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Airless sprayers are in high demand for those who are looking to invest in long-term painting projects, or who have a bright future of DIY projects ahead of them. Having a reliable paint sprayer can give you years of use and a variety of powerful functions. Airless paint sprayers are recommended for both interior and exterior projects, as they often output much more powerful bursts of paint and come in larger sizes than HVLP sprayers. This is the go-to tool for high speed painting with a smooth finish.

How Your Airless Paint Sprayer Works

So, how exactly does an airless paint sprayer work? How do the parts combine to make it a multifunctional and long-lasting piece of equipment? There are a variety of parts that make up an airless paint spraying gun, and it’s essential to understand how each part works in order to properly use and maintain this device.

Airless paint sprayers are user-friendly, affordable, and high-functioning, making them the perfect recommendation for any size DIY project that requires paint. If you’re a professional or amateur builder, you’ll want to get your hands on one of these.

Using an example of one of the highest-selling airless paint sprayers for DIY projects, the Graco Airless Paint Sprayer, it is easy to assess the importance of not just the parts, but the materials that compose the sprayer as well. An in-depth analysis of the parts, functions, and requirements for set up are detailed below.

What Does an Airless Paint Sprayer Do?

In contrast to its HVLP counterpart, an airless paint sprayer uses a hydraulic pump system to output high volumes of paint in a fast and efficient manner. In fact, it uses pressure up to 3,000 psi to spray paint out of a tightly-secured hose.

There are a variety of different tips available for your hose to help you control the pressure, shape, and output of the paint. Plus, you can find specialized tips for different types of liquids as well, such as primers, lacquers, and varnishes. Even thick latex house paint can be used with an airless paint sprayer, although we’ll cover more about that in the set up section.

Airless Paint Sprayer Tips

Although the idea of a hydraulic-powered, high-pressure pump for paint may sound intimidating, these sprayers are actually quite simple to use. You can cover an entire wall with paint in just a matter of minutes. Once you understand the parts and functions of the sprayer, you’ll get the hang of it in no time. Of course, with that being said, be sure to read any and all instructions included with your equipment, and apply the proper safety measures if you’re working on a high-risk project.

The Parts of an Airless Paint Sprayer

There are several parts that compose an airless paint sprayer. It is vital that you give your paint sprayer a thorough examination and maintenance care routine before use. If you notice that any screws are loose, or parts are making strange noises or not working properly, cease using your paint sprayer immediately.

Tip Guard

This is the very first part you may see at the end of your airless paint sprayer hose. It is often in the shape of a rubber stopper, and it is used as just that: a way to protect the tip and prevent any paint from leaking out.

Spray Tip

The spray tip is a modifiable part that controls the output and shape of the paint. This is a nozzle at the end of your hose that can be adjusted or replaced with other compatible sizes and features. From the tip to the pump motor, there are a number of important parts that make your airless paint sprayer function so well.

Spray Gun

The spray gun is the mechanical feature that allows you to control the sprayer completely. It comes with a long trigger and a nozzle that gives you the ability to decide when you want your paint to come out.

Spray Gun


The filter of your paintless sprayer is attached to the nozzle and filters out the water from the paint. The filter must always be in tip-top shape so that you can ensure a smooth and clean paint each time you use it. The filters require cleaning and replacing every so often, so be sure to take constant care of your equipment.


The hose is a long, thin, and flexible tube that stretches from the filter all the way to the pump. It can be several feet long, as the motor part of the spray gun usually stays in place on the ground as you work. Typically, the hose is long enough to allow you to reach all heights and angles of your project.

Prime Tube and Suction Tube

The prime and suction tubes extend directly from the pump, and are not connected to the hose or filter in any way. These two tubes are responsible for taking in the paint and water supplies that you’ll need to make your airless paint sprayer function. Both of these tubes carry your desired liquids into the pump, where they are then blasted through the hose for an effective paint.


The pump takes the paint and water supplies, harnessing the power of the water to quickly shoot out the paint. Remember that your airless paint sprayer can output several gallons of paint per minute, and that is all thanks to the hydraulic pump.

Prime/Spray Valve

There is a very important switch on the pump of your airless paint sprayer that tells the equipment whether you want it to output paint, or suck in water and materials. Having this valve turned the right way can ensure that you’re able to refill your paint supply as you go.

Pump Motor

Most airless paint sprayers use an electric motor (with an outlet plug provided) to power the entire piece of equipment. After the pump motor is turned on and at its fullest power, it can begin to take water and fuel the paint supply up through your hose and out the nozzle tip.

Setting Up Your Sprayer

The first step to getting your paint sprayer to work properly is to prime your pumps. Remember that your sprayer comes with a prime tube and a suction tube. Be extra careful when inserting the suction tube into your paint pail, while your prime tube goes into a pail that is designated for waste.

Then, turn your prime/spray valve to the “prime” setting. After you turn on your pump, you may need to adjust your pressure valve until you hear the pump starting to work. When paint emerges from the prime tube into the waste bucket, you want to start using clips to attach the prime tube to the suction tube. This is the best way to relieve air bubbles from the prime tube and clear away any other obstacles inside.

Filling Your Hose and Gun

The next step is to start filling your hose with the proper materials. After removing the guard and spray tips from your hose, you want to hold it over your waste bucket and pull the trigger. Be sure to switch your valve to the “spray” setting as well.

When paint is flowing steadily, you can stop shooting the trigger. Be sure to lock your trigger at this point. This entire process is known as “pressure relieving”, and it is an essential step to keeping your paint sprayer functioning correctly.

This is also the preferred clean up method for your airless paint sprayer. By relieving it of its pressure and releasing any leftover paint, you can ensure that the gun is safely stored and cleaned for the next time.

Installing and Tightening the Tip

Before you use your paint sprayer on your desired surface, be sure that the tip and guard assembly are properly installed. The guard assembly is used to screw onto the gun in a loose manner. It must be aligned at a 90-degree angle to whatever surface you’re spraying on.

For example, if you are using your paint sprayer to spray a stencil on your interior bedroom wall, the guard assembly should be aligned at a 90-degree angle from it.

The tip itself should be facing forward. When aligning the tip, make sure it is looking at your project head-on.

In other words, the arrow of the tip should always be facing forward. Then, you can use your hand to tighten the tip and keep the guard assembly snug against it.

90-Degree Angle Guard Assembly

Adjusting the Pressure During Use

Finally, you’ll want to be able to adjust the pressure of your spray while it’s being used. Make sure the valve is turned to “spray”. Use a throwaway piece of cardboard or metal to test out your pressure. If there are tails in your spray pattern, your pressure is set too low. Having low pressure will make your paint come out unevenly. You can also try using a more narrow tip to control the flow of the pressure.


The Conclusion

Airless paint sprayers are extremely easy to use once you learn how to properly set up, clean up, and maintain each of its parts. There are a variety of techniques you can use to get the most functionality out of your paint, and our Tool Nerds team is always looking for new and exciting ways to use this dynamic tool.