Everything is easy once you know how, and by taking the time to learn how to use a Wagner paint sprayer correctly, you will perfect your painting skills and up your spraying style.

Since using a Wagner paint sprayer can be broken down into many sections — priming and set up, thinning, operating, and clean up — I have compiled this elementary guide to get you up and running fast.

What Types of Wagner Sprayer are Available?

Before we get down to the bones of this guide, you need to understand the types of Wagner sprayers available and which best suits your needs. As Wagner has a wide repertoire of machines, it’s impossible to cover each individual device here, instead, I’ve broken them down into two separate categories: turbine-powered and airless spray guns.

Wagner’s Turbine-Driven Paint Sprayers

Turbine-powered HVLP machines are where Wagner really excels. It has two ranges, the FLEXiO line, which demonstrates how much quicker spray guns can be than a brush, and the Control Series, for applying stains and completing small tasks such as trim.

For those unsure as to what a turbine spray gun is, these sprayers use a turbine to generate the air pressure demanded by a high-volume, low-pressure (HVLP) system. This air output then finely atomizes the coating to provide a blemish-free, consistent finish. No external compressor is needed.

Great examples include the FLEXiO 3000, which can coat large projects up to ten times faster than a brush. And if you’re completing smaller tasks, the Control Painter could be the solution for you.

Wagner’s Airless Spray Guns

A slightly newer offer from Wagner is its range of airless sprayers. While the company’s selection is not as vast as some other manufacturers, it once again provides two different ranges: Wagner HEA machines and the Wagner Airless Series.

Airless sprayers operate at high pressures; usually between 1500 and 3300 pounds per square inch (psi). An internal motor or turbine pushes the coating through the machine to the fluid nozzle where it’s turned into a mist of extremely fine droplets. A great example of a Wagner airless machine is the Control Pro 150.

HEA (high-efficiency airless) devices deliver all the grunt of an airless machine but with up to 55 percent overspray. Spray guns such as the Control Pro 190 take the intimidation out of large projects yet are still easy to operate.

Why Wagner SprayTech?

Wagner spray guns are a great choice for inexperienced users as they are easy to use, and most have variable pressure and coating output, making them easy to fine-tune to your project. What’s more, many come at a reasonable price point.

This said, they will also stand up to rigorous use from full-time contractors — as these spray guns are designed to be robust.

Wagner SprayTech had been in the fluid handling industry for over seven decades and is currently based in Minneapolis.

How to Prime a Wagner Paint Sprayer

The first step when learning how to use Wagner airless paint sprayer, such as the Control Pro 170, is priming. This step is not required in HVLP machines but is a necessary part of airless sprayer use.

What You Will Need to Follow This Tutorial

  • Water.
  • Mallet.
  • Power source.

Step 1: Suction Check

1. If the unit arrives or is stored with the uptake hose attached, you will need to remove it.
2. Locate the red pusher stem and press three to four times.
3. Twist the PRIME/SPRAY dial so that prime is selected then place your finger over the inlet and switch the unit on.

If you do not feel any suction, then you will need to continue to step two. If there is suction present, you’re good to go.

Step 2: Tapping The Outlet Valve

1. Connect the spraying hose directly to the outlet’s port.
2. Gently tap the spray hose connection and outlet valve a couple of times with the mallet.
3. Turn the unit on and turn the PRIME/SPRAY dial to prime. Once again, perform a suction test as described in step one. If you still don’t feel any suction on your finger, move on to step three.

Step 3: Free the Outlet Valve With Water

1. Ensure that the pump is turned off and that the uptake hose is still not attached.
2. Carefully invert the unit.
3. Pour approximately one to two ounces of water into the inlet valve’s opening.
4. Push the red pusher stem three to four times.
5. Keeping the unit inverted, switch it on. You should notice that water is sucked up and expelled from the outlet port. Once this happens, switch the unit off. You’re now good to go and start using your sprayer.

