How to Fix Paint Drips

Paint drips happen to the best of us.

It’s insanely frustrating when you’ve finished painting a wall and then notice a dried drip running down it as you’re peeling off your painter’s tape.

While paint drips are annoying, they’re actually pretty easy to fix, however!

What causes paint drips?

A number of factors can influence paint drips, but the most common factor is improper painting technique.

When painting, it might be tempting to just load up your brush or roller with as much paint as possible so you can cover more surface area without dipping it in the paint again. This leads to excess paint on your walls if you aren’t quick enough at spreading it out. Gravity does its thing, and the paint starts running down your wall in the form of a drip.

In order to avoid paint drips, make sure you don’t overload your brush or roller with paint. Trying to save a little time while painting can mean a lot of time in fixing paint drips later.

How to Fix Paint Drips

1. Ensure the paint is fully dry

Before you begin, it’s important to ensure the paint is fully dry. Working on wet or gummy paint will just make the issue worse, and can lead to unsightly blemishes on your wall. While you might want to fix it right now, be patient!

2. Lightly sand over the area

Use a fine-grit sandpaper to lightly remove the paint in the drip. Sanding will smooth out your surface so you can put another coat of paint on.

Be careful to only sand the drip and not the surrounding wall. Sanding the rest of the wall increases the area you have to repaint and repair. It can also make the wall surface to be uneven, which would make the area stick out.

3. Use a damp cloth to wipe off the dust

Use a damp cloth to remove all traces of sanding. You want the wall to be as clean as possible so you can paint it without clumping up or showing signs of previous drips.

4. Assess and repair if necessary

Now that the dust from sanding has been removed and the wall is clean, you can check to see if the wall is smooth and even. If you ended up removing a little more than you intended while sanding, now is the time to repair that before repainting.

You’ll want to use some glazing putty to even out the surface. Apply it in a smooth layer to fill in the area with a putty knife, then once it is dry, sand it according to the package directions.

You might want to prime the area over the putty before painting if you’re not using a paint that is a 2-in-1 paint and primer.

5. Re-paint the area

Use a small brush or roller, depending on how big the area is, and apply paint over the previously sanded area in smooth strokes. Don’t go too thick with this layer! You just want to seal your surface again. The goal here is to get it evenly covered without making any noticeable marks and blending the area back into the rest of the paint.

How to fix paint drips that are still wet

If your paint drips are still wet, you’re in luck! Going over them again with your brush or roller is usually enough to fix the issue.

If the paint is tacky, however, it’s best to wait until the paint is dry to solve the problem, as trying to use your brush or roller could just make it worse.

Can I sand out paint drips without repainting?

While it would be nice to be able to just sand out the paint drip without repainting, that wouldn’t be a good idea.

While you might get the area where the paint drip was perfectly flush with the rest of the paint with some sanding finesse, it would look like the part where the drip was is a different color than the rest of the wall. This is because sanding creates a rougher surface in that section, which causes light to bounce on it differently and makes the color look different. This is why it’s still important to repaint that section to blend it back into the rest of the wall once you sand it!

What grit sandpaper should I use for paint drips?

Depending on the amount of paint that you need to remove, different sandpaper grits will work better for you. 220 grit sandpaper will take off the paint drip quickly and cleanly, but you might want to switch to a finer grit paper as you get closer to the surface, such as something in the 300-400 range.

Should you repaint over an old paint drip?

When getting ready to repaint a wall, you might notice an old paint drip you hadn’t before. While it’s tempting to just paint over this old drip because you hadn’t noticed it before, it’s best to remove the drip before you begin painting.

It is much easier to remove a drip before you paint the whole wall than to decide you should have removed it after and then have to blend that section back into the new paint after removing the drip.

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