How to apply Chalk Paint® with a Spray Gun

Too many cabinets and too little time? Consider spraying Chalk Paint®; a more advanced technique which when performed correctly guarantees a smooth, high spec finish. Watch as Annie Sloan and guest painter Ron Taylor demonstrate how to spray Chalk Paint® using a spray gun.

You’ll find this following guide long and detailed. We’ve covered as much as we can to cater for everyone and to make sure you get the best result possible. We advise you watch the video first and then read on to clarify anything you’re unsure of.

You will need:

• Chalk Paint®
• Water
• A spray gun (here, Annie is using an HVLP (high volume, low pressure) spray gun, the Wagner 2370386 Studio Home Décor Sprayer)
• Face mask

How does it work?

A spray gun works by combining pressurised air and paint. The paint is atomised into small particles which are sprayed onto a surface.

It’s a quick and effective way to paint large areas, for example kitchen cabinets, but does require forethought and preparation. If you’re a beginner we recommend painting with Chalk Paint® first.

Firstly, paint is added to the pot of the gun. The gun is connected to a hose and a turbine which provides the air stream to spray the paint (all included as one when bought). That turbine will force air through the front of the gun and atomise the paint, breaking it into small particles. A tube connecting the paint pot and gun pressurises the paint forcing it up the tube, and when you pull the trigger, the paint and the air meet and are sprayed onto the surface.

How to spray with Chalk Paint®

1. Pour Chalk Paint® into the pot of the gun to about half full.

2. Start adding very small amounts of water at a time, stirring thoroughly to ensure the paint and water is fully combined. It’s important not to thin the paint too quickly.

Chalk Paint® needs to be thinned for spray application. One of the greatest features of Chalk Paint® is its ability to be manipulated to suit requirement; add water to thin it down; leave the lid off to thicken up; mix it with other colours to get your perfect hue.

Chalk Paint® straight out of the tin is too thick for spraying. An indicator of viscosity is lifting the paint from a height and watching it drop back into the tin. If it leaves a 3D trail on the surface of the paint, called a ‘worm cast’, then it is too thick.

There are no exact measures here; it all depends on the thickness of your original paint! And that will depend on so many factors; mainly your climate.

When the paint is lifted up and there are no worm casts left behind, it is the right consistency and ready for application. If the paint is too thick when it’s sprayed it will splatter unevenly.

3. Once the paint is mixed it’s time to prep the gun. First, orientate the paint tube to face downwards when you’ll be spraying. Gravity will dictate the paint to fall to the bottom of the pot which will change depending on the angle you are spraying at. So if you’re spraying downwards, like Annie and Ron are here, you want the tube end to face downwards too. If you are spraying up, you will want the tube facing the other way so it’s always immersed in paint.

4. Next, attach the pot to the gun. It’s easiest to do this on a table surface when it’s full of paint – less room for spillages! Make sure it’s attached tightly.

5. Connect the turbine tube to the gun.

6. Change the angle of the nozzle horns to the direction you will be spraying. If you’re spraying left to right, the horns want to be horizontal. If you’re spraying up and down the horns want to be vertical. If the opposite is done, a build-up of paint will occur on the surface. You can reach a happy medium in the middle if you need a thinner width spray.

It is crucial to wear a respiratory mask at all times when spraying paint. The airborne paint particles can cause respiratory problems if inhaled and no mask is worn.

7. We recommend testing first before applying straight to your surface. Using the setting 2 spray the paint on a test surface; here Ron has used the wall of Annie’s Warehouse studio. You are testing the consistency of the paint is right and that the gun is working as expected.

The gun Ron and Annie are using is called a ‘bleeder’ gun; there is no air adjustment only a fluid adjustment. This means the amount of air travelling through it is constant and doesn’t change. The amount of paint flowing through the gun is what affects the rate of spray. On this gun, there is a numbered dial which will change the rate of flow. The dial allows you to pull the trigger further back to cause more paint to come through the nozzle. For Chalk Paint®, Ron uses the setting 2.

8. Next apply to your piece. Do the edges and tricky bits first. Then apply the paint in lines across the piece, working in a logical motion. It’s important to overlap each line of paint by 50%, to ensure complete even coverage. Be consistent with the coverage so as to keep the finish even; the paint needs to be applied consistently or any missed or dry areas will show up.

9. Apply two coats of paint to make sure no area has been missed. When applying a second coat there are two options. Either apply immediately after the first coat, before the paint has started to dry. Or, wait an hour or so (depending on the climate of your working conditions, it may be more) before applying the second coat. If you don’t apply the second coat immediately you will need to wait the full hour, as even after a 2 minute wait the surface will have begun to dry.

10. Apply the second coat in the same manner of the first.

11. Leave to dry in an area where the cabinets won’t need to be moved, as any contact with the dry paint will blemish the surface.

12. Once fully dry, either apply Chalk Paint® Wax or Lacquer. Apply the wax with a brush, and apply the lacquer with either a brush, roller or spray gun. Click here to see Annie and Ron demonstrating how to spray Chalk Paint® Lacquer to finish this cabinet.

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Chalk Paint®