Used a foam brush on a favorite piece. Bubbled. How can I fix it?

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I refinished an old desk I had as a teenager, it looked pretty good until I applied the last coat. Thought it would be extra smooth if I used a foam brush. Unfortunately I found that was the exact wrong thing to do. The foam brush created bubbles over the entire surface, and it’s sticky, like it never dried completely. Is there a simple re-do for this or do I have to start over with a remover?


  19 answers
  • Depending on what you used, mineral spirits may take off the sticky residue. Put some on a rag and test a corner. Once that's off, you can start again. I'm so sorry this happened to you.

  • GrandmasHouseDIY GrandmasHouseDIY on Mar 18, 2021

    I'd lightly hand sand the entire surface with the finest grit sand paper you can find. Yes the little bit of paint dust you create will stick because the paint is sticky. This should take care of the bubbles and the stickiness. Than apply another coat of paint.

    Foam rollers can be tricky - I know a lot of DIYers swear by them but I've had similar experiences as you have and always ended up going back to a brush and just light sanding between thin coats. Hope that helps!

  • Morgan McBride Morgan McBride on Mar 18, 2021

    You'll have to sand it off and do it again

  • FrugalFamilyTimes.com FrugalFamilyTimes.com on Mar 18, 2021

    I'm sorry - it's bad news. Your paint didn't stick. The surface was likely too smooth for the paint to grab onto. Did you sand and prime first?

  • Dee Dee on Mar 18, 2021

    sounds like the coat before the last was not thoroughly dry. The only way to fix this is to sand off the last coat.

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Mar 18, 2021

    You will want to wait for what seems an eternity to sand it. Probably, the coat underneath wasn't completely dry even though it seemed to be. I doubt the brush was the problem but I don't care for foam brushes personally. If you sand before everything is completely dry, you will have a gummy mess.

  • Maura White Maura White on Mar 18, 2021

    Sounds like you'll need to sand off those bubbles and that coat and re-do that one. :(


  • Mogie Mogie on Mar 18, 2021

    I would sand smooth, and start over, use a smooth foam roller and don't press down on it which causes bubbles, and then always drag off with a good brush to remove any texture.

  • I would sand it down and start over... make sure you stick to the brush that worked for every coat this time!!I I'm so sorry this happened!

  • Oh no! I've been there, sometimes those foam brushes do that and it's terrible. I think you do have to wait until the paint dries thoroughly and then sand and repaint. If it doesn't seem like it's drying, I would take a trip to your local paint store to see what they recommend.

  • Em Em on Mar 18, 2021

    Are the bubbles in a layer of poly? If yes use a brush made for that. Ask at the store where you buy your products. Go over it with a bristle brush until you don't see any bubbles. Check it before it dries. I never use a brush of any kind for stain. You have much more control and always goes on smoothly with a rag.

  • Betsy Betsy on Mar 18, 2021

    Hi Nancy: Bummer :( I bet the coats didn't dry completely between coats and they were too thick. I'd get a good bristle brush, (they're expensive, but they last and do a great job), get some Citristrip and remove the paint and start over. Citristrip is easy to use and you can get it at most home improvement stores. Then, thin coats, let dry completely, maybe over night if you're using oil paint, or 2 or 3 hours if latex paint. Take your time and you should be o.k.


    Good luck

  • Chloe Crabtree Chloe Crabtree on Mar 20, 2021

    You can probably get by with just giving a light sanding to take off the top coat.

  • Janice Janice on Mar 20, 2021

    You likely will need to start over. I'd first try sanding lightly and then applying a very thin finish coat and see if it turns out well If not, strip it down and redo leaving plenty of time between coats of paint and finish. We all learn from our mistakes! It's wonderful you have furniture from your teenage years!

  • Annie Annie on Mar 22, 2021

    Once dry, give it a good sanding and paint. Use a good quality brush,, may require a couple coats

  • Simple Nature Decor Simple Nature Decor on Mar 23, 2021

    You can slightly sand it.

  • Lindsay Aratari Lindsay Aratari on Mar 30, 2021

    You could sand it lightly

  • Deb K Deb K on Apr 08, 2021

    Hi Nancy, hope this helps you out,

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8P0JjpV-9O4