How to Use a Graco Airless Paint Sprayer

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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Professional painters will tell you that using an airless paint sprayer is around 6 x faster than a paint roller and about 10 x faster than a paintbrush. That makes them great for professionals and larger DIY projects. But setting up and using an airless paint sprayer for the first time can be daunting. Luckily, the experts are here to help with a handy step-by-step guide to connecting and using your Graco airless paint sprayer.

What Is a Graco Airless Paint Sprayer?

And why Graco? Some other brands and manufacturers indeed make paint sprayers and airless paint sprayers, but Graco has established itself as a market leader, and if you’ve bought an airless paint sprayer, there’s a good chance it came from Graco. If a different manufacturer made your paint sprayer, there’s a good chance it’s based on the same market-leading technology, features, and ideas, so this guide will probably help.

Graco Ultra Airless Cordless Sprayer | JLC Online

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Previous paint sprayer technology relied on compressed air, usually from a mechanical compressor. That meant you needed a compressor – and sometimes even a petrol-powered generator for your compressor – to use a paint spray gun. And previous paint sprayer models were just sprayed guns with a gravity-fed hopper or reservoir for paint.

Modern airless sprayers produce their pressure, pressurize the paint itself, and can draw straight from the paint tin or paint bucket. No secondary reservoirs and no messy extra buckets. Most airless paint sprayers are lightweight, portable, and easy to use.

Generally, airless paint sprayers can apply various paints and coatings. Chat with your Graco supplier about the right spray tip size for your painting project.

The best airless paint sprayers are great for producing consistently professional finishes across various paint jobs.

How Do I Set Up My Graco Paint Sprayer?

Setting up a new Graco airless sprayer is quite simple. The latest Graco products come with color, double-sided instructions, with clear images. But you’ll also need a waste bucket, clean water, and your readied paint bucket. You can use fresh water to spray water-based or latex paint. If you’re using an oil-based paint, you should use water that contains 1:10 parts methylated spirits (mineral spirits).

setting up graco electric trueairless sprayer

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Once your new Graco machine is unboxed and the instructions have been located, follow the steps carefully, and you’ll be ready in no time.

Start by placing the required spray tips into the screw-on nozzle section with a colored guard. The arrow should be pointing forward. The arrow can later be rotated to point back toward the spray gun to “purge” any excess paint from the gun and nozzle. For now, engage the trigger lock so the spray gun can’t be activated accidentally.

Next, connect your airless spray gun using the (usually 15m) blue spray hose and then the intake hose. Separate your waste tube and your intake tube (there are handy clips connecting the two by default). Place the waste tube in your waste bucket and your intake tube in a bucket of clean water.

Move the pressure dial to the lowest setting and the Prime/Start switch to the “Prime” setting. Press the Push Prime button twice. Turn the pressure control knob to the “Start” position and turn the power switch on.

Water will be drawn into the intake tube and expelled via the waste tube into your waste bucket. Continue in this mode for 60 seconds.

Transfer your intake tube into your paint and turn the machine on again. Within 10-15 seconds, your waste tube should stop ejecting water and start ejecting paint. Turn the machine off again. Rotate the spray tip arrow to the “Unclog” position (toward the spray gun). Disengage the gun trigger lock and point your spray gun at your waste bucket.

Turn the pressure dial to your required spray pressure.

Pull the spray gun trigger, turn the machine on, and switch the Prime/Start switch to the “Start” setting. Paint should exit the spray gun. When it does, release the trigger to stop spraying. Move the waste drain tube to your paint bucket alongside your intake tube (and clip it into place using clips on the intake tube). Rotate the spray tip arrow to the “Spray” position (arrow pointing forward).

You are now ready to spray.

Using Your Graco Paint Sprayer

Point your spray gun at the surface you want to paint and pull the trigger. As you spray, the pump of your airless paint sprayer will engage periodically to maintain pressure.

Using Your Graco Paint Sprayer

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Use smooth back-and-forth or up-and-down (not both) motions in a broad fan pattern to apply an even coat of paint. If you miss an area, complete your movement and return to the same area in a second smooth motion without releasing the trigger. A spray pattern that is even and consistent from the surface is key to a quality finish.

Ensure you maintain constant movement as you spray to avoid uneven patches of heavier and lighter spray. You can also use the pressure valve on your airless sprayer unit to maintain control of paint flow.

You can use a plastic or metal spray shield to prevent overspray onto skirting boards, door or window frames, or architraves.

Clean-Up and Storage

Clean-up and pack-down follow a similar process to setup, just in reverse. Separate your intake and waste tubes again, placing the intake tube in clean water and your waste tube in an empty bucket. Use your spray gun to spray into your waste bucket until it starts expelling clear water. Switch the tip arrow repeatedly to expel any clogs and paint still in the spray gun.

When the spray gun is expelling water, switch the Prime/Start switch to the “Prime” setting to allow any remaining paint to be expelled from the machine into the waste bucket.

Storing Graco Ultra Airless Cordless Sprayer

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Add Pump Armour to mechanical pump components for storage so that your airless sprayer will be ready next time.

Instead of using a bucket of water: Graco airless sprayers include garden hose connections which means you can connect them directly to your outdoor tap with a section of garden hose and clean them quickly and easily. Remove the paint hose from your bucket of paint, connect your garden hose, turn your tap on, and use the sprayer’s power to spray leftover paint and then water into a bucket until the sprayer is spraying clean, clear water.

What If I Don’t Want To Do the Painting Myself?

You can find qualified tradies to help you with all sorts of tasks around your home or business. 

