how to extreme

How to Paint using an Airless Sprayer

Painting, Siding and Exterior April 26, 2012 Sonia

By Larry Walton


How to prepare for and spray a new paint job on an old house by using an airless sprayer.


Anytime I’ve got much painting to do, I consider using an airless sprayer. Once the prep is done, applying paint with an airless sprayer is quick and easy. It has the advantage of consistent coverage on a variety of textures and of getting into all the cracks and crevices that are hard to reach with other paint-smearing tools.

Like all paint jobs, spraying is more about preparing to paint than anything else. Once you get it into your head that the prep work is part of the painting process, you’ll be more likely to relax and go with it. Don’t be too anxious to get into the paint can, especially if you are spraying because it takes a little more prep to spray compared to other methods.

Prepping a house for exterior paint usually involves finding the house amongst the plant life, cleaning the siding, removing loose paint, repairing damaged wood, caulking gaps, priming bare wood and masking and/or covering everything you don’t want painted.

The first thing we had to do was find the house! Apparently yard work wasn’t a top priority for the renters of this house, so the blackberry bushes on the back side of the house had run amok. Painting often calls for some shrub trimming. We sometimes use long lengths of rope to pull shrubs back away from the house, anchoring the rope on a stake in the lawn or tying off to a tree or fence post. This produces the added entertainment of some trip hazards on the job site. Video cameras ready?

Stiff bristle brush

We found a stiff bristle brush with an extension handle to be very effective against the stuff that was stuck to this house.

Once you’ve found the house, it’s time to wash it. Washing does several things. First it removes surface dust and spider webs that can keep paint from sticking to the surface. Washing, with the help of such products as T.S.P. or a quality mildew-cleaning agent can kill surface mold and mildew, which is not only ugly but keeps paint from adhering.

Finally, washing accentuates any paint flaking problems. Why would you want to do that? Because we want our new paint to stick only to existing paint that is firmly gripping the house.

We used a TSP solution with a stiff bristle brush mounted on an extension handle to get the wash job done on this house.

After scrubbing the siding with a TSP solution, we sprayed it down with a hose. If the weather is over 70 degrees, you can generally paint the following day after washing, or in a couple of days if it’s not that warm.

Random orbit sander

We used a random orbit sander to smooth out the areas we filled. We also used the sander to taper the paint where flaking left a hard edge of several paint layers.

Putty knife

We used a putty knife to scrape off loose paint.

Twist drill bit

I used a twist drill bit to drill out the rivets on the gutter downspouts so they could be removed.

Next, we used a putty knife to scrape all the areas that had loose paint. The house we were painting had smooth siding and had been repainted several times since its construction. On smooth siding, you can smooth out the areas that have missing paint with a sander, which can feather the hard edges where the paint-to-paintless transition is a noticeable step. This makes these patches nearly invisible after painting, which is pretty cool.

Paint-able caulk

We used a quality, paint-able caulk to seal gaps like this transition between window trim and siding.

Auto body style filler

This house had been retrofitted with drill-and-fill insulation, but the plugs were not done well. Painting gave us a chance to use an auto-body style filler to fix these scars on the siding.

Paint brush to apply primer

We used a paint brush to apply primer to all areas where paint flaking exposed bare wood.


Our primer had been sitting around long enough for the components to separate. Be sure paints are thoroughly mixed to a consistent color.