Paint sprayers are tools designed to help you apply primer, paint, lacquer, and varnishes in a shorter amount of time. Using these tools the average homeowner can create paint finishes that look as good as paint finishes that are done by professional painters.
Not all paint sprayers are created equal. There are different types of paint sprayers. You have some paint sprayers that work by having air provided by an air compressor and other paint sprayers require no air compressor. To determine what type of paint sprayers are best for the most people we asked a team of experts to select some sprayers.
Jump to the point:How to use an electric paint sprayerHow to use a paint sprayer with air compressorHow to use a paint sprayer indoorshow to use an airless paint sprayer
We then asked a team of people who had never used a paint sprayer to use the ones selected. The people using the paint sprayers reported back to us about how easy the sprayers were to use, and what features they liked the most about the different sprayer types.
Things to consider before using the paint sprayer
Based on our experiment and the reports from our inexperienced, and our professional painters, we created the following list of things you should think about before you buy a paint sprayer.
The Power Source
If you are going to be painting outside then the noise of an air compressor will probably not bother you. The noise of that air compressor might bother your neighbors though. If you are buying a paint sprayer that is powered by an air compressor you must consider:
- What size air compressor is required to operate the sprayer
- The price of the air compressor as well as the price of the paint sprayer
- Buying enough air hose to reach the farthest area you will be painting
- Whether you have adequate storage area for an air compressor and a paint sprayer. The paint sprayer will not take up a lot of room but the air compressor can be quite large
- If you will be using the tool at places other than your home do you have a method of transporting the air compressor
- Can you lift the air compressor into the back of your truck or onto your trailer without assistance
The airless paint sprayers were by far the most popular paint sprayers because they were quieter when they were being operated, and they were easier to transport. It is easier to use an airless sprayer:
- Indoors because no air compressor and no long air compressor hoses are required
- In neighborhoods where the houses are in close proximity to each other because the noise of the spray gun did not bother the neighbors
- When painting fences or things located a long distance from the house. The airless sprayers only required an extension cord for the electrical supply. The other sprayers required you to position the air compressor just right and then keep the air hose from tangling while you worked.
How to use an electric paint sprayer
The first thing that you will need to do is gather the following items.
- The electric paint sprayer
- Water or thinning agent to thin the paint
- Masking tape or painter’s tape
- Eye goggles or protective eyewear
- Old newspapers, drop cloths
- Cleaning rags, you want some wet ones and some dry ones
- An old toothbrush
- Paint stirring stick
- Extra bucket, preferably a bucket with a lid
- A paint brush for touch ups
Once you have all of these things in place you will want to make sure you are dressed for the job. Wear old clothing that you are comfortable in. You want to be able to freely bend down and move. You also want to wear something that you do not care if it gets paint or paint thinner on it.
Think about wearing a cap or covering your hair while you are painting. Getting paint out of your hair can sometimes be tricky so covering your hair can save you the hassle of washing the paint out of your hair.
Wear comfortable shoes that can get paint on them. You might be standing for several hours so you want your feet to be comfortable while you work.
#1 The first order of business is covering everything in the room that you do not want paint to come into contact with. Take special precautions to cover your carpeting, your laminate flooring, your furniture, stained woodwork, cabinets, trim, electronic devices, and anything that paint could ruin. Remember to cover:
- Window trim
- Crown molding
- Door hinges
- Cabinet hinges
- Air ventilation grating
- List Element
If you have hardwood flooring, or laminate flooring they make excellent canvas cloths with raised dots on the back of them. The canvas is spread so that the raised dots are against the flooring. These dots keep the canvas from sliding and leaving any portion of your flooring unprotected while you paint.
Painters tape is not as sticky as masking tape so it is ideal for putting over woodwork and trim. When you peel it off it does not leave a sticky residue and it does not damage the surface it was covering.
Masking tape is ok to use when you are holding newspaper over glass on the windows, but do not leave the masking tape on too long or it will become hard to remove.
#2 Now you need to prime the sprayer to get ready to paint. You should do the priming using the substance you will use to thin your paint. Put the water or paint thinner in the sprayer just like you were going to be painting with it. Then use the lowest available setting and spray the water or thinner until it has all been sprayed through the paint gun.
Here you get the detailed video by HouseImprovements.
#3 Prepare your paint. You may have to make the paint you are going to use thinner in order for it to go through the painter’s mechanisms. If you are using a water based latex paint or primer then you can thin those down using clean water. If you are using an acrylic paint or an oil based product you will have to use mineral spirits or specialized paint thinners to thin the paint.
#4 Test the paint you have loaded in your paint sprayer by spraying some paint onto old newspapers or pieces of cardboard. This test will allow you to determine if your paint is the proper thickness, and will allow you to see how the tip you have chosen will apply the paint. Do not begin to paint your surface until you are pleased with the test paint you apply.
#5 You are now ready to paint your surface. You want to hold your paint sprayer so that you keep it between 12 and 18 inches away from the surface you are painting. When you hold the sprayer closer to the wall the pattern of paint will be larger.
Spray a light coating of paint by spraying horizontally from one end of the surface to the other end. Allow the first coat of paint to dry completely, usually this will happen within two hours, and then repeat the process.
You want to move your hand at a steady pace. You actually make your hand movement just prior to depressing the trigger on the gun. You will quickly get the hang of doing this.
#6 Finishing the task requires you to clean your paint gun, and remove all of the painter’s tape and drop cloths from the room.
Never allow paint to stay in the gun while the tool is being stored.Always clean it thoroughly after each job so that it is ready when you need to use it again.
