Most of the time you hear mixed opinions about what to do with your paint when using an airless paint sprayer.
Can you leave it Overnight & Do you have to Clean Spray gun Between Coats?
In this article, we will address the answer to this controversial problem & compare between the most popular airless paint sprayers such as Graco & Wagner.
How Long Can I Leave Paint in A Paint Sprayer?
You can leave the paint in the sprayer for up to three days, however, it is best to flush out the pump every time after your last coat of the day. The paint will cure up easily in the pump, forcing it to clog up and give you a hard time using the sprayer in the future. If you are taking small breaks while you paint then leaving it in the sprayer is fine! Just make sure to keep the sprayer in a bucket of water to slow down the paint from curing.
All sprayers will have their own instructions on how to clean out the sprayer. There are a lot of factors that will degrade the paint sprayer over time, but there are also products that help maintain the sprayer like a paint saver or pump armor that you can inject into the sprayer directly.
The important part when it comes to both airless and HVLP paint sprayers is that you never want to leave it pressurized when you store it overnight. Always turn off the pump, let the nozzle spray out the remainder of the air, and then leave the gun and intake in a bucket of water to prevent clogging.
In airless paint sprayer
The best answer is it depends. Your instruction manual will probably have the safest answer for you. You might also find many forums telling you that “oh I kept it in for a week and the paint was still good”. That’s true but in order to store it in for that long, you would need additional solutions such as Graco’s pump armor to keep the paint sprayer stored for a few months. There is more work required if you don’t plan on using it for a long time, say like for more than a year or so. Without any buffers or preservatives, the paint would barely last a day without curing and clogging the gun. Since airless paint sprayers atomize more quickly at the tip of the gun compared to HVLP paint sprayers, it is best quickly drain the paint once you are finished with your project.
In HVLP paint sprayer
Not very long. The answer is the same as having an airless paint sprayer, it will begin curing in a few hours and if left untreated for a day then you could be dealing with dried up paint inside the gun. The instructions manual should tell you exactly how long you can leave the paint in your HVLP paint sprayer before it starts to inflict damage on the apparatus.
What do you do with your paint sprayer in between coats
Normally you can set it down on a bench and make sure to cover the tip and paint cup with plastic wrap so that both parts do not dry out easily. In the meantime, you can shake the paint periodically to prevent clumping inside the paint cup. Depending on what type of coat that is currently in like clear coats where you will not require you to touch the paint inside at all. If using water-based paint then it is highly recommended to clean the tips immediately after you are finished with one coat as these types of paints tend to dry out faster than oil-based paints.
Do you HAVE to clean your paint sprayer between coats?
NO, you do not have to clean the sprayer in between coats. You will not have to worry about previous paint mixing in with the new color, just swap out the paint for a new one and you can continue to paint accordingly. The only important thing you should do is protect the paint tip by keeping it covered while you are not using the paint sprayer. If you want to take more preventative action, you can also clean out the air cap on the paint sprayer as cleaning it after the paint has dried will certainly be a pain.
Can you leave paint in the sprayer overnight?
The answer to this question is yes but I would highly recommend cleaning the paint sprayer just to be on the safe side. Paint sprayers advertise that whenever the sprayer is pressurized, the seal is strong and no outside air will get into the paint. I suggest draining the excess paint out and running the sprayer with water or paint thinner and then covering the paint can. After that, you would release the pressure from the sprayer and leave in it a bucket of water until the next day. If all this takes too much time for you, feel free to just skip the water rinsing step, keep in mind your manual should tell you exactly how to store the paint sprayer as it will depend largely on the model you have.
How long can you leave paint in a Graco sprayer?
The truth is however long you need to but you will need to take the additional steps needed to store your paint in the sprayer. Graco does a really good job of explaining how to store your paint sprayer while leaving paint inside it. They even list the timeline of how long you want to store it for example, there are instructions ranging from 3 days to more than 1 year. The longer you keep the paint in, the more things you will need to buy like Graco Pump Amor, 30wt oil, and Graco Throat Seal Liquid(TSL). Your instruction manual will tell you how to properly store your paint sprayer or you can head over to this website
How long can you leave paint in a Wagner sprayer?
In a Wagner sprayer, it becomes a very different situation. Because of the different models Wagner carries, it is better to leave it in for no longer than a few days. Like Graco, the storage methods are pretty similar like depressurizing and keeping the tubes in a bucket of water. The products used on Graco sprayers are also compatible with Wagner sprayers.
How long does it take to clean a paint sprayer?
The process is very simple and quick when running through the cleaning steps. You should be finished cleaning the sprayer within 20 minutes or less. The only hard part should be scrubbing the paint and waiting for the sprayer to spray all the remaining paint out. If you are stuck on how to clean one, here’s a youtube video that might help
Can I run paint thinner through a paint sprayer?
The answer is yes of course but you should double-check the model of your paint sprayer and the type of paint you have. Most often, lacquer coats require paint thinners as clumps of paint tend to form due to its thick viscosity. Paint thinner also helps remove some of the old paint chips that are stuck inside of the paint sprayer. If you have latex-water based paint then paint thinner is not necessary due to the runniness of the paint. If you are using oil-based paint then you would need mineral spirits to flush out the paint as paint thinner is ineffective towards oil-based paints.
Isn’t having water inside the paint sprayer causing damage to it?
Of course not, as long as you drain out all the water in the hoses and the gun before storing as you do not want to risk internal damage to the paint sprayer. Make sure that you face the rod down so gravity can do its works and expel the remaining fluids inside.
Where should I keep my paint sprayer?
It is suggested that you keep the paint sprayer indoors instead of outdoors especially if you live in colder climates so you don’t risk freezing. If freezing happens, Graco pump armor can reverse the effects.