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How do I Use an Airless Sprayer?

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  • Written By: Henry Gaudet
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 28 August 2016
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An airless sprayer is a device used for painting and offers a quick method for applying an even coat to large surfaces. The device is driven by a hydraulic pump rather than an air compressor, thus its name. Airless sprayers are available for purchase or rental, and once the basics have been learned, they are easy to use. Although some practice might be required initially, an airless sprayer can efficiently provide smooth, professional results.

Before using an airless sprayer, it is important that the area being painted is thoroughly masked and covered. An airless sprayer creates a fine mist of paint that is likely to reach every surface in the area. Drop cloths should be taped down to cover flooring, and switches, outlets, windows, doors and any other surfaces meant to remain paint-free must be well masked. Paint also will end up on those operating the airless sprayers, so the painters will want to dress appropriately.

Although the airless sprayer is equipped with filters to keep debris from clogging the spray tip, painters might wish to pour the paint through a paint filter or nylon stocking before use. Safety glasses and a mask should be worn while painting, and painters should follow the manufacturer's instructions. Painters also should consider ventilation before painting in an enclosed area.

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While painting, the airless sprayer should be held about 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) away from the surface being painted. The best results are achieved by drawing the sprayer across the surface in a smooth motion, painting in overlapping horizontal stripes about 3 feet (1 meter) long. For the smoothest cover, the painter should begin sweeping the sprayer over the area before pressing the trigger and release the trigger before completing the sweep. After painting one section from top to bottom, the next section is painted in the same fashion, overlapping with the first area, repeating this process until the entire surface is painted.

Care should be taken to keep the sprayer perpendicular to the surface, because angling the device will cause the paint to concentrate in one section while leaving another area with poor coverage. Similarly, sweeping the sprayer in an arc will create an area of heavy paint in the middle and leave the edges nearly bare. Areas of heavy paint are likely to drip or run. Advice on pressure settings should be available in the instructions.

Special care must be taken when using an airless sprayer. The high pressure could cause the device to spray paint through the skin, resulting in a fluid injection injury, which would require immediate medical attention. Care must be taken to release pressure safely, even when the machine is switched off. The painter also should never attempt to clear a clogged nozzle with a finger.

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