Thinning Paint for a Wagner Sprayer

If you’re using stain or another low viscosity coating, you can pour it straight into your unit and start spraying. There are also machines that handle dense mediums without thinning, such as the Control Pro 170 with its airless technology.

However, if you opt for an HVLP Wagner spray gun like the FLEXiO 690, for the most part, you’ll need to figure out how to thin latex paint, although, it can spray some viscous coatings without dilution.

There are many thick coatings but I’ll cover latex here since it’s one of the most common paints DIYers use.

What You Will Need to Follow This Tutorial

  • Latex paint.
  • Stir stick.
  • Water.
  • Bucket.
  • Measuring jug.

Step 1: Viscosity Check

1. Firstly, determine if you need to dilute your paint at all. Ensure the original paint container is firmly closed and shake or swing the tin for around a minute to completely mix the paint.
2. Set the tin down on a firm surface and open it. Using your stir stick, mix the paint in a figure of eight motion — being sure to work up and down, as well as side to side. After around ten rounds, carefully lift the stick out of the coating and hold it above the tin.
3. If the paint continuously streams off the stick in a fluid motion, then no thinning is required. Alternatively, if the coating drips off, then you will need to move on to step two.

Step 2: Diluting the Coating

1. Pour the amount of paint you need for your project into the bucket.
2. Check the paint manufacturer’s recommendations for the thinning agent and ratio. This is usually found on the original tin or, at a push, on the manufacturer’s website.
3. Measure the correct amount of diluting agent (usually water for water-based coatings and mineral spirits for oil-based paints) into your jug.
4. Add the thinning medium a little at a time to the paint. It’s always possible to add more thinner but if you accidentally add too much, it is right pain to fix, so go carefully.
5. Stir the thinning agent and coating thoroughly, once again using a figure of eight motion.
6. Once mixed, complete a viscosity check as described in step one to determine if more thinning is required. If the coating is not quite the correct consistency, repeat steps four, five, and six again.
7. When the coating is a perfect consistency, add it to your paint sprayer’s cup.

How To Use a Wagner Paint Sprayer

Whether you’re planning on using an HVLP or educating yourself on how to use a Wagner airless paint sprayer, the process is fairly similar once you’ve got the priming out of the way.

What You Will Need to Follow This Tutorial

  • Wagner paint sprayer.
  • Coating.
  • Flattened cardboard box.
  • Coveralls, goggles, face mask.
  • Drop cloths.
  • Masking tape.
  • Plastic sheeting.
  • Step ladder (if a large project).

Step 1: Preparation

1. Before you get all gung ho, it’s vital that you prepare for your project before you begin. It will result in a more expert-looking finish with less clean-up at the end.
2. Gather all the tools listed above and, if you are decorating a room, move all objects out of the way.
3. Lay down your drop cloth and cover anything that cannot be moved, such as windows, with plastic sheeting. Secure in place with masking tape. Similarly, ensure that all fixtures and light switches are covered too.
4. Familiarise yourself with how your sprayer works by reading the instruction manual.
5. Put on your protective equipment and make sure that the area that you’re spraying is well ventilated to avoid a build-up of paint fumes.

Step 2: Spraying

1. Set up your sprayer following the manufacturer’s guidelines and add the coating to the paint cup (if your unit has a paint cup).
2. If your project will involve using a ladder, it’s better to get to grips with your machine while your feet are on terra firma.

Check out where the volume output and pressure controls are located, and if needed, make a couple of practice passes on an old flattened cardboard box. Get comfortable laying both vertical and horizontal passes.

3. Adjust the settings of the machine if they are not giving you the coverage you desire.

A helpful tip is that if you’re going to spray side to side or laterally, select the vertical pattern option. Conversely, if spraying in a vertical orientation, choose a horizontal pattern.

