The Best Way for a Decorator to Learn how to Spray

Updated May 3, 2024 | Posted Oct 26, 2018 | Professional insight, Business, Miscellaneous

Only around 50% of Professional Decorator know how to apply paint using a sprayer. This is mostly because if you rewind 20 years, spraying wasn’t taught in collage, and decorating is an aging trade.

However, spraying has its place and comes with a wide range of advantages so it can’t be ignored. We asked members of a well-known forum; ‘what is the best way for a Decorator to get into spraying’. This is what they came back with….

The best way to get into spraying is to attend a demo day, or intro course to start, then get out there and practice.

I started with a load of mist coating and spraying new woodwork. Learnt by making lots of mistakes and still learning every time I spray. Taking advice from the forums is useful and YouTube clips. I invested a in Graco gxff, which is a good all-round unit to start off with. It’s good for a bit of everything including ceilings/walls and woodwork. The initial cost of my Graco sprayer was about £1,000 with some extra tips, extension, and pump armour. Been spraying over a year now and will probably get booked onto an advanced airless course to push me on a bit further.

Danny Hopkins

Professional Decorator

I’ve been spraying for about 12 years now. I mostly stick to airless spraying and never really got on with HVLP. I learned to spray the hard way. I bought a titan 360e, got a short demo from the rep, then practiced on a cheap rental.

Thinking back, it was horrible when I didn’t know what I was doing. So much overspray and too many cockups. It’s different now, The Dulux Academy run short and affordable courses. For the sake of a day and a couple of hundred quid, you’re better learning in a classroom environment. They teach you the theory, then you get to practice under supervision.

Once you’ve competed a spraying course, you’re good to go and home your skills on the job.

Mike gregory

Professional Decorator

I bought an airless spray unit, then got some paint. I’m still learning today but being self-taught best way. Everything is fine in a classroom, but never really the life experiences you’ll have.

Lee Smeaton

Professional Decorator

Buy your first sprayer from an established company who has customer service. If you’re a decorator, buy your kit from wherever you buy your paint from. Don’t just go on the internet and find the cheapest price because you won’t get the support you need while you’re learning.

Daryl Trappitt

Professional Decorator

I did the Dulux course which I found very useful as I was a complete novice.   I would buy the gx21 as it is pretty much bullet proof with 310 ff and 517ff tips as you can use it for ceilings and walls and for woodwork.   I would also invest in two hand maskers one for plastic and the other for paper.  A clean shot valve and extension lance for high ceilings.  A qood quality mask is a must too. I’d allow about £1400 to het set up, but you can pay in instalments.

Guy Houston - The best way to learn how to spray

Professional Decorator

I went a Graco demo day and bought a GXFF sprayer, I was already leaning towards it anyway. Self taught, I like the learning experience. The masking technique is almost the most crucial aspect of the job. Biggest tip is to commit to spraying and spray as many jobs you can, even where it may be not ideal. You will improve much more quickly.

Stuart Beard

Professional Decorator


I’d had enough of brushing and rolling to be honest, and I thought it would be easier to learn how to spray. I brought a second-hand sprayer and off I went, I’m self-taught. I may be doing it all wrong, so I’ve booked spray course at Dulux on Wednesday in Walsall.

Malc Stones

Professional Decorator

Learning to spray has been a mixture of everything; A bit of trail and error and doing a course, also the forum help a lot.

Ryan Foulger

Professional Decorator

I just bought a Graco Gx21 sprayer and had a play with it. I’ve had it 18 months and so far, I’ve used it 6 times (mainly on exterior decorating work). I don’t really use it in peoples’ homes.

Neil Potter

Professional Decorator

The best thing you can do is get on a spraying course. I don’t understand why you’d want to try and skip proper training after spending big money on a shiny new sprayer. The Dulux Academy charge about £170 for each or their courses and they are great. You come away with all the basic knowledge you need to start spraying in clients’ houses.

Danny Marks

Professional Decorator

I was very lucky as grew up with a company that did loads of every type of spraying. So, there is my first tip, spend a couple of days with a company that does spraying if you can, offer your services for free and watch and learn.

There are lots of good quality videos online from proven spray tradesmen. I use that term because it is a trade in its self and yet to hear anyone tell me different.

