How to use a graco paint sprayer

It’s easy to procrastinate when you’re faced with learning something new. And if you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering how to use a Graco paint sprayer and how to get to grips with your new toy quickly.

We’re here to help you avoid the procrastination factor and start spraying. After all, the sooner you begin, the sooner you’ll achieve professional finishes.

With numerous time-saving and productivity enhancing features using a Graco paint sprayer for the first time can feel intimidating. This guide aims to remove those deterring factors and get you started.

Let’s begin by reviewing the types of Graco machines available.

Types of Graco Spray Guns

Graco Incorporated is best known for its airless sprayer line — a common sight in workshops up and down the country. However, the company has a respected range of HVLP machines and air sprayers available too.

Since it’s unfeasible to include a list of all Graco products here, here’s a short description of the most popular types of Graco spray gun.

Graco HVLP Paint Sprayers

The FinishPro line from Graco is an innovative line of turbine-powered HVLP sprayers. Designed for woodworkers and contractors after tools that provide some top-notch results, these units are ideal for small and midsize projects.

This group of spray guns all include a stand-alone, ground-based turbine (no compressor is required). The line can be further separated into three distinct categories: Standard, ProContractor, and ProComp.

The Standard Series includes all the fundamentals you expect in a paint sprayer, while the ProContractor Series includes all Standard Series features but offers more when it comes to productivity and convenience. Finally, the ProComp Series offers twice the capacity and can handle large to medium jobs.

If you’re an occasional DIYer, you probably don’t need all the features included in units such as the Graco 9.5 ProContractor HVLP spray gun.

Instead, you may find that the Graco Standard Series FinishPro 17N263 is a better fit.

Graco Airless Spray Guns

Graco’s airless range is extensive and there’s a variety of different configurations available with most models, such as stand, hi-boy, and low-boy wheeled versions. Much like the HVLP machines, you also have the option of Standard, ProContractor, and the Iron Man Series.

A range of handheld cordless and corded airless sprayers, which are extremely rare in the industry, rounds out Graco’s airless range. There’s something for every experience level, from rental shop owners (Graco Rental Pro 230) through to newbie painters (Graco Pro 210ES).

How To Use a Graco Airless Paint Sprayer to Paint Interior Walls

Learning how to use a Graco paint sprayer properly before revamping your interior walls will set your results apart. It will also make the entire process an efficient affair.

Pro tip: Using thick paint? With a unit like the Graco Magnum Project Painter Plus, you can avoid thinning the coating before you start.

What You Will Need to Follow This Tutorial

    • Graco paint sprayer.
    • Suitable size fluid nozzle.
    • Coating.
    • Old cardboard box.
    • Five-gallon bucket.
    • Stir sticks.
    • Goggles, face mask, and coveralls.
    • Plastic sheeting and drop cloths.
    • Masking tape.
    • Step ladder (if a large project).

Step 1: Prepare Your Work Area, Yourself, and Coating

1. Start by moving all furniture items out of the way, preferably to another room if possible.

2. Drape any non-movable items with a drop cloth, lay a drop cloth on the floor for protection. Then tape plastic sheeting over the windows. Ensure light fittings and switches are all covered.

3. Don your protective equipment and make sure the room is well ventilated.

4. If you plan to use more than one can of coating, it is best to mix the two cans together in a bucket to ensure consistency.

Step 2: Set Up Your Sprayer

1. Whenever you operate your spray gun, you have to relieve the pressure before you start to guarantee the best performance. Start by ensuring the trigger lock is engaged.

2. Make sure that the paint sprayer is turned OFF at the power switch.

3. Select the lowest pressure on the pressure control dial.

4. Reverse the fluid nozzle and release the trigger lock.

5. Firmly hold the metal section of the spray gun against a grounded metal bucket to remove any static charge. Then squeeze the spray gun trigger to release any built-up pressure.

6. Re-engage the lock on the spray gun trigger lock. Then switch the prime valve to the DRAIN or PRIME position.

7. Next, prime the pump, hose, and spray gun using the method described below.

Step 3: Testing Your Sprayer

1. It’s always a good idea to test the sprayer before you spray on your actual wall to ensure that you’ve selected the correct pattern. Position a piece of scrap cardboard on the floor.

2. Twist the pressure control dial and set it to a mid-way position.

3. Keep the spray gun nozzle approximately twelve inches from the surface of the cardboard, release the trigger lock and gently squeeze the trigger to deliver a test pattern — a short sharp shot is what you are aiming for.

4. Access the pattern on the cardboard. If you notice “tails” (more coating toward the edges of the pattern), carefully dial the pressure up slightly and test again.

Continue to test and adjust your paint sprayer until the edges of the fan pattern appear blendable and soft. Once you’re satisfied with the result, you are ready to move on to step four below.

