Airless paint sprayers are known as a speedy alternative to other methods of painting with a consistent, high-quality result. Using an airless sprayer, you can hope to paint a surface at least twice as fast as if you were using a traditional roller. Airless sprayers are generally pretty easy to use once you get the hang of it. It operates by a slightly different set of rules than other forms of paint. However, the time you'll save during your projects is more than worth the effort to get yourself up to date with this handy device.
Preparing an Airless Sprayer
Pick the right tip. Choosing the right tip can be as important as having the right pressure gauged on your sprayer. Larger tips generally require more pressure, but can cover more ground effectively. Narrower tips, on the other hand, are best for precision work. If you're unsure about the sort of tip you should be using, contact a hardware professional and give her the details of your project.
Thin the paint. Latex paint works for airless sprayers, but it must first be thinned out in order to flow easily through the nozzle. Add 1/4 cup of water or chemical thinner for every gallon of paint you're using, then mix the two together thoroughly. You may have to experiment with different thicknesses of paint. Load some into your paint sprayer and check the coverage. If it's not spraying evenly, you may need to add more thinner.
Latex paint is the default paint for airless sprayers.
Chemical thinners are available from paint and hardware stores as well. These work more effectively than water and don't work against the paint's default properties.
The type of paint you use for your project will depend on the surface.
Strain your paint. No matter how well you mix the paint, there may still be little clumps of solid paint. It doesn't take much to clog an airless sprayer nozzle. Take a strainer and strain your paint into another bucket, catching the solid bits and discarding them.
Set up the siphon hose. An airless sprayer draws paint from a hose. Attach your siphon hose to the back and place it gently in your paint bucket. It's a good idea to do this prior to priming. That way, you'll be able to tell priming is done because paint will start coming through the nozzle.
Prime the pump. All airless sprayers require priming before they're ready for use. Luckily, this is a fairly straightforward operation, as many airless sprayers will have a "Prime" setting. If your airless sprayer isn't priming successfully, it may help to give the device a slight tap with a hammer. This can loosen any clogged paint inside the sprayer.
Keep the nozzle face downward in a bucket to account for paint drips while you're getting the sprayer ready.
Give your sprayer a quick check before each use. Making sure your sprayer's in working order before you use it can help prevent big messes. Check the hose for microfractures. Check the nozzle and make sure the filter is clear. Give the paint a quick test run on a surface to make sure the paint's being distributed evenly.
Painting With An Airless Sprayer
Prepare the surface for painting. As with all paint surfaces, painting something with an airless sprayer should involve some prep work in the surrounding area. If there are part of the surface you do not want to have painted, cover them with masking tape. Lay tarp down on the ground to account for any drips.
While airless sprayers have a lot of positives to them, one drawback is how much the paint can get everywhere. If you're painting outside, wind can pick up your paint and carry it to other nearby walls and surfaces. It's a good idea to keep other surfaces covered with tarps to make sure this doesn't happen.
Hold the sprayer's trigger to spray. Airless sprayers are used like any traditional gun. If this will be your first time using a paint prayer, you should practice on a throwaway surface first.
If you want to get some practice, you can do a practice spray with water.
Adjust the pressure if you need to. If the paint isn't spraying evenly and thickly, it's a good sign you need to increase the pressure. There should be a dial on your airless sprayer to control this with. However, as a general rule, you'll want to keep the pressure as low as possible without resulting in a weaker paint job. Unnecessarily high pressure wears out the sprayer faster.
Maintain a steady distance while you spray. You should keep your sprayer between 10-12 inches (30.5 cm) away from the surface you're painting. This will make it close enough to apply effectively, but far enough away to cover a good range of surface.
Keep your aim moving. If you hold down the trigger in one place for too long, you'll run the risk of overspray and dripping. To avoid this issue, make sure your hand is always moving over the surface you're painting. Make sure that the speed you're moving at is relatively consistent. You want to make sure your paint-job looks even throughout.
If the paint doesn't look like it's being applied evenly, you should slow down your movements.
Release the trigger to stop painting. When you're done a certain round of painting, simply release the trigger to stop painting. You should account for the split second between the time you release the trigger and the point paint will stop being applied at.
Caring For Your Airless Sprayer
Clean the sprayer after each use. The paint in a sprayer will harden if it's not dealt with promptly. It's a good idea to clean out your sprayer after every use. Remove the nozzle from the sprayer and clear the paint out of the nozzle with a damp paper towel. Dry out the nozzle afterwards to make sure the moisture doesn't affect the next load of spray paint.
Don't leave the sprayer idle for more than 20 minutes. If you do, the paint will begin to harden.
Check hoses for breaks before use. Checking hoses is an important part of maintenance for your airless sprayer. If there's a micro-fracture somewhere in the hose, it will shoot out paint and lower the effective pressure of the device. This is best done by feeling out the hose as well as looking for visible breaks.
Replace filters when necessary. A filter is the mask at the front of your sprayer's intake. If it's punctured or at least 20% clogged, your filter is a good candidate for replacement. Many airless sprayers come with a couple of replacement filters, but you can purchase them fairly inexpensively wherever you got the sprayer from.
Keep safety in mind. Airless paint sprayers operate at very high pressures and can very easily cause injuries if you spray directly onto your skin. You may actually inject paint into your tissues or bloodstream without having an obvious cut or bleeding. The skin can open up and allow the passage of the paint through and then close off again making it appear that nothing is wrong. This is a "fluid injection injury", and should be treated by a professional immediately.