How To Eliminate Orange Peel in Your Paint

Tags: Clearcoat · Paint Defects

Be Sociable, Share! painter is going to have the problem of Orange Peel in their paint and there are many factors that can contribute to this condition.

Although most of the time Orange Peel can be cured after the fact is you risk damaging the paint, removing millage of clear that should be protecting the car for years or even having color changes due to clear thickness.

The best solution is to reduce the amount of orange peel in your paint while painting and save your time to go get some pizza.

Some paints have a metallic formulated to have a pattern that may look similar to orange peel but if you inspect the finish your surface should be flat and smooth. Why they did this I am not sure but it was a finish you saw in a few late 1980’s luxury cars.

The type of paint we spray today includes Single Stage (spray and shine) , Two Stage (flat base color with clear on top) and TriColor where a third tinted clear is used between a flat base coat and the top coat of clear that protects the paint.

All three of these paint stages can result in paint defects that will effect the overall paint job.

Unfortunately if your orange peel is found in anything but the top coat of clear it will mean sanding and repainting.

If you have orange peel in your color coat you can not simply sand and clear because the metallics in the paint whether a base coat or single stage will change their depth and you will probably end up with a light area that sticks out.

So, the best thing to do if you have color coat problems is to grab a UV lamp and cure the area for the appropriate amount of time then sand it and repaint it. No amount of clear will hide this defect.

If you find you have orange spray in the top color coat after you have completed your work you should sand and buff the area. Our other how tos will explain sanding clear.

Curing Orange Spray with Paint Techniques main reason that orange peel occurs is because there is dry paint on the surface that causes uneven buildup for additional coats with the same technique. In other words something is happening that is not allowing to paint to flow out smooth and you are continuing this same thing while you add more coats.

Many painters have learned the technique of first applying a half coat that is called a tack coat. The tack coat is suppose to provide adhesion between the surface and the following coats of paint. This is fine if it is applied properly but often it is the beginning of your problems.

Orange Peel can happen from the following problems:

  • Shop is too hot and paint drys too fast
  • Improper reducer type to compensate for shop temperature
  • Not enough reducer to allow the paint to flow
  • Too much or the improper hardener
  • Distance too far from surface allowing paint to dry before it hits
  • Fanning of gun improperly
  • Materials not mixed uniformly
  • Too much air in your mixture causing overspray
  • Flash times between coats too long
  • Low Shop Temperature

Lets start with the last one first. If your shop is too cold and you try to compensate in technique or mixing you are likely to have problems in the finish however low shop temperatures can also lead to runs.

It is important that you mix your paints properly to match the application and temperatures in your shop. If the temperature in your shop is over 100F I strongly suggest that you give your painters the option of showing up early in the morning or staying late into the evening to paint. This happens a lot in the Southwest and you just can’t get good work after a certain temperature has been reached.

If you find your first coat of paint has orange peel then increase the amount of reducer in your paint and get closer to the surface.

If you see there is improper overspray at anytime you need to reduce the amount of air and this will reduce your pattern width so you need to take care on your overlaps once you make the change.

Get closer to the work if you can.

Final Note

In my personal experience I have found that shop heat and reducer choice is the main cause of orange peel. Slower reducers will help to a point but I have always had headaches when it gets over 100F.

In the heat of summer I find that it is better to prep a car the night before and have it completely taped off then start painting as soon as you have had your first cup of coffee in the morning.

If a car must go out the next day you have to wait until about 2 hrs after the sun has gone down and your shop will retain the heat so good luck.

A technique that I learned when painting base coat / clear coat finishes is to use the same gun for both. Thats right most people will say you need to change your gun but for me I keep everything set the exact same way and just continue painting.

Because I use the same gun and the same settings the clear will flow much faster then the base coat. This allows me to apply much more clear in one pass then I would with higher viscosity base coat.

My pattern also opens up a few inches which is an advantage but I often lose that because I work closer to the surface

My passes are slower and I watch the paint surface to make sure its fully wet.

If there is too much overspray then I back the air down.

I also use a large opening for my gun no matter what type of paint I am applying and control the application through my speed, overlap and distance.

If you are a good painter you should be able to compensate for any gun size or manufacturer with only a few exceptions of really poor quality manufacture.


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