Step 4: Spraying Your Wall

1. Begin by cutting in around doors and windows.

2. Then “frame” the wall. Starting at the top of the wall, spray the outer edges first. Go slowly during this process and pay attention to the details. When it comes to the corners, try to aim your fluid nozzle directly at the corner so that coating is laid on either side.

3. Now paint the main body of the wall. Spray long consistent strokes, working from the top of the wall to the bottom. Try to make sure you don’t stop halfway through a stroke as this could lead to pooling or a blemished finish.

4. Overlap each previous pass by at least 50 percent for a perfect result.

5. Leave the appropriate amount of drying time before applying a second coat. Repeat points three and four as required.

Step 5: Finishing Up

1. When you’re done for the day, follow the guide below on cleaning your paint sprayer.

2. Remove any masking tape, plastic sheeting, and drop cloths you used. Reposition any furniture that was moved out of the way.

How To Prime a Graco Paint Sprayer

As mentioned above, priming is key to getting your paint gun ready. It’s not a required process with an HVLP machine, but if you don’t prime an airless device, prepare for a nightmare!

But following on from that word of caution, devices such as the Graco Magnum X5 make priming easy with a simple PushPrime feature.

What You Will Need to Follow This Tutorial

    • Paint Sprayer.
    • Two buckets, one for paint and a metal one for waste material.
    • Your chosen coating.
    • Power supply.

Step 1: Pump Priming

1. After you’ve relieved the pressure, engage the lock on the trigger.

2. Uninstall the fluid nozzle and guard from the spray gun.

3. Insert the flexible uptake tube into a paint bucket and place the drainage hose into a waste bucket.

4. Ensure the priming valve is set to DRAIN or PRIME.

5. Dial the pressure control to the minimum pressure setting.

6. Turn the power switch to ON.

7. Carefully turn up the pressure control dial until the motor kicks into action.

8. Allow the coating to circulate through the unit until it flows smoothly out of the drainage tube.

9. Turn the power switch OFF.

Step 2: Hose and Gun Priming

1. Once the pump is primed and ready to go, the next step is to prime the spray gun and hose. To avoid static, hold the spray gun against a grounded metal waste bucket, set the trigger lock to OFF, squeeze and hold the trigger.

2. Carefully turn the priming valve to the SPRAY option.

3. Turn the power switch to ON.

4. Allow the pump to run until you see paint exit the spray gun.

5. Put the power switch to OFF, then release the spray gun trigger.

6. Position your gun over the coating bucket. Squeeze the trigger again then switch the unit to ON.

7. Allow the pump to operate for approximately 20 seconds.

8. Allow the machine to build up pressure slowly by releasing the spray gun trigger.

9. Once the trigger is released, secure the trigger lock.

10. Finally, install a fluid nozzle that suits your coating onto the spray gun and make sure it’s tightened.

How To Clean a Graco Sprayer

To ensure your Graco paint sprayer’s longevity, it’s important to clean it properly after every use. Any coating left to dry in the unit could form a hard crust that can interfere with future operation.

What You Will Need to Follow This Tutorial

    • Paint Sprayer.
    • Two buckets, one for paint and a metal one for waste material.
    • Your chosen coating.
    • Power supply.

Step 1: Relieve the Pressure

1. For your safety, it’s paramount that you perform a pressure release on your sprayer before cleaning. Start by ensuring that the trigger lock is engaged.

2. Set the power switch to OFF.

3. Dial the pressure knob to the lowest setting.

4. Flip the reversible nozzle and release the lock on the spray gun trigger.

5. Press the metal part of the spray gun firmly against a grounded metal bucket to remove any static risk. Pull the trigger to release any built-up pressure.

6. Re-secure the spray gun’s trigger lock.

7. Set the prime valve to the DRAIN or PRIME position.

Step 2: Remove Coating From the Sprayer

1. Uninstall the fluid nozzle and protective guard from the spray gun.

2. Take the drainage hose and uptake tube out of the coating and wipe off any excess paint on the exterior of these hoses.

3. Place the uptake hose in the cleaning fluid pail and then place the drainage hose in a waste bucket.

4. Set the prime valve to the SPRAY option.

5. Aim the spray gun at the waste bucket and squeeze the trigger. Then turn the power switch to ON.

6. Gently dial up the pressure on the control knob while keeping the trigger squeezed.

7. When you start to notice that no more coating is being flushed and the cleaning fluid starts to appear, turn the power off and let the trigger go.

Note: If you are confident with this procedure, you can spray the coating back into the original paint container and then quickly switch to the waste bucket when you notice the cleaning fluid first coming through.

