Using an airless paint sprayer is a great way to apply a lot of paint in no time, much faster than using a paint brush or roller.
You can also get a smooth, flawless finish on complicated surfaces like paneled doors, cabinets, or siding. You can apply thin materials such as stains or varnish as easily as you would with thicker liquids like latex paint.
Airless paint sprayers pump paint through a hose and eject it through the spray gun nozzle at very high pressures, up to 3,000 psi. The nozzle consistently splits the liquid into a fan pattern made up of tiny droplets.
Paint spraying allows the creation of perfectly smooth finishes with very little practice, although newbies may encounter problems the first time they use one of these paint sprayers, such as drips, drips, and splice marks.
And not all of those tiny paint droplets will stick to the surface. Much of the spray paint hangs in the air, and if you don’t know what you’re doing you can waste 40 percent or more of your paint.
Preparation of the area
As with any type of paint, before you begin using an airless paint sprayer, all surfaces must be smooth, clean, and free from any blemishes that can be seen through the finish. With a paint sprayer, you will need to spend more time masking adjacent surfaces with painter’s tape and putting protective tarps over everything you don’t want to be covered in tiny dots of paint.
If you are going to use an airless paint sprayer indoors, you can place a large fan on an open window or door to push the spray paint droplets and fumes out. Just make sure those droplets don’t settle on other places like porches, decks, garden furniture, bushes, etc.
Using an airless paint sprayer outdoors can be tricky. Do not use paint sprayers on windy or windy days, as the droplets can move and settle on trees, windows, and even vehicles.
Most of the problems that arise when using an airless paint sprayer are the result of clogged filters or nozzles or a pump that is leaking or has ball check valves clogged. Proper maintenance and careful cleaning will avoid most of these problems.
The first thing you need to do when using an airless paint sprayer is to prime the pump. Sprinklers have two tubes: a large suction tube to remove paint directly from the can or bucket, and a smaller main tube to send the material to the pump.
Place the suction tube in a cast paint bucket and the main tube in an empty waste bucket. Turn the sprinkler valve to “prime” and turn it on. When the paint starts to flow from the main tube, you can move it to the paint bucket and let the pump run for about 30 more seconds, or until bubbles start to come out of the tube.
Then, hold the gun, with the nozzle still attached, over the debris bucket. Pull the trigger and turn the spray valve to “spray”. When a steady stream of paint begins to come out of the gun, release the trigger and follow the instruction manual to relieve pressure. You can then install the guard and spray nozzle assembly, making sure the nozzle arrow is pointing forward or toward the material to be painted.
The final step in using an airless paint sprayer is to adjust the pressure. Using a large piece of cardboard or other waste material with a clean surface, spray a strip of paint to check the pattern. If the pattern has tails or gaps at the top and bottom of the pattern, the pressure is too low. Adjust the pressure until the paint is distributed evenly across the entire fan pattern.
Preparation for painting
Always keep the tip of the paint sprayer parallel to the surface and approximately the same distance – usually about 10 inches.
In other words, don’t angle the nozzle up to reach the high spots, then lower it in the middle and make it angular when you paint lower. The nozzle should move in a straight line parallel to the surface, not in an arc or angle shape.
Squeeze the triggers before you get to the surface you want to paint, and move the sprayer over the entire surface with speed (keeping it parallel). Release the trigger when the point where you want to stop is passed. For example, if you are painting a door, start by aiming the gun approximately 8 inches from the edge.
Then, as you move the nozzle to the edge of the door, press the trigger so that the paint begins to spray before it actually reaches the door. Keeping a straight, parallel line across the entire surface of the door, release the trigger just after you have passed the opposite edge of the door.
Splice the next pass by 30 percent, again making sure the gun tip is perpendicular to the surface and moving it parallel across the entire surface. Move it quickly to avoid dripping and dripping: it is better to apply several thin coats than a single thick coat.
If the paint flow begins to die off or stops, there is likely a blockage in the nozzle. Most nozzles are reversible, which means you can rotate the nozzle 180 degrees until the arrow is pointing toward you. Then, you can spray on the debris bucket or against a piece of leftover material to unclog the obstruction, rotate it back, and start spraying again.
An important point when using an airless paint sprayer is to always work in a well-ventilated area and wear safety glasses and an approved respirator. Keep the trigger lock when not spraying. This will not only prevent you from accidentally spraying the material, but it will also prevent injury. High-pressure spray flow can inject paint under the skin, causing serious poisoning hazards. If you do get skin-piercing when spraying, seek medical attention immediately.
Also, when spraying flammable oil-based products, follow all precautions to ground the sprayer and avoid sparks. All relevant safety information will be included in the sprayer manufacturer’s instruction manual.