It starts with one mistake and compounds to several other.

Number one, the plan was to spray the interior doors and since we did not have a good inside place to do it, we had to do it outside. It was hot and humid but that did not seem to be a problem as the day before I sprayed one of the doors and it turned out fine.

However, the next day I had one of the employees do the spraying and another grabbed a 3/8" nap roller and started back-rolling to prevent drips. By the time I caught it they had all the doors done (13 in all). I was worried about it but the paint was initially laying down and leveling out and looked as good as the previous day's door.

Then it all went horribly wrong. About two hours later it started to create a stipple effect but overly exaggerated. It has been several days since and it shows signs of leveling but not enough to create a smooth finish that the customer wants. The paint is still tacky a week later and I need a solution to fix the doors. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. By the way the paint is Valspar premium.

2 Answers 2


Sand them LIGHTLY with 120 and then 220 grit on an random orbital sander, taking care not to burn through the paint that's already on, and then re-spray.

When spraying, lay the doors flat. Apply a THIN coat of paint. The doors can be stood up once the paint has flashed. Try to do it in a place that's out of the sun and preferably out of any blowing dust.

It's probably going to take two coats, honestly, to get decent coverage and finish. Between coats, if you got dust in the paint during the first coast, use a "between coats finishing pad" from 3M. (You would use steel wool if you were using an oil-based product, but you're using a latex product, so you need to use a non-metallic pad.) Take your time, or you'll just waste product, as you've already seen.

If you have to backroll to control drips, whoever is applying it is applying WAY too much product. Thin coats. THIN coats. (Although you'd probably have been mostly OK if they'd just used a foam roller instead of the 3/8 nap one.)

  • 1
    The only thing that I'd add is to make sure you clean all the dust off after sanding either with a microfibre cloth or with tacky "cheese cloth".
    – Stephen
    Commented Aug 12, 2011 at 12:44

Karl Katzke is absolutely right with his advise. I'll add a couple more observations. Since you mentioned the paint was still tacky days after applying, that is an indication that way too much paint was applied and/or humidity is high slowing the drying process.

Second observation: Never back brush with a 3/8 roller if you want a smooth finish. By definition, that nap height will give you an orange peel finish with untreated paint. For doors and cabinets, back brush with a good, wide Purdy Xtra Glide nylon/poly brush or a high density one inch diameter foam roller. I really recommend using a brush for this job.

Third: Treat the paint with 15 to 20% Flotral. Even high end paints will spread smoother and level better with a good dose of Flotral. Flotral will not effect the color or coverage ability, but will give you more time to work it before flashing and really helps eliminate brush marks and orange peel. Using Flotral when spraying is almost a must do with thick, heavy pigmented paints.

Fourth: Be sure the paint on the doors you need to sand is completely dried and cured before you attempt to smooth it out. If the paint is even slightly tacky or gummy under the surface, it will roll if you try to sand it, making even a bigger mess than what you have now. Get the doors into a warm area with good ventilation, outside in direct sunlight is good, and low humidity. Test sand a very small area to determine if paint is cured enough to sand. This process is going to be painful, unfortunately new paint, especially over applied paint is very difficult to sand for days.

Last: Always spray or even brush paint doors in the horizontal position whenever possible. It is worth the extra time to lay the doors flat on a nail or minimal contact stand. This method really makes a huge difference with raised panel or detailed doors.

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