When painting large surfaces outdoors, such as a house, a paint sprayer is the best tool for the job. It provides fast, even coverage in much less time, even around areas with great detail. But what about indoor projects, like when you're painting a room or furniture?
Fortunately, paint sprayers deliver the same time-saving and coverage benefits indoors as they do outside the home. In this guide, learn how to safely and correctly use a paint sprayer on indoor projects without overspray.
Things Needed For Safe Indoor Paint Spraying
Before using a paint sprayer indoors, gather the correct equipment and prepare the area for the safest, most effective painting session possible.
Correct Paint Sprayer Type
Not all paint sprayers are meant to be used indoors. Make sure you choose an indoor paint sprayer with the correct pressure and spray settings for interior walls and other surfaces, as well as for the paint you're spraying, such as latex.
Paints give off VOCs, otherwise known as volatile organic compounds, as they dry. Since paint applied with a sprayer dries faster, you’ll get a lot more of these fumes quicker.
What’s more, the way sprayers work—pumping out paint via high pressure, dispersing it as tiny particles—makes the risk even higher.
Ensure your work area is adequately ventilated by opening all doors and windows. You should also wear a dust mask or other respiratory protection while you work.
Higher pressure is ideal when you’re using a paint sprayer outdoors, such as painting siding. Indoors, however, having the pressure too high can damage your walls, create more airborne particles and overspray, and waste paint.
Be sure to test your sprayer before you begin (a piece of scrap cardboard or wood works fine) and adjust the pressure as necessary.
Before you begin, make sure the hose of your sprayer can reach the heights you’ll need to climb to. You may also want a ladder hook where you can set down the sprayer before descending the ladder.
Turn off the ventilation system in your home (cooling or heating) while using a paint sprayer. This ensures no particles get sucked into your system.
Also, make sure no open flames are in the room where you’re working. This includes candles, gas stovetops, or pilot lights.
Because the particles a paint sprayer emits are so small, you might not notice you’re breathing them in until irritation occurs. Goggles and a mask, along with comfortable but high-coverage clothing (like a jumpsuit), are always recommended when using a paint sprayer indoors.
How To Use A Paint Sprayer Indoors Step By Step
1. Prepare Your Work Area And Surfaces
Lay down drop cloths on the floor or furniture, tape off trim and other “no paint” areas, and turn off heating or cooling to prevent paint particles from getting into the system. Open doors and windows, and eliminate open flames.
2. Wear Safety Gear
Goggles, masks, and clothing for optimal coverage will protect you from airborne particles.
3. Prime Your Paint Sprayer
While the process of priming a spray gun varies by manufacturer, the essential idea is to run your sprayer for a few seconds with the intake tube in your paint bucket, and the output tube in a waste bucket. This gets paint into the tubing, gun, and spray tip while eliminating air bubbles, dust, or excess pressure, so the paint goes on your surface smoothly.
4. Apply Your First Coat
You can use primer with a paint sprayer or jump right to your topcoat if the surface has already been primed. To paint a large surface such as an interior wall safely and correctly, you should first select the appropriate spray tip and pressure for the surface.
Cut in at windows and doorways before moving on to broader surfaces. Start at the top of the wall and work your way down, beginning at the outermost edges. At the corners, aim your spray gun tip directly into the corner, so it paints both sides evenly.
5. Apply Additional Coats, If Desired
Wait for 2 to 4 hours between coats.
6. To Switch Between Paint Colors Or Formulas
flush the system with water first. If you are switching from an oil-based formula, mineral spirits or another solvent is needed rather than water. When the water or solvent runs clear, you can re-prime the sprayer with the new paint.
7. Clean Your Paint Sprayer When Finished
Use the same method as above to clean out the dried paint, depending on what formula you’re cleaning from the system.
8. For Long-Term Storage Of Your Paint Sprayer
it’s recommended to fill the system with storage fluid. Some brands sell specialized preservation fluids, although mineral spirits can be used. You should also make sure the system has adequate oil/lubrication levels before storing.
How To Avoid Overspray When Painting Indoors
Overspray simply means paint getting where you don’t want it.
Because paint sprayers atomize the paint and send it out as a concentrated mist, it’s guaranteed some of those particles will land anywhere but the surface they’re supposed to go on. It will often feel bumpy and look a bit like dust, but even a minimal amount of overspray can ruin your otherwise lovely paint job.
While some of this is unavoidable, you can take precautions to ensure the rogue particles don’t land on your surfaces.
Using A Paint Sprayer Indoors FAQs
How do you spray paint walls without hitting the ceiling?
To avoid overspray reaching your ceiling, the best precaution is to mask off that area. Apply painter’s tape from the top of the wall towards the middle of the ceiling, about 2 feet or so, before you paint the top of the wall.
Is it better to roll or spray interior paint?
Either method of painting, when done correctly, can yield even and professional results. A paint sprayer is faster, however, and better at detailed areas than a roller.
How long does it take to paint a room with a sprayer?
It can take under twenty minutes to paint an entire room using an airless paint sprayer, depending on its size. Preparation does take time, but not much more than you’d spend preparing a room for painting with a brush or roller anyway.
In what order do you spray paint a room?
The best order to paint a room with a sprayer is top to bottom. If the wall has doors or windows, cut in around those first. Remember that overspray particles will drift down (much like dust or dirt), so starting at the top is ideal—you’ll be covering the overspray as you work.
Paint sprayers can shave hours off a painting project, be it large or small. With proper ventilation and other precautions, you can even use a sprayer indoors to paint interior walls, cabinetry, furniture, and other projects you can’t or don’t want to move outdoors.
Preventing overspray takes a combination of diligent masking, practice with the sprayer, and adjustments, but can absolutely be achieved.