Can you use paint sprayers with latex paint, and if so, what type of paint sprayer do you use? What are your choices? Read on.
There are basically three types of paint sprayers to choose from when painting around the home. They are compressed air sprayers, airless sprayers and HVLP sprayers which stands for High Volume Low Pressure. We will discuss general information on each type of sprayer and cover which type is best for using with latex paint.
The 3 Standard Paint Sprayer Types
1. Compressed Air Sprayers: Compressed air sprayers are usually what a lot of people not in the business think of when they think of professional sprayers. The truth is that these are probably the least used in the house painting trade.
Compressed air sprayers put a lot of overspray in the air making it dangerous for the painter and the environment. They can do a good paint job though and the use has excellent control of the air pressure and viscosity of the paint. If you do not intend to spray for a living and already have an air compressor, this may be your best choice for painting your house.
If you do decide to paint your house with a compressed air sprayer, make sure you use a water filter inside the air hose that will stop water and air compressor oils from getting into your paint. All air compressors build up water in their air tanks. You can help control the amount of water in the tank by emptying the water out between uses. All air tanks have a release valve on the bottom that will drain the majority of water out of the tank along with any remaining air pressure.
2. Airless Sprayers: Airless sprayers are perhaps the ultimate solution for spraying latex paint. These are what most contractors use to spray latex paint in particular. Airless sprayers are ideal for spraying the larger areas where latex paints are typically used such as the outside of a house or the main interior walls.
Airless sprayers do not atomize the paint with air like the compressed air sprayer. They actually compress the paint until it breaks apart into tiny particles and then sprays out the tip of the sprayer. While an airless sprayer is the perfect tool for latex paints on large surface areas, it is not always the best choice for painting with other paints that are generally used for smaller areas and close up work. While latex paint will normally look fine on close up inspection, other paints may require an HVLP sprayer to pass a close up inspection.
3. HVLP Sprayers: HVLP or High Volume Low Pressure sprayers are designed more for other types of paints than latex. If you plan on spraying your latex paint with a HVLP sprayer be sure to check the manufacturers’ recommendations because many are not suitable for spraying latex. HVLP sprayers are more for fine finishes in smaller areas such as stains and satin finishes. They do offer constant air atomization that provides a fine high quality finish. In some cases you may be able to thin latex paint some to use in a HVLP sprayer, but be sure to never thin your paint more than 10%. HVLP sprayers are good for smaller jobs also because they are easier to clean up after then airless sprayers.
Getting the Paint Job Done
Okay now that you know your choices for spraying your latex finish, let’s discuss getting the job done. Before you begin spraying, you always want to make sure both the surface that is being sprayed is clean and the surrounding area is clean. Picking up small debris and vacuuming up even smaller debris or a very good sweeping or even wiping down with a wet rag to cut down the dust will prevent dirt from getting onto a freshly painted surface. A good paint job begins with a good cleanup job.
If you have read the above descriptions of the different types of sprayers, you already know that airless sprayers are perhaps the best choice for spraying latex paint in most cases. When using an airless sprayer or a compressed air sprayer, you want to be sure you use the proper tip for your sprayer.
The tip is an often overlooked and very important factor in spraying any kind of paint. Latex paint in particular requires a tip that can spray a 6 to 8 inch fan indoors and about a 10 inch fan outside. You can always experiment to see which works best for you.
Generally, a 312 or a 415 tip is used indoors and about a 517 tip can be used for the outside of the house. If you double the first number of the tip, it will give you the fan size. The second 2 numbers in the tip’s size represent the actual size. For example, a 517 tip has a .017-inch-diameter orifice.
Check with your sprayer’s manufacturer for tip recommendations for the sprayer you are using. Also as part of your prep work, it is a good idea to get some lead paint test sticks from your paint supplier and test the surface for lead content before spraying it.
If the surface does contain lead, then it should be properly dealt with before continuing. Bring it to the homeowners attention and check with your paint supplier for proper handling procedures as this can be a dangerous situation and needs to be handled with kid gloves.
After you are done spraying with an airless sprayer be sure to clean up your gun properly. To properly clean an airless sprayer after using latex paint you want to run warm water through the gun until it comes out clear. Just spray water through the gun like you were painting with it. Then you want to soak the tip and sometimes the bottle.
Use warm water initially, then you can use cold water for the final cleansing. If you are not using a latex paint, be sure to check with the sprayer’s documentation to see what solvent is recommended for cleaning up after the type of paint or stain you are using.