A Decorators Spraying Journey

If you have been decorating for any length of time you will have noticed many changes over the years. Rollers, a long time ago I know but they were met with resistance big time. They were viewed as DIY and many decorators would not be caught using one. Of course, they caught on, mainly because they were faster and easier to use, now most decorators in the world will complete a job using a roller of some kind.


Water based paints are another one. Although many decorators have made the shift there is still quite a bit of resistance out there.


Spraying of course is another one. Not new by any means but people are starting to change they way they work and introduce spraying into their business. This tends to be a gradual process which takes differing amounts of time depending on the person.


This is what we like to call the spraying journey.

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The start of the spraying journey

When we talk to decorators about spraying and discuss the increased productivity and finish I usually get two reactions. The first one is negative and I am told point blank that there is no way they are going to start spraying. The second reaction is excitement and the decorator will go out and buy an airless sprayer. The idea is that you can buy a sprayer on Monday and by Tuesday you will be highly productive and giving a great finish. If only the real world worked this way.


Unfortunately there is a learning curve attached to spraying and you will have to change some of the ways that you work. You are on a journey. This journey can be different for different people depending of what they do and what their experiences are.

The false start

For example you may buy a sprayer and eagerly get it going on your first suitable job. You have decided you’re going to “teach yourself” even though you know nothing about spraying and have no experience of it. The first day is a disaster, it takes ages to mask because you don’t really know what you are doing, the sprayer takes time to get going and you end up with overspray everywhere including all over yourself. The sprayer gets dumped in the garden shed never to be seen again.


This is not an uncommon situation and we have spoken to many decorators who start the conversation, “I sprayed on a job once, the sprayer is in the shed somewhere, I may dig it out again”

A better start

A better journey would start with buying a small airless sprayer and using it to mist coat new plaster. You may then find that you can also finish the ceilings pretty quickly too.


The next thing you hear is that you can spray woodwork using a HVLP. You buy one of these and find that it is a whole new ball game with thinning the paint and setting the various knobs and dials to get the required result.


The kind of work you get starts to change and the way you work changes too. You start chatting to like minded people about airless sprayers. Graco, Titan, Wagner and Q-tech these are the brands that make the various sprayers. Everyone has their favourite and you will argue that your favourite is the best.


It’s a funny thing because many people ask me what the best sprayer is and which is the best one to buy first. The answer depends on what type of work that you do and what kind of budget you have. I will be talking about this is another blog.

Which first sprayer should I buy?

This is another big question that we are often asked.

  • How much should I spend?
  • Should I buy a big sprayer that will do everything?
  • Should I buy a small sprayer and not spend very much and see how I get on?
  • Should I buy a Graco, a Wagner, a Q-tech, a Titan or even a Tritech?


It feels like a really big decision to make. We know many sprayers and what we find is that the ones that have made the journey own many sprayers. We do not know one experienced sprayer who only has one sprayer.


Why is this?


Well first of all there is no one sprayer that does it all. So you find that if you buy a big sprayer then you sometimes need a small sprayer so you buy one. If you have an airless then sometimes you need a HVLP so you buy one and before you know it you own 6 sprayers and you wonder why you worried so much about buying your first one.


Have a look at the What Sprayer Survey that was created for exactly this reason – it gives you a great place to start

Another reason is that once you start spraying you will have more money to spend on sprayers and the decision does not seem as hard to make.


Yet another reason is that the new kit is great to own. You find yourself buying the cool new airless gun even though you don’t really need it. You will find yourself browsing through the latest catalogues to see if there is anything that you need to add to your collection.


Finally of course, with each new piece of equipment it becomes harder for someone else to set up and compete with you.

Many jobs need specialist equipment that only a professional can afford and will buy. 


Ask yourself what you would think if you went to the dentist and he started drilling your teeth with a hand drill sat on a kitchen chair. 



It’s more than buying a sprayer it’s a mindset

One of the things that decorators do when they start spraying is spray in the same way that they have always painted.


Let me give you some examples.