How to use a paint sprayer with air compressor
When you are using a paint sprayer with an air compressor you have to:
- Prepare the area that you are about to paint. This preparation is exactly the same as the preparations for using a paint sprayer without a compressor.Cover anything that you do not want paint to get on.
- Thin the paint you are using according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. You can always thin the paint down a little more if you need to.
- When thinning paint you always want to make sure the paint is stirred thoroughly before you begin.
- When thinning paint add your thinning agent in small increments, no more than ¼ cup at a time.
- Connect the air hoses and tubes to their designed ports. Make sure that the air compressor, and the paint gun are connected to an electrical outlet if they require electric power.
- Power on the paint gun. You will now adjust the PSI so that you have the proper pressure for the work you are doing.
- Start by using the manufacturer’s recommended setting. You will quickly learn whether you need to increase or decrease the PSI.
- You should paint a test area of newspaper of cardboard so you can see if your PSI is set correctly, and if your paint is the proper thickness.
- Pain the area. You must pay attention to the air hose and make sure that you do not pull the hose connection too hard.
- You paint with the spray paint gun just like you would if you were using an airless gun.
- Apply your paint in an even coat and then allow it to dry.
- Once the paint is dry apply another even coat. Repeat this process until your surface looks like you want it to look.
- Clean up all of your painting equipment, and remove all painter’s tape and drop cloths from the area.
- Enjoy the time you saved by using a spray paint gun instead of a roller and brush.
How to use a paint sprayer indoors
It is possible to use a paint sprayer to paint walls, ceilings, and other things inside your home. If you are going to do this the following tips may be useful to you.
- Choose the right paint sprayer.
- Airless sprayers will give you fast coverage
- Compressed air sprayers are inexpensive but they can often sputter and create runs in the paint if you are using a latex paint.
- HVLP sprayers are great for interior painting. These sprayers create the least amount of over-spray so fewer items that should not get paint on them are in danger during the paint process.
- Preparing the room you are going to paint is the most important step.
- Make sure that you cover anything that you do not want paint to touch. Use drop cloths, canvas covers, masking tape, and painter’s tape. Take your time before you paint and you will not be sorry after you paint.
- Prepare yourself
- Make sure that you have adequate ventilation in the room you are painting.
- Wear protective eyewear and respirators to protect your lungs.
- Mix the paint and test the sprayer
- Before you can paint you need to mix the paint with the right amount of paint thinner to achieve the proper consistency. Refer to your owner’s manual for the paint gun to find out the recommended paint consistency.
- Test the paint you have mixed by spraying a practice piece of cardboard or old newspaper.
- Paint the room
- Take your time and paint thin layers at a time. You will probably need to apply at least two layers of paint to achieve the results you desire.
- Clean up your tools and clean all the drop cloths and things from the room.
- Do not remove the painter’s tape while the paint is still really wet or you could cause the paint to bleed onto the area you covered.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do all HVLP paint sprayers require an air compressor to work?
No there are some HVLP paint sprayers that are purely electric powered and do not require the external air compressor to operate.
Do spray paint guns use more paint than rollers and brushes?
You will probably use a additional amount of paint when you use a paint sprayer instead of a roller or a brush. An HVLP gun will use about 20% more paint, and an airless may use as much as 40%, a compressed air gun will use about 45% more. A lot of the extra paint usage will be determined by your skills with the paint gun.
How do I paint a textured wall or ceiling?
When you are applying paint to a textured surface you should apply the first coat in a horizontal pattern and the second coat in a vertical pattern so you completely cover all the crevices in the texture.
Are siphon guns the best?
A siphon gun has a container that hangs under the body of the paint sprayer. They lift the paint out of the container using a tube. These types of guns require higher amounts of air pressure than many of the other guns. They do not cover a large area when they are painting. You will likely spend twice as much time painting if you decide to use a siphon gun.
A gravity filled gun requires a smaller amount of air pressure, so you can have a smaller air compressor. The gravity fill gun works great in small areas. The paint container is on the top of the gun and gravity allows the paint to enter into the necessary chamber of the gun. The problem with the gravity filled guns is that you will spend a large amount of time refilling the container cup.
Is it better to use the maximum amount of pressure?
When you are painting you are going to be tempted to crank the pressure up to the maximum level so you can finish the job quicker. Resist this temptation.
If you want to get professional looking results you need to set the pressure to the lowest possible amount and keep the spray paint gun at least 12” from the surface.
Does a larger tip make the job go faster?
In some instances a larger tip will allow you to paint the surface faster. A larger tip will allow you to dispense a greater amount of paint at one time. When using a larger tip hold your paint gun farther from your surface to help you achieve a better pattern.
How should I paint a corner?
Painting a corner can be done by aiming the paint gun directly into the corner. Spray into the corner the entire length of the corner and do not move the spray gun from side to side.
How do I determine if I should hold the gun 12” or 18” from the surface?
The best rule of thumb is for you to hold the gun closer when you are painting smaller items and farther away when you are painting larger items.
You should develop a sweeping motion that you use on both large and small items.
Do not try to get a complete coverage in just one coat. Repeat the painting process after each layer of paint dries, and use the same sweeping motion each time to create professional results.
If you want to use a paint sprayer to achieve professional results you must read the owner’s manual and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. You can make adjustments to the paint thickness, and the pressure applied, only after you have tried the manufacturer’s recommendations.
A paint sprayer is easy to use and will make your painting job go faster. Never paint when you are in a hurry. Never try to paint the entire surface with just one coat of paint. Take your time and you can create the look you desire.
Your painting gun can only provide quality finishes if you use quality paints and primers. It is tempting to buy the cheapest paint we can find, but the cheapest paint will usually not provide the best coverage.