Do You Need an Air Compressor for A Paint Sprayer?

Paint sprayers are becoming the primary device for painting walls, furniture, stainless steel items, etc. before that, spray painting was limited to cars only. Later on, people realized that using a paint sprayer instead of a brush or a set of brushes is much more efficient. 

Also, using a brush to paint is much harder than it seems because it’s actually very complicated to maintain the same coating everywhere on a wall or any surface for that matter. On the other hand, if you once learn how to coat a surface using a paint sprayer properly, it’s time-efficient, energy-efficient, and most important, it’s DIY. You can literally do it yourself. 

But the question is, do you need an air compressor for a paint sprayer? To understand the answer to this question, you have to know what an air compressor does precisely.

What Is the Function of An Air Compressor in A Paint Sprayer?

Suppose you know the basics of exactly how a refrigerator or an air conditioner works. You would understand the function of an air compressor in a paint sprayer very quickly. The work of a compressor is to maintain the optimum pressure while generating air or force. 

So, the air that is coming out of the air conditioner, the pressure of that air is controlled by the compressor. The same goes for a refrigerator. 

Just like that, an air compressor is the main component of a paint sprayer. What the air compressor does is that it generate the optimum amount of pressure that the sprayer requires. The sprayer can then spray paint with that pressure, maintaining superior consistency. 

Now, again let’s get back to the initial question. Ask again, do you need an air compressor for a paint sprayer? The answer is yes, you do. Because without it, a paint sprayer is just a device that kind of looks like a weird-shaped water gun. 

How to Use A Paint Sprayer with An Air Compressor?

This is a proper question. One may not know the method of how to use a paint sprayer with an air compressor. We will briefly discuss every aspect of the usage so that you don’t have to scatter here and there asking questions. 

We will go forward phase by phase and step by step for your discretion. That way, it will be easier for you to know everything there is about using and maintaining a paint sprayer with an air compressor. 

Preparing the Surface and the Tools

At first, pick up your paint and the thinner. There are several types of paints that you can use in a paint sprayer. Not the regular kind, though. Most people use oil-based paint or acrylic paint on paint sprayers. Our suggestion would be to go for oil-based paints.

Also, you would need a primer for a final finish and a few other cleaning agents for cleaning the sprayer and the air compressor after you’re done using them. 

Step 2 here is about picking up the correct tools for your work. You need to pick up at least two types of the best handheld paint sprayer. There’s a problem with spray guns. That is, not all types of guns have the same pressure. Thus, a few guns can only cover larger and medium areas, whereas some guns are suitable for medium to small areas. 

Also, there are some designated guns only for smaller areas. So, to work on any project, you need a spraying gun that can cover large to the medium area and one gun that is designated for small areas. That is the better choice. 

After you’re done picking guns, it’s time to inspect the surface and pick nozzles that are best for covering every millimeter of it. 

You have sprayed our fair share of sanitizers for the past two years, haven’t you? If you have, you will notice that the sprayer tends to spread unevenly from the sides, which doesn’t necessarily hit the spot but just randomly spread and mix in the air. 

The thing with paint particles is that they don’t get mixed with the air. They get carried by air and fall onto other stuff that is kept inside a room where you’re supposedly working with the paint sprayer. While you’re trying to make something look new, another one is getting ruined due to the spreading of paint. 

The easiest solution is to remove everything you can from the room and cover the rest adequately. You could use old newspapers or regular paper, plastic sheets, and masking tape to cover everything.

After covering everything, give an excellent dry cleaning to the surface you’re about to paint. Use a duster or a piece of cloth to get rid of the dirt at first. After that, using a microfiber cloth, carefully wipe every inch so, if there’s any micro-debris, it will be gone.

Setting the Paint Sprayer with the Air Compressor

Connect the air hose from the compressor with the paint sprayer. Make sure that the connection is proper and there are no leaks. Cover the connection spot with strong tape. If you have Teflon tapes, it would be best. Any strong tape would do the job. 

Before turning the machine on, check if there are any leaks. If not, you’re good to go.

Now you have to adjust the pressure of the air compressor to maintain the consistency of the painting. The pressure can go up to 60 PSI considering the air compressor model. But, you don’t really need such high pressure to work. 

Again, a few HVLP paint sprayer guns require high pressure. So, before setting the pressure, check the instructions that come with the paint sprayer and adjust accordingly. The typical pressure setting for paint sprayers is usually between 15 to 25PSI. 

Adjusting the pressure is not an issue. The issue is whether the consistency of the paint is proper or not. We’ll get to that, but on step 3, you have to take a little thinner and put it in the spraying cup or tube. You don’t really need much because this is for testing the consistency and usability of the sprayer and the nozzles. 

