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How to spray paint with airless sprayer

Date posted: 6 March 2015

Although there are many designs and configurations of airless sprayers, they all have more or less the same controls and features with one another. What an airless sprayer does, is pump paint and force it out a tiny tip on its gun, without the use of an air compressor whatsoever. So, if you have a project that involves painting, an air sprayer will get the job done quickly and quite effortlessly. 

To start mastering the art of spray painting, here are some basics to get you going.

Step 1: Prepare the Surface about to be Painted

This means you need to cover everything that is not going to be painted (yourself included). Why so? Because, when you start spraying, there will be fogging and this fog of paint particles will sit everywhere. In order to avoid that, it’s best you wear light synthetic coveralls, a respirator, and safety glasses. Now, if you are painting inside, you should cover everything, from the walls, floors, and light switches to hinges and doorknobs. If you are about to paint outside, you have to cover everything up to 20 feet (6m) far, such as your neighbour’s house, landscaping, fences, and so on. 

Note: All airless sprays produce overspray of some form. Although you cannot completely eliminate the excess paint, you can certainly reduce it. One way to accomplish that is by making sure you use the correct tip size. A tip too large will allow more paint than required to be applied to the surface. 

Step 2: How to Spray

General Pointers:

Keep the spray gun pointed at the surface you are about to paint and, with a horizontal motion (your hand should always be in motion when spraying), keep it moving. This means you need to first start moving your hand and then pull back the trigger to start spraying. If you want to stop painting, just release the trigger and stop your hand’s motion. Once finished, you need to keep the sprayer clean of any paint residue with a synthetic paint strainer (NOT a cheesecloth), to avoid clogging of the spray gun. 

In detail:

  • Always hold the spray gun with a comfortable, yet firm grip. To trigger the spray gun, use your middle and index fingers. To give you an idea, the gun should become an extension of your arm. 
  • Hold the fluid hose and the gun in different hands, and, if you need more flexibility at the gun, you can install a small whip-hose between the end of the gun and the supply hose. This will give you more freedom to move more smoothly when painting. 
  • Although in regards the ideal body position, there are no set rules, there are some suggestions. For example, when you face the part, your legs would better be a bit wider than shoulder-width. Also, you may find pulling the opposite the spray gun slightly back and pivoting during spray strokes using the forward foot more convenient when painting. 
  • The spray pattern is directly affected by the airless tip’s orifice size, the fan angle, and the distance of the gun from the surface being painted. The more distance between the surface and the gun, the wider the fan width. Eventually, you not only get uneven coverage, but also overspray. That said; the ideal gun distance is about 12 inches, for superb coverage. If you have to go further, then choose a narrower fan width to ensure efficiency. 
  • Uneven paint coverage can be reduced if you hold the gun right-angled to the surface you are spraying. If you tilt the gun either down or up, you will get too much paint on the bottom or the top of the spray pattern. Heavy coverage of paint on the pattern’s sides is also caused by arching the gun. The secret to an even paint coverage is to time the triggering movement. Since the airless sprayers do not have partial triggering (they are either full on or full off), start the stroke movement before triggering and make sure you release the trigger before the end of the stroke. 

  Tips: 

  1. Do NOT mix water with latex paint or oil-based paint.
  2. NEVER paint thinner than the latex paint.
  3. Do NOT use the airless sprayer to paint body parts as it can cause severe injuries. 
  4. Always release the pressure from a sprayer every time you turn off the machine. To do so, either pull the trigger on the spray gun or open the prime valve and spray into an empty bucket. 
  5. If the air temperature is over 75 degrees or below 45 degrees, don’t spray, because too much heat dries the paint sooner than supposed, not allowing it to bond well, and too low temps make the paint dries too slowly which means that the gun is more prone to clogging as it attracts more dirt and bugs. 

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