Cracking Spray Paint: Things You Will Need

Randy Charles
Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years...Read more

Spray painting is one of the most used painting techniques out there. This is because of several reasons. Spray paint is easy to apply, fast to dry, and cheap to buy. However, like any other paint, it is prone to cracking too. Cracking spray paint is something a lot of people struggle with. There is nothing as frustrating as watching a coat of paint you have applied with love, and you have put so much time and effort into wrinkles and crackles.

Why does this happen? How to fix it? Can you paint over spray paint? These questions and several others will be the topic of today’s article.

Before we dive deep into the article though, here are a few key takeaways from the article worth looking at:

  • Painting over spray paint is possible, provided it is done correctly.
  • Before you start painting over spray paint, safety measures should be in place.
  • Crackling happens because of temperature and the wrong layer and spray paint application.
  • Spray paint crackling can be fixed easily with sanding, priming, and the correct paint application.

Now that you have an innovative idea about the content of the article, let us get to why this happens in the first place as well as a step-by-step guide on how to fix it.

Can You Paint Over Spray Paint?

The short answer is yes. You can paint over spray paint. However, there are a few things you need to be aware of before you do that, otherwise, your overpaint will not stick.

Can You Paint Over Spray Paint

Figure out which paint types go together

Paint is classified into two distinct categorieswater-based and oil-based paints. The type of the overpaint and the spray paint will determine whether you can repaint a spray-painted surface or not. If the spray paint is oil-based, applying water-based paint over it will not work. If the spray paint, on the other hand, is oil-based, both water and oil-based paints can adhere to it. In addition to this, the spray-painted object, before it is overpainted, should be completely dry for the paint to stick.

Prepare the surface

Preparing the surface before applying the paint is also important for the paint to stick. The preparation process involves sanding and priming the surface. For sanding, use 100 grit sandpaper. This will smoothen the surface and make it easy for the overpaint to adhere. For better paint adhesion and durability, you also need to prime the surface before you paint it.

Using a primer will depend on the type of paint you plan to use as well as the type of paint used to spray-paint the object. If it is water-based, you do not need a primer. If it is oil-based, applying a primer before painting is necessary. In this case, a water-based primer is recommended.

Get painting

The actual application of the overpaint can be done using a brush or a spray paint can. Both are fine to use and will get you satisfactory results. If you are looking for a fast repaint though, spray painting is what you should opt for. However, keep in mind that it also consumes a lot more paint, compared to brush painting. Plus, it sticks poorly.

So long as you stick to the three tips above, the overpaint will stick nicely.

Cracking spray paint: Things you will need

Before we get into why spray paint cracks and how to fix it, it is important to first look at a few items that you will need in your DIY project.

Cracking Spray Paint

  • Sandpaper: You will need medium-grit sandpaper. It will be used for sanding and smoothing out the surface before and after the primer application.
  • A wet cloth and a brush paint: These will be used for cleaning the surface after sanding it.
  • A primer and a spray primer applicator: To help give the paint a better chance of holding, you will need a primer. To apply the primer, you will need either a brush or a spray primer applicator.
  • A high-quality paint: Choose a water-based or oil-based paint. Just make sure it is high quality.
  • A mask: Both the paint and the primer contain chemicals that could harm you. So, before you start your repainting project, we advise you to get a ventilated mask.

Why Does Spray Paint Crackle When It Dries?

There are four main reasons as to why does spray paint crackle. They are as follows:

  • Water and humidity: Two of the main reasons for spray paint crackling are water and humidity. When you paint a damp or humid surface, the spray paint will not adhere strongly.
  • Applying a thick layer of paint at once: Solvents found in the paint can also cause spray paint cracking. When you apply a thick layer of paint to a surface, the top layer of the paint tends to dry way faster than its underlying layers. This leads to the shrinkage of the top layer. It then crackles as a result.
  • Failing to prepare the surface: Failing to prepare the surface before the paint is applied is another reason spray paints crackle. If the surface is not cleaned thoroughly, not sanded, and primed well, the paint will not stick, even if it is of high quality.
  • Hot temperature: Temperature plays a key role in spray paint cracking. For example, when you paint a surface in hot weather, the solvents found in the paint will evaporate. This leads to wrinkling and the cracking of the paint afterward.

Other reasons why spray paint might crack include using low-quality or an expired spray paint product or not knowing how to properly spray paint.

How To Fix Cracked Spray Paint?

Fixing the cracking spray paint issue can be done following the steps outlined below:

How To Fix Cracked Spray Paint

1. Sand The Surface

The goal of this step is not to remove the spray paint completely, but to simply smooth out the surface. The sanding should be done gently with medium-grit sandpaper. Move sandpaper in circular motions over the paint’s crackles and flakes to scrub them away. Once the surface is smooth and the cracked paint coat is evened out, use a cloth or a dry brush to clean the object. Make sure the dirt and any debris are removed before you move on to the following step.

2. Apply A Thin Layer Of A Primer

A primer will make the surface smooth and even. This will help the spray paint stick better and not crackle. Apply a thin layer of primer on the surface of the object using a paintbrush or a primer spray applicator. We recommend you use a Latex primer, as it dries faster. Allow the primer a few hours to a day to fully dry.

3. Sand Again

Yes, sanding is not a fun thing to do. However, making sure the base is fully prepared before you start spray painting is of utmost importance. Gently sand the primed surface with the medium-grit sandpaper. Move the sandpaper in circular motions over the surface without using too much force. Then, clean the surface.

4. Apply A New Layer Of Paint

Grab your spray paint can. Keep your hand a few inches away from the object. Remember what we said before, no THICK LAYERS; they are one of the causes of spray paint cracking. So, aim for a thin layer instead. Apply a thin layer on the surface of the object, as evenly as possible. Leave the object for a few hours to dry completely.

5. Apply the final coat of paint

Once the object is fully dry, it is time to recoat it. Applying the second and final layer is important. Sometimes, the first layer of paint does not cover the object completely. There will always be some missed spots. So again, place the can a few inches away from the object. Then, apply a thin layer on the surface targeting those spots. Allow a few hours for the paint to dry and you will notice that the cracks are gone.


Cracking spray paint should longer be a problem for you if you follow the steps mentioned above. Next time you spray paint an object and you notice that the paint is wrinkling and crackling, sand it, prime it, and apply a thin layer on top of it. Wait for it to dry completely. Then apply another thin layer on top and watch spray paint crackles vanish.

Randy Charles
Randy CharlesProfessional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years of experience in the painting industry, Randy has become an expert in the field and is passionate about helping others learn more about painting. He has written numerous articles on the subject and is committed to providing accurate and up-to-date information to his readers.

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