Troubleshooting Orange Peel

Basic tips on preventing and repairing "orange peel" with an HVLP sprayer. June 20, 2005

I used a new four stage Wagner 4900 hvlp sprayer and enduro water- base. After spraying, I could see what looked like water spots when I looked really close. Someone who used to do finishes told me it was orange peel, and I that I had to get the gun closer - about two inches from the surface, otherwise you get orange peel or pitting. I have tinted zinsner sealer under the topcoat.

What’s the best way to fix this? Should I strip it with lacquer thinner and start over, or can I spray a matte coat of enduro or two and keep going? I only want to redo the few really visible areas.The enduro seems a lot trickier to use than some of the other water-base, but it looks great and I would like to stick with it.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor M:
I would suggest that you sand and recoat it according to manufacturer's recommendations (recoat time). You can probably use some 320 s/c paper and level the finish as best as you can without sanding through.

You probably had the orange peel happen because the gun was not atomizing the material well enough. Try practicing on some other material, with the same prep. You may have to cut the fluid back and move slower, or have a wider fan pattern with the same fluid setting. You want a nice wet coat as you lay it down. If that doesn't work, you may have to thin the material.

Have a bright light at a low angle to the work piece to see how the product is laying down. I would also suggest taking a look at Wagner's recommendations related to distance from work piece. I am assuming it is around 8", not 2".

From contributor P:
Try thinning the finish with a little water (5% -10%). I routinely thin my water-base with 15% water because I like the way it helps it atomize and keep the coats thin. I've used it with 2 and 3 stage turbines with excellent results.

I've never tried getting as close as 2" from the surface, so I can't comment on that other than to say the fan must be about 1"-3" wide, and that's a lot of spray passes. I'm comfortable with 5"-6" from the surface using a turbine and 7"-8" with other spray systems.

I agree with sanding out the orange peel. If the coat isn't thick enough, don't try to level it out right away - sand it back and spray another coat. Then sand it again and level it out if the finish is thick enough.

From contributor A:
These responses have nailed it on the head. The turbine systems are very tricky to get dialed in, and the set-up will change with different materials, temperature, humidity, and so on. You have to play around to figure out the perfect set-up for you application.