Home Home & Patio Spray Painting: How to Properly Use an Electric Paint Sprayer

Spray Painting: How to Properly Use an Electric Paint Sprayer

by Jonathan Logtenberg

Professional and DIY paint jobs are faster with the use of an electric paint sprayer. Compared to brushes and rollers, paint sprayers can apply paint more evenly on wider surfaces. The texture also appears finer and smoother. The paint sticks better on rough, bumpy or uneven surfaces.

However, you can only achieve good results if you use an electric paint sprayer properly. There’s a lot to consider and prepare for before you can actually start painting with this advanced painting tool.

What to Consider About an Electric Paint Sprayer

Before deciding to use an electric paint sprayer for a house painting project, you need to consider the following factors first:

  • Size of the area to paint – Electric paint sprayers are best used on large areas where brush or roller painting could prove difficult or impractical. This is especially true if the coverage area has many bumps, slats, or other objects (pipes and wires) in the way.
  • Amount of time on hand – Painting by hand can take too long if you need to paint the whole exterior of your house. With spray painting, you only need to spend time on careful preparation and the painting part can go quickly and smoothly. Also, the faster you finish painting, the faster it’ll start to dry.
  • Amount of preparation needed – Though spray painting is a fast process, it requires a lot of preparation. If you plan to paint a wall with a lot of windows, you’ll need to cover up every part that shouldn’t be painted on. If it turns out there is more area that needs covering than painting, then maybe you can skip the electric paint sprayer and work with a brush or roller instead.
  • Appropriate gear and materials – Unlike brush or roller, spray painting requires the use of special protective work gear. There are also other materials involved in the process.

What You Need for Spray Painting

A list of protective work gear and work materials should be available before you start with spray painting. For protective gear, the following are recommended:

  • Coveralls – a full-body coverall is the best to use when spray painting but wearing long-sleeved shirts and boots can be an option.
  • Spray sock – if your coverall doesn’t have a hood, you’ll need a spray sock to cover your head and hair while spray painting.
  • Goggles – you’ll need a pair of goggles that securely protect your face and make sure that no particles can get into your eyes.
  • Mask with respirator – ordinary masks won’t be suitable for spray painting; you’ll need one with a HEPA respirator or filter to protect you from inhaling harmful paint particles.
  • Gloves – you’ll need to use old gardening gloves for painting. Latex gloves can become slippery as you work with the sprayer.

Now that you’re prepared to gear up for work, it’s time to make sure you have all the materials you need for the spray-painting job:

  • Electric paint sprayer or airless paint sprayer – the type of electric paint sprayer you’ll need depends on the size of the coverage area. For large areas, you’ll need the type that draws paint straight from the can or bucket.
  • Drain bucket – you’ll need a drain or waste bucket where you can place the paint sprayer’s drain tube. Use an old bucket that you won’t mind throwing afterwards.
  • Clean bucket – you’ll also need a clean bucket for storing clean water.
  • Bucket(s) of paint – you can use any paint of your choice. Just make sure that you use the right type of paint or coating for the type of surface you’re going to paint on.

How to Prepare for Spray Painting

The results of your spray painting job may depend on how careful or meticulous you prepare for painting. Typically, the preparation process involves the following steps:

  • Prepare the painting area – Prepare the paint coverage area by cleaning and drying it properly to make sure the paint sticks directly to the surface. Also, use masking tape and newspaper to cover the areas or parts that shouldn’t be painted – like windows, doors, frames, etc. You won’t need to gear up yet while doing this.
  • Prepare and set up all your materials – Put all your painting materials in place. Make sure that everything is available and nothing important is missing. Also, make sure that the electric paint sprayer is actually working.
  • Gear up for work – Once everything you need is in place, you can wear your protective work gear and get ready to set up the paint sprayer. Make sure that you wear complete protection and that you can freely and comfortably move.
  • Mix your paint properly – Your paint should already be mixed with the right solvent and color before you place the sprayer’s siphon tube into the paint can. Follow the paint manufacturer’s instructions for this.
  • Prime the paint sprayer – Before you start painting, you need to prime the sprayer first to make sure that the paint is moving and spraying properly through the tubes and spray gun. Usually, you need to set the sprayer to prime mode and squeeze the trigger after powering it on. The method of priming may vary, depending on the type and model of paint sprayer and the type of paint you’re using. Always follow the paint sprayer manufacturer’s instructions for this.

How to Paint Using an Electric Paint Sprayer

Now that you’re geared up and the paint sprayer is primed, you can start working. Just make sure that all the tubes and buckets are set up according to the paint sprayer’s functions. Always read and follow the instruction manual to get the best out of your paint sprayer.

Typically, spray painting involves the following process:

  1. Point the spray gun at a distance of 12 to 20 inches away from the surface.
  2. Hold the spray gun parallel to the vertical length of the surface.
  3. Squeeze the trigger and spray lightly on the surface to test the depth of the paint’s color and texture.
  4. Paint the area in sections. You can spray moving downwards or sideways, depending on the surface. If the surface has vertical slats, you can spray the paint from the top to bottom along the slats. If the surface has horizontal or diagonal slats, you can spray the paint in that direction.
  5. Continue painting until you’ve covered the whole area.

Finishing Up

When you finish painting, you’ll need to flush out paint from the sprayer. You usually do this by transferring the sprayer’s siphon tube to the clean bucket of water and spraying off the remaining paint until only clean water comes out of the spray gun. In some sprayers, you’ll need to flush it with solvents instead of water.

Once you’ve cleaned up the electric paint sprayer, just wait until the paint dries completely before removing all the masking tape and newspaper covers. While waiting, you can go clean up yourself and your work gear, and enjoy the result of your spray paint job.

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