How to Use Paint Sprayers Properly (Complete Guide 2020)

If you are a home-renovator who is absolutely blank regarding how to use a paint sprayer, or if you are someone who knows how to use a paint sprayer, but have never achieved satisfying outcome, this guide is for you! 

Follow it up step by step and achieve the flawless paint job you deserve. 

Prep Work

Our team strongly believes that prep work is very crucial for neat and tidy outcome. It can be further divided into the following steps: 

Clean up the Area and Work Surface

The first and foremost step is to clean up the area. We advise you to tidy up your place of work; move and put away anything that can come in the way of your painting job. This will prevent any snagging onto the cord or hose of your paint sprayer. Clear the work area of tripping hazards. These things include, rugs and carpets, furniture etc. Move all of the things occupying the space out of the room. If you are short on space, move the furniture to the middle of the room.  

Preparation of product surface depends upon the paint you are using and the texture of the surface. You will at least want to wipe the surface with a thinner to get rid of any dirt or dust. 

Check the temperature

It is important that the temperature of your working space is between 45 to 75 degrees fahrenheit. If the temperature is too cold, there is a greater chance of paint clogging in the paint sprayer. On the other hand, if the temperature is too hot, the paint will tend to dry up immediately without sticking to the surface. 

Protect other surfaces using drop-cloth and sheets

It is also important to protect nearby surfaces. For this, drop cloths, plastic sheets and masking tape are a must when preparing for a painting job. You would want to cover windows, trims, furniture and floor with drop cloths or sheets to prevent paint mist from getting on them. 

Use masking tape to cover the switches, window sills, door frames etc. and to mark the edges out to achieve a neat look. 

Use Protective Gear

For health and safety issues it is highly advised that you use gloves, goggles, mask or respirator to protect you from paint fumes. Also, make sure that the working area is well-ventilated, and heat-proof as most paints are inflammable. We advise you to wear a full-sleeves shirt and pants or paint overalls, as painting material may have an adverse effect on skin.

Preparing the Paint

Each type of paint sprayer specializes with its own compatible painting material. Although some paint sprayers can work with unthinned paint, it is recommended that you thin down the paint according to each paint and paint sprayer’s requirement. 

Not only this, always stir the paint well then strain it using a sieve or a filter to catch any unmixed lumps, to prevent clogging. 

Choose the tip

Reconsider your nozzle options and choose the one best for you. It should be large enough to allow the paint to flow but small enough to let you have good control over it. 

If you are not sure about which tip to you, conduct a spray test. Do a test run on a discarded cardboard or piece of paper, to get an idea of what the pattern looks like with each nozzle. If it doesn’t feel right, you might have to adjust the tip or viscosity of the paint.

Setting up Siphon hose/Paint cup

Next step is to attach the siphon hose. A siphon hose is the pipe that draws paint into the spray gun. One end is connected to the paint sprayer and other is placed into the paint bucket. Not all paint sprayers use hose mechanism, other use cup mechanism.

In a cup paint sprayer, detach the cup from the paint sprayer, fill it with paint, attach it back on and you are good to go.

Prime the pump (Airless Paint Sprayer)

Priming is only required in an airless paint sprayer. It is a fairly direct to prime the paint sprayer. Just set it to ‘prime’ settings. You may need to use a hammer to unclog. Tap it slightly and you’ll be good to go. 

Adjust Air-pressure

This next step is in fact very crucial for proper atomization of your paint. Adjust your aircap or pressure dial for appropriate use. Test your paint sprayer at various settings to get the ideal flow for your project. If the paint is not spraying thickly or evenly you might want to increase the pressure. 

However, it is advised to use the paint sprayer at lowest pressure while still getting a good flow and atomization. High pressure damages the paint sprayer in the long run. 

Test Run

After you have achieved the right settings, the next thing to do is run a test. Spray paint on a throwaway piece of cardboard or plywood to check the settings of your paint sprayer. 

While you paint, make sure the distance between you and the product remains consistent. Even a slight change in the distance affects the amount of paint reaching the product. 

When you are confident about using the paint sprayer, move onto your original project. 

Painting your Surface: 

To help you out in your quest of achieving a fine finish using a paint sprayer, we have discussed the painting in detail in the following steps: 

Holding the paint sprayer correctly

Hold your paint sprayer perpendicularly 6-12 inches (or as recommended by the manual) away from the surface and maintain this constant distance throughout the painting. If you paint too close or too far from the surface you will end up wasting the paint.

Start moving the paint sprayer before you pull the trigger. Do not move your wrist rather your whole body while you paint long strokes. 

Overlap each pass half the width of the spray coverage area to avoid light areas or patches.

Look out for build up on the tip. Clean it every now and then with a rag to get the proper pattern. 

Painting the edges and corners first

Using masking tape, cover the edges of the painting surface and spray paint along the edges and corners first. Similarly, if there are any protrusions, paint them first. 

Fill in the area

Once you have the corners and edges covered, fill the remaining area in. You will need to move a little quicker to avoid overloading. The ideal speed for moving is covering 2-3 feet per second. 

Multiple coats

We have experienced that it is better to apply thin coats or put on a little light paint, than to load the surface with a heavy coat. 

Apply a thin coat of paint and let it dry. Then go back and apply another, rather than applying a single thick coat. Thickers coats are more prone to sagging and may peel off eventually. 


After you have completed your job, step back and examine your product. Fill out any missed spots. You can even use a brush or roller to retouch hard-to-reach areas. 

Cleaning up the Paint Sprayer

To clean your paint sprayer up, follow the instructions on the manual.

It usually comprises of emptying the spray gun, disassembling the paint sprayer, and running the appropriate solvent or water through it until it runs clean. After this, clean the cap thoroughly.

Cleaning the paint sprayer immediately after every job is also important because it increases its life. 

There are many advantages of using a paint sprayer: Fast application, uniform coats on uneven surfaces, ideal mirror-like finish, but these are only attainable if you know what you are doing. We hope this guide will help you in achieving your goal of perfect paint job.

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