  • Spraying the ceiling first, then the walls and then the woodwork.
  • Spraying around the edge of a ceiling and then filling it in.
  • Spraying the panels of the door first.


There are many more too


The problem is that because you have always done it that way you are convinced that you are right and you do not see the error of your ways.


There are a couple of ways to get yourself on the right track. You can work with an experienced sprayer to get some good tips on how you need to work. You could do a one or two day course to get up to speed.


You will find that many of the processes that you currently do will have to change. There are many things that will have to change but I will discuss two.


  1. You will not be painting first thing in the morning. You will have to prepare, and you will have to mask. This makes many decorators uncomfortable and they feel that they should be putting paint on. You have a little voice in your head telling you that you’re not making money unless you are putting paint on. You quickly get used to that fact that once you start spraying everything gets painted pretty quickly and then you are waiting for paint to dry.
  1. Number of coats. We do tend to get hung up on how many coats a surface should get. Do we “make it go in one” and save a load of time. Sometimes we price for 2 coats and then if it does not cover we take ages to decide if it needs a third coat because it’s going to cost us money. Once you start spraying all this goes out of the window. You may have 5 doors that you have sprayed and on inspection you decide that they need another coat. Well that’s another 3mins and a bit of paint. No big deal really. 


There are many things like this where we are set in our ways and we don’t even realise it. Its takes a while to change your mindset to a new way of working.

Once you’re a fair way down the road.

The journey can be long but it’s surprising how fast it goes.

Before you know it you have been spraying for a couple of years, you are feeling much more confident with the equipment and it no longer scares you to set the sprayer up and get started.

Cleaning out the sprayer is much easier too and some days you can get the sprayer clean in a few minutes. 


You will start getting used to how long things take too and you will adjust the way you work. We find that different decorators use the increase in productivity in different ways.


  1. Some will work shorter days and get the same amount of work done and have a late start and an early finish. 
  1. Some will do one job in the morning and once everything is wet go to another job in the afternoon. In this way you double your income that you are earning from the work.
  1. Some will spend more time on the “prep” because they know that the painting does not take very long. In this way you get an even better finish and you can take pride in your work without it having to cost you. This usually leads to more work.


We do a combination of all three to give a more enjoyable, productive and profitable work day.


At this point in the journey you will have seen an upturn in your enquiries from new customers. It amazing that once you start producing a flawless finish how customers notice and recommend you to their friends.

Many sprayers that we know will see a doubling of their turnover, if not more.

The journey never ends.

You may be asking yourself what happens when the journey ends. Well what we have found is that you find yourself wanting more of what you have experienced. It’s a funny thing about learning new things, at first you don’t want to, you are happy to do things that way that you have always done but once you learn something new and find that it makes a big difference then you want more.


We think that one of the aspects of decorating that goes hand in hand with spraying is pricing. Many decorators are weak on their approach to pricing and they have never really go their heads around it properly. They have learnt how to price by chatting to their self-employed decorator friends and are stuck in a system of day rate plus materials. This method will not work with spraying for many reasons. 


This is not the place to discuss pricing, we will talk about it in another blog. But it’s the next journey that you need to make to make your business even better.

The next steps.

We find though that once you buy your first sprayer and start earning better money then you will almost certainly spend some of that new money on yet another sprayer or spraying accessory. This is all part of the journey.


There are not many sprayers that we know that only have 1 sprayer. I am not sure if it’s a gadget thing or you just like to have all the bases covered. Its probably a bit of both.


Where it eventually leads is up to you. Many like the lure of spraying in a workshop and specialise in kitchens and furniture. Some prefer the variety of location that sitework provides and some like to stick to private work and provide the customer with a superior finish.

Think about a course.

If you want a little help kick starting your journey, then it’s a great idea to do a course.

You will learn about the different sprayers out there and also learn the skills needed to produce a flawless finish. You will also learn about the all important health an

d safety aspects of spraying.


Finally, you will meet like minded people who are on the same journey as you.

If you are interested

 in doing a course the check out the courses that we offer by heading back to the home page here