How to Get Rid of Tiger Stripes in Paint?

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To get rid of tiger strips in paint, sand the affected area and repaint using a roller or brush, making sure to feather the edges for a smooth blend.

how to get rid of tiger stripes in paint
Photo by Vitali Adutskevich

Have you ever encountered the dreaded issue of tiger stripes marring the perfection of your freshly painted vehicles? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! In this comprehensive guide, we’ll unveil the secrets to banishing those unsightly streaks and achieving a flawlessly smooth paint finish.

Ready to learn the tricks of the trade? Let’s delve into the world of painting perfection!

What Tiger Stripes in Paint are?

Tiger stripes refer to a specific type of visual defect that can occur on painted surfaces, particularly on automobiles. They are characterized by thin, parallel lines or streaks that resemble the stripes found on a tiger’s coat. These stripes often appear on the horizontal surfaces of a vehicle, such as the hood, roof, or trunk.

It can vary in length, width, and intensity, but they generally follow the contours of the surface and have a consistent spacing between them. The lines are typically lighter or darker than the surrounding paint, creating a noticeable contrast.

Ignoring or neglecting tiger stripes can have various risks and drawbacks. The presence of stripes can make the paintwork look uneven and poorly maintained. It negatively impacts the overall appearance and potentially reduces the value of the object.

Moreover, ignoring tiger stripes can be indicative of a lack of attention to detail in the overall maintenance of the painted surface. It might lead to further problems down the line. Therefore, it is advisable to promptly address and rectify any tiger stripes to maintain the quality and aesthetics of the painted surface.

What Causes Tiger Stripes in Paint?

Tiger stripes are typically caused by a combination of factors related to the application of the paint and the characteristics of the surface being painted. Here are some of the common causes of tiger stripes in paint:

Uneven surface preparation: If the surface being painted is not properly prepared, such as having uneven patches, rough spots, or areas with different levels of smoothness, it can contribute to the formation of tiger stripes. When paint is applied over such surfaces, it may not adhere uniformly. It leads to variations in the thickness of the paint film and results in visible stripes.

Inconsistent application technique: Tiger stripes can also occur if the paint is applied inconsistently or with an uneven technique. Factors such as variations in pressure, speed, or angle during the application process can result in the paint being laid down in an uneven manner. It leads to streaks or stripes.

Improper mixing or thinning of paint: Paint is typically mixed or thinned before application to achieve the desired consistency. If the paint is not mixed thoroughly or is improperly thinned, it can lead to variations in pigment dispersion or viscosity. These inconsistencies can result in visible differences in color or glossiness, contributing to the appearance of tiger stripes.

Drying conditions: The environment in which the paint dries can have an impact on the formation of tiger stripes. Factors such as temperature, humidity, and air circulation can affect the drying process. Uneven drying conditions can cause the paint to dry at different rates, resulting in variations in sheen or texture and leading to the formation of stripes.

Low-quality paint or tools: The quality of the paint and painting tools used can also contribute to the formation of tiger stripes. Inferior quality paint may have inconsistent pigmentation or flow characteristics, making it more prone to streaking. Similarly, using low-quality brushes or rollers with uneven fibers or poor absorption properties can result in an uneven application and the appearance of stripes.

Overlapping paint edges: When applying multiple coats of paint, it is important to maintain consistent overlap patterns to ensure a smooth and even finish. If the edges of the paint overlap inconsistently or are not feathered properly, it can create visible lines or stripes where the paint layers meet.

How to Get Rid of Tiger Stripes in Paint?

First, carefully examine the affected area to determine the extent of the tiger stripes. Identify whether the issue is localized or spread across a larger surface. This assessment will help you plan the appropriate course of action. Then you can try the below tips to get rid of tiger strips-

Buffing and Polishing:

  • Start by washing the vehicle thoroughly to remove any dirt or debris.
  • Use a high-quality automotive polish and a soft microfiber cloth to gently buff the affected area in circular motions.
  • Continue buffing until the tiger stripes are less noticeable or completely removed.
  • Follow up with a polishing compound to restore shine and smoothness to the paint surface.


  • After buffing and polishing, apply a coat of high-quality automotive wax to protect the paint and enhance its appearance.
  • Use a clean, soft applicator pad or cloth to evenly spread the wax in a thin layer.
  • Allow the wax to dry as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Once dry, use a clean microfiber cloth to gently buff the waxed surface in circular motions, revealing a smooth, glossy finish.