4. Keep the fluid nozzle at a distance of between 6 to 12 inches away from the surface of your project.
5. Ensure that once you’ve completed a full stroke, cover with another pass by at least 50 percent. Try to keep your stokes long, your operating speed even, and don’t stop halfway down or across a surface as this can lead to unsightly paint pools.
6. Ensure that once you’ve completed a full stroke, cover with another pass by at least 50 percent. Try to keep your stokes long, your operating speed even, and don’t stop halfway down or across a surface as this can lead to unsightly paint pools.
7. When done, be sure to clean your spray gun.

How To Clean a Wagner Sprayer

There is nothing more satisfying than finishing your DIY project after learning how to use a Wagner power sprayer, and then standing back and admiring your hard work with a cold one.

But before you get carried away, you need to clean your machine before storing it away. Failure to do so will result in damage to your unit and you may need to purchase a new one.

What You Will Need to Follow This Tutorial

  • Wagner paint sprayer.
  • Cleaning brush.
  • Soapy water (for water-based coatings).
  • Mineral spirits (for oil-based paints).
  • Clean drying cloth.
  • Goggles and gloves if working with mineral spirits.

Step 1: Disassembly

1. One of the best features of the majority of Wagner spray guns, as demonstrated in the FLEXiO 2000, is the Lock-N-Go system. This design permits a complete part breakdown at only the push of a button — eliminating the need for extra tools, such as a wrench, to separate the components. Don’t forget to disassemble the front end also.

Step 2: Cleaning

1. If you’re using a chemical cleaner for oil-based paints, make sure you put on gloves and eye goggles to protect yourself.
2. Start by washing the main body parts of the sprayer, such as the paint cup, with your cleaning fluid. This should be a straightforward process so long as you didn’t allow the paint to dry before cleaning.
3. Next start cleaning the uptake hose and the fluid nozzle. The most convenient way to do this is with the cleaning brush. If you have left the coating to dry, then you may need to soak the components in an appropriate cleaning solution for a few minutes. Ensure that the brush that you use is not so coarse that it scratches the product’s pieces.
4. When you’re done, dispose of your cleaning fluid responsibly.
5. Allow the unit to air dry before storing.


Hopefully, you’re now fully equipped with the spray gun know-how you need to start using your Wagner sprayer.

There is no need to shy away from priming the device, or thinning more viscous paints for use, just follow the simple step-by-step guides above. Additionally, operation and clean-up should also be a breeze.

If you have found our guide on how to use a Wagner paint sprayer helpful, share it with other home improvers so they don’t have to suffer unsightly brush strokes either!

How To Use a Wagner Paint Sprayer FAQs

Q: Do I Need To Thin Paint for Wagner Sprayer?

It depends on the type of sprayer you’re using. For example, thinning paint for use in many Wagner power painters is a must with viscous coatings. However, if you choose one of the HEA machines, such as the Control Pro 170, no dilution is required.

Q: Are Wagner Paint Sprayers Any Good?

Yes, Wagner is a respected brand of power painting tools. Wagner paint sprayers are competitively priced, easy to learn how to use, durable, and reliable.

Q: Can You Use Primer in a Wagner Paint Sprayer?

When you first learn how to use a Wagner paint sprayer, you may wonder if primers are off-limits. But the good news is that you can spray primers in a Wagner, although some thinning may be required.

Check each Wagner unit’s specs before you make a purchase to ensure the machine of your choice can handle primers well.

Q: Can I Leave Paint in My Wagner Sprayer Overnight?

In theory, you can, however, most people prefer not to do this to protect their spray gun. If you leave paint in your Wagner spray gun overnight, it could dry in the system and cause a wide variety of issues, not to mention making it difficult to clean the tool later on.

Q: How Do You Adjust a Wagner Spray Gun?

When learning how to use a Wagner power painter or other Wagner device, you’ll want to tailor the output to your base medium and experience level. Most Wagner devices have simple dials to adjust both the pressure and paint output.