How to Use a Paint Sprayer

  • 01 of 09

    Introduction

    House Painter Spraying Paint on New Siding
    House Painter Spraying Paint on New Siding. BanksPhotos / Getty Images

    Whether you use a brush, roller, or sprayer, there is no easy way to paint the exterior of your house.  But when certain factors are right, painting your house with a sprayer will be both easier and faster than with a roller or brush.


    Positives


    Fast:  Once prep is finished and you are suited up and the sprayer is primed, spraying goes quickly.


    Coverage:  Paint-spraying your house is so effective when your house has surface than are not perfectly flat, such as wires, pipes, eaves, slats, clapboard,...MORE etc.


    Negatives


    Prep Work:  The prep work is long and arduous.  Every single part of your house and within spraying range that will not be painted must be masked. 


    Post-Painting Clean Up:  Even with proper masking and drop-clothing, you will end up with lots of paint everywhere.  Also, it takes about 30 minutes to properly clean out your paint sprayer.


    Tools and Materials


    • Airless Paint Sprayer: You need the type of airless paint sprayer that draws directly from the can, not the type that requires you to fill up an attached cup. Example of the former: HomeRight Power-Flow. Example of the latter: Graco TrueCoat Pro Cordless.
    • Paint: This is your choice, but make certain that it is exterior paint.  You can save money and make the job go faster if you purchase 5-gallon cans of paint.
    • Clean Water Bucket: A clean bucket that will stay clean throughout the painting process (it will contain nothing more than water).
    • Waste Bucket: A bucket that will receive drained paint and other dregs of the paint-spraying process. Do not expect to be able to clean this bucket afterward.

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  • 02 of 09

    Set Up the Sprayer in Paint Can and Buckets

    How to Use a Paint Sprayer - Set Up Sprayer
    Set Up Sprayer. Lee Wallender

    All paint sprayers are different. Following is a general guide for placing the various tubes into which buckets:


    1. Siphon in Paint: The siphon is the large tube with a wire screen at the end. Place directly into the paint can with the screened-end at the bottom.
    2. Drain in Waste: Put the drain tube into the waste bucket.
    3. Plug in Power: Plug in sprayer to electric outlet.

    Place the waste bucket and paint can side-by-side. This is also a good time to put on your cover-alls (we discuss the rest of the...MORE protection gear in a later step).


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  • 03 of 09

    Prime the Sprayer to Get Paint Moving Through System

    How to Use a Paint Sprayer - Prime the Sprayer
    Prime the Sprayer. Lee Wallender
    1. Switch to Prime: You'll likely have a single switch that toggles between "paint" and "prime" modes. Switch it to "prime."
    2. Power On: Switch on the paint sprayer.
    3. Squeeze Sprayer Gun: Hold the sprayer trigger.

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  • 04 of 09

    Quickly Move Drain Tube Into Paint Can

    How to Use a Paint Sprayer - Transfer Drain Tube to Paint Can
    Transfer Drain Tube to Paint Can. Lee Wallender

    The pump will run for about 30 seconds. Then, paint will begin pumping out of the paint can, through the sprayer machine, and out drain tube into the waste bucket. Your paint is on a one-way path.


    Quickly switch the drain tube, placing it into the paint can, toward the bottom. The drain and siphon tubes may even have clips that hold them together. Now your paint is making a continuous cycle.


    Tip: Keep buckets side-by-side for a quicker switch. Buckets are shown here farther apart to make it easier...MORE to demonstrate relationship between the two.


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  • 05 of 09

    Suit Up: Wear Maximum Protection When Spraying Paint

    How to Use a Paint Sprayer - Protection Needed for Spraying
    Protection Needed for Spraying. Lee Wallender

    Shut off the machine and suit up with the rest of your protection gear. You can't wear too much protection gear when spray painting. Yes, you will look dumb and it is uncomfortable, but it will save your eyes, skin, hair, and clothes.


    • Full-Body Coveralls: Buy the kind with the booties attached. If not, you can buy separate shoe covers or just use shoes that you don't mind ruining with paint.
    • Goggles: Not just safety glasses, but goggles that seal all around your eyes.
    • Respirator: Not just a...MORE paper mask, but a HEPA respirator.
    • Spray Sock: If the coveralls don't have an attached hood, buy a spray sock. It's a simple piece of cloth with a face cut-out, much like a ski mask.
    • Gloves: Old gloves you won't mind getting ruined or latex gloves. Warning: latex gloves will get slippery after awhile.

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  • 06 of 09

    Hold Paint Spray Gun 12" to 24" From Wall

    How to Use a Paint Sprayer - Proper Distance to Hold Spray Gun From Surface
    Proper Distance to Hold Spray Gun From Surface. Lee Wallender

    Holding the spray gun closer than 12" will result in drips. Holding the gun farther than 24" (you can probably even push this to around 30", though) will result in a fuzzy texture and uneven coverage.


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  • 07 of 09

    Spray Your Paint in Sections--Just Like You Do When Rolling or Brushing

    How to Use a Paint Sprayer - Organizing Your Spraying
    Organizing Your Spraying in Sections. Lee Wallender

    Using a paint sprayer on your house exterior is like a larger version of the paint brush. The rules are the same. Mentally divide your work surface into sections. Finish a section and then move onto the adjoining section.


    Here is one example. Section #1 is about 3'x4'. I spray from top to bottom. I let go of the trigger and move to the top of Section #2 and spray downward.


    The sections are small enough that the edges stay wet as I move from section to section.


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  • 08 of 09

    Always Keep Spray Gun Parallel to the Wall

    How to Use a Paint Sprayer - Keep Spray Gun Parallel to Wall
    Keep Spray Gun Parallel to Wall. Lee Wallender

    Paint sprayer instruction books tell you to keep the spray gun parallel to the wall at all times. In a perfect world, you would do this.


    But in our imperfect world, the gun will naturally angle away, especially at the end of a run. The best you can do is try for parallel, try to minimize these tilts, and try to cover over bad edges on your next run.


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  • 09 of 09

    Move Siphon Tube to Clean Water and Flush Out Sprayer

    How to Use a Paint Sprayer - Cleaning the Paint Sprayer
    Cleaning the Paint Sprayer. Lee Wallender
    When finished, fill the clean bucket with water.

    Remove the siphon tube from the paint can, put it in the clean bucket, and switch the paint machine to "Prime" or "Flush." Spray until clean water flows out. You may need to change out the water in the clean bucket about three times for this to happen.