How To Properly Use a Paint Sprayer Indoors

How to properly use a paint sprayer indoors

In this modern age, time is of the essence. Painting your home is a great way to give it a fresh new look. But spending a weekend or two just to get a single room done? Nobody has that much time to spare. Enter the world of paint sprayers.

Fast and effortless, paint sprayers are the golden standard for professional painters. Rollers are a thing of the past for contractors. Any ambitious DIYer or homeowner looking for the best results in the shortest time needs a paint sprayer. Paint sprayers make short work of any painting project, if you know what you’re doing, and they can handle different kinds of paint, from water-based to latex exterior coatings.

Using a paint sprayer outdoors is simple enough. For most units, it’s as easy as pointing and shooting, and the wind takes care of ventilation. However, using a paint sprayer indoors requires a little more work and care. First off, let’s talk prepping.

File:Front room at Rosies being painted.JPG

Author: Sam Wilson

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Paint spraying indoors creates a fine mist of paint particles. Once the mist settles, it stains every surface it touches. In order to avoid this, you need to mask off absolutely everything in the room that you aren’t painting. We’re talking light switches, power plugs, baseboards, ceiling… the whole nine yards.

You’ll also have to cover the floor with drop cloths and tape them right up to the wall. Any ceiling fans and furniture you can’t remove should be covered in plastic bags. Windows will need plastic sheet covers taped around the frame. Doors and doorways need covering as well.

So, like I said, cover literally EVERYTHING that is not getting painted.


Expect your clothing to be covered in specks by the time you finish. So, the suggestion is to wear old clothes and shoes, and make sure you get a pair of work gloves. You also need a disposable paper face mask (or any other kind of face mask) to cover your airways. Crack open all the windows to maximize ventilation. Add a fan if necessary, placed by the window, blowing air out the window. It greatly improves air circulation. Do expect the fan to end up coated in paint as well, though.

RAF MILDENHALL, England – Senior Airman Brad Shalter, 100th Maintenance Squadron Aircraft Structural Maintenance journeyman, uses a paint gun to spray paint an aerospace ground equipment unit in the paint booth in Hangar 814 June 11, 2012. During the painting process, Airmen must wear full personal protective equipment, including coveralls and respirators. Aircraft structural maintenance provides 24-hour-operations and members paint all types of aircraft parts and AGE. (U.S. Air Force photo/Karen Abeyasekere)

Photo credit: VIRIN

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Read your sprayer’s manual closely. Confirm the right distance you should keep the sprayer from the surface being painted. If it’s your first time, practice with a piece of scrap wood or drywall. Get the hang of your spray pattern and width. Once you have your bearings, it’s time to hit the wall. Keep the right distance while painting, in smooth, even passes. Overlap each pass. Move your arm in a straight line, any arcing will cause uneven results.

Airman 1st Class Taylor Hill, an aircraft structural maintenance journeyman with the 1st Special Operations Maintenance Squadron, prepares to paint an engine kit with an air vector spray paint-gun at Hurlburt Field, Fla., June 29, 2016. The air vector spray paint gun uses the pressure of air to paint surfaces to restore aircraft and prevent corrosion. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Andrea Posey)

Photo credit: Senior Airman Andrea Posey 

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Final tips

  • Practice using the different pressure, volume and/or width settings on your paint sprayer. Horizontal nozzles make vertical patterns, vertical nozzles make horizontal patterns. 
  • Be vigilant about the distance you keep between the sprayer and the wall. Too close, and you’ll get overspray. Too far, you’ll get thin, wide coats. The ideal distance is typically about 6 to 8 inches, but do check your manual.
  • Move in lines, vertical or horizontal work best. Make sure you release the trigger at the end of every pass. It prevents double-spraying as you move to the next row. You’ll also want to overlap every row by about 50%, to fully cover the area.
  • Wipe the tip of the sprayer with a damp cloth every now and then. The tip tends to get clogged by blockages of dried pant. When it happens, the sprayer suddenly stops spraying. The occasional wipe with a damp cloth will prevent these clogs from forming.

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