What Kind of Paint Do You Use on an Airless Sprayer? Tips and Recommendations

As a DIY enthusiast or professional painter, you need to be equipped with the right arsenal of tools and materials to paint effectively and efficiently. One piece of equipment that has revolutionized the way painting is done is an airless sprayer. Unlike traditional paint brushes or rollers, an airless sprayer can distribute paint evenly and more quickly, making it a valuable investment for large painting projects.

However, the type of paint you use on an airless sprayer can make a big difference in the quality of your work. Using the wrong type of paint can lead to clogs, poor coverage, and an uneven finish. With so many options available in the market, choosing the right paint can be overwhelming, especially if you are new to the world of airless spraying.

To help you make the right choice, we have put together a comprehensive guide on what kind of paint to use on an airless sprayer. Whether you’re painting a large commercial building or a small home renovation project, we will provide you with the necessary information to select the right paint that suits your needs. So, let’s dive into the world of airless sprayers and explore the best paint options available.

Types of Paint suitable for an Airless Sprayer

When it comes to using airless sprayers for painting, it is crucial to choose the right type of paint. While airless sprayers can work with many types of paints, some are better suited for the job than others. Here are the most common types of paint suitable for an airless sprayer:

  • Latex paint: This is the most popular type of paint used with airless sprayers. Latex paint is water-based and easy to clean up, making it an excellent choice for indoor walls and ceilings. It dries quickly, which means you can apply multiple coats in a single day.
  • Oil-based paint: This type of paint is thicker and more viscous than latex paint, making it harder to use with airless sprayers. It also takes longer to dry, which means you have to be careful not to smudge the fresh coat. Oil-based paint is more durable than latex paint, and it is an excellent choice for outdoor metal surfaces and wood trim.
  • Acrylic paint: This type of water-based paint is similar to latex paint, but it has a slightly thicker consistency. It is great for use on concrete, masonry, and stucco surfaces. Acrylic paint dries quickly and is resistant to fading and mildew.
  • Epoxy paint: This two-part paint is fantastic for use on floors and surfaces that are prone to heavy use and abuse. It dries to a hard, durable finish that can withstand chemicals, oil spills, and heavy traffic. Epoxy paint is challenging to apply, and it requires careful preparation and mixing.

While these are the most common types of paint used with airless sprayers, there are other types of paint that can be used as well, including enamels and stains. However, it is essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use the recommended paint for the best results.

Advantages of Using an Airless Sprayer for Painting

Painting can be a daunting task, but with the help of an airless sprayer, it can become faster, efficient, and easier. Here are some of the advantages of using an airless sprayer for painting:

  • Speed: One of the main advantages of using an airless sprayer for painting is the speed it provides. Traditional brushing and rolling may take a lot of time, especially for large surfaces. With an airless sprayer, you can cover a large area in a shorter amount of time. This is possible because the sprayer atomizes the paint into tiny droplets that cover a wider area.
  • Uniformity: Another advantage of using an airless sprayer is the uniformity it provides. With brushing and rolling, you may have inconsistencies in the thickness of the paint. This is because of the uneven pressure applied when painting. With an airless sprayer, it eliminates this possibility by distributing the paint evenly across the surface.
  • Efficiency: Painting is a repetitive task and can make you feel tired quickly. But with an airless sprayer, you can finish the task more efficiently, which can be ideal for professionals. This tool is also efficient in terms of materials used as the sprayer atomizes the paint into fine particles, maximizing the coverage per liter or gallon.

Types of Paint to Use on an Airless Sprayer

Choosing the correct type of paint for an airless sprayer is essential to achieve the best results. Generally, airless sprayers are compatible with most types of paints, but here are the most commonly used ones:

  • Acrylic: This type of paint is the most versatile and the most used for airless sprayers. It dries quickly, has low VOCs (volatile organic compounds), and can be applied on various surfaces.
  • Oil-based: Oil-based paints have been around for a long time and are still used today. They are known for their durability and resistance to wear and tear, making them ideal for high-traffic areas. However, they have a longer drying time, produce strong odors, and require solvents for cleanup.
  • Lacquer: Lacquer is commonly used for furniture because of its hardness and glossiness. Although it’s quick-drying and produces hard finishes, it has limited use and requires proper ventilation when used.


Using an airless sprayer for painting has become increasingly popular because of its various advantages, including speed, uniformity, and efficiency. When it comes to what type of paint to use, it is important to choose the appropriate type to achieve the desired result. Whether it’s for personal or professional use, an airless sprayer can make painting less daunting and more enjoyable.

