An airless paint sprayer is the fastest and easiest way to paint just about anything. It has an electrically run hydraulically pump that moves the paint along through a tube from the paint can or bucket to a high pressure hose to a sprayer and out of the nozzle onto the painting surface. It’s an easy concept but it does take a little bit of a knack to do it well so plan on some practice time on some old boards or even newspapers before you use it anywhere that matters.


Moderately Easy


things you’ll need:

  • Paint
  • Water
  • Mineral oil
  • Stocking or pantyhose
  • Masking or painter’s tape
  • Drop cloths
  • 1

Start with the preparation. You need to mask off everything really well. A paint sprayer uses a fine mist that can speckle everything around it so keep the whole area around what you’re painting taped off and covered up with drop cloths, including floors (even if you’re working on the ceiling). Open the house up if you’ll be using this indoors and turn on exhaust fans if you have them. You’ll need plenty of ventilation, especially if you’re working with an oil-based paint which has much stronger fumes. Make sure you have on a hat, gloves, long sleeves and pants and glasses.

  • 2

Flush the airless paint sprayer with a cleansing solvent before each use. If you’re using enamel paint you can flush it with clean lukewarm water. For oil-based paints you need to flush it with mineral spirits. Each paint sprayer is a little different so read the instructions for specific details. What you’re doing is just running the water or mineral oil through the tubing and out of the sprayer.

  • 3

Thin the paint according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The type of paint and the type of sprayer determines exactly what the mix is so follow the directions exactly. If it’s too thin or too thick it will make a terrible mess and it could gunk up the sprayer so you’ll have to tear it down and clean it before you can use it again.

  • 4

Paint by holding the spray gun steadily at about eight to twelve inches from the surface so that the paint will go on uniformly. Make sure to keep the nozzle of the paint sprayer pointed straight ahead. If it’s tipped up or down it will have a heavier concentration of paint at the top of bottom that you’ll be able to see. Paint horizontally in a stripe about three feet wide going from the top of the surface to the bottom. Then overlap the next three foot section just a few inches and work the same way.

  • 5

Know the tricks of paint sprayers. The whole key to using this sprayer is to get the right amount of paint on the surface. Too little paint shows the surface underneath it and too much paint will make a mess by dripping. Move the gun a tiny bit before you start to spray to prevent paint blobs when you start. Also, let go of the handle just a split second before you get to the end of the area you’re spraying so it won’t blob up there. Never hold the sprayer still. As long as it’s spraying you have to keep it moving. Move it regularly at the same steady speed holding the nozzle straight for the best results. Although there are filters in the sprayer, many pros paint through a piece of old stocking to filter it even better.

  • 6

Know the safety tips. Never point the gun at anyone. The paint is released at up to 200 mph with up to 3,000 pounds of pressure per square inch which is enough to cause real damage. Don’t use this in an area with any ventilation as the fumes can cause you to become dizzy or worse. Keep your fingers away from the nozzle when it’s spraying. Don’t touch the tip at all when it’s on. Always unplug the unit before you clean it. After it’s unplugged, squeeze the trigger to release any paint left in the line. If you’re outside, keep all your supplies in the shade. Even the paint shouldn’t sit in the sun, now should any solvents you may be using.