Randy Charles
Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Hi, I’m Randy Charles, the creator and chief editor of this site Paintcentric. I’m a businessman now by profession, but I used to work as...Read more

Randy Charles
Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Hi, I’m Randy Charles, the creator and chief editor of this site Paintcentric. I’m a businessman now by profession, but I used to work as...Read more

How to Make Spray Paint Not Sticky? [Quick Tip]

Randy Charles
Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Hi, I’m Randy Charles, the creator and chief editor of this site Paintcentric. I’m a businessman now by profession, but I used to work as...Read more

This type of paint is a liquid inside an aerosol can that you use to cover a surface quickly without using a paintbrush or roller.  Many times, when you use it to paint an object, it appears sticky and seems like it takes forever to dry.  Even after an hour, if you gently touch it to see if it is dry, it appears to still be sticky.

The big question is how to make spray paint not sticky?  First, you need to know what possibly caused this issue before you can resolve it.  It could be as simple as using too much paint that you needed.  It could also be that it was done on a humid or cold day.  Once you know the issue, then you can fix it by using a primer, shaking the stickiness off, and more.

In this article, we will cover the causes of sticky spray paint and the different ways in which to keep this from happening.  When you are finished with this article you will know how to have projects that have been spray-painted not be sticky.

What Makes Spray Paint dry Sticky?

Using spray paint is an easy way to paint something and give it a beautiful finish.  If you have not been doing it correctly or using it for the first time, then the finished product could be sticky.  As you know, spray paint is a liquid but after you spray it onto something it becomes a solid.

What Makes Spray Paint Dry Sticky

One of the main reasons that it can become sticky is that you did not shake the can long enough to dissolve the bubbles in the surfactants.  If they are not dissolved, your spray paint will dry sticky.  It can also become sticky if it is not able to thoroughly dry.  This could be due to the weather being very hot, cold, or humid.  It can also be because it was sprayed on too thick.  The quality of the latex paint is poor.


The humidity should be between 40%-70% when you want to use spray paint.  Humidity is the amount of water in the air and if it is too low or too high, it can affect the painting.  After spray painting, it dries through evaporation and if the humidity is too high, it will not let the spray paint adequately evaporate.

With too much moisture in the air, the solvent will have a hard time leaving the spray paint, so you get stickiness as the result.  Check the label on the can of spray paint to see what the proper humidity should be.  The humidity is usually high after a rain so avoid spray painting then.

Heavy coats of paint

This is a very common reason for having sticky paint.  If the first layer is not dry and you add another coat or two, then there are too many coats, and it is too thick to dry properly.  When you do this, you are blocking the paint from drying.  The outer layer could be dry, but the layers below are not dry, so it appears sticky.

It may feel dry to the touch but if you push on it, it will feel squishy.  It could take days or even months for it to dry.  It depends on how many layers and thickness.  In some cases, it might be better to start over.


If the area is too cold, the spray paint could struggle to dry, leaving stickiness behind.  Ideally, it should be 50-80 degrees F for the best results.  Again, check the label on the spray paint to find the correct temperatures as they differ between paints.

How to Make Spray Paint not Sticky

How To Make Spray Paint Not Sticky

1. Application of primer

When you purchase spray paint, purchase primer.  It needs to be the first thing you put on the surface and the best way to get a good finish.  The reasons that you should use a primer first include:

  • Increases the durability of spray paint
  • Smoothes out the surface if it is uneven
  • Does not let foreign substances cause stickiness and irregularity
  • Brings out the actual color of the paint

2. Shake it

After you put on the primer, take time to shake the spray paint can before you use it.  You do not want the paint to be too excessive or too little.  When you shake the can for 5-15 seconds.  It will make sure that it has the proper viscosity to make it not be sticky.

One important thing to remember is that if you do not shake the can when you press the nozzle, you will not be using the actual paint but just the propellant.  Also, if the can is not well shaken, it will not have the right texture.

3. Spray the first coat

Make sure that the first coat you put on that it is perfect.  Make sure that the primer is dry before you start to paint.  When spraying the paint, do it evenly and look for any irregular areas or corners.  These are issues that can cause major complications.  If you notice a spot that you missed, make sure that you do not spray it excessively.  This can lead to one area being too thick and not drying and causing stickiness.

4. If necessary, apply another coat

It is up to you if you want to apply another coat.  If you think that the shade you want needs to be darker, then spray on another coat.  Before you apply it, make sure that the first one is completely dry.

5. Humidity and spray paint

Make sure that the day you decide to spray paint is not too humid.  To help reduce the humidity, use a heater or fan.  You should also make sure that there is no moisture in the air.

How Long Does it Take for Spray Paint to Stop Being Sticky?

Spray paint can remain sticky for several days after you have used it.  This could be due to blocking.  This is what would keep your paint from drying quickly.  If you want your project to dry faster, you can try some of these things.

How Long Does It Take For Spray Paint To Stop Being Sticky

1. Wait

For some, this is not an option as they want it dry immediately after they finish spray painting it.  That is not going to happen as it takes some time for the paint to dry.  It may take a couple of weeks or longer for it to totally dry.  In some instances, you might be able to make a fingernail print after a couple of weeks.

Check the label on the spray paint can to see how long it will take for it to completely dry.  If it seems to be too long for you, check other brands as they may have a shorter dry time.

2. Talcum powder

If the spray paint is still tacky, you can lightly sprinkle powder over it.  This is something that will work great on bookshelf and dresser surfaces where any decorative things will come in contact with the area that has been painted.  Just do not use too much as it can alter the color of the product.

This will also work in areas where spray-painted surfaces might touch, like door jambs or the inside of dresser or desk drawers.  Rub the powder lightly into the paint with your hand till the spray paint does not feel sticky.  If the stickiness returns, then you can just re-apply the talcum powder.

3. Auto wax

You will need some type of cloth to rub in a thin layer of the wax on the surface.  Use a circular motion, doing this till the wax appears slight hazy.  Make sure it was put on evenly.  Wait 10 to 20 minutes for the it to dry.  Then you will need to use a buffing cloth to buff the wax out.  If the stickiness returns, you can use more powder.

4. Prepare surface properly

Make sure that you have made sure that what you are going to paint is smooth, clean, and dry.  If you need to smooth it out, use sandpaper.  With a smooth surface, the paint will adhere to it better.

Final Verdict

In this article, you have learned what makes spray paint sticky and how to make spray paint not stickyOne thing never to do is try to paint over sticky paint as this will only make the problem worse.  Use some of the suggestions here on how to fix the issue and if they do not work, then you may just have to start over.

Randy Charles
Randy CharlesProfessional Painter

Hi, I’m Randy Charles, the creator and chief editor of this site Paintcentric. I’m a businessman now by profession, but I used to work as a painter earlier in my professional career. There is simply nothing about painting that I didn’t do as a painter. From painting a fridge to a multi-storied building, I left nothing. I retired from my painting job in the mid of 2018 due to back arthritis problems.

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