How To Use a Paint Sprayer With an Air Compressor

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Want to learn how to use a paint sprayer with an air compressor? If you are like most people, chances are that you do not want to spend weeks on end trying to paint an area in your home by doing it one stroke at a time with a small paint brush. Not only is that a tedious job, but it is a time-consuming one that will more than likely tempt you to cut corners and end up with an unfinished project.

Thankfully, we have come a long way and now have tools that allow the job to get done faster and more accurately. One such tool is a paint sprayer. This may be a fairly basic tool today, but even so, it requires a certain amount of patience to learn how to properly use it with an air compressor and understand all the features.

Below is a guide on steps to take to learn how to use these tools to get your painting job done faster.

How to mix paint for your spray gun feature image

Using A Paint Sprayer With an Air Compressor in 5 Steps

1.) Prepare the area you are painting

Before taking your paint sprayer out for use, you will need to evaluate and develop a plan for the area you are painting. The first thing you need to do is set out drop cloths or canvas sheets over the entire are you will be working in so that paint doesn’t get on the floor, furniture, or any other unwanted surfaces. You can also use tarps and tape to cover any part of the room that you do not want to get exposed to the paint.

Getting the area prepped and clean will allow you to save time and not worry about getting paint on any other surface than the one desired.

2.) Thin out your paint thoroughly

If your paint is not thinned out properly, it could cause some issues. Paint sprayers can be finicky tools and the paint that they spray out has to be the right consistency, or it will not spray evenly and could potentially get clogged.

Often times, you can thin the paint out by simply adding one-fourth cup of water to every gallon of paint that you use. Once the water is added into the paint it is vital that it is mixed together well.

3.) Properly connect the air compressor

This step is one of the most important parts of the process. If your paint sprayer is not properly hooked up to your air compressor, the tool will not work properly.

Ensure that the hoses and tubes are attached in their proper places and put on straight so that the air comes out and into the paint sprayer. Once you are certain that all of the tubes and hoses are properly plugged in, you are nearly ready to get started on your paint job.

Every step before and after this step can be readjusted or changed, but if the hoses and tubes are not connected, or are not put on correctly, then the paint sprayer and air compressor will not work.

4.) Turn the paint sprayer on

This may seem like an obvious step, but it is a crucial one. You should not attempt to turn on either the air compressor nor the paint sprayer until the hoses and tubes are attached to their designated ports.

Once you turn it on you will want to look at your PSI levels on the air compressor and adjust it to the proper level for the job you are trying to do. Trying to figure out the right PSI level for your job sounds like a daunting task, but it can actually be figured out quite easily.

Before you pour all of your paint into the canister, add just a little bit, then spray that onto a sheet of paper or other disposable material and change the PSI until it’s perfect and the paint is coming out as you want it too. It may take a few tries, but this is an easy way to find your perfect PSI setting and to practice your strokes so you can get a nice even coat once you start painting on the actual area.

5.) Now it is time to actually start your paint job

Once you have hooked all of the hoses and tubes up and found the right PSI on the air compressor, it’s time to start painting~ From here on out the air compressor will push the paint out of the spray painter and get the paint onto the designated area for you with minimal work.

When you pick up the paint sprayer and start to spray, keep the nozzle anywhere between six to twelve inches away from the surface that you are painting. The air compressor is going to be pushing out the paint quickly, so if your nozzle is too close to the surface the paint is more likely to clump and run leaving you with a messy paint job.

As you start to paint, always follow the grain if you are painting a wood surface, and keep the nozzle going in the same direction so that the paint goes on smoothly and evenly.


Because there are so many tubes and hoses going to and from the air compressor and the paint sprayer, learning how to use a paint sprayer with air compressor can look like a daunting task that you do not even want to attempt for fear that you may mess up your paint job and have to spend even more time and money to redo the paint job. However, if you take the project step by step and get in a few practice strokes, the intimidating air compressor and paint sprayer actually end up being not too hard to use.

If you learn how to use a paint sprayer with air compressor it can end up shaving off hours of that tedious painting time and leave you with a beautiful finished product that you love to look at.



Ryan is a writer for He's been a hobbyist and painter for a long time, and now enjoys teaching others. His content primarly focuses on reviews and guides for painters and construction professionals.

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