How to Use a Paint Sprayer

Paint sprayers are particularly useful for large areas. Spraying is much faster than brushing or rolling. Although some paint will probably be wasted through overspraying, the time and effort saved may more than compensate for any additional paint cost. Once you have perfected your spraying technique, you can produce a coating with excellent uniformity in thickness and appearance.

Surface areas that are difficult to reach with a brush or roller can easily be covered by the sprayer. All coats can be applied satisfactorily by the spray technique except for the primer coats. Spraying should be done only on a clean surface because the paint may not adhere well if a dust film is present.

Preparation of the paint is of critical importance when a sprayer is to be used. Stir or strain the paint to remove any lumps, and thin it carefully. If the paint is lumpy or too thick, it may clog the spray valve; if it is too thin, the paint may sag or run after it is applied. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the paint label for the type of amount of thinner to be used.

Before you begin, ask your paint dealer to show you exactly how the sprayer works, and to give you pointers and how to use it to best advantage.

For best results, adjust the width of the spray fan to the size of the surface to be coated. A narrow fan is best for spraying small or narrow surfaces; a wider fan should be used to spray walls.

Before spraying, test the thickness of the paint, the size of the fan, and the motion of the spray gun on a waste board before painting any other surface. Spraying paint too thickly can cause rippling of the wet film or lead to blistering later.

Hold the nozzle about eight inches from the surface to be painted. Start the stroke or motion of the hand holding the sprayer while the spray is pointed slightly beyond the surface to be painted. This assures a smooth, even flow when you reach the surface to be coated.

Move the sprayer parallel to the surface, moving with an even stroke back and forth across the area. Spray corners and edges first. Use a mask or respirator to avoid inhaling the vapors.

Be sure to cover everything close to the work area with drop cloths, tarps, or newspapers. The "bounceback” from a sprayer may extend several feet from the work surface.

The sprayer should be cleaned promptly—before the paint dries in it. After using oil-base or alkyd paints, clean the sprayer with the same solvent used to thin the paint. After using latex paint, clean the sprayer with detergent and water. Fill the sprayer tank with the cleaning liquid and spray it clean.

If the sprayer tip becomes clogged, clean it with a broom straw. Never use a wire or a nail to clear clogged air holes in the sprayer tip.

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