Step 3: Pump Cleaning

1. Place the spray gun in the bucket with the cleaning fluid.

2. Squeeze the trigger.

3. Turn the power on and then allow the pump to circulate until the fluid exiting the spray gun runs clear.

4. Now turn the power off and slowly release the spray gun’s trigger.

5. Set the prime valve to the PRIME option.

6. Switch the power back on.

7. As in step three above, allow the cleaning fluid to cycle until the liquid exiting the drain pipe runs clear.

8. Remove the uptake hose from the bucket, allowing it to drip above the cleaning fluid container.

9. Finally, turn the sprayer off.

Step 4: Cleaning the Spray Gun and Hose

1. Set the prime valve to the spray option.

2. Turn the sprayer’s power on.

3. Pull the trigger and aim the spray gun at the bucket holding the cleaning fluid. This will allow the hose to purge.

4. Switch the power off.

5. Let go of the trigger and lock in place with the trigger lock.

6. Set the pressure control dial to the lowest pressure output setting.

7. Remove the power cord from the electrical outlet.

8. Take the filters out of the sprayer and the actual gun.

Step 5: Cleaning the Nozzle, Guard, and Filters

1. Dedicate some time to the smaller components such as the filters, nozzle, and guard. Clean these gently with a soft cleaning brush and inspect for wear and tear.

Step 6: Finishing Up

1. Finally, finish up by giving your sprayer a final run-through with mineral spirits (if you used water to clean the unit initially). This adds a protective layer that provides resistance against corrosion and freezing.

2. When you’re done, wipe the spray gun and hose with a cloth soaked in mineral spirits.

3. Once the unit is completely dry, store it somewhere safe.

How To Change the Tip on a Graco Paint Sprayer

One of the best things about Graco paint sprayers is that installing a new fluid nozzle (when changing coatings or to replace a worn seal) is a breeze. The entire process can be completed in a matter of minutes without specialist tools.

Step 1: Remove the Existing Nozzle

1. As with any sprayer maintenance you carry out, release the pressure before you start for safety. This process is described in step one of ‘how to clean a Graco sprayer’ above.

2. Once the pressure is relieved, remove the existing nozzle by unscrewing it from the spray gun.

Step 2: Replace With a New Nozzle

1. The spray nozzle is usually installed within the guard, so this section can sometimes be a little fiddly, but after a few tries it becomes second nature. Start by placing the seat on the curved end of a pencil — it will not work if you use the sharp end. Slowly guide the pencil with the seat on into the retaining nut, then twist until you see it straddling the cylinder of the fluid nozzle.

2. Allow the suitable gasket in and gently press it into place.

3. Screw the components snugly into place on the thread of the spray gun. Hold the nozzle guard in your preferred position when tightening the retaining nut.

Why Choose Graco?

Almost a century ago a parking lot attendant had an innovative idea and Graco Incorporated was born. Over the 100 last years, the company has offered novel approaches to fluid handling technologies.

The Graco brand promise to its customers includes not only innovation, but also a high level of quality and great customer service. These seem to be promises that Graco delivers as its products are a top choice among professionals.


Hopefully, after reading this comprehensive review, you’re all set to start using a Graco paint sprayer and achieve the results you want.

Whether you need to know how to prime, clean, spray a room or even just switch a fluid nozzle, in the future, you won’t have to scour the net to find different articles — just add this one to your favorites bar and you’re sorted.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this how to use a Graco paint sprayer guide and found it useful, recommend it to your DIY friends!

How To Use a Graco Paint Sprayer FAQs

Q: How Do You Set Up a Graco Spray Sprayer?

If you’ve just invested in a new Graco machine, such as the Magnum paint sprayer, and aren’t sure how to use it, check the guide above for a simple explanation of set up and use.

Q: Do You Have To Thin Paint for a Graco Sprayer?

One of the great things about Graco sprayers is that many can be used without thinning dense coatings beforehand. This even holds true for the smaller units such as the cordless, handheld Graco Ultra.

Q: Why Is My Graco Paint Sprayer Not Spraying?

There could be many reasons why your sprayer is not working. First, begin by checking that the uptake hose is completely immersed in the coating container. If this is not the case, check to see if there are any clogs in the system.

Q: Can You Leave Paint In a Graco Sprayer Overnight?

Try to avoid leaving coating in your sprayer overnight. It could dry out which would make it difficult to remove and potentially damage to the machine.

Q: Is It Better To Roll or Spray Interior Paint?

For the highest quality finishes and even coverage, a paint sprayer is much better than a roller. It’s a lot quicker than a traditional roller too, a huge bonus when you have a lot of painting work to complete.

Q: Why Does My Airless Paint Sprayer Leave Streaks?

If you’re getting a streaky finish, there could be a couple of culprits. You may have your operating pressure set too low, or your nozzle may be worn.