that day I didn’t know how to use a paint sprayer {and the next day when I did}

Let’s just start right out with this since it makes me laugh out loud.

learning to use a paint sprayer

Let’s just say that my first afternoon attempt at using a paint sprayer didn’t go as planned. It was actually kind of another one of those “what I learned about my husband while trying to learn how to use a paint sprayer” days. Like the whole closet door making experience.

Just getting started in trying to get this thing figured out was just kind of intimidating to us.  It has been looming over our head in our shed for months and we were finally to the stage where we’d picked out a color we wanted to try and it was time to give it a go.

So Joel took a nap.  :)

Yeah, he wanted no part of what was sure to be a paint sprayer fiasco.

Smart, smart man.  And lesson learned, this guy really does hate painting as much as he claims.

But, want to see something cool?

learning to use a paint sprayer

I figured it out!  Well, that is not entirely true, but more details on that in a minute.

I actually instagrammed this picture as it was happening and many thought this was white paint.  It’s actually Dewey House Grey, it is a custom color that matches a hotel in town. We liked it and knew we would have to get our color approved by the historic approval committee so we thought an easy way to go would be to pick a color that had already been approved.  We figured there was no sense getting our hearts set on a color just to have it denied.

And see how it’s so much lighter on the right, in the sun, than on the left, in the dark.  We’re realizing the “50 shades of gray always a different shade of gray” is kind of fun.

But let’s skip back to the beginning of this process, which is actually the day before any paint ended up on any walls, otherwise known as the day I didn’t know how to use a paint sprayer.

HomeRight sent me this paint sprayer (aff link) way back in the fall of last year.  They are a company I met at the blog conference and when I explained our future exterior painting plans they said they had the perfect tool for me.

homeright power pro 2800 paint sprayer

I tried to explain that I already had the perfect tool …home improvement

I kid.

Anyway, we’ve been whittling away at exterior projects in preparation for just whipping the paint sprayer out and tackling the whole project at one time.  I’ve heard horror stories about the amount of time it takes to clean paint sprayers and just didn’t want to go through all that numerous times.

But, such is our DIY world, if we waited for the entire house to be ready we would never get to it.  We still have to power wash the whole house, scrape off any old chippy paint, re-caulk any cracking areas, prime any spots with bare wood or that we’ve had to patch.  Oh, and we do still stash some “stuff” outside, luckily not as much as in this picture, but enough to get in the way of a paint spraying project.

well pump repair process

So once we had our color picked I was itching to give it a go.  As in itching with hives at the thought of trying the sprayer, but determined to just do it already to get over that hump of fear.

For weeks, many a conversation involved me asking Joel when would be a good time for “us” to try the paint sprayer and many a response from him saying “you” should just try it and let me know if you have any trouble.

So nothing happened.  For weeks.

And then I just decided that I would whip it out and follow the instructions impeccably and test it out on the shed in the back yard.

shed painted with paint sprayer

This was the perfect low-pressure spot to start for a few reasons:

  • you can only see it if you’re in our back yard, if I messed up royally ourselves and our house guests would be the only ones to know
  • it was a nice-sized wall so I could practice my nice sweeping motions, stopping and starting with the sprayer pointed toward the wall and using the sprayer while walking for one continuous spray
  • we will most likely need to replace this wall of the shed anyway due to some rot, it’s a project at the bottom of the to-do list but worst case scenario we would ruin a rotting wall anyway, no harm no foul

But, as luck would have it, I wouldn’t even get to that point until the next day.  Following the nicely detailed instructions included with the paint sprayer I set everything up.  One key tip as you get set up is to be sure that everything you use is grounded to prevent shocks, you should use a metal waste bin unlike the one I used.

paint sprayer parts

You’ll actually start with just water so that immediately took a lot of the pressure out of the process.  How much damage could I do with water?

For a little diagram description, the:

black arrow – this will be your paint supply with the suction tube in it, to start it is a garden water can with soapy water, there’s no filling up a separate bin with this paint sprayer … first clue that the clean up process isn’t going to be as tedious either

white arrow – this is a waste bin (should be metal and properly grounded to prevent potential electric shocks) with the return tube in it, when it comes to paint, what comes out of this return tube will indicate what will come out of your spray tip when you adjust to spray mode

red arrow – this is the electric plug-in, I definitely had some second thoughts about the whole water situation (kind of like using a hair dryer in the tub, no?), just be sure you follow the proper grounding instructions provided in the manual

blue arrow – the spray gun and trigger attached to the supply hose, one great feature about this gun is the guard that can be rotated to spray in either a horizontal or vertical pattern, for the shed above it worked best to spray up and down since the grooves in the wall went up and down, but for the house siding it worked better to go side-to-side since the siding runs horizontally

After flushing the system with the soapy water and then playing around with the settings, still with only water, I felt confident ready like it was time to just forge ahead to the paint.

And this happened.

using a paint sprayer Womp womp.

I was feeling a little defeated, and the panic of having paint now run through the whole thing was what led to my bigger paint disaster when I released the trigger on the gun.

learning to use a paint sprayer

With the trigger depressed it was releasing all of the built-up pressure that this type of airless sprayer model uses. But when I took my finger off of the trigger, all of that pressure had nowhere to go except to force paint out all of the little places that things weren’t connected tightly and splatters of paint came out fast and furiously.  Be sure to turn the machine off immediately if you notice a leak, don’t let go of the trigger first like I did.

Waving the white flag I headed out to the Home Depot to buy some new rollers so I could just get some paint on the outside of the house already!

