Pointers for Best Results

Before you get started spraying, read the operating manual and review all safety precautions for your paint sprayer. Be sure to properly prepare the surfaces and protect anything you don’t want to spray.

Here are some spray techniques and pointers to get you started.

Practice First

If you are new to using a paint sprayer, practice first by spraying water before you paint. It typically takes some practice time to become comfortable with the spray techniques that produce the best quality finish. With a little practice you'll find your Graco sprayer easy-to-use and you'll be spraying like a pro in no time.

  1. Using water, choose a practice area such as a garage door or other large flat surface.
  2. Follow the start up procedures using water in your sprayer's manual.
  3. Once the unit is primed with water to the gun, engage gun trigger safety and install spray tip and tip guard. See your user manual for details.

Selecting the Best Pressure Setting

Example of Good Spray Pattern Example of Poor Spray Pattern

Set the spraying pressure using the pressure control knob to achieve a good quality full spray pattern. (See a good spray pattern example to the right). Notice that there are no runs in the pattern and the pattern itself is smooth. Before painting on the actual surface, use some scraps of cardboard or other area to test the quality of the spray pattern.

  • Start with a low-pressure setting and take a test pattern - trigger the gun quickly and if the spray pattern is full, you are ready.
  • In most cases the spray pattern will not be full on the first try - for example a gap exists at each end of the pattern or the edges appear heavier than the middle area of the spray pattern (see example of poor spray patterns ).
  • If the spray pattern is not full and solid you will need to increase the pressure setting slightly and test again. Continue this process of increasing the pressure setting until the desired pattern is achieved.

(Note when using paints or other coatings, proper spray tip selection is important. If the maximum pressure setting is reached and the spray pattern still is not suitable, you may have the incorrect tip size or the tip may be worn and has to be replaced – see spray tips or troubleshooting under Paint Sprayer Operation for more information.)

Spray Techniques

Using the following guidelines will help you learn some spraying techniques to produce an even coverage and quality finish.

Keep your Distance Consistent

Start by getting comfortable moving the spray gun and learning to maintain the recommended distance from the surface. Ideally the gun (spray tip) should be pointed at the surface to be sprayed - square to the wall (perpendicular) - and held approximately 12 inches from the surface. Move your arm while keeping the gun pointed straight at the surface being painted. Fanning the gun to direct the spray at an angle can cause an uneven finish. Flex your wrist slightly at the beginning and end of each stroke to maintain an even coat.

A good exercise to get the feel for the proper gun movement is to hold the spray gun with the tip guard about 2 inches away from the wall and move the gun back and forth (horizontally) along the wall while maintaining a 2 inch distance (do not actually spray, only focus on gun positioning – note how at the beginning and end of each stroke you must bend your wrist slightly to ensure you keep the tip at the same distance). Once you are comfortable at a close distance, move back to 12 inches away and practice a few more times, remember to watch the position at the beginning and end of your reach (if you don't maintain the same distance and flare out at the beginning or end - common for first timers – you will notice the spray pattern starts wide, narrows and then ends wide).

Work within Your Reach

When you do spray, you should only work within the area you can easily reach to maintain the proper spray gun position (be careful not to angle the tip at the end of your reach – when you maintain the same distance throughout your stroke, notice how you have to move your wrist).

Triggering the Spray Gun

Next is learning how to trigger the spray gun. You always want to have the gun moving before you pull the trigger (starting the spray) and continue your stroke after you release the trigger. Triggering the spray gun after beginning each stroke and releasing before ending the stroke will avoid excessive material in one area (heavy coverage or blotches at the beginning and end of each stroke).


To ensure an even amount of paint on the surface, after completing the first stroke, aim the spray gun so that the tip points at the edge of the previous stroke, overlapping each stroke by half. When spraying on broad, open surfaces such as ceilings and bare walls, the outside edges should be sprayed first. Then the middle area can be sprayed more quickly.

Spraying Inside Corners

Aim the spray gun and tip directly into the corner covering each of the adjacent walls evenly.