Type of Paint Advantages Disadvantages
Acrylic Dries quickly, low VOCs, can be applied on various surfaces More expensive than other types, may require a primer, not suitable for high-temperature areas
Oil-based Durable, resistance to wear and tear, ideal for high-traffic areas Longer drying time, produces strong odors, requires solvents for cleanup
Lacquer Hardness and glossiness, quick-drying, produces hard finishes Requires proper ventilation, limited use

Choose the right type of paint to achieve the desired result and enjoy the benefits of using an airless sprayer for painting.

Factors to Consider Before Choosing the Right Paint for your Airless Sprayer

When it comes to choosing the right paint for your airless sprayer, there are a few critical factors that you must consider to achieve optimal performance, efficiency, and quality results. Here are some of the primary factors to keep in mind:

  • Viscosity: The viscosity of the paint is one of the most crucial factors when selecting the right paint for your airless sprayer. It determines the ease and effectiveness of the spray application. Generally, thick coatings like epoxy or elastomeric paints require larger tip sizes, while thinner coatings like stains or lacquers necessitate smaller tip sizes. You must choose a paint that closely matches the manufacturer’s suggestions for viscosity, or it can lead to severe issues like clogging, splattering, or uneven coating application.
  • Solvents: Some types of airless sprayers are not compatible with certain types of solvents or thinning agents. For instance, a non-alcohol-based paint thinner may not work optimally with a latex-based paint. It is essential to check the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to ensure compatibility with the paint and the thinning agent. You must also ensure that you use the correct thinning ratio to avoid over-thinning, which could affect the coating’s performance and durability.
  • Surface Type: The surface type that you intend to paint can significantly influence the paint selection process. Some surfaces like wood, concrete, or metal require a specific type of paint with particular adhesion or weather resistance capabilities. On the other hand, applying too thin or too thick coatings on a surface can affect the coating’s actual look and longevity. Therefore, you must select a paint type that matches your surface requirements and the recommended application thickness.

Paint Types for Airless Sprayers

There are numerous paint types available in the market, each with unique properties that make it suitable for specific applications. Here are some of the primary paint types used with airless sprayers:

  • Latex Paint: Latex paint is versatile and easy to clean, making it the most popular paint type for airless sprayers. It dries quickly, resists fading, and is relatively inexpensive. Latex paint is also available in low-VOC (volatile organic compound) versions, making it eco-friendly and safe to use around humans and pets.
  • Oil-based Paint: Oil-based Paints are excellent for surfaces that need an extra layer of protection against moisture, mildew, and other environmental factors. However, they take longer to dry, require paint thinner for cleanup, and emit high VOC levels, causing health concerns and environmental damage.
  • Elastomeric Paint: Elastomeric Paint is typically used for high-moisture areas, such as exterior walls and commercial buildings. It contains a rubberized material that allows it to expand and contract with fluctuations in temperature without cracking, peeling or chipping, making it ideal for surfaces that experience extreme weather conditions.

Paint Spraying Tips for Optimal Performance

While choosing the right paint type is critical for optimal airless spraying performance, you must follow some general tips to ensure high-quality application and lasting durability:

  • Ensure that the paint is well mixed and free from debris before pouring it into the sprayer.
  • Use the recommended tip size for your paint type and surface application requirements.
  • Adjust the spray pressure and flow rate accordingly to optimize the desired spray pattern and thickness.
  • Clean the sprayer regularly to prevent blockages, clogs, or damage to the machine.
  • Use a compatible thinning agent according to the paint manufacturer’s guidelines to maintain optimal viscosity levels.
Paint Type Surface Used Advantages
Latex Paint Interior Walls and Furniture Versatile, Easy to Clean, Fast Drying, Resistant to Fading
Oil-based Paint Epoxy and Metal Surfaces Protects Against Environmental Factors, Durable, Long-lasting
Elastomeric Paint High-Moisture and Exterior Walls Expands and Contracts with Temperature Fluctuations, Resilient Against Water and Weather Damage

By considering these factors while selecting the right paint type for your airless sprayer, you can achieve consistent results, maximize efficiency, and minimize disruptions during your painting projects. Take time selecting the appropriate paint for your sprayer, and you’ll enjoy the benefits of a smooth and hassle-free painting experience.

