Tips for Airless Spraying and painting

Updated Apr 22, 2024 | Posted Jul 24, 2019 | Professional insight, Miscellaneous | 1 comment

As a Professional Decorator, I’ve been spraying for around 13 years. I thought it would be helpful if I shared a few tips for airless spraying.

If you’re working in a room that’s full of furniture, then airless spraying can be a waste of time. But, if you get a room with plenty of space to work or a nice new build house, then spraying is the way to go. You’ll find it quicker, less strain on your body, and the finish will be far superior.

Following these tips will help you achieve the best finish possible.


Tip 1 – Get your prep right!!

Masking up can be a bit of a pain. You need to be meticulous with it, otherwise you will get paint seepage, which will ruin your finish. A surface painted with an airless sprayer needs to be sharp, so getting your prep right is important.

Good quality masking tape will help massively. You should use thin Washi paper that doesn’t allow paint to seep and won’t damage the surface. Delicate tape should be used on painted surfaces and stronger tape on uPVC or brick.

Masq from Ciret is probably my favourite. Click here for more information.


Tip 2 – Keep it dust free!!

This is particularly important when spraying inside. Dust on a surface will ruin your paint finish, and overspray can lead to more dust in a room. Spraying is quicker than using a brush and roller, but you do need to spend a bit more time ensuring a room is clean before you start. Ideally, you’d do this by vacuuming rather than sweeping with a brush.


Tip 3 – Reduce overspray.

One of the biggest issues with airless spraying is overspray. Inside, overspray will fill a room, settle on surfaces you don’t want it to, get trampled into rooms you want to keep clean, and make the environment very uncomfortable. Outside, overspray from an airless sprayer can cause a lot of damage to nearby cars and other things.

If you can afford one, a heated hose will help. Something like the Wagner TempSpray will allow you to apply paint without generating much overspray. But regardless of which airless sprayer you use, you can reduce overspray by turning down the pressure, holding your gun at the correct angle and the correct distance from the surface, and trying to be more controlled.

When using an airless sprayer to paint an exterior wall, always turn the pressure right down. Try to position your gun so you’re aiming slightly down at the top of the wall and inward when you come to an external corner. This will ensure less paint is fired into the atmosphere.

You can spray oil-based masonry paint, but water-based is more likely to dry before it lands, so you’re left with a dry powder, rather than something that will stick to cars.

Wagner TempSpray Heated Hose in action 🎬

Tom demos the Wagner TempSpray.

Tip 4 – wet on wet.

One of the main advantages of airless spraying is the speed of which you can apply the paint. This includes recoating sooner than you could if you were using a paint roller. I often apply a coat to a ceiling, wait five minutes, and then apply another coat (so you can paint a ceiling from bare plaster to a finish in about 20 minutes).

It’s a similar story when painting woodwork, although I will caveat this and point out the extended curing time of trim paint when applying a second coat before the first has dried. You need it to have cured to a point before you can tape it up to paint the walls.


Tip 5 – Painting in the correct order.

One of the best tips I can give you for airless spraying is the order in which you paint. When painting a room, I start by applying a coat to the walls. I then spray two coats on the ceiling (to a finish). Then I spray the woodwork to a finish.

Once the woodwork is done and I’m happy it has had enough time to harden up, I’ll tape it, then finish the walls with a brush and roller.

This is the easiest way I have found to paint a room with an airless sprayer.

You can spray every surface to a finish, but that involves relying on masking tape to create a ceiling line, which can be difficult. Besides which, working the paint into every corner around sockets, window reveals etc with an airless sprayer can be tricky.


Tip 7 – Use the correct paint.

When I started spraying about 13 years ago, I had a bit of a culture shock, mostly because of the paint. I can remember trying to spray oil-based gloss on spindles and making a right mess! I ended up painting them again with a paintbrush.

Some paints are easier to spray than others. Tikkurila Helmi for example, is very easy to spray. Whereas Johnstone’s Aqua Guard (which is a very good paint when applied with a brush), can run a lot if applied with a sprayer, so you end up applying multiple ‘dust coats’, rather than one proper coat.

Using contract matt on a ceiling will mean you can apply additional coats in quick succession without it tightening up and peeling as it dries.

It’s just about choosing the easiest paint to work with.

Tip 8 – Learning to spray.

I’m a Professional Decorator, but I was never shown how to spray in college. I bought a Titan 460e from Crown Decorating Centre on finance, and then learned on the job. I was quite lucky in that I got to work with a few competent sprayers along the way, so I picked the skill up as I went.

Nowadays, people are more fortunate because there are training centres like Dulux Academy. These are inexpensive and teach you everything you need to know to get you started. Click here for more details.

Wagner heated hose airless will reduce overspray

This blog was written by Mike Cupit, a Professional Decorator of over 20 years and owner of Decorators Forum UK.

Updated Apr 22, 2024 | Posted Jul 24, 2019 | 1 comment

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.

1 Comment

  1. Tony Taylor

    When masking difficult stuff use tin foil .


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