5 Tips That Will Make You a Spray Paint Gun Expert

Whether you’re a professional painter and decorator or a DIY enthusiast, spray paint guns are a bloody marvelous bit of kit. They can save you a heck of a lot of time and give large areas an even coverage. 

Honestly, if you haven’t tried one, you definitely should. They remove a lot of the annoyances that come with rollers and brushes. Most importantly, the dreaded drips. 

Paint spray guns also help you use less paint. Rollers and brushes tend to absorb and soak up quite a lot of paint. Spray guns do not have this issue. Also, most paints need to be thinned slightly with water to go in the gun. This stretches the paint further. 

As with any tool, there is a knack for getting it right. Before you point and spray you should do a bit of research and have a little practice. You don’t want to have to do it twice, after all! 

We can’t do the practice for you, but we have done the research! We have 5 brilliant tips that will help you master the spray paint gun. You’ll be zipping through your painting projects in no time! 

Choose the Right Surface 

Wonderful as they are, spray paint guns are not suitable for every project. Before you crack out the gun, check that it is the right tool for the job.

Small painting projects don’t lend themselves to paint sprayers. This is mainly because the cleaning process that needs to happen after use will take longer than the painting. Generally, it’s just not worth the hassle to paint small furniture and rooms with a spray gun. 

You also don’t want to use a spray gun for projects that need precision. You can’t necessarily control where exactly the paint will go. This is because it is sprayed in a conical area. Small flecks of paint will splatter onto close surfaces as it hits the surface. 

Spray guns are ideal if you need to paint the walls, ceiling and trimmings of a room one color. If you want to do different colors then you might find it a frustrating process. You’ll end up taping and covering everything in a room each time you want to do a different area. It’s just not worth the hassle. Especially when you remember that you’ll need to clean the gun between color changes. 

You can get guns with smaller nozzles if you do want to try and do more precise work. Even these will not give you the same level of precision as a brush. One of the biggest differences between a brush and a spray gun is that you can’t get a clean edge with a spray gun alone. You’ll need to use tape or brushes for clean lines. 

Ideal projects for spray paint guns are large rooms, garden fences, and furniture that is all going to be one color. 

Strain Your Paint First

Paint is a fairly thick liquid and it can cause some issues inside your gun if it’s not prepared properly. 

The first thing you’ll want to do is give your paint a good mix as you would normally. Once you’ve mixed the paint, you should strain it to make sure larger impurities are removed. 

To strain your paint, you’ll need a spare tin or container and a bag strainer. There are other kinds of strainers you can use, like disposable cone strainers. Check out this article for some more information about them.

We recommend using a bag strainer because it is cleaner and easier.

A bag strainer sits inside the empty container and folds over the rim. You can secure it with tape or bands and pour the paint into the bag bit by bit. You don’t want to dump it all in as it will take ages to strain. 

Once you’ve strained the paint, remove the strainer and use the paint as directed by your particular spray gun. 

Keep it Moving

To get a smooth, even coverage, you need to move the gun slowly and surely. 

Begin moving the gun before you start spraying. This is important because a lot of paint comes out of the nozzle pretty quickly. If the gun is stationary pointing at one spot, you’ll get a big blob of paint there. This will likely run as the paint has trouble sticking to itself. 

Use long, straight strokes across the surface and keep the gun at a constant distance. This means you need to avoid using the wrist to move the gun. When you move your wrist, the nozzle pivots further away from the wall. 

Instead, you should make sure to use your arm and shoulder to move the gun perpendicular to the wall. You want to stay about 12 inches away from the wall at all times. Moving closer or further away will mess up the evenness of the coat. 

You want to cover about 2 or 3 feet per second to make sure you’re not overcoating the surface. When you move over to do the next part, make sure to have a bit of an overlap. This will make sure that the edges aren’t coated too thinly. 

Painting Corners

When you’re using a roller and brushes, corners and edges are beyond irritating! Using a paint spray gun is much easier. 

Always do any corners, edges, protrusions, and lumps first. Leave the flat broad surfaces till last. It’s much easier to spot bits you’ve missed around the awkward shapes if the rest of the wall is a different color. 

If you’re spraying into a vertical corner, move from the top to the bottom. Point the gun directly into the corner and move slightly quicker than normal. This is to prevent paint from pooling in corners. 

If you have a horizontal ‘corner’ like the join between ceiling and wall, move the gun horizontally. 

If you have edges, you work in the same way. Point the gun at the edge and move vertically down the edge, unless it’s a long, horizontal edge. In which case you can go horizontal. 

You need to be more careful with drips on the edges. Move quickly and smoothly without lingering over any particular spots. It’s better to do a light coat and come back to it later than overcoat the edges and cause drips. 

Painting Ceilings

Sprayers can make short work of ceilings, especially textured ceilings. However, you need to make sure you have the right technique and the right spray gun. 

There are two different types of paint guns, HVLP guns, which use compressed air to spray the paint, and airless guns which use pistons. 

HVLP guns are more common for DIYers and automotive body shops, and furniture painting. They usually have screw-on reservoirs above or below the nozzle.

Airless guns tend to be used by professional decorators for large areas. They are much bigger and do not have a built-in reservoir. Instead, a hose or pipe is put into the paint container. The gun tends to have a much longer nozzle and resemble pressure washers. 

For painting ceilings, airless guns are best. This is because you can point the nozzle straight up at the ceiling without any issues. HVLP guns don’t work as well when you tilt them because the gun can’t get paint out of the reservoir properly. It’s like trying to get the last bit of spray out of the perfume bottle. 

If you only have an HVLP gun, you can do ceilings but you will need to keep the reservoir as full as possible. You’ll also need to try and keep the gun as perpendicular to the floor as possible. If your gun has the reservoir on top of the gun, you’ll find it quite difficult to keep the gun perpendicular, but you won’t have so many issues getting paint into the gun. 

When you do paint the ceiling, you’ll need to work first horizontally and then cover it again going vertically. This will give you the best possible coverage. 

Final Thoughts

Paint guns are really handy bits of kit that won’t take too much getting used to. They can speed up the tedious process of painting. If you’re eager to give them a go and fancy getting your own paint sprayer gun, check out this ‘best of’ guide.

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