How to Use a Paint Sprayer Indoors (With Minimal Mess)

| Last Updated: November 16, 2021

Paint sprayers are an excellent choice for any commercial or a small DIY painting project. Unlike a roller or a paintbrush, they’re fast, economical, and give a more flawless and uniform finish on any surface.

However, to achieve a clean application when painting indoors, you may need to follow some tips that an outdoor application may otherwise not require. These include understanding how to adjust the nozzles and the paint sprayer’s pressure.

Other things to consider also include the type of paint and your choice of paint sprayer. Read on for a detailed overview of how to use a paint sprayer indoors with little to no mess on other surfaces.

Advantages of Spray Painting Indoors

Spray painting indoors has multiple benefits over roller and brush painting. Here are the advantages of using a spray gun over other conventional methods when painting indoors.

Painting Speed

With a paintbrush, you can spend several days painting the interior of an expansive room. Depending on the type of paint, the paint may take a longer period before drying and curing completely, which can be uncomfortable.

That’s different with paint sprayers. Spray painting is up to ten times faster than brush painting and four times faster than painting with a roller. You can paint a four-bedroom house in just a few hours once you’re done with the room preparation.  

Paint Application Uniformity

People are more concerned with a smooth interior finish than the exterior. Sprayers give a more flawless and even finish on any interior surface, including ceramic, wood, fabric, concrete walls, among other surfaces.

That’s not the case with a roller or brush painting. To achieve the best results, learn how to set the pressure and choose the right nozzle tip size for specific applications.

Greater Painting Control

You can calibrate your sprayer by changing the nozzle tips to achieve different designs. Ensure you test a pattern on a different surface, such as cardboard boxes, before applying it on the actual work surface.

Painting Flexibility

Paint spraying will enable you to access spaces that a paintbrush or a roller may find difficult to reach. Besides, a standard hose size will reach most areas without unplugging the equipment from the power source each time.

Quick Questions Before Starting

Let’s answer the following questions to get a quick overview of how you can use a paint sprayer indoors without causing too much mess.

How Difficult is This to Do? 

Indoor spray painting is a moderate task that doesn’t require special knowledge. However, you’ll need to prepare the surface you want to paint first, which can take a significant amount of time and effort.

How Long Does it Take?

You’ll need enough time to prepare your work surface before the actual spray painting job. That may include a lot of taping and cleaning. Once done with preparation, you can spend less than three hours spraying a 2,000 sq. ft. interior.

How Much Do Materials Cost?

The cost of material and equipment required for indoor spray painting may vary according to multiple factors, including the size of the room, type of paint, type of sprayer, among other things.

However, for a medium four-bedroom house, you’ll spend about $550-$1,000 on the higher end, including the cost of the paint sprayer if you go for a cheaper model.

Items Needed

Below is a list of things you’ll need for your indoor paint spraying project. Some of the equipment and material required may depend on the size of the room you intend to spray paint.

  • Paint Sprayer: $50-$450

  • Multi-position ladder: $80-$150

  • Full-face respirator: $70

  • Box of rags: $15-35

  • 5-gallon bucket (at least three): $15 (each)

  • Painter’s masking tape: $3-$5 (per 0.94-inch roll)

  • Clear plastic sheet: $10-$15 (5-pack 9ft x15ft)

  • Paint: $10

  • Putty knife: $5-$8

  • Protective gloves (box of 100 pieces) – $20-$35

  • Razorblade scraping tool: $5-$10

How to Use a Paint Sprayer Indoors

Using a paint sprayer indoors requires proper preparation. You can set everything ready a day before if you intend to paint a larger room. Here is a detailed process on preparation and painting.

Prepare the Room

  1. Take out all the furniture from the room. You can keep the remaining few at the center.

  2. Mask every area that you don’t want the paint to reach. These could be around the windows, doors, trim, among other surfaces.

  3. Switch off electricity, remove electrical appliances, and tape switches and power outlets. 

  4. Cover the floor with a plastic sheet and mask it at the edges.

  5. Use an all-purpose cleaner and a rag to clean the wall, windowsill, and any dirty surface that you intend to paint. Do not spray a wet or dirty surface.

  6. Enclose the ceiling fans with the plastic sheet.

  7. Using your putty knife, scrape off any loose paint that may prevent the new paint from adhering properly.

  8. Sand the ceiling if you notice any rough surfaces.

  9. Nail back any gaps and fill cracks in the ceiling using latex caulk.

Start Painting

  1. Pick the right nozzle tip for your paint sprayer.

  2. Prime the sprayer to enable it to suck the paint properly instead of bubbles.

  3. Submerge your suction tube in the paint gallon placed inside one of the buckets. Ensure the suction tube is entirely covered by paint.

  4. Spray a few times in the waste bucket to confirm the setup.

  5. Use the pressure control knob to adjust and test if the spray is even. A uniform spray should not have spaces at the edges.

  6. Start painting from the ceiling and work your way down. Use the multi-position ladder to access elevated and hidden areas. Ensure you hold the spray gun correctly—about one foot from the surface for an even spray and consistent coverage.

  7. The last critical step is cleaning the sprayer. Do it immediately after you complete painting to avoid clogging on the nozzle and the hose. Disassemble all the main parts and follow the manufacturer’s procedure to clean. 

    You could use clean water and soap for water-based paint or mineral spirits if you used oil-based paints.
  1. Leave all the equipment to dry completely and check for any wear on the hose before storing.