And like a guardian angel, Steve, in the paint department saw me, still in my paint splattered clothes and stifled a chuckle enough to ask if he could help with anything.  I’m sure thinking some unsavory thoughts about my painting abilities since I was wearing so much of it.

After sharing my experience he suggested I talk with the rental department, they might be able to help since they service paint sprayers.  I had no idea.

I quickly explained my situation and they offered to take a look at it if I could run home and get it, now only 20 minutes before closing.  You guys, not 20 minutes later I had a perfectly functioning paint sprayer.

using a paint sprayer

I just hadn’t tightened everything together enough. #DIYfail

I had taken all of the “don’t over-tighten” warnings in the manual a little too seriously and it turns out that both ends of the hose, one connected to the machine and one connected to the nozzle, just needed to be securely tightened with a wrench.

So the next day was spent covering the windows and front door with trash bags and taping off the already primed trim, and we still have some ideas for doing the whole taping thing different as we tackle more sides of the house, so more details on those steps will surely follow as we learn what we think works best.  But I will just tell you, this machine is awesome.

And cleaning, all you have to do is remove the guard and paint tip from the nozzle and soak them in water and take the suction tube out of the paint pail and put it back in the water bin and run water through it until it runs clear.  It really couldn’t be any easier.  Five or so minutes of sitting there holding the trigger while admiring our freshly painted front porch.

using a paint sprayer

The actual use of the sprayer is quite straight forward:

  • keep the nozzle about 14 inches from the surface you are painting
  • use long flowing motions
  • don’t over-spray in any one spot
  • I would definitely recommend wearing a face mask, there were a few breezy moments where the spray came right back to me
  • and use a drop cloth where necessary, using sheets or plastic to cover shrubs and plants worked well, we’re lucky because we will be relacing our back porch and our front patio so we didn’t have to get really particular with this, if you really need to protect those surfaces I would recommend taping the drop cloth right up close to the wall you are painting so it lays flat and enables you to paint all the way down to the ground

Having the shed as a test wall was the perfect way to get started once I had the machine properly set up.

“Practicing” on the front of the house just didn’t seem like a smart idea.  Now if only I had a caulk fairy to come in while we sleep to get the rest of the exterior ready for paint.  I mean, while “I” sleep, there’s no doubt the husband isn’t going to do any caulking around here whether he’s sleeping or not.

And, I’m over at today showing how I added a big pop of color in a small way to brighten things up for spring, you can check it out here.

spring planters


  1. says

    You have perfect timing my friend! I’m about to use a paint sprayer to paint the roof of the gazebo at the garden center where I work and I’m freaking out about it! I was hoping to pawn it off on someone else but it doesn’t look like I have a victim so I’ll have to do it myself. Thanks for the tips – I’ll let you know how it goes!
    The gray is nice. Can’t wait to see it all finished!

    • says

      You can do it!! I will tell you, once I got over my initial hiccups I fell in love. If you have a HD close by you could take it by their rental center to make sure it’s hooked up properly, they didn’t charge me a thing.

  2. says

    Once again, you’re my DIY hero! Exterior painting is a HUGE project to tackle! I hope Joel knows how lucky he is that his wife is such a bad*ss DIYer! Our house is 3 stories on a hilly lot, so i could never tackle that, but maybe for my empty nest house someday. :)
    xo Heidi

  3. chris aka monkey says

    i just howled too when i saw your legs covered in paint…. i do love the color… the whole house is looking so good xx

  4. says

    Awesome. I have a paint sprayer that you pour the paint into the container attached to it. It had the tubing and was way too scared to try it. I let a friend of a friend borrow it and she destroyed it. I’ll have to check this one out. We need to add a new one to our tool kit.

    • says

      Yeah, the ones where you have to pour the paint into a new container just seem like so much extra time in cleaning, which seems to counteract the amount of time you save in the spray process. I was thrilled with how the suction and waste tubes functioned.

  5. says

    Dang girl you’re brave! :-) I wish there was some easy non messy way to use this indoors! We are going to repaint our whole interior- get rid of the bright colors from a few years back and do all neutrals..

    • says

      I wish there was a good sprayer to use inside, there is definitely a lot of overspray, I personally would need a LOT of drop cloths. lol

  6. says

    I can so identify with the paint spattered all over you. It seems I cannot do any sizable paint job without trying it on myself to see if the color is flattering to my complexion!

    • says

      Hi Kristi! Here is the custom blend from Sherwin Williams: This is Exterior Superior Performance Ultra White 6404-13761

      Color Code BAC colorant OZ 32 64 128
      B-1 Black – 43
      R-2 maroon – 02 – 1
      Y3 Deep gold – 30 – –
      W1 white 2 – – –
      R4 New red – – – 1

      1 gal, ultra white
      A89W 01151

      The closest paint chip I’ve found is a color called Wood Smoke by Glidden. It really is hard to find just the right grey. Good luck!!

  7. Cassie Miller says

    I came across this post and I am SO glad to hear your story, because the EXACT same thing just happened to me yesterday. I was covered in paint for the exact same reason! ( I hand tightened the nut not realizing it had to be REAL tight and then tried to fix it and ended up letting out all the pressure in the waste bucket which then went all over me) I was so frustrated that I cleaned it out and put it back in the box! I will be giving it another try today! 😀

    • says

      I’m so happy to hear that. So frustrating, right?!?! I was so fed up. Hope you have better luck next time. Once it is figured out the machine makes painting go by so fast!!


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