 Ways to help prevent sticky spray paint

We’ve covered some specific situations, and now let’s cover some good best practices when it comes to spray painting to best help avoid sticky paint or really any paint issue at all.

The best ways to prevent sticky spray paint are:

  • Be sure to shake up the can!
  • Don’t use old paint
  • Use higher-quality paints
  • Paint in warm enough temperatures
  • Use a primer
  • Clean and prep your surface properly
  • Check your nozzle
  • Check the humidity
  • Store your paint properly

Shake up the can!

When spray paint is not shaken properly, it can result in an uneven coat that can cause it to remain tacky days after application. We like to call this “blocking,” and it’s important to avoid it.

The key to avoiding this is to shake your spray can vigorously for at least twenty seconds before use. This will ensure that the paint and propellant are mixed together properly and that the paint will apply evenly.

Not only will this help you achieve a better look, but it will also help to make sure that your paint dries properly and that you get the most out of your spray paint can. If you don’t shake your can of spray paint before use, the paint could come out uneven, which would cause it to be sticky and tacky when drying.

Don’t use old paint

Old paint can be especially difficult to work with because the solvents used to create the paint have evaporated or broken down over time, making it harder for the paint to dry and adhere properly.

If you’re using old paint, make sure to shake the can vigorously before use and use a primer to ensure proper adhesion. Additionally, ensure that the air is not overly humid, and the temperature is not too hot or too cold, as this can cause the paint to dry unevenly or not at all.

Use a higher-quality paint

When you’re painting, it’s important to make sure that you have high-quality paint to get the best results. The wrong kind of paint can cause messy runs and drips or, worse, a sticky finish.

When browsing through the spray paint section at your local hardware store, choose a solid brand such as Krylon or Rustoleum and ensure that you get one meant for the surface you are painting on. These spray paints are formulated so that picking up the wrong paint can lead to poor results.

When in doubt, pick up a spray paint that has a built-in primer so that you’ll be sure to get better coverage with fewer coats. Fewer coats mean less paint on the surface which means quicker drying time and a smaller chance that your paint will end up sticky.

Paint in warm enough temperatures

When it comes to why spray paint might be sticky, the temperature can play a big role.

When spray painting, the room’s temperature should ideally be between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature is too low, the paint won’t adhere properly and will remain tacky. On the other hand, if the temperature is too hot, the paint can dry too quickly and lead to a cracked or webbed finish.

Additionally, high humidity levels can also slow down the drying process and cause the paint to become sticky.

Additionally, make sure to clean your spray paint can before use and apply a primer first to ensure that the paint sticks properly. Finally, make sure that you allow enough time between coats for each layer to dry before applying another one.

Use a primer

Primers are a vital part of spray painting. They create a strong bond between the paint and the surface you are painting, helping your paint to last longer and stay put.

Primers also help prevent the paint from becoming sticky and tacky, as they seal in the paint so it can dry properly. Primers are especially important if spray painting a porous surface, such as wood or rubber, as they will help keep the paint from soaking in and becoming tacky. Primers also help to provide better coverage, as they provide a smooth base for the paint to adhere to.

Before applying any spray paint, make sure that you apply a coat of primer, as it will help ensure that your paint job looks great and lasts for years.

Cleaning and prep surfaces properly

When spray painting, it is essential to properly clean and prep the surface to achieve the best results. If the surface is not properly cleaned and prepped, the paint may not adhere to the surface properly and can be left with a sticky or tacky feeling.

To ensure that your spray paint does not become sticky, it is important to do the following:

  • 1. Remove any dirt, dust, oil, or grease from the surface. To do this, use a damp rag, soapy water, or a degreaser.
  • 2. Sand the surface with a fine-grit sanding block to create texture, which will help the primer and paint adhere to the surface better.
  • 3. Check for any lumps or bumps on the surface that may prevent the paint from adhering properly. Use a putty knife or sandpaper to smooth those out.
  • 4. Make sure you are using a fresh can of spray paint, and check the nozzle of the can for any clogs.
    5. If you have already painted and your paint has become sticky, use talcum powder or baking soda to help absorb any moisture left in the paint.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your spray paint does not become sticky and that your project turns out great!

Check your nozzle

Is your spray paint not spraying properly?

One of the most common causes of spray paint not spraying correctly is a blocked nozzle. The nozzle can become clogged with paint over time, or oil residues can build up and prevent proper airflow. To unclog a spray paint nozzle, use a pin or needle to clear any blockages.

If the blockage is too stubborn, you may need to use a solvent such as paint thinner to dissolve the residue. Make sure to store your spray paint cans upright and keep the lid on when not in use to prevent it from becoming clogged.

Check the humidity

Moisture problems are one of the main causes of why your spray paint is sticky.

Before applying spray paint, it’s important to check for any moisture issues that may be present. Moisture can come from many sources, such as humidity, condensation, or rain. If the surface is wet or damp when you apply the paint, it won’t dry properly and will remain sticky.

If you are struggling with a humid environment, move your project indoors (if you can) so that you can control it more easily. Place a dehumidifier in the room with you if you can. If you don’t have a dehumidifier, ensure your air conditioning is running.

Store your paint properly

It’s important to store your spray paint properly to ensure that it doesn’t become sticky or tacky.

Poor storage conditions can cause the paint to become clumpy and not spread evenly when applied. The best way to store your paint is in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. This will help to keep the paint in good condition and will help prevent it from becoming sticky.

Make sure to keep the lid tightly secured on the can and store it upright to prevent the paint from leaking out. If you’re storing the paint for a long period of time, consider wrapping it in a plastic bag or container to protect it from dust and other debris.


In conclusion, spray paint can become sticky due to several different factors. These include not shaking the can enough before use, applying too much paint, using it in cold or humid climates, and contamination from grease, oil, wax or silicone.

To avoid this issue, make sure to shake the can for at least 1 minute before use, apply the paint in moderate temperatures and humidity levels, and clean the surface beforehand to ensure no contaminates remain.

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