Invest wisely and save for longer because you won’t stick with it if you go for an entry level spray machine.

Go on a course, as it won’t do any harm at all. You’ll learn the basics, then you can go and practice.

John Marcroft

Professional Decorator


YouTube will only get you so far I’m afraid.

I started on new builds mist coating, with a cheap sprayer from screwfix

It’s a bit like rolling a wall in that with a bit of practice anyone can spray.

It’s getting over problems

Blockages, tails, spitting, overspray etc which is the challenge.

I was held up many hours trying to work out how to get over the above problems.

You should do a course, there are many to choose from.

Lear about tips, pressures, what products are best, and most important getting over those problems and having confidence to take on jobs and push to Spray.

Michael Stanley

Professional Decorator

I bought a used 490 sprayer and went for it. I started on mist coats, then upgraded to a new 495 sc Pro, still learning, but I’ll get there.

Warren Arend

Professional Decorator

I want on a course to learn how to spray. They don’t turn you into a spraying God but it takes away the fear.

David Farrington

Professional Decorator

I literally didn’t have a clue how to spray.

I went to Screwfix and bought a 49.99 Erbauer sprayer and started to learn, still have 2 of them I use for Zinsser BIN.

Anyway, then bought the Wagner 229.99 from screwy learnt on site to mist coat. I believe I even sprayed Farrow and Ball through it. The results weren’t the best, but the paint was on the walls and ceilings none the less. Then it blew up twice, so I bought an ultra and a gx21 and I was off. Learnt and taught myself the rights and wrongs.

Trialled many different tapes and sundries to get my stock 100% correct.

Upgraded again with airless and xvlp. I knew I was pretty good without sounding to full of it and started spraying everything. Charging as much as I could and now, we specialise in the spraying of kitchens.

Tom Holloway

Professional Decorator

I thought more about the paints to be applied and then went on the manufacturers courses for liquid plastics, portaflek and vehicle refinishing. I also knew that devilbyss & graco were world class so booked their hvlp and airless spray courses which were excellant. My advice would be to get the proper instructions and knowledge/practice from dedicated suppliers and manufacturers. Alot of these are certificated which is good to add to your cv

Pete Clark

Professional Decorator


Our trade is about preparation before you paint’. So, before I purchased a sprayer, I went on a number of courses to gain confidence and awareness of the technical side of things. From masking up correctly, to breaking down a machines and what tips did what ..

If you want to do something well, you need to start from the beginning.

Don’t run before you can walk.

Peter Whiter

Professional Decorator

It doesn’t matter how you learn to spray, as long as you do. I see decorators dragging their heels all the time, saying stuff like “I can roll quicker”, or “by the time you’ve masked”. It’s funny, but it’s always decorators who haven’t got a clue about spraying who come out with this sort of nonsense.

The fact of the matter is, decorators who spray, earn more money. You can’t spray every job, but the ones you can, will be quicker and you’ll get a much better finish.

Mark Diter

Professional Decorator

Get an entry level spray machine like a GX21 or GXFF, which are great simple-to-use units. Graco will also send a rep to show you how to set it up and use.

Then I’d book a course at the Dulux Academy and after that you will be ready to go on your spraying journey.

Glen Hyett

Professional Decorator

I was’t taught about airless spraying in collage. About ten years ago I had a price accepted to paint three large newbuilds and I figured if I was going to make the leap into spraying, then that was the perfect time. I paid about £1,800 for a Titan sprayer from Crown Decorating Centre, found an empty renter to spray, then off I went!!

I made loads of mistakes the first few times I used my airless and thinking back, I was a bit stupid. There was no real training back then. Decorators are lucky now!! They’ve got courses available all over the place from the Dulux Academy, Paint Tech and several others. A course is cheap an it only takes a day. I think you’d be able to complete a course, then go on to confidently spray on your professional decorating jobs.

James Nuttall

Professional Decorator

Updated May 3, 2024 | Posted Oct 26, 2018

About the Author

About the Author

Mike Cupit has been in the decorating industry since 2002 and has mostly worked as a Trade Decorator in the domestic sector (peoples’ homes). Self-proclaimed “product geek”, Mike has a passion for paint and decorating tools. Mike now spends most of his time testing paint products and tools, comparing them to similar products on the market, and blogging about the industry in general.