Painting 101

by John Brooks

For starts, be very carefull about the *pressure* you are pushing through the gun. Use the *lowest* pressure possible that will allow the material (paint) to blow well. This sounds subjective because it is. You have to find the best setup for your equipment, but don't crank up the pressure thinking it will flow better, you just get flooding! Likewise, with the paint control on the gun, crank it down to get a nice circular pattern. On my setup I like the pressure to stay around 14psi with the trigger down.

What you want is a wet mist, not a sheet of liquid paint. Assuming you are pushing Urethane Enamel, the mix the supplier specified is about right--you want the stuff to run like water. The control of the paint film comes from the manipulation of the gun, not the viscosity of the paint.

Back off! Stay 18-24 in. away, try to stay parallel to the surface.

Work from the top down and the edges of a panel in. I work 4-5 sq ft then move on. You don`t need to try and get the whole side of the van in one shot, what you *do* need to do is to KEEP A WET EDGE. This is the forward edge of the painted area and should have a *wet* sheen or reflection to it (arrange the lights so you can see it). This means the paint is flowing together.

The maintanance of this edge without flooding the surface is the hardest thing to control, but when you get it you`ll paint like a pro. It is a "feel" as much as anything and you WILL mess up till you get it.

When you get a run: STOP. Have rags/solvent ready and wipe it off. There is no reason to do all that sanding. If you have allowed the runs to cure, then you have to sand them down. This can be a problem with uncured paint as it will gum your paper as fast as you can change it. You can also use a "paint file" (a weird little tool-from your paint supply store) to cut the runs out. No matter what, you must take the surface back to perfect to try again. :-[

The best thing is to practice on an old panel until you get the control thing down. Relax: air painting is a Zen thing, when everything comes together it flows out real nice, but get hurried and frustrated and it will TTS. Stick with it.

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