Take a cock sheet or an unnecessary board, run the paint sprayer a few times using different nozzles. You should run it horizontally, vertically, clockwise, and anti-clockwise circular motions and small sprays. If the sprayed amount is proper, it’s ready to be used.

Now, get rid of the thinner from the tube or the spraying cup. 

Applying the Paint

The first step in the application process is thinning the paint to proper consistency. A bucket of paint is very dense, and it can’t be used directly. The paint needs to be thinned to proper consistency and color. 

This step is very tricky. Some people flunk this process while trying to achieve the optimum color but adding way too much thinner. Thus, the paint becomes light and faded. On the other hand, some add less paint thinner, making the paint very dense and hard to spray. This can cause mechanical problems to the paint sprayer.

So, take this step very seriously and thin the paint. If you don’t know how to do it, you can always seek expert advice from local professionals.

Fill the spraying container. Filling the container requires some calculations. You wouldn’t require much paint if you are painting a small item or have a small area to cover. But if you are painting, say an entire room or a couple of rooms, you might need to refill the container. 

Also, there’s the factor of your carrying capacity. As spray painting is about precision, you can’t strain yourself too much. Otherwise, it will hamper the end result. So, only fill the spray gun container to the optimum amount. 

Now apply the paint. How you want to be your painting motion depends on you. And sometimes, on the item, you are painting. You can spray vertically or horizontally. Or you can go for circular motions. 

Usually, you can use all the motions if the surface areas are extensive. All you have to maintain is the coating consistency. There’s also a solution if the coating consistency is not even.

It’s very typical not to get a 100% consistent finish on the surface. There will be uneven spaces. But you can fix them with a bit of help from the primer. 

To use primer, get rid of the paint from the container and the spraying tube if there’s any. Then fill the container and the tube with primer. Make sure you thin the primer with thinner if it’s thick. Apply the primer in places where the paint is uneven.

One little caution – do not apply the primer before the paint has completely dried out. The primer should not get mixed with liquid paint. 

Cleaning the Sprayer and Air Compressor

You don’t really need to clean the air compressor because the paint doesn’t reach it. You can wipe it from the outside to get rid of the dust. The gun sprayer tube and container require actual cleaning.

Cleaning the Sprayer and Air Compressor

Get rid of the excess paint if there is any. Never leave paint inside the tube or the container. If you leave paint inside the tube and the container, it will dry out and get stuck. The container would not impose too many problems. But the tube would. 

The pressure will not be optimum, and liquid paint will not reach the gun properly, which can cause mechanical failure. So, get rid of the excess paint from the tube and the container.

As the paint has sat inside the container and the tube for quite some time, it’s highly likely that some paint has already gotten stuck onto the walls and the surface of them. So, how can you get rid of them?

It’s easy. Take some paint thinner and insert it inside the tube and the container. The thinner would help to thin the dried paint. Use a piece of cloth to wipe out the paint.

Now, use water to clean the tube and the container correctly. Wipe the places you can, rinse, and leave the rest in the air to dry out the water.

If the paint is stuck onto the nozzles, follow the methods mentioned above. Use paint thinner and after that wipe them with a wet cloth. All that’s left for them is to be dried out. 

You’re done with the cleaning process. Again, you don’t need to clean the sprayer gun from the inside. Use a cloth to get rid of the dirt and dust. You can wipe it again using a microfiber cloth for extra cleaning. 

Can you use a paint sprayer with just compressed air?

Usually, the people who do road art use spray cans for painting. That is enough for a low volume of paint. But paint sprayers are used for painting areas with a large surface. You can paint using compressed air, but you shouldn’t

How much air pressure is needed to spray paint?

The amount of pressure needed for spray painting depends on the spraying gun. Some low-pressure guns can get the job done with pressure less than 10 PSI. Other sprayers need pressure higher than 25 PSI. So, it depends on the sprayer.

Can a Beginner Use a Paint Sprayer?

It doesn’t take much time for anyone to get users to sprayers. It does require a little practice. So, if a beginner is planning to use a paint sprayer, they should start practicing and, after practicing, they should try spraying inexpensive and expendable objects.

Final Words

I hope we have covered everything there is to know about air compressors. Again, the answer to your initial question, do you need an air compressor for a paint sprayer, is yes. You do need an air compressor. 

If you already have an air compressor that you can use on your spray gun, make sure you follow everything that has been mentioned above. That way, you will pull off what you are trying to, and your paint sprayer’s entire maintenance will be done.

About Emon Hawlader

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