Airless Painting Tools Basics

Airless painting tools are the best suited sprayers for applying latex paint to a house's exterior. Due to the need for masking to prevent overspray on adjacent surfaces, using airless spray tools for painting interiors is not as efficient. Compressed air powered spray guns and latex paints just don't work optimally with each other; latex is too thick and needs to be thinned just right.

How Does It Work?

An airless sprayer is made up of a pumping unit, a hose and the gun. An air compressor is not needed, since your paint is pumped through the hose by a motor then forced out a tiny tip that breaks the paint down into a fan shaped spray pattern.

What size sprayer tip is used and the amount of pressure your sprayer tool pump develops will control how much paint is delivered, but on the average, an airless sprayer will use about half the amount of paint that using a brush will use.

Most consumer level sprayers come with a standard size tip, but you can pick up smaller tips, for finer stuff like interior semi-gloss or deck stain. Keep in mind when buying tips though, not to buy a tip bigger than what the pump's power can support. It will be specified in the manual that comes with the airless painting tool what the maximum tip size is. If you do try to use a tip bigger than what the pump will support, you'll get a bad spray pattern.

Airless sprayer tips are spec'd in thousands of an inch, for example a 415. The first # is the fan size (4) while the second number (the 15) is the opening size, determining how much and what thickness paint may be forced through the tip. Here's a rough guide on what size tip opening to use for different paints:
.009 - .015 stains
.011 - .017 lacquers
.013 - .021 latex-based paint
.013 - .017 oil-based paint

CAUTION: Pressure at the tip opening is usually in the range of 3000 psi. It can cause severe cuts! It also can inject paint into your skin! Keep fingers and hands clear of the tip while operating airless painting tools.
Goggles, a dust mask or respirator, and clothing that covers arms and legs are not just recommended, but also absolutely required.

Other tools and gear you should have:

  • A good supply of plastic and masking tape for masking off of areas you don't want to turn the color you'll be painting.
  • A hat
  • A swivel accessory for the paint gun is recommended. Paint hoses stiffen under pressure and make the gun hard to handle.
  • Spray shield for hard to mask areas. (A three or four foot wide piece of sheet metal or plastic attached to handle you can buy in paint stores.) Handy for spaying around windows and plants.
  • See Also:
    Interior Painting Tips