If the tiger stripes on your paint are deep or extensive and cannot be removed through buffing, polishing, or waxing, repainting may be necessary.

  • Start by thoroughly cleaning and preparing the surface, removing any loose paint or contaminants.
  • Apply a primer to ensure proper adhesion of the new paint.
  • Choose a high-quality automotive paint that matches the original color.
  • Apply the paint in thin and uniform layers.  Allow sufficient drying time between each coat before proceeding to the next one.
  • Finish with a clear coat to provide protection and a glossy finish.

If the tiger stripes still persist and you’re unable to resolve the issue yourself, consider taking your vehicle to a professional detailer. They have the expertise and specialized tools to tackle paint imperfections, such as tiger stripes, and restore the finish to its original condition.

What Causes Tiger Stripes in Spray Paint?

Tiger stripes in spray paint, also known as “striping” or “banding,” can occur due to various factors in the painting process.

It can result from an inconsistent or improper spraying technique. If the spray gun is held too close or too far from the surface, or if the painter moves at an inconsistent speed, it can lead to uneven paint distribution and create stripes.

Spray guns have adjustable controls for pressure and nozzle size, which determine the paint flow and pattern. If the pressure is too high or the nozzle is not properly adjusted, it can cause uneven paint application, resulting in tiger stripes.  Moreover, a clogged or damaged nozzle can disrupt the even flow of paint, leading to irregular patterns and stripes.

It can also occur due to environmental factors (temperature, humidity, airflow), inadequate surface preparation, poor-quality paint or incorrect mixing, and overlapping coats without sufficient drying time between layers.

How to Avoid Tiger Stripes When Spray Painting?

Follow the bellow tips to increase your chances of achieving a flawless spray paint finish without the presence of tiger stripes-

Optimal spraying distance: To achieve optimal results without creating uneven patterns, it is recommended to maintain a steady gap between the spray gun and the painted surface. Usually, holding the gun at a distance of approximately 6 to 8 inches will ensure sufficient coverage while avoiding the formation of streaks.

Smooth and even strokes: Move the spray gun in smooth, even strokes across the surface. Avoid starting or stopping abruptly, as it can lead to uneven paint distribution and create stripes.

Proper pressure and nozzle adjustment: Adjust the spray gun’s pressure and nozzle settings according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. This ensures an appropriate paint flow and pattern, reducing the likelihood of tiger stripes.

Thin and multiple coats: Apply thin coats of paint rather than thick ones. Multiple thin coats allow for better control and even coverage, minimizing the chances of tiger stripes.

Allow proper drying time: Allow each coat of paint to dry completely before applying the next layer. Rushing the process can cause solvents to mix, resulting in uneven drying and potential tiger stripes.

Maintain a clean environment: Paint in a clean and well-ventilated area to avoid dust particles or other contaminants settling on the surface. A clean environment helps achieve a smoother finish without unwanted stripes.

Test on a sample surface: Before starting the actual painting project, it’s a good practice to test the spray technique on a sample surface. This allows you to identify any potential issues, adjust settings, and practice achieving an even application.

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Will Clear Coat Hide Tiger Stripes?

Clear coat will not hide tiger stripes.

The clear coat is a transparent layer applied over the base coat to provide gloss and protection, but it does not have the ability to conceal or eliminate underlying imperfections. Proper surface preparation and even application of the base coat are essential to minimize or avoid tiger stripes.

Can You Sand Out Tiger Stripes?

Yes, it is possible to sand out tiger stripes in spray paint. Sanding helps to smooth out the surface and reduce the visibility of the stripes.

Using fine-grit sandpaper or a sanding block, gently sand the affected area, focusing on the stripes. Be cautious not to sand too aggressively, as it can damage the underlying layers. After sanding, clean the area thoroughly to remove any dust or debris.

Will Wet Sanding Remove Tiger Stripes?

Yes, wet sanding can help remove tiger stripes.

Wet sanding involves using water and sandpaper to gently sand the surface, which helps to level out the imperfections and remove the tiger stripes. By carefully sanding the affected areas, you can achieve a smoother and more uniform finish. Remember to use the appropriate grit sandpaper and follow proper techniques to avoid damaging the underlying surface.

Final Words

With the right preparation, proper technique, and persistence, you can overcome tiger stripes and achieve a professional-looking paint job that will leave your walls smooth, vibrant, and free from any unwanted streaks. Happy painting!

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