How to Reduce Overspray

Overspray is a major cause of mess when painting both indoors or outdoors. While you can’t perfectly eliminate overspray, there are steps you can take to minimize it. Here’s how to do it:

Photo credit: adcoroofing.com
  • Adjust the sprayer: Adjusting the sprayer pressure is one of the best methods to minimize overspray. Choose the right nozzle tip and test it on a different surface to determine the amount of paint dispensed.
  • Use drop cloths: Unlike a plastic tarp, a paint cloth keeps your environment tidy since paint does not chip off. Spread drop cloths on all surfaces where your plastic sheet or spray shelter does not reach.
  • Use a spray shelter: You can use a spray shelter indoors or outdoors to prevent overspray. Any excess paint stays in the shelter, so none gets anywhere you don’t want it to. Spray shelters are helpful when painting small household items.

    A spray shelter also prevents dust and other dirt from landing on your wet paint before it dries. This is particularly important when painting outdoors.

What is Overspray?

Overspray is the excess paint that spreads to unintended surfaces when spray painting.

It can create a mess whether you’re painting indoors or outdoors. The mess can be worse when painting indoors with a poor-quality paint sprayer.

However, there are multiple steps painters can take to minimize overspray in their working areas.

Best Tips for Using an Indoor Paint Sprayer

Here are tips you can use to maximize results when using a paint sprayer indoors.

  • Spray thin, even coats to avoid drips and sagging

  • Use a smooth plastic to cover the floor to avoid tripping as you move around.

  • Get somebody to assist you in moving the paint bucket and aligning the hose to allow you to concentrate on spraying.

  • Hold your sprayer about 8-12 inches from the wall to get a thick and elegant coat on the first spray.

  • Keep a damp cloth at hand for wiping the sprayer nozzle to prevent it from clogging when the paint starts to harden.

  • Learn how to create different patterns with different nozzle sizes and positions. You can consult the user’s manual for a detailed explanation.

  • Ensure the room is warm enough to enable the paint to spray smoothly.

  • Read the manufacturer’s paint dry time before you mask or tap over it.

  • Thoroughly clean the surfaces you want to paint. Use an all-purpose cleaner to get rid of any hair or dust particles before spraying.
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How to Stay Safe While Spray Painting Indoors

Spray painting is a straightforward and safe task if you can adhere to instructions. Below are safety tips you must keep in mind while painting indoors.

Allow Enough Ventilation

Some paint fumes can be toxic. Inhaling too much paint fumes can cause severe respiratory problems. Besides, you may feel dizzy and lightheaded, which can lower your productivity.

Allow enough airflow into the room even if you have the full-face respirator on. Take occasional breaks to catch some fresh air outside if you’re working on a long project.

Wear Protective Gear

Put your gloves on and avoid touching the paints with bare hands. Your full-face respirator should be on throughout to prevent breathing in toxic paint particles, which can also irritate the eyes.

Eliminate All Heating Sources

Some paints are highly flammable and can easily cause explosions or fire. Do not smoke or leave any heat appliances such as a stove or other electric appliances operating near your work area.

Cover Electrical Outlets

Before you start painting, cover all electrical outlets or any open electrical wiring with the appropriate tape.

Conclusion 

Paint mess or overspray is inevitable. However, you can significantly reduce the mess using proper guidelines and procedures, whether you’re using a paint sprayer indoors or outdoors. Here’s what to do:

  • Prepare your location beforehand and ensure it’s well ventilated.

  • Adjust the sprayer to the desired pressure and test it on a different surface to ensure it does not dispense too much or too little. You can test this using different nozzle tips.

  • Consider using a spray shelter to prevent paint splatter. You can use drop cloths to protect other surrounding objects where the plastic sheet does not cover.

People Also Ask

It’s easy to overlook some simple instructions when spray-painting indoors. Here are some common questions painters ask about interior spray painting.

Should I Use a Paint Sprayer Indoors?

A paint sprayer is the best choice for interior painting compared to other methods. However, you’ll need proper preparation beforehand and caution to avoid messing with other surrounding objects or surfaces.

How Do You Ventilate a Room for Spray Paint?

Sufficient airflow is critical for your health when spray painting indoors. During preparation before you start painting, declutter the room as much as you can. Leave all the doors and windows open to ensure adequate air circulation within the room.

Is Breathing in Spray Paint Bad?

Some paints emit highly toxic fumes. Such fume particles, when inhaled, can cause severe lung and other respiratory complications. Ensure you have your full-face respirator on when painting indoors.

How Long Does It Take For The Spray Paint Smell to Go Away?

Different paint brands have different durations they take to cure or for the smell to fade completely. The period can be somewhere between 10-14 days. The time can vary further depending on the surface and climate.

Is There a Spray Paint that Doesn’t Smell?

All sprays at least have some smell. However, paints, such as Liquitex Spray Paint, are made from mild solvents and water-based technology, making them less smelly.

You can dampen the strength of a paint smell by placing some baking powder in containers and putting them in different corners of a room.

Welcome! We hope you’ll find the job costs of home improvement projects useful when you’re deciding whether to do a job yourself vs. hire a contractor. We’re the authors of 20 home improvement books, most notably Home Improvement for Dummies©, Bathroom Remodeling for Dummies©, Carpentry for Dummies©, Plumbing for Dummies©, and Painting and Wallpapering for Dummies©. Our most recent book Fix It and Flip It is in its second edition. We’ve appeared as home improvement experts on television programs such as CNN, Dateline, the Today Show, HGTV and many others.