Prepping Your Airless Sprayer for Painting

Before starting a painting project, it’s crucial to ensure that your airless sprayer is properly prepped. Lack of proper preparation can lead to clogs, uneven coverage, and other operational issues during the painting process. Here are a few essential steps to take prior to painting:

  • Thoroughly clean the sprayer: Make sure your airless sprayer has been thoroughly cleaned before painting. Any remaining paint or debris can cause clogs and other operational issues. Start by removing the spray tip and guard, then run the sprayer with water to flush the system. Once you’ve run clean water through, you can then use specialized sprayer cleaning solutions or detergents until it comes out completely clean.
  • Check and replace any damaged parts: Inspect your sprayer thoroughly, looking for parts that are worn or damaged. A broken hose, motor issues, or improperly fitted sprayer attachments can lead to performance problems and even potential hazards. If any parts are beyond repair, make sure to replace them with compatible options well-suited to your sprayer model.
  • Test your spray pattern and pressure: Before dipping into any paint, it’s essential to test your spray pattern and pressure settings. Make sure everything is appropriately calibrated, and nozzles are securely attached. You can spray prime onto a cardboard or scrap material to see if your pattern needs an adjustment or if there’s debris in the system clumping up the stream. Additionally, you can gauge the pressure you need by looking at the manufacturer’s recommendation and adjust it accordingly.

Potential issues with using the wrong paint

Using the wrong type of paint for your airless sprayer can lead to a host of issues. Not all paint is compatible with airless sprayers, and even within brands, thinner or lighter formulas designed for different applications like brushes or rollers may not work well with an airless sprayer. Specific types of paint, such as elastomeric or multi-component varieties, may also cause clogging and other performance issues. Additionally, poor-quality paint that foam or dry too quickly can lead to a frustrating experience that can negatively affect performance or reduce the efficiency of the sprayer.

Tips for choosing the right paint for your airless sprayer

Here are a few things to consider when selecting the appropriate paint formula for your airless sprayer:

Feature Considerations
Viscosity Airless sprayers work best with thicker, high-viscosity paints that can be pumped efficiently through the system. Make sure to check the product specification to make sure you have the right viscosity range.
Compatibility Make sure that your paint and airless sprayer are compatible. Check manufacturer recommendations, and test small portions of the paint in a one or two pass run through the sprayer to see if there are any clogging or performance issues, before full application.
Drying Time Paint that dries too quickly can lead to ineffective spraying performance, clogs, and uneven application. Make sure to check the manufacturer’s spec for recommended drying times.
Surface and Environment The paint you choose, as well as the color, quality, and finish you require, could depend on the surface texture or the environmental conditions. So make sure to select the paint and recommended product based on the surface you intend to paint on and the conditions you wish to keep it in.

By prepping your airless sprayer and choosing the right paint for the task, you can make sure that your painting processes are smooth, efficient, and cost-effective.

Common Mistakes to Avoid when Using an Airless Sprayer

Painting with an airless sprayer can be a quick and efficient way to cover large surfaces with paint. However, if not used correctly, an airless sprayer can cause significant problems with your paint job. To ensure that your painting project goes smoothly, avoid these common mistakes when using an airless sprayer:

  • Not using the right paint: Not all paints are suitable for use in airless sprayers. Using a paint with too high of a viscosity can clog the sprayer’s nozzle and cause it to stop spraying. On the other hand, using a paint with too low of a viscosity can cause overspray and a messy application. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s recommendations for paint viscosity and choose a paint that is specifically formulated for airless sprayers.
  • Skipping the priming process: Before using an airless sprayer, it’s important to prime the machine to ensure that the paint will spray properly. Skipping this step can cause the sprayer to become clogged or produce an uneven application of paint. Take the time to prime the sprayer before use to avoid any issues down the line.
  • Not using the correct spray tip: The spray tip is a key component of the airless sprayer and is responsible for regulating the flow of paint. Using the wrong size or type of spray tip can result in a variety of problems, including overspray, poor coverage, and clogging. Be sure to choose the correct tip for the type of paint you are using and the surface you are painting.

Additionally, it’s important to maintain your airless sprayer throughout the painting process. This includes cleaning the machine after each use, checking the pressure settings regularly, and inspecting the spray tip for wear and tear. By avoiding these common mistakes and properly maintaining your airless sprayer, you can ensure a successful and professional paint job every time.

Maintenance and Cleaning of your Airless Sprayer for Durability

Using high-quality paint is one thing, but ensuring that your machine is well-maintained is another important aspect of achieving a durable finish. Here are some tips on maintaining and cleaning your airless sprayer to prolong its life.

Regular Maintenance

  • Check for worn or damaged parts and repair or replace as needed.
  • Inspect filters and screens regularly and replace if they are clogged or dirty.
  • Check fluid pressure regularly to ensure it’s optimal for the type of paint you’re using.

Cleaning the Pump

The pump is the workhorse of your airless sprayer and as such, requires proper cleaning to keep it in top shape. After every use, clean the inside of the pump by running a cleaner through the system. For stubborn buildup, disassemble the pump and clean the parts thoroughly with the appropriate cleaning agent. Here are the steps to follow:

  • Flush out the pump with solvent by running it through the system for a few minutes.
  • Disassemble the pump and clean each part individually with the appropriate cleaning agent, such as mineral spirits or lacquer thinner.
  • Reassemble and test the pump before storage.

