How To Use An Airless Paint Sprayer (Beginners Guide)

Get a uniform spray pattern on the toughest wall textures with the help of an airless paint sprayer.

Their effectiveness on popcorn-effect walls and ceilings is unmatched, and they are a perfect fit of thin coats for many uneven paint surfaces covered.

An airless sprayer draws paint quickly to complete any large painting job, and once you get the hang of prepping and cleaning your new piece of painting equipment, the time will be halved even further.

If you’re new to airless sprayer, we recommend this guide to help you get to grips with how they work and how to practice spray.

1. Prepare your solid paint

Latex paints are often the default paint using an airless sprayer. They work incredibly well, but they often need a chemical thinner in order for the paint to flow easily through the airless sprayer nozzle.

We recommend adding a quarter of a cup of thinner or water to each gallon of latex paint works for good spray pattern. 

Once you have the right consistency, you then need to strain your latex paint works to remove any little clumps of solid paint. This will help stop clogging from happening during the application. Simply take a strainer and strain your latex paint into another paint bucket.

Prepare Paint for Sprayer

2. Set Up

Before you start to use your electric paint sprayer or airless spraying, there are some parts and pieces you’ll need to set up first. The first thing to set up is the siphon hose.

You will need to connect one end to the back of your electric paint sprayer or paint prayer and the other end into your paint bucket.

We recommend doing this before priming as it will be easier to tell when priming is complete because the paint will start coming through the airless sprayer nozzle spray pattern.

To prime the pump within the paint sprayer, you should place the shorter prime tube into a waste pail and the suction tube in the bucket of strained paint.

Next, switch the electric paint sprayer to “prime” with the pressure control knob. The inject paint job should start flowing from the prime tube of airless sprayer.

The last part of setting up an airless paint sprayer idle is installing the right spray tip. Choose a right spray tip that leaves you with your desired airless sprayer pattern. Insert the spray paint tip until the tab is engaged.

3. Start Spraying

Before you begin your painting project, give your airless sprayer one final check. Check the hose for microfractures, check the pressure is set to low, and make sure the filters are clean for uniform spray pattern.

Once you are happy with everything, turn on the pump and switch the inject paint sprayer idle from "prime" to "spray." Give the weaker paint job a quick test run on point paint surfaces covered to make sure the apply paint is being distributed evenly.

On your test surface, try out some different spraying techniques and adjust the pressure to your preference. We recommend staying 10-12 inches away from a surface.

Once you have an evenly distributed spray, then you can begin painting a room, door, or piece of furniture.

Yellow Spray Painted Door

4. Our Recommended Tips & Tricks

  • Clearing a clog
    If you notice that the clogged paint inside stops flowing from the nozzle, there’s a good chance that the airless tip is clogged due to paint's default properties.
  • A good tip for clogged paint inside airless tip is to twist the airless spray gun 90-180 degrees and spray the airless spray gun on your test large surfaces. Once the clog is clear, turn the nozzle back, and you can get back to painting.
  • Avoiding overspray and dripping
    To avoid the issue of point paint drips and overspray, you need to make sure that your hand is moving at all times.
  • Some DIYer’s believe spraying evenly in sections is better than at a consistent speed; this is simply not true. It’s better to move slowly than not at all to avoid paint drips.
  • Staying safe
    Our biggest tip when using an airless paint sprayer is to always keep safety in mind. Wear wear safety glasses to avoid any mishappening.
  • Carelessly using an airless sprayer at an unnecessarily high pressure wears during large paint jobs can cause various accidents.
  • Always wear a mask when using an airless paint sprayer, and cover any visible cuts to the skin with masking tape. If paint enters a wound, it can cause a "fluid injection injury due to the paint's default properties."

How To Clean An Airless Sprayer

Here's a brief over overview of cleaning your airless paint sprayer and all of its equipment is essential after every use. You may risk breaking the machine if you don’t.

The cleaning equipment you’ll need are as water or paint thinner, 2 x buckets, an old toothbrush or pipe cleaner, damp paper towel and masking tape.

  1. 1
    Step up your two buckets to begin cleaning out the paint from the paint sprayer. One bucket should have water or thinner in it. Use water for cleaning out latex paints, and paint thinner to remove oil-based paints. The other bucket should be empty.
  2. 2
    Place the suction hose into the clean bucket and aim your airless spray gun into the empty bucket. Use both the prime mode and spray paint mode to push out any remaining material.
  3. 3
    Once the unit is clean, you will then need to clean the filters. Remove the pencil, manifold, and suction filter from the paint sprayer and place them into a bucket of clean water and solvent.
  4. 4
    To clean the nozzles, submerse the tips in water or thinner for 5-10 minutes and then begin to clean the tips and nozzle with the old toothbrush, pipe cleaner or damp paper towel.

