A DIY’s Basic Tips On Using An Airless Paint Sprayer

Using a paint sprayer is fairly easy. With practice it will help to speed up large painting projects and will even give you better results than using a brush and roller. You can purchase a DIY sprayer pretty cheap these days at just about any home improvement store but, if you plan on using it just this once I’d recommend you renting one from a paint or rental store or a good used one from eBay.

Some other items you should also pick yourself up before trying your hand at spraying are some spray socks, goggles, gloves, disposable coveralls, screen bags, a few five gallon buckets and some duct tape. You’ll see later on where these items come into play.

Now as in any painting project you should always start with a clean surface. If doing an exterior painting project you need to wash the areas you plan to spray and allow a couple of days to dry completely. You can rent a pressure washer to do the job or use the old brush and garden hose, either way you you’ll end up with a clean surface. Next you need to prime all exposed areas of wood or metal with the appropriate primer and wait the recommended time to dry before spraying the finish. If you need to prime the whole project than it’s time to tackle the sprayer.

First off all sprayers are different and you should always follow the manufacture’s instructions. I’m just giving some basic tips and pointers here to help get you started.

First things when spraying always do it on a calm day without wind. You don’t want things sticking to your new paint job and you definitely don’t want to paint your neighbors house and cars. Cover all the things you don’t want overspray on with drop cloths or plastic, you don’t want your bushes or car painted either.

Now put on some safety glasses, it’s time to box (mix together) all your paint. You do this if your using more than one container of paint so that you end up with a unified color throughout the project. Remember the five gallon buckets? Well, these are what you’ll use to box your paint in. Now take a screen bag place it in a clean five gallon bucket and stretch it over the lip of the bucket about one inch down. Take some duct tape and start to tape the screen bag to the bucket by centering the tape at the end of the screen bag. When you get about two or so inches from completing the circumference of the bucket pull a small piece of the screen bag back into the bucket creating a small opening to which you’ll later insert the pick up hose of your sprayer and finish taping the bucket.

Now it’s time to get the sprayer set up and running. Make sure all filters are installed and all connections are tight and spray gun is in its locked position. You don’t need your spray tip in yet. Now, take the pick-up hose of your sprayer (this will be the one with a mesh screen on it) and insert it into the hole you made with the screen bag. This will collect the screened paint and keep your gun from clogging up with foreign objects. Now fill the bucket halfway with your boxed paint.

Now you need to prime the sprayer and replace the spray line full of air, water or thinners with paint. To do this you need to turn down the pressure of your sprayer all the way and place the primer hose in a bucket you plan to use for waste materials. Now turn on your sprayer and engage the primer setting till the paint flows out your primer line and shut it down. Return the primer line back to the paint bucket. Next, set the sprayer to its operating position. Now, take the spray gun without a tip, unlock the trigger and hold it against the inside of a waste bucket with the trigger squeezed in and start the sprayer. At this point you’re going to increase sprayer pressure to pump the paint through the line. Once you get a steady stream of paint release the trigger of the gun and move back to the bucket with the paint and continue to circulate the paint for a couple of minutes. You are now ready to put in the spray tip and test it for a spray pattern.

Time to dawn the protective gear. (spray sock, goggles, gloves, disposable coveralls etc..) and get yourself a large piece of cardboard to use as a test area. With your sprayer turned on, hold your spray gun about a foot away from the surface and test your spray pattern and pressure settings. To do this start from one side and lay down a smooth and steady strip across the surface. If it’s not a uniform coat of paint and is fingering (leaving streaks across) you need more pressure, if it’s working good but your getting a lot of overspray you need to turn the pressure down. Keep trying till you hit to the right spot.

You may want to practice on the cardboard before you start. Remember to spray at a steady and consistent pace, keeping the gun facing parallel to the surface at all times, moving your arm not your wrist. Release the trigger before the end of each pass and squeeze it again after you start moving in the reverse direction overlapping the previous pass by half. You’ll soon get the hang of it and be painting like a pro.

Now the most important part; the clean up. You need to clean your machine really good or you will have big problems when you go to use it again.

Here you need a bucket full of clean water or thinners according to which paint you used. Place your pick up hose in the cleaning bucket, turn down the pressure of the sprayer, remove your spray tip and start the sprayer. Spray the remaining paint in your line back into your paint bucket with the screen bag. When you start to get water or thinners out of the gun stop spraying and start spraying into the cleaning bucket for a few minutes. Now discard the remaining cleaning fluids in the bucket and refresh with clean fluids and continue to clean the pump for a few minutes. When running clean put your tip back in to the gun and spray clean fluids through it also. Clean everything down, properly dispose of the waste and your done.

Don’t forget if you need help on tip sizes and procedures check back soon for updates or new articles on the subject but, most paint stores will be glad to give you this information especially if your renting their equipment and buying their paints. Best of luck and I hope I was able to shed some light on the subject.

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One Comment

  1. James Duke

    Thank you for taking your time to share with us how a spray painter works. My boss has asked me to buy one, so that we can paint in some things in our parking lot. I thought it would be nice to learn how to buy one, before actually purchasing one. However, I’m still a little confused on how to use one, but hopefully it will all work out.

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