I used a Graco ProX7 Hi-Boy airless sprayer set to 3000 psi (max) to paint ceilings in a rental property. Used Kilz ceiling paint which supposedly dries flat white. I overlapped roughly 50% on each pass. Not sure what I did wrong. Unlike my primary residence paint job, I did not back roll on this rental property and would like to find a technique where I can avoid back rolling ceilings as I've seen from painters on YouTube.

Initially, I thought the streaks were original paint showing through from under the Kilz so did a second coat which did not help. In the past, I've sprayed smooth wooden doors with great results after 3 coats of Behr semi gloss white so I feel comfortable using this sprayer. Also, this isn't a case where the tip was clogged or the pressure was too low giving those signature "tails."

Lap Marks Lap Marks 2

  • What type of Kilz? Kilz Original? Kilz 2? Kilz Max? May 16, 2018 at 16:40
  • It was Kilz Interior Stainblocking Ceiling Paint and Primer. Model no. 68101.
    – Colemp
    May 16, 2018 at 16:49
  • 1
    Has it had a day to dry? Just because some of the surface dries to tack-free quickly, does not mean all of it is done drying, and of course the overlapped areas will dry slower. May 16, 2018 at 16:55
  • Sprayed 2nd coat after an hour, when it was dry to the touch. Guess I should have waited a day then to let it completely dry if that will solve my problem.
    – Colemp
    May 16, 2018 at 19:36
  • 1
    On top of everything else white can be tough, I put lighter coats it looks like your spacing is really close if you can't back off a bit I think you will need to back roll.
    – Ed Beal
    May 17, 2018 at 0:03

2 Answers 2



Period. Any good painter will tell you to backroll it. I painted for years, all we did was multimillion dollar customs, high end finishes. I never once sprayed a lid and didn't backroll it. Even with a dead flat, you backroll.

You can get an polyester 18" roller cover for $10, you can wash them when you're done and reuse them to save on costs. I've reused the save cover to paint 5-6 houses, through priming, ceilings and walls.

Aside from backrolling, using the right tip, checking your fan for tails and fingering is a must before you start. Also, having the right volume of paint. Too little and it will be blotchy, too much and you'll get heavy spots.

What you're seeing there is the change in directions as you're walking back and forth and one side if your tip is leaving a hard line. Too little pressure can cause this as well as a bad tip or even one that isn't clean. Backrolling can solve the majority of those issues and from the looks of it you should be able to spray and backroll that ceiling in just a few minutes.

Better luck next time.


So you stated pressure was not the issue, which leads me to believe that you had the pressure pretty high, and or tested your spray pattern first and seen it was good. So we can rule out low pressure as that is one of a few causes.

Next you stated it’s a rental property so I’m almost positive without knowing for sure that you used a fairly cheap if not the cheapest paint you could find. Understandable, who is going to use a high dollar paint on a rental property? Here’s the issue with that. Even when spraying a low quality paint you can very easily get a patchy finish. There is a reason paints are priced the way they are. They are definitely not all created equal.

With that being said I stated that as an issue others might have when getting patchy finishes spraying and rolling. You have two issues though you’re getting a heavy tail mark and an uneven sheen as well. The issue with your tail mark is that your not leave two tail marks, which happens with low pressure during each pass. Leaving a line at the top of the pattern and one at the bottom of the pattern. I know that because when your leaving 2 tails each pass you will see them fairly close together.

This is where I have to question one of your statements. Respectfully, I feel you could be wrong when you say your tip was not clogged. Yes it may have been spraying out good but you have to understand them tips must be cleaned out VERY VERY VERY WELL. Even if you can see light through it, that does not mean it’s completely clean. Even the smallest obstruction in it can ruin the spray pattern. Think of it as your kitchen sink. Turning the water on and something being caught under the screen filter. It will no longer flow correctly. But it still flows, and if you stuck something in it to unclog it you might have scared the orifice of the tip. They need to be cleaned properly after each use or you can almost guarantee the tip is useless. I’m positive a new tip and a good quality paint will fix your issue. But hold on... don’t run to the store yet.

If you used a good paint, which again I don’t think you did just because the uneven finish look, and if your tip was not damaged from having dried paint scraped out and or having a small obstruction inside of it which I feel could very well be the issue since your only leaving 1 tail mark. If your positive those were not the issue then it’s with the angle your holding your gun at. Ceilings are harder to hold your gun at the correct angle and people tend to hold it at a slight angle which would cause the bottom part of your pattern to not have a line because it being sprayed in a way that it’s feathering itself, blending in with what you’ve passed over and the top of the pattern is leaving a hard line.

So to sum this up:

  • Good paint - to get even sheen
  • Good tip
  • And hold gun at the right angle
  • The paint brand was mentioned in the question. It doesn't sound like a low-grade product to me.
    – isherwood
    Nov 21, 2023 at 15:28

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