While brushes and rollers are the traditional means of painting walls, spray paint is coming more in favor.
For many years, the idea of spray-painting large areas such as walls was considered wasteful and inefficient.
However, new technology in paints and equipment has made spray paint a viable option for those who want to use a method different from brushes or rollers.
The best reason to use spray paint is when you have an entire house or large area to paint in a short time.
The more you need to paint, the more spray paint works to your advantage because of the faster time and greater efficiency gained.
But how to get the job done right without any wastage and what precautions or safety tips you need to keep in mind, I will talk about every bit of those details in this article.
How to Spray Paint Walls and Ceilings?
If you have never used a sprayer before, you’ll want to set up an area where you can test it before starting on your wall.
You can start with old newspapers or any other surface that can be disposed of easily.
Once you get used to how it works, you can start painting the walls. It’s pretty easy once you get the hang of it.
Spray Painting the Walls
If you are only painting the walls, start by masking along the perimeter of the ceiling, so no paint winds up there. Use tape to attach masking paper which makes for a great cover.
Be sure to cover the windows, doors, and any fixtures as well, just like if you were using a brush or roller.
Step 1. Prepare the wall surface
No matter whether you need to spray paint the interior or exterior brick walls, it’s essential to prepare the surface first.
Clean and wipe them smoothly using a soft cotton cloth before you start the spray painting. If required, use a little bit of warm soapy water to dampen the cloth.
This will remove any dust and grime that has been deposited, which may adhere to the walls’ surface and paint if you choose not to clean them.
To get a good finish, consider fixing any cracks or uneven places on the walls using high-quality putty.
Since uneven places may seem awkward after you have spray-painted your walls, you should try to make them as smooth as possible.
Step 2. Prepare the paint
Painting walls with a sprayer machine is different from using a roller or a paintbrush. And for this reason, you need to prepare your paint differently.
The latex (or oil-based) paint you choose should be thinner compared to the paint you apply with a brush or a roller.
For thinning the paint, you may check the guidelines in my other article here, or it must be on the paintbox provided by the manufacturer.
Step 3. Spray painting your interior walls
Once you have prepared the paint and the sprayer machine, start painting in one corner and work your way across the wall.
Hold the sprayer at a comfortable distance (about 300mm) and work in smooth, even strokes.
Remember that the corners of the walls can be difficult to spray paint later, so start with the corners. By holding the air sprayer sideways, you can easily cover these corner areas.
Once you finish the corners, start with one wall at a time. Do not worry about the other walls until you have completed the painting on the chosen one.
To start painting the interior walls of your room, keep the spray paint machine at an angle of 90 degrees and spray as far as you can reach.
When moving to the next section, keep overlapping the strokes both vertically and horizontally. This will get an even coat of smooth paint on the walls.
Once you have completed all the walls in your bedroom or living area, let the paint dry for some hours.
Do a second coat (or even a third coat) in a similar way to get a better finish.
Spray Painting the Ceilings
Spray painting your ceilings using a paint spray gun can be even faster and easier once you know the correct procedure and techniques.
If you are only painting the ceiling, mask off the upper walls to avoid drips and runs.
You can use the same basic methods on the ceiling as painting the shining walls. Move to the ceiling sections like the walls slowly and try to overlap the strokes.
Just be sure not to get directly underneath the airless sprayer to avoid getting drips on you or your outfit.
While using a sprayer machine for painting the ceilings, start with low pressure and then increase the pressure gradually until you feel it’s just right.
Using too high pressure at the beginning may create runs and not help you get full coverage.
Also, remember, if you have normal 8-9 ft. high ceilings at your place, you may efficiently work from the floor. But if your ceilings are higher than that, you will need to have a ladder for work.
Here are a few additional tips to help you get the most out of your sprayer. Follow them when applying paint to your interiors…
- Wear a disposable suit and safety gear
- Test the settings before applying the paint
- Spray lightly on the walls and ceiling to avoid runs and drips
- Start moving the sprayer before pulling the trigger for smoother results
- Use an angled brush to paint the edges or corners between the wall and ceiling
- After the spray application on the ceiling, its often recommended to back roll to get a uniform soft texture
What kind of paint to use on walls and ceilings?
Although flat and eggshell finishes are most popular for ceilings, walls are generally preferred to be painted with sprayable satin and glossy paint finishes.
These finishes are available in both latex as well as oil-based spray paint options.
For walls, you can use either latex or oil-based paints, but for ceilings, it is best to choose latex because oil-based paints are more prone to dripping when wet and chipping when dry.
If you have wood ceilings installed, you can however spray with oil-based paints without a problem.
What kind of paint sprayer is the best for interior walls?
While spray painting indoors, ensure you only use the best airless paint sprayer for walls and ceilings.
These machines offer faster application speed and can pump paint directly from a 5-gallon bucket making it easier to use a lot of material quickly.
Airless sprayers are manufactured by popular brands like Wagner Spraytech, Graco Magnum, HomeRight, TACKLIFE, etc., and are readily available (to buy or rent) at paint or hardware stores near you.
As high-quality airless sprayers do not come cheap, renting one is a good option if you want the best results without paying for the unit itself. Be sure to follow the instructions and clean them before returning the sprayer to the store.
Stay Protected from Fumes when Spraying
The thing you should keep in mind when using oil-based paints in a spray gun is the fumes that can cause coughing and other asthma-like symptoms.
The toxic fumes are more hazardous when using a spray gun than standard oil-based brush painting because the machine continuously sends out tiny paint particles into the air, making it easier for you to inhale accidentally.
