How to Use an Electric Paint Sprayer

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. When certain factors are right, painting your house with a sprayer will be both easier and faster than with a roller or brush.

Once the prep is finished, the sprayer is primed, and you are appropriately suited for safety, the spraying can go very quickly. Keep in mind that paint-spraying is even more effective if your home has surfaces that aren't perfectly flat, or obstacles such as wires, pipes, eaves, slats, clapboard, and the like.

On the downside, the prep work is long and arduous. You must mask every single part of your house within the spraying range that you don't want to paint. Even with proper masking and drop-clothing, you'll end up with paint everywhere, so be vigilant about where you aim the sprayer!

Finally, it takes about 30 minutes to properly clean the sprayer. Keep in mind that thorough cleaning will help protect your investment.

Warning

Wear proper protection when spraying paint

  • Full-body coveralls: Buy the kind with the booties attached. If not, you can buy separate shoe covers or use shoes that you don't mind ruining with paint.
  • Goggles: Don't just wear safety glasses, but goggles that seal around your eyes.
  • Respirator: Don't use just a paper mask. Opt for 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: Use old gloves you won't mind getting ruined. You can also use latex gloves, but keep in mind they will get slippery after a while.

How to Use an Electric Paint Sprayer

To use an electric paint sprayer, you'll need:

  • Airless paint sprayer: You need the type of airless paint sprayer that draws directly from the can (e.g., HomeRight Power-Flow), not the type that requires you to fill up an attached cup (e.g., Graco TrueCoat Pro Cordless).
  • Clean water bucket: You need a clean bucket that will stay clean throughout the painting process.
  • Waste bucket: This bucket will receive drained paint and other dregs of the paint-spraying process. Do not expect to be able to clean this bucket afterward.
  • 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.
  1. Set up the Sprayer in Paint Can and Buckets

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

    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.

    Drain in waste: Put the drain tube into the waste bucket.

    Plug-in power: Plug in the sprayer to the electric outlet.

    Place the waste bucket and paint can side-by-side. This is also a good time to put on your coveralls.

    Spray painting buckets
    Lee Wallender
  2. Prime the Sprayer

    You'll likely have a single switch that toggles between "paint" and "prime" modes. Switch it to "prime." Turn on the paint sprayer and hold the sprayer trigger.

    Turn power on spray painting gun
    Lee Wallender
  3. Quickly Move the Drain Tube Into the Paint Can

    The pump will run for about 30 seconds. The paint will begin pumping out of the paint can, through the sprayer machine, and out of the 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 quick switch. Buckets are shown here farther apart to make it easier to demonstrate a relationship between the two.

    Using a drain tube
    Lee Wallender
  4. Get Ready With Protective Gear

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

    Protecting yourself when spray painting
    Lee Wallender
  5. Hold Paint Spray Gun 12- to 24-Inches From the Surface

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

    Paint spray gun
    Lee Wallender
  6. Spray Your Paint in Sections

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

    Keep the sections small enough that the edges stay wet as you move from section to section.

    Spraying in sections
    Lee Wallender
  7. Always Keep Spray Gun Parallel to the Wall

    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.

    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.

    Spraying exterior parallel to wall
    Lee Wallender
  8. Move the Siphon Tube to Clean Water and Flush out Sprayer

    When finished painting, 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 several times until it runs clear.

    Siphon tube in water bucket
    Lee Wallender