Airless Spray Painting Techniques Explained

Row of airless paint sprayer nozzles
  • 1-10 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 0-300

Airless spray painting is a popular technique because it costs less and is the easiest to apply. It also makes it easier to paint uneven surfaces like textured ceilings and furniture.

An airless spray unit consists of a pumping unit, a hose, and a gun. Because no air is used to force the paint out, a compressor is not needed.

This reduces overspray and the amount of paint in the air. The size of the tip used and the pressure applied determines the amount of paint that is delivered.

There are two different types of airless spray machines—one has a hopper for the paint and the other has a tube and hose that are put down into the paint bucket.

You may also want to get a reverse tip that allows you to clear a clog in the tip easily.

Step 1 - Protect Yourself

Wear clothing to cover your skin along with safety glasses and a respirator. The paint gun is under pressure so keep your hands away from the tip and never point it at anyone else.

The gun can inject paint under your skin or cause a laceration.

Step 2 - Prepare the Paint Sprayer

airless paint sprayer

Fill the hopper on the sprayer or put the suction tube into the bucket, depending on what type of sprayer you have. Tighten your fittings.

Step 3 - Prime the Pump

Turn the pump/recirculation knob to recirculate and turn on the power switch. Let it run for a couple of minutes.

Set your pressure control at the lowest possible pressure while still maintaining a solid fan pattern. Do a test spray.

Adjust the pressure slightly until you have a consistent spray pattern.

Step 4 - Practice Your Technique

For the best finish, you should trigger the gun on each stroke. You should start the hand motion before you pull the trigger. Release the trigger just before the stopping point of your swing.

This method will make for more even coverage. Hold the gun perpendicular to the surface. If you tilt the gun up or down it will cause a heavy buildup of paint on the top or bottom of the spray pattern.

The airless paint gun is normally held at about 12”. But you will need to experiment with the distance because it varies depending on the amount of pressure and the paint being used.

Problems such as uneven coverage or runs may be the result of using the wrong size tip, the wrong pressure, or a lack of experience. Practice is the key to achieving the best finish.

Step 5 - Keep the Paint Where You Want It

person on a ladder spray painting the side of a house

Use a paint shield to protect any areas you don’t want paint on. You can tape off areas as well. Windows can be taped or sprayed with a “taping” liquid. Have a damp cloth or a sponge ready to wipe up any spills or overspray while they are still wet.

Step 6 - Clean the Equipment

Clean all parts of the machine well before storage or returning it to the rental company so you are not charged a fee.

To clean the sprayer rig, turn it off. Clean the hoses and gun by pumping water through them until it runs clear. Clean the outside of the unit and the tip as well.