Tips When Using the Graco Airless Paint Sprayer

Here are some tips for using a Graco airless paint sprayer:

1. Choose the Correct Tip Size

Choosing the correct tip size for a Graco airless paint sprayer is crucial to achieving an even finish on your painting project. The tip size will affect the amount of spray, the spray’s pattern, and the coating’s thickness.

 Graco Airless Paint Sprayer Tip Size

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A larger tip size will allow for a higher flow rate and wider spray pattern, making it suitable for larger surfaces or thicker coatings, while a smaller tip size will produce a finer spray pattern, making it ideal for smaller surfaces or detailed work. Matching the tip size to the paint’s viscosity and the surface’s surface is important to achieve the best results.

2. Prepare Your Surface

Proper surface preparation is key when using a Graco airless paint sprayer to ensure a high-quality, long-lasting finish. Clean the surface and get rid of dirt, grease, and other impurities that may interfere with the adhesion of the paint. Scrape off loose or peeling paint, fill any holes or cracks, and sand them smoothly.

Surface preparations before spraying

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The surface should also be dry and moisture-free, as any dampness can cause the paint to bubble or peel. Once the surface is properly prepared, it is important to prime it with a suitable primer to promote adhesion and provide a uniform surface for the topcoat. Proper surface preparation is fundamental to achieving a professional-looking paint job with a Graco airless paint sprayer.

3. Dilute the Paint

Diluting the paint is important when using a Graco airless paint sprayer. The dilution required will depend on several factors, including the paint’s viscosity, the sprayer’s tip size, and the painted surface. Generally, thick paint may need to be thinned to ensure it can be sprayed evenly without clogging the sprayer’s tip.

Water or a suitable paint thinner should be added in small increments until the desired consistency is achieved to dilute the paint. Properly diluted paint will ensure a smooth and consistent spray pattern, producing a high-quality finish with a Graco airless paint sprayer.

4. Test the Spray Pattern

Testing the spray pattern is essential when using a Graco airless paint sprayer. Before starting the painting, test the spray pattern on a scrap piece of material or an inconspicuous painted surface area. This will help ensure the sprayer is correctly adjusted for the paint type and surface.

 Test the spray pattern

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The spray pattern should be adjusted to achieve a consistent and even fan-shaped pattern with no drips or uneven areas.

5. Keep a Consistent Distance

Maintaining a consistent distance between the Graco airless paint sprayer and the painted surface is crucial to achieving a uniform and even finish. If you hold the sprayer too close to the surface, the paint may pool and create drips, while if you hold it too far away can result in a thin or uneven coat.

A woman spray painting using Graco Paint Sprayer

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The ideal distance will depend on the tip size and the painted surface type but typically ranges between 6-12 inches.

6. Wear Protective Gear

Wearing appropriate protective gear when using a Graco airless paint sprayer is crucial to ensure personal safety and prevent potential health hazards. The paint mist produced by the sprayer irritates the skin, eyes, and respiratory system, and some paints contain harmful chemicals that are absorbed through the skin or inhaled.

Wearing of protective gear

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Therefore, wearing protective gear such as gloves, goggles, respirators, and a long-sleeved shirt or coverall is recommended. Ensuring proper ventilation in the workspace is also crucial to lowering the risk of exposing yourself to paint fumes.

Frequently Asked Questions on How to Use Graco Airless Paint Sprayer

1. How do you use a Graco airless paint gun?

Using a Graco airless paint gun involves a few key steps. First, ensure the gun is properly connected to a paint supply and the pressure is adjusted. Then, hold the gun perpendicular to the surface, pull the trigger to release paint, and move the gun in a steady, overlapping motion. Ensure you maintain a consistent distance from the surface, and practice proper safety measures, such as wearing protective gear and ensuring proper ventilation.

How to use a Graco airless paint gun

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2. Do you need thin paint for Graco airless sprayer?

Generally, thinning paint is not necessary when using a Graco airless sprayer. These sprayers are designed to handle thick, high-viscosity paints without the need for thinning. However, if the paint is excessively thick or if you’re experiencing issues with the spray pattern or clogging, you may need to consult the paint manufacturer’s guidelines or the user manual of your specific Graco sprayer for recommendations on thinning the paint to achieve optimal spraying performance.

3. How do you start a Graco paint sprayer?

To start a Graco paint sprayer, ensure the sprayer is properly connected to a power source and the paint container is filled. Prime the pump by turning the prime valve to the “prime” position and running the sprayer for a few seconds. Then, switch the prime valve to the “spray” position, adjust the pressure, and pull the trigger to begin spraying. Follow the user manual for specific instructions based on your Graco model.

4. How do you use a Graco paint sprayer inside?

When using a Graco paint sprayer inside, follow these steps for a successful application. First, prepare the area by covering furniture, floors, and nearby objects with drop cloths or plastic sheets. Ensure proper ventilation by opening windows or using fans. Fill the sprayer with the desired paint for indoor application and adjust the pressure according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Begin spraying your uncovered areas by holding the gun perpendicular to the surface and using smooth, overlapping strokes. Maintain a consistent distance from the surface you are working on and work systematically. After spraying, allow sufficient drying time before removing protective coverings and ventilate the area to dissipate fumes.

5. How do I paint the exterior of a house using an airless sprayer?

To paint the external parts of a house using an airless sprayer, first, prepare the surface by cleaning it and repairing any damaged areas. Cover windows, doors, and other areas you don’t want to paint. Fill the sprayer with exterior paint and adjust the pressure according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Hold the sprayer perpendicular to the surface, start at the top, and use steady, overlapping strokes. Work in sections, maintaining a consistent distance and allowing sufficient drying time between coats.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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