What Causes A Fisheye In Paint?

Posted: January 28, 2019 By: MattM

There isn’t much more heart breaking than preparing an item for paint and taking all of the necessary steps to clean, prep, and spray your project and a paint issue comes up after the paint has laid or dried. Like most problems in the world you can potentially solve or prevent them if you educate yourself to what causes the problem. Below we cover some potential causes and precautions to fisheyes in paint.

What is a Paint Fisheye?

Paint “fisheyes” show themselves as a small round or circular shaped defect that can have a crater in the center. Fisheyes tend to show themselves as you apply a coating on the surface or immediately after the surface has been coated.

Why Do Paint Fisheyes Happen?

A fisheye is caused by a contaminant on the surface of your paint project. The cause could be a number of things but usually it is one of the following on the surface: water, chemical, oil, or silicone based substances. If any of those have attached to the surface you may have a fisheye issue. One thing to consider is your air filtration system. Do you have a good separator and air filter on your compressor? Was your gun cleaned between coats? We always suggest to use a last chance inline air filter before your paint gun to catch any contaminants in the air lines. Another cause for fisheyes is a silicone base substance getting in to the metal or onto the surface. This could be something as simple as someone across the shop using a spray detailer or cleaner on something or possibly a splash of oil from an air tool getting on the metal and not being cleaned off. We always suggest using a proper Paint Prep like Eastwood PRE Paint Prep that will clean and dissolve off the surface.

How Do I Repair A Fisheye in My Paint Job?

Now that we know that a fisheye is caused by a contaminant on the surface we need to remove whatever that is. If you just sprayed your coating on and it hasn’t cured you can usually use a solvent to wipe the coating off and start over. If the coating has dried or cured you will need to remove the paint or clear in that area and sand below the fisheye. We then suggest scrubbing the area well with a scuff pad and Eastwood PRE Paint Prep to properly clean the surface. You can then wipe the area clean and let the PRE flash off. Just before painting you can go over the area with a tack rag to remove any dirt on the surface and get ready to spray. Make sure no other chemicals have been sprayed around the vehicle after cleaning. If this is your top coat you can also mix a fisheye eliminator into your coating to help reduce the chances of additional fisheyes.

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