Cleaning the Spray Gun

The spray gun is where the paint first meets your project, making it a crucial piece to keep clean. Here’s how:

  • Detach the spray tip and guard from the gun and immerse them in the appropriate cleaning agent, such as paint thinner or denatured alcohol.
  • Using a cleaning brush, scrub the gun body and remove any paint residue.
  • Flush the gun out with the cleaning agent, reattach the spray tip and guard, and perform a test run to ensure it’s clean and ready for storage.

Cleaning the Hoses

The hoses are the conduit for the paint, and as such, they require a different cleaning process from the pump and spray gun. Here are some tips:

  • Flush out the hoses with the appropriate cleaning agent, such as water or mineral spirits, after every use.
  • If the hoses are clogged, remove the spray tip and disconnect the hoses from the pump and flush them out separately to unclog them.

Cleaning Schedule

Task Frequency
Inspect filters and screens Before every use
Check fluid pressure Before every use
Clean pump After every use
Clean spray gun After every use
Clean hoses After every use

By following these maintenance and cleaning tips, you can ensure that your airless sprayer lasts for years and provides a professional finish every time.

Tips for Achieving the Best Results with Your Airless Sprayer

If you want to achieve the best results with your airless sprayer, there are several things you need to keep in mind. One of the most important is the type of paint you use. Not all paints are created equal, and some are better suited to airless sprayers than others. In this article, we’ll cover what kind of paint you should use with your airless sprayer, as well as some tips for getting the best results.

Types of Paint for Airless Sprayers

  • Latex paint: Latex paint is a popular choice for airless sprayers because it’s easy to clean up and dries quickly. It’s also less likely to clog your sprayer than other types of paint.
  • Oil-based paint: Oil-based paint is a good choice for airless sprayers if you’re looking for a durable, long-lasting finish. However, it’s more difficult to clean up and may require the use of solvents.
  • Stains and sealers: If you’re using your airless sprayer to apply stains or sealers, you’ll want to look for products that are designed specifically for this purpose. These products are often thinner than paint, which can make them easier to work with.

Tips for Using Your Airless Sprayer

Now that you know what kind of paint to use with your airless sprayer, here are some tips for getting the best results:

  • Prepare your surface: Before you start spraying, make sure your surface is clean and free of any debris that could affect the finish.
  • Choose the right tip: The size of the tip you use will depend on the type of paint you’re using and the surface you’re spraying. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s recommendations before choosing a tip.
  • Use the right pressure: The pressure you use will also depend on the type of paint and surface you’re working with. Again, check the manufacturer’s recommendations to make sure you’re using the right pressure.

Recommended Airless Sprayer Settings for Different Types of Paint

If you’re not sure where to start with your airless sprayer settings, here are some recommended settings for different types of paint:

Paint Type Tip Size Pressure
Latex paint .015-.021 1500-2000 psi
Oil-based paint .017-.023 2000-2500 psi
Stains and sealers .009-.013 700-1000 psi

Of course, these settings are just a starting point. You may need to adjust them based on the specific product you’re using and the surface you’re spraying. And as always, make sure you’re following the manufacturer’s recommendations for the best results.

FAQ: What kind of paint do you use on an airless sprayer?

Q: What type of paint can I use with an airless sprayer?
A: Airless sprayers are capable of spraying a wide range of paint types, including latex, oil-based, enamel, stain, and lacquer.

Q: Can I use thicker paints with an airless sprayer?
A: Yes, airless sprayers are designed to handle thicker paints and coatings, such as high-viscosity enamels or textured coatings.

Q: Can I use water-based paints with an airless sprayer?
A: Yes, airless sprayers are ideal for water-based paints, as they can apply a smooth and even coat without any thinning required.

Q: What is the best type of paint to use with an airless sprayer?
A: The best type of paint to use with an airless sprayer largely depends on the project and the desired finish. Consult with your paint manufacturer or a paint professional for the best paint selection.

Q: Is it necessary to thin down paint before using an airless sprayer?
A: Not always. While some paints may require thinning before use, airless sprayers can handle many thicker paints without any additional thinning.

Q: What size tip should I use with my airless sprayer?
A: The size of the tip largely depends on the type of paint and the desired finish. Consult with your paint manufacturer or the sprayer’s user manual for recommended tip sizes.

Q: Can I use spray paint with an airless sprayer?
A: No, spray paints are not compatible with airless sprayers and should be used with appropriate spray cans or equipment.

Closing Thoughts

Thank you for taking the time to learn about what kind of paint to use on an airless sprayer. With the right paint and equipment, you can achieve beautiful and professional results on your painting projects. Remember to always consult with experts and follow safety guidelines. Visit us again for more helpful tips and information on all things painting!