Got a DIY spray painting project that you’re anxious to get rightly done? Maybe a paint spray shield (or a paint guard) can help!
Whether you’re new to the game or have been around the block, understanding what a paint shield is and how to use it for your project can go a long way toward a clean finish.
In this guide, I’ll cover everything you need to know about paint shields, including what they are, how to use them, and knowing which ones are right for you.
Follow the information in this guide to make sure your next paint job turns out to be your best one yet!
Let’s start with the basics: what exactly are paint shields?
What are Paint Shields?
As you might have guessed, these devices are barriers that protect your surfaces from getting covered in paint.
Indeed, one of the biggest differences between amateur jobs and pro finishes is being able to control your paint and get that sharp final product finish.
A paint shield is a device that can help you do just that.
With a paint shield tool, you can easily catch the paint by wedging the tool into the area you want to protect.
Then move your brush or a sprayer to paint across the area.
Think of this scenario: you are painting your window frame and don’t want any paint to get on your walls or floor.
Without a paint spray shield, this may be harder than it sounds.
That’s because paint shields are highly effective at keeping unwanted paint from dripping down surfaces or over spraying on certain sections of the wall.
How to Use a Paint Shield Correctly?
Keeping all the above information in mind, let’s go over some essential paint shield usage tips that will help you get the job done right the first time—and every time.
By following these tips, you can get a clean-looking paint job, even if you are using a pressure device such as a spray gun.
Let’s take a look:
Step 1- Hold Your Shield Correct
You won’t get very far if you don’t know how to hold your paint shield.
Though it may seem as simple as getting into your room and starting to paint, the actual use of the device is a bit trickier.
How do you know, for starters, where to position the paint shield (or your drywall knife) so that you optimize protection and minimize the risk of overspray?
It all depends on what you are trying to keep safe.
In all likelihood, there will be areas of wall, floor, and ceiling you are trying to safeguard. This means you should hold the paint shield a certain way when painting near these areas.
In some instances, you’ll have to change the way you hold the paint shield throughout the job.
If you are painting near the ceiling, for example, you’ll want to position the paint guard flat so that it doesn’t get on the ceiling while cutting in.
Whereas, if you are painting near the corner of another wall, you’ll likely need to position it upward and diagonally so that it protects both at once.
The same goes when you are painting – towards the floor.
Understanding this can help you get the desired look for your paint job without having to stress about overspray.
Of course, you’ll still want to be sure to prep the room beforehand by removing all items and furniture that could potentially be damaged by overspray and covering surfaces you don’t want to get painted with cloth or newspaper.
Doing so adds an extra layer of protection to your paint job.
Step 2- Start Using Your Paint Shield
Once you know how to hold your paint spray shield, it’s time to learn how to handle it.
While it may seem simple, properly using your paint shield could take a bit of planning. Specifically, some paint shields are so large that they require a bit of extra maneuvering.
a) Get help
So, if you are working on a larger surface, consider having a partner hold the paint shield while you paint (or vice versa). This will guarantee you get the job done efficiently and without any unintended mess.
b) Spray in right
When using your paint shield, you’ll also want to ensure that you spray in the right direction and from the proper distance.
Generally, you’ll want to keep your spray gun at least three inches away from the shield so that paint doesn’t splash off the shield and have the opposite effect.
You’ll also want to be sure that you are spraying the paint toward the middle of the spray shield.
It’s not a good idea to start from the edges, as these areas obviously have less protection, meaning that doing so increases the likelihood of you getting overspray on an unintended area.
c) Hold tight and point the spray gun perfect
You also want to check that you are pointing your gun directly at the surface so that it doesn’t hit the shield and rebound off, causing an overspray.
As a general rule, you’ll want to have a firm grip on your spray gun, especially if you are working both your spray gun and your shield alone. It helps to move your spray gun up and down parallel to the surface you are spraying.
Consider practicing this movement beforehand if you’ve never done it before, as the chance of mistakes is high for beginners.
d) Reposition the paint shield as and when required
This means ensuring that you aren’t constantly repositioning the paint shield.
For your paint job to look sharp and crisp, you’ll need to paint in straight lines. If you constantly switch angles with your paint shield, you can bet that the final project will reflect this haphazardness.
For this reason, it’s good to go slow and carefully, as going too quickly can hurt the overall aesthetic of your paint job.
Finally, be smart about what you are doing. Many beginners make the mistake of moving their spray guns before the paint shield.
