How to Use a Paint Sprayer

Learning how to use a paint sprayer is a necessity if you want to give up that paintbrush and roller and get faster results. Paint sprayers can be used for projects of all sizes but are particularly nice to use on bigger projects like painting a home’s exterior. In the beginning, they may seem intimidating, but once you learn how to use a paint sprayer, you’ll find that not only is it fast, it will also give you a nice even coat of paint that’s hard to get with a brush or roller. 

Choose the Right Paint Sprayer for the Job

There are a few different types of paint sprayers you can use and they all have their advantages and disadvantages. 

HVLP Paint Sprayers are a perfect choice if you’re new to paint spraying. These spray nice even coats of paint and can cover large surfaces quickly. These aren’t the best choice for thicker paints like latex because they may clog. Choose a lightweight model and your arms will thank you.

There are also airless paint sprayers that are used by professionals as well as skilled amateurs that would like to give them a try. These cover large areas fast but aren’t the best for precision sprays. You’ll find that these are more expensive.  

Prep Before You Begin

Now that you have your paint sprayer and you’ve picked out your project, it’s time to do some prep work before you begin. You’ll want to make sure that you cover anything you don’t want to be painted. Paint sprayers can overspray and you want to make sure that the paint is landing where you want. 

Make sure that you read the manual that goes along with the paint sprayer. This will give you details on how to prep, operate, and clean the sprayer. 

Practice Using the Paint Sprayer

You’ll definitely want to practice using your paint sprayer before you tackle your project. Take a scrap piece of cardboard or drywall and set it up somewhere you can practice. 

Experiment with how close the sprayer is to the project. Notice that the closer you get, the more paint gets applied and it’s in a narrow spray pattern. Move it away and you get less concentration of paint and a wider spray pattern. Every sprayer is a bit different, so experiment to see how yours does. 

Also, practice how quickly you feel comfortable moving the paint sprayer back and forth. Find a rhythm that feels comfortable to you and gives you a nice even coat of paint. 

Using the Paint Sprayer on Your Project

Time to use your paint sprayer on your chosen project. Here are some tips on how to use a paint sprayer.

  • Choose a direction. You can adjust the tip of the sprayer for either a vertical or horizontal application pattern. Choose which one works best for your project. 
  • Pay attention to posture. Good posture is important, especially with a large project where you’ll be spraying for a long time. Move your arm carefully back and forth while spraying without swinging your arm. Be careful not to over flex the wrist as you spray. 
  • Find your speed. You’ve already practiced your speed and now it’s time to apply it to your project. You may find that you need to slow down or speed up to get more even coverage. 
  • Avoid angles. Spray straight towards the surface that you’re painting, avoiding any really angled directions. 
  • Overlap paint. Overlap between spaces so you don’t get lines or have patches. 
  • Pay attention to corners. Spray vertically and quicker than your normal speed when you get to corners. 
  • Wipe the tip. Every once in a while, use a rag to wipe the tip of your paint sprayer. This prevents the paint from drying on the tip. 
  • Fix any problems. Use a paintbrush or roller to fix any areas that are missing paint or didn’t get enough coverage. 

Clean the sprayer. Follow the directions in the paint sprayer’s manual to clean the sprayer. You’ll want to empty and clean it after you’re done using it.

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