Airless Paint Sprayers Explained

An airless paint sprayer pumps out paint through a hose and out of a spray tip at high pressure, up to 3000 PSI. When it leaves the spray gun tip, it breaks up the paint spray pattern evenly and fans droplets of paint onto a surface.

There are three main types of airless paint sprayers operate today that you’ll find easily at paint and hardware stores. What sets one apart from another is its power and piston pressure.

  1. 1
    Piston pumps: When these airless paint sprayers operate, they typically offer the highest pressure with the best paint atomization.
  2. 2
    Diaphragm airless sprayers: This type of airless sprayer will allow you to work with a higher volume of paint, and they usually have better portability.
  3. 3
    Pneumatic airless sprayers: This is an air-assisted airless sprayer and these airless sprayers are great when using high-viscosity paints and high-solids coatings.

Basic Components & Parts

  • Motor & Drive System
    The motor and drive system operate in unison to send power to the pump. Once the gas or electric motor begins to rotate, it transfers that energy to the drive source.
  • This results in the motor and drive system pumping energy to the pump.
  • Piston & Packing Kit
    The piston is the heart of an airless paint sprayer. Its job is to draw the paint from the source bucket, and then it pressurizes the coating so it can be sprayed.

    It moves up to create a vacuum to suck the paint to a chamber, and when it goes down, it pushes the paint from the chamber into a high-pressure hose.

    The packings help protect the metal components inside your airless paint sprayer from wear and tear when the piston is moving up and down.
  • Pressure Control Knob
    Users don’t have the option to control the pressure with the airless spray gun, hose, or tip. Alternatively, there’s a pressure control knob on the airless paint sprayer unit, and it regulates the fluid pressure.

    We recommend setting the pressure of airless sprayers at the lowest setting and gradually working your way up in pressure. This will stop overspray from happening and it will prolong the life of your tips.
  • Manifold & Gun Filters
    The manifold and airless spray gun filters catch large particles and small debris found in the paint from spraying evenly onto your surface. The manifold filter is found within the airless sprayer, so it’s the first line of defense.

    It catches larger particles easier. The spray filter is inside the handle of the gun and should catch any remaining debris.
  • Suction & Paint Hoses
    While using an airless paint sprayer, it must have good suction so that the paint can go from the source bucket and up to your paint hose. It should apply paint at a steady stream through a hose and to the spray gun.

    Many hoses by reputable brands are specially designed and manufactured to hold up to the very high pressure of the suction and pump. Sometimes it considered as an unnecessarily high pressure wears by the airless prayer during large paint jobs.
  • Spray Gun
    The spray gun is the final process that the weaker paint job. Paint travels through spray gun, before it’s sprayed onto a surface. For using an airless paint sprayer efficiently, the on/off switch needs to be easily accessible to control.

    This will hold back on the fluid from being sprayed until the system gets to the appropriate pressure level. 
  • Spray Tip
    You can control the spray-fan size and pattern by adjusting or changing the airless sprayers tip. You can also adjust the amount of paint that is being sprayed on large surfaces by using larger  or smaller tips to suit the size of your painting project.

Airless Paint Sprayer FAQs

Do airless sprayers use more paint?

The average airless paint sprayer can use 40% more paint than painting with a roller or brush. A good way to reduce this number is by practicing good spraying techniques.

Do I need to thin paint for an airless sprayer?

Most of the time, you will need to thin paint for airless sprayer before you begin spraying evenly. For latex paints, simply add a quarter cup of water. For oil-based paints, you will need to use a paint thinner.

Can you use an airless paint sprayer indoors?

Absolutely! Airless paint sprayers can be used inside as they give a smooth, even finish. Many airless sprayers require priming can also cover more area in less time compared to other types of paint sprayers.

Can you spray auto paint with an airless sprayer?

It is possible to use auto paint in an airless paint sprayer. However, there is a lot of work involved. Here’s a video by The Atomic Garage to give you a better look into the typical process of practice spray.

Are airless spray guns interchangeable?

The tips on the spray guns are interchangeable, but the spray gun itself is not. If you need a part for your paint sprayer, we recommend contacting the local paint and hardware stores.

How long can I leave paint in an airless paint sprayer?

The length of time that you can leave paint in a sprayer depends on the type you're using. For oil-based paints like emulsion, we don’t recommend leaving the paint in the airless paint sprayer longer than 4-5 hours. For latex paints, you can often leave them for up to 12 hours.


Now that you know how to use your airless sprayer draws paint like a pro, you can begin your search for the perfect model of airless spraying machine according to your budget and needs.

Once you make the purchase, you’ll soon realize why so many have made the switch from paint roller to paint sprayer.