How to use a gravity feed paint gun

Written by larry parr
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Originally, most paint guns were created as a "siphon feed," meaning their paint reservoir was below the spray nozzle. Today, with most states requiring HVLP (High Volume/Low Pressure) spray guns, almost all paint spray guns are gravity feed, with the paint reservoir above the spray nozzle. The trick to getting the best results from a gravity feed spray gun is to use the correct air pressure (per manufacturer's instructions), the correct nozzle (again as per manufacturer's instructions), paint of the right consistency and a constant motion of the spray gun while painting.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Gravity feed paint gun
  • Air compressor
  • Paint
  • Flotrol (for latex paint) or Penetrol (for oil-based paints)
  • Several sheets of cardboard
  • Paint filter
  • Breathing mask
  • Eye protection

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  1. 1

    Run the paint through a paint filter to remove any impurities that might otherwise clog the tip of the gun.

  2. 2

    Thin the paint as per the gun manufacturer's instructions. If you are using latex paint, thin with Flotrol and if you are using oil-based paint, thin with Penetrol. Never thin paint by more than 15 to 20 per cent.

  3. 3

    Connect the spray gun to the air compressor and set the air pressure as per the gun's instructions.

  4. 4

    Fill the gun's reservoir with paint. Turn on the air compressor and spray a light coat of paint onto a sheet of cardboard or scrap wood. Paint using a sweeping motion of the gun and do not put on too thick of a coat--it is always easier to add another thin coat of paint than it is to remove a coat. If the paint clots when coming out or if paint does not produce an even coat, then additional thinning may be required. If a line of paint appears at the top and/or bottom of the test swath, then your paint may be too thin. Add fresh paint to thicken.

  5. 5

    Continue testing on cardboard or wood until you achieve a smooth and consistent coat. When painting, always use a smooth sweeping motion. Several light coats are better than one coat that is too thick.

Tips and warnings

  • Tape off anything near the painting site that you do not want painted.
  • Using proper air pressure will minimise over-spray.
  • Always wear eye protection and a breathing mask.

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