Whenever you are ready to move to a new spot, move your paint shield first, as this is the only way to ensure that you aren’t going to get overspray on surfaces you aren’t trying to paint.
Step 3- Finish up with Cleaning Your Paint Shield
As you might expect, the paint will undoubtedly accumulate on your paint shield as you work.
This can be a problem, as excess paint drip down onto the surfaces you are trying to protect or cause you to have an uneven paint job.
For this reason, understand how to clean your paint shield so that you don’t encounter these problems.
There are multiple ways you can go about doing this. Perhaps the most common is using a paint towel to rub the paint off the shield when you feel too much is on it.
Once you have done this, simply wipe down the shield with a damp paper towel and dry it with a clean, dry one.
This will ensure that your paint shield is clean and ready for use.
Alternatively, you may simply allow your paint to dry (if you are going with a cardboard paint shield) or attach a sheet of thin paper to the shield before every use and discard the paper when it’s beginning to be caked too thickly.
If you’re unsure what method works best for you, play around with more than one until you find the one that does the trick in getting that even paint job you are going for.
Paint Shield vs. Tape: What’s Better?
Well, there’s no strict answer when it comes to using paint shields and masking tape.
For some, a paint shield works fabulously; for many others, the painter’s masking tape does the job pretty well.
So, it mainly comes down to your personal preference and the painting style you adopt.
The thing that I like most about different types of painter’s tape is their versatility. This means you can use it for many other things besides masking edges.
- Since it can adhere to different surfaces (like walls, wood, metal, plastic, etc.), you can use it for covering and protecting electric outlets, wall sockets, and light fixtures.
- You can also use them for holding down the plastic tarp or drop cloth on the furniture item you need to cover while painting.
So, the fact is most paint shields are designed to perform only a single job, i.e., to catch the paint and protect the surface from overspray when spraying or using a brush.
While on the other hand, masking tape can be simultaneously helpful for a number of other jobs.
With that said, if you have a large paint project to complete, using only the masking tapes can be expensive as you will need to use lots of them for every surface because most of them cannot be used more than once.
But, paint shields can be cleaned and used for more than one surface, which makes them easy, fast, and affordable to use.
You can complete tons of projects with only a single shield in your toolbox.
Which Paint Shield is Right for Your Project?
A quick trip to the hardware store will reveal that there are several types of paint shields available.
These devices range from just a few inches to several feet, depending on the paint job you need to get done.
Knowing this, how do you find the one that’s right for you?
Before we answer this question, it’s helpful to ask: Do you even need a paint shield?
Well, maybe not always!
For smaller surfaces, you may use DIY devices such as a drywall knife or even a piece of cardboard in lieu of a paint shield.
These spray shielding devices can often be just as effective and save you the money you don’t really need to spend.
If you think a paint shield is in your best interest, simply go with the one that seems to fit the project at hand.
That is, if you are painting a large surface, be sure to use a larger paint shield, as this will better help with overspray if you are using a higher-powered device.
If you are working on a smaller surface, you can, naturally, use a smaller paint shield that suits the job.
Personally, I found Edward Tools Paint Trim Guard to be perfect most of the time, especially when painting interiors. It’s a dirt-cheap 12” Stainless Steel Blade (with ideal size and thickness) for cutting and precision painting.
If that’s not available near your store, you can consider building a DIY homemade paint shield, as I have mentioned below…
Making A DIY Spray Paint Shield for Your Project
As you’ll find, there’s no one-size-fits-all paint shield that you can use for every DIY project.
So, if your project isn’t very demanding and you want, you can use a less expensive option instead of buying metal paint shields.
This is by making a spray paint shield by cutting a cardboard box into strips.
Aluminum spray shields, made by cutting aluminum sheets in place of cardboard, can also be used as an alternative. Slip them in under the roofing when spraying, and keep away the oversprays.
The good thing about making your own DIY spray paint shield using old cardboard is it can be cut to any size according to your requirements.
Plus, it’s always FREE and easily accessible.
The Bottom Line
Using a large paint shield for your next painting project (like for baseboards) can help you get the professional results you’ve been looking for.
Still, using these devices isn’t always as easy as it sounds.
By following the information contained here, you’ll not only be able to find the paint shield that works best for your project, but you’ll also be able to use it in such a way that you minimize overspray and get that clean finish that will leave guests in awe.
Remember to keep your paint shield steady, positioned correctly, and clean so you have no problems while painting.
Don’t wait! If you’ve got a spraying project you’ve been dying to start, it’s time to get your paint shield and have at it!
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.