Back Button

How to Remove Runs in Paint

Henri Bauholz

For this common task, no words ring truer than the old axiom "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." For with this all too-frequent project, you will find it pays to take your time when you are applying the paint. Getting it correct the first time will save you time and effort later on.

However, you are apt to make mistakes. When this happens, you will have to go back and correct your mistakes.

How to Remove Runs in Paint

  1. Fix the runs while the paint is still wet. If you take the time to go over a recently painted area just after you have painted it, chances are you can smooth out the drips of paint with a brush before the paint dries. Once the paint reaches a semi-solid state, it is best to let the run dry completely first.

  2. Scrape the run with a paint scraper or a thin putty knife. Do this after the paint has dried and scrape the run until any buildup of paint is completely removed. After the excess paint has been scraped away, it might be necessary to let the paint dry some more because you have just uncovered semi-solid layers of paint.

  3. Sand the area that you scraped with some fine sandpaper (150 to 180 grit) until the whole area is smooth.

  4. Fill any depressions in the paint surface with spackling paste. You can apply the spackling paste with a small putty knife. Make sure the surface of the spackle patch is flush with the surface of the painted wall. Let the spackle dry before you continue.

  5. Paint the sanded surfaces with some leftover paint that you originally used to first paint the wall. Apply the paint with a small trim brush and let the paint dry.

  6. Apply a second coat of the top coat. This will be your finish coat, so make sure your brush strokes are compatible with the surrounding area. If the drips are located on a flat wall surface, it might be a good idea to use a small paint roller and roller pad to spread the paint so that the new texture matches the rest of the wall. If you feather the new painted area into the rest of the wall, the new areas should look indistinguishable when the paint dries.

  7. Tip

    Always save any leftover paint, when you complete a painting project. You might need it later.


    Paint dries gradually over a period of time, so the best time to catch a run in the paint is right after you apply your first coat. At this time, all you need to do is to rework the area with a good trim brush.