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How to: Prevent and Fix Orange Peel on a Car I Just Painted

How can I fix the bumpy defects in my car paint?

You’ve painted your auto, but instead of a smooth finish, you notice there are bumpy and uneven defects that look like orange peel. Those ugly bumps can be eliminated by applying compound and polishing or sanding down the surface and putting on a new finish.

In this article, I’ll answer common questions about how to prevent orange peel and fix it when it happens.

  • What is orange peel?
  • What causes orange peel?
  • How can I repair a surface showing signs of orange peel?
  • How do I prevent orange peel?

What is orange peel?

Orange peel (also referred to as poor flow or texture) describes a finish that dries into a bumpy or wavy-looking texture resulting in an unsmooth finish on your car. 

What causes orange peel?

Improper painting techniques can cause orange peel. They include:

  • You did not use enough reduction (amount of thinner) and/or the air pressure was set too low.
  • You used a thinner or reducer that evaporated too fast for the existing spray conditions.
  • You sprayed an excessive film thickness, resulting in a piling on of heavy wet coats.
  • Your spray gun was improperly set up.

How can I repair a surface showing signs of orange peel?

Orange peel can be removed in one of three ways:

  • Compound or polish to reduce the surface texture.
  • Sand smooth with 1200 or finer grit sandpaper, then compound and polish to restore the gloss.


  • Sand smooth and refinish.

How do I prevent orange peel?

Use these tips to prevent orange peel:

  • Use the proper reduction ratio for paint and the recommended air pressure when spraying.
  • Select a recommended thinner/reducer that is based on the temperature, humidity, air movement, and the size of the repair.
  • Avoid applying heavy coats that lead to excessive film thickness.
  • Use the recommended spray gun, fluid tip, and air cap for the material being sprayed. Always adjust the gun for the best atomization and balanced spray pattern before beginning the actual paint application.
  • During the paint application, hold the gun perpendicular and parallel to the surface. Always maintain a consistent speed of pass, pattern overlap, and distance from the panel to achieve the desired appearance.

Taking these steps will help avoid orange peel and give you a nice smooth finish on the surface of your car.