The best way to protect against these fumes is to wear a respirator designed for painting. It will protect your lungs not only from small paint particles but also from chemical fumes.
Another safety precaution is ensuring the area is well-ventilated. Use fans, open windows, and doors whenever possible to get fresh air into the working area.
Cleaning Your Paint Spray Gun after Painting
While using a spray gun can make any painting job tremendously easier, keeping your equipment well-maintained and clean after each use is essential to ensure your expensive machine continues to serve you well for a long.
Cleaning your spray gun after use is easy if you follow these steps after painting your walls and ceilings.
First, turn off the power, set the spray gun to its lowest setting, and then activate it somewhere safe to relieve whatever pressure remains in the gun.
Next, remove the filter and any tips or attachments you may have used.
You can clean these smaller components by scrubbing them in a water/paint-thinner mixture. But start by using mostly water.
Then, as it becomes more challenging to get the paint off, slowly add paint thinner, kerosene, or turpentine into the cleaning mix to continue successfully removing the paint.
Step three is to flush out the entire system.
To do this, move the siphon tube (sometimes called the intake tube) into a bucket of cleaning solution (a mineral spirit/water mixture).
Turn the power on the spray gun back on and activate it in a safe area away from any people or painting surfaces.
Pull the trigger, and you should start to see the gun spraying the cleaning fluid.
At first, the cleaning fluid will look dirty or colored. This is because it cleans out the inner workings of the spray gun.
You want to keep spraying until the fluid starts coming out clear—that is how you can tell that the gun itself is clean.
Ceiling or Walls: What Should You Spray First?
It does not matter much if you use a brush or a roller for painting.
However, when using a paint sprayer, you should always start with the ceilings first.
If you choose to paint your walls first, you may end up getting the paint spatter, due to which you might need to repaint them with a final touch.
While painting the ceiling, keep your walls protected from overspray by covering the walls and floor with old newspapers or clothes.
Once the painted ceiling is completely dry, move on to painting the interior walls of your bedroom, living room, kitchen, or bathroom.
Pros & Cons of Spray Painting the Interior Walls
Spray painting walls and ceilings offer you many advantages, so a sprayer and spray paint are a better choice in most situations.
The reasons why are rather obvious;
Due to the speed of the machine, spray painting takes considerably less time than brushes or rollers, which means you can complete the spray-painting job quickly and cover larger areas in less time.
Sometimes it can be as low as 10 minutes to spray-paint your entire room if you do not need too much paint-prepping work, saving you time and effort as well.
b) Wider Coverage:
A single spray covers a wider area compared to a paintbrush which means you cover more of the wall compared to going up and down with a brush.
Broader coverage also translates into getting the job done faster as a result. And going faster means less stress on the body.
c) Less Effort & Greater Efficiency:
Another good reason to choose spray paint is you can reach areas easier compared to a brush or a roller.
With the right spray paint equipment, you will not have to climb up and down ladders as often. Nor will you have to exert yourself compared to using brushes or rollers.
The spray paint equipment is generally lightweight, easy to use, and can be applied at a distance evenly, which means less effort is required to do a good job.
d) No Additional Prep Work Needed:
For spraying, you still have to clean the wall, scrape away the old paint, fill in any cracks, dents, or deviations, and tape over outlets, fixtures, and other areas you don’t want to be painted first.
Preparing to spray paint a wall is hence no different than using a brush or roller as you do not have to do anything extra.
With all the benefits, there are some downsides to using spray paint as the primary way to paint indoor walls, floors, and the ceiling. Some of these include:
a) Paint Consumption:
The biggest drawback is you will generally need more paint than brushes or rollers.
A sprayer simply requires more paint to get an even result, so you will be paying more for the paint.
How much more you will pay will depend on the size of the wall you want to cover, so keep that in mind when you are considering this option.
It’s far easier to over-spray the paint than the amount of coverage from brushes or rollers.
A brush and roller apply the paint directly to the wall underneath.
Spraying means the paint is spread out over a wider area, making it easy to over-spray the area you want to cover.
What about The Brush and Roller Marks?
One issue with brushes is that they sometimes leave behind brush strokes.
This is when the paint still shows the characteristics of the brush imprinted on the wall as opposed to a smooth layer.
It can be difficult to see when wet, but it shows up clearly when the paint dries.
Since spray paint is applied without any device that touches the wall, it only leaves behind a smooth surface of paint when properly applied.
That said, there are a couple of areas where a brush may be better compared to spray paint. This is when you are at the ceiling and need to cover the top of the wall. A brush is more precise and can get into such areas better than spray paint.
However, such advantages are usually small, so using a brush for touch-up work is far better than applying the paint to a large area like a wall.
Just like brushes sometimes leave indications that they were being used, rollers will also leave marks or more paint along the edges.
This occurs when the paint is not evenly distributed along the roller or properly smoothed out when applied. The result is that you may see lines of thicker paint that disrupt the smooth application.
However, it is also true that rollers like electric power rollers carry one advantage: those with long enough handles can reach areas that may require a ladder for spray paint.
But having said that, spray paint is generally superior in most regards compared to using a roller, especially when your ultimate goal is to spray the walls without hitting the ceiling.
While you will need more paint if you choose the spray methods, you can make up for the extra expense thanks to the shorter amount of time, even application, and far less effort than spray paint requires.
The Bottom Line
All things considered, spray paint for walls and ceilings is superior compared to a brush in most circumstances.
You should, although, have a paintbrush handy for touching up smaller areas. This will help you make your task easier and faster.
Using oil-based paint in a spray gun is also a straightforward process, provided you follow the steps carefully.
Hopefully, with the above tips, your next painting project will go off without a hitch.
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.