Our go-to spray guns and tips for how to spray like a pro

The spray gun has quickly become one of our most-used tools, as we’ve taken on more and more cabinetry, trim, and furniture refinishing projects. As a result, we have constantly been on the hunt for the best spray gun that will give us the most professional end-product. There’s nothing worse than killing yourself to install the most flawless quality trimwork and then being disappointed in the end finish because of your spray gun. Here’s our current assortment of spray guns and when we use them:

Our Multi-Purpose Spray Gun: The Wagner Flexio 5000

This spray gun is affordable and is a good choice for most bigger projects. It comes with a few different nozzles and canisters, so you can use it for broad coverage (e.g. painting a wall or fence) and smaller detail projects (e.g. painting a chair). It’s easy to use and covers a lot of ground quickly. Our only con about this spray gun is that if you’re looking for an extra smooth, perfect factory finish, you may find yourself frustrated with this spray gun. We have managed to get it pretty close, but just not quite flawless.

Our Detail Spray Gun: The Earlex Sprayport 6003

When we’re looking for that perfectly smooth factory finish, we use this gun. It’s perfect for cabinetry, furniture pieces, and other detail-oriented projects. We recently used this spray gun to paint cabinet doors and the finish is absolutely flawless. This spray gun offers you a ton of control, and when you couple that with the right sized nozzle (there are options), you can really achieve a high-quality professional look. We did use this spray gun to paint the paneled walls in our living room and dining room, even though it’s not a recommended use case, and found that it was much slower going than using the Wagner Flexio, but we did get exactly the perfect finish we were looking to achieve. One other note, since the room was so large, this spray gun needed to be on for several hours in a row, which definitely made the built-in compressor get pretty warm – I would say that project pushed this spray gun to the limit, though! We have found ourselves reaching for this spray gun the most since getting it. I will also caveat, that since this is a professional-grade sprayer, it comes with a higher price tag.

Our Top Tricks for Getting the Best Results From a Spray Gun

  • Prep: This applies to any time you’re painting, but if you don’t prep the surface meticulously, your results will suffer. This means caulking every seam, filling every nail hole with wood fill, sanding with a high-grit sandpaper, and wiping every surface down with a cloth to remove all the dust.
  • Research: Nearly every brand has produced video tutorials on how to use their spray gun. Watch these videos! There’s key information on how to avoid the most common missteps that relate specifically to your spray gun. It’s 10 minutes of time that will be invaluable. This is the video we watched on the Earlex SprayPort, and this is the video for the Wagner Flexio.
  • Mask everything off: No matter what spray gun you’re using, there will be overspray. That overspray may be so fine that you don’t even notice it until you’re finished spraying. We’re extra cautious here and mask off everything with paper and plastic sheeting. Alternatively, if we’re spaying outside, we use this pop-up spray tent to keep both the spray contained and any debris off the items we’re spraying.

  • Watch your paint consistency: We have run into some issues with spraying paint that is too thick (primer can be a big culprit here), so we make sure to thin our paint, when necessary with some water and use Floetrol to help with leveling the paint. We actually add Floetrol any time we’re painting with a brush also, to keep brush strokes to a minimum. When adding water, check the product info from your paint manufacturer on the water tolerance and best recommendations for thinning the paint.
  • Keep your nozzle clean: We bought a small, cheap plastic tub from Home Depot (under $3!) and keep it filled with water to quickly rinse and brush off the nozzle while spraying (usually every 10-15 minutes). It’s made a huge difference in the quality of our finish and keeping the nozzle from getting jammed up while in the groove.
  • Clean, clean, clean: One of the biggest things I hear is that the spray gun worked great for the first coat and then the second did not go on as well. This usually indicates to me that you haven’t taken the time to do a deep clean of the spray gun parts after every use. This is where we spend a lot of time making sure every part is completely clear of paint, because once it dries and you go to use the gun again, you will have a frustrating experience. If you take one thing away from this post, it’s to get a good cleaning regiment down for your spray gun. Make sure that if your spray gun doesn’t come with a set of cleaning tools that you buy them, as you really need to be able to get deep into all the parts of the spray gun.
  • Thin coats are key: It’s much better to do thin, fine coats of paint than to go for full coverage by spraying a heavier coat, which will lead to drips and a lesser quality finish.
  • Make sure you have good lighting: When spraying, you really need to be able to see what you’re doing and an extra light source or two can help you to identify areas you may have missed or to catch errant drips before it’s too late. If we’re working indoors, we will often wear both a headlamp (I never thought I would be the type of person who wore headlamps, but we swear by them now!), and have a bright work lamp also shining on the surface.
  • Safety First: Always, always, always wear a respirator when using a spray gun. The fine mist will end up in your lungs otherwise, and you really don’t want health issues because of using a spray gun.

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