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How To Use A Spray Painter

By Jim Sulski

Summary: Painting can be a time consuming and tedious task. Jim discusses the pros and cons of using a spray painter to speed up the process.

While painting is a fairly simple do-it-yourselfer task, it can be tedious work and time-consuming. One way many home improvers have streamlined their painting jobs is with the aid of a spray painter.
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If used properly, a spray painter can save you lots of time. And with small spray painters now selling for under $50, they are economically easy to add to a tool set.

Speed is the obvious advantage of using a spray painter. The big question is how much speed a spray painter provides.

For example, the less expensive spray painters tend to have small paint cups, holding as little as a quart of paint or stain. These cups require refilling more frequently.

In addition, the less expensive units require a low viscosity, meaning the paint needs to be thinned out with water or thinner before it will pass through the sprayer.

When you thin out the paint, you reduce its hiding quality. So you wind up having to add additional coats to the surface that adds additional time to the job.

Because stain is usually watery, it often does not need to be diluted.

What may make more sense with certain jobs is to rent a high-pressure professional sprayer that can be attached directly to a can of paint via a feeding tube. In addition, the paint does not usually need to be thinned out to pass through a professional sprayer.

(If you are only planning to paint a small amount of surface, such as a piece of furniture, the best option may be to use several cans of spray paint).

Because of their speed and their ability to spread paint across an irregular or unsmooth surface, spray paint guns are perfect for painting lattice, wood shutters, porch and staircase balusters and rails, picket and chain link fences, furniture such as chairs, wicker items as well as rough-hewn or bumpy surfaces such as wood siding or paneled doors.

The disadvantage to spray painters is that they atomize paint into the air. As a result, much of the paint can wind up off of the surface and into the air, especially outside on windy days.

To prevent such mishaps, it's best not to use a spray painter on a windy day. In addition, cover all shrubbery, cars, outdoor furniture and other items when using a spray painter outdoors.

In addition, put a piece of cardboard behind open items such as balusters and lattice to prevent the paint from traveling.

The first step in using a spray painter is to mix the proper viscosity level for the paint.

The best bet for the proper mix is to follow the manufacturer's directions that come with the spray painter.

Next, you'll need to choose a tip. Spray paint guns usually come with a range of spray tips, with a different tip for each type of paint or stain. The wrong tip, or a clogged or old tip, will produce spatters or an uneven coat of paint.

Again, refer to the manufacturer's directions as to which type of tip to use.

The key to a consistent coating of paint is keeping the gun the same distance from the surface. Keep the spray gun parallel to the wall at about a distance of 12 to 16 inches. Keep your wrist stiff so the gun remains upright.

Make three foot horizontal sweeps across the surface, overlapping each previous strip of paint by about 50 percent, so the surface is coated twice.

Once the spray gun is loaded, experiment with it first on a piece of cardboard or piece of drywall. Notice how quickly the paint will drip if you hold the gun still for more than a second or two.

Next, test the sprayer on an unnoticeable area of the wall or piece of furniture to be painted to see how well the paint coats the surface.

If the paint goes on uneven, the viscosity level may not be correct or you may not have the correct tip. Again, check with the manufacturer's recommendation. You can also try adjusting the pressure control of the spray gun.


© by Jim Sulski. All rights reserved. February 14, 2005.

NOTE: This column is distributed by Real Estate Matters Syndicate, PO Box 366, Glencoe, Illinois, 60022. This column may not be resold, reprinted, resyndicated or redistributed without written permission from the publisher. 

2005 by Ilyce R. Glink. Distributed by Real Estate Matters Syndicate.




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