I am spraying 6 3-panel slabs. I am quite new at using an airless sprayer.

Need Advice

I am using a semi-gloss from Sherwin-Williams and would like to be able to spray both sides at the same time, without having to wait for the paint to dry and then flip the door over. Any pointers?

  • 1
    Are these raised panel doors with sharp details in the panels? What kind of airless sprayer are you going to use? Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 22:48
  • They are textured masonite 3-panel doors, also 3-panel bi-folds. I have a Wagner model 9170 with a 415 tip.
    – Ode
    Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 23:22
  • The 415 tip is probably the best to use. It is narrow and sharp. It still shoots a lot of paint fast, use the lowest pressure setting on your sprayer. Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 23:39
  • If you have to pause for a few minutes, pull the nozzle out and drop it in a jar of water. Have a tooth brush handy to give it a quick cleaning. Plug it back in and go. If the pattern starts messing up, reverse the nozzle and give it a shot into your waste bucket, this will clear minor jams. Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 8:25

7 Answers 7


Airless sprayers have nozzles with apertures of different sizes. Have a few different sizes and experiment to find one that sprays at a comfortable rate with a decent pattern. Try different pressures, if the sprayer has an adjustment for that. When you're happy with what you're seeing on some test surface, then switch to the real thing.

Since you're new at spraying, perhaps forget about saving time by doing both sides. Just take your time to let the paint tack and flip the doors over. It's already a huge time saver just to be spraying.

There are ways to do it, if you insist. If you have a garage with exposed ceiling beams, you can screw in some hooks into the ceiling, and into the doors, and use string or chains to suspend the doors. I don't necessarily mean that the doors are hanging above ground, but just prevented from falling over, giving you access to both sides.

Doors often have recessed features, so you have to spray from various angles, otherwise areas in the "shadow" of the spray won't get coverage. Spray those inner carved areas first, then focus on the flat, outer surfaces.

Light is your friend! Spray in a very well lit area so you can spot problems right away, like the start of a run, or inadequate coverage. Bring in extra lamps.

Sherwin-Williams carries a door and trim enamel is quite good, by the way: the ProClassic Interior Acrylic Latex Enamel. Is that what you're using? Even if you brush it on, it flows so well that you cannot tell. The downside is that the enamel is a little bit stinky with VOC's. Yet that is probably what allows it to dry fairly quickly, yet flow nicely at the same time.

  • the type of sprayer he is using is a high pressure pump style. the tip is not adjustable, rather you have to buy separate nozzles for different sizes. i think his sprayer is 1/3 gal per minute, very high volume. This type of sprayer is not like a low volume lacquer sprayer. We use this type of sprayer to paint houses. The 415 tip is the smallest you can buy to shoot enamel, I think. Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 0:15
  • I use that SW enamel for cabinets. Good stuff. Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 0:17
  • Yep 1/3 gal per minute and I did use the 415 tip. The Sherwin-Williams HGTV Interior Semi-gloss worked wonderfully!
    – Ode
    Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 16:22

Remember the saying, "Haste makes waste". I understand the convenience and speed of hanging the doors so you can paint both sides at once with a sprayer. However, if you are looking for a smooth professional finish without runs, orange peel and loss of the millwork detail, painting them while hanging vertically will will not give you good results with standard latex paints. Shooting latex is not like shooting auto lacquer paint.

When painting doors, gravity is your friend, thus they really should be laid down on horses or supports with sharp stand-offs and done one side at a time. This minimizes dripping and runs and allows paint to level before drying.

Spraying only will give you a bit of an orange peel effect and possibly flood details. Unless you are really good and are using a high quality sprayer with the proper nozzle, the coverage will be uneven. Spraying is a great method of getting a lot of area covered quickly and fairly evenly. Even us pros will overbrush quickly after spraying with a super soft Purdy XTRA-Glide or equivalent brush. This allows you to get into the details, smooth the finish, spread excess paint, even out the coverage and eliminate the orange peel effect.

When spraying latex enamels, thin them with 15 to 20% Flotrol. This will help the paint spray more smoothly with less jams and spits. When you over brush, it will also help the paint level better and give you more working time before it starts to tack.

You can still hang the doors to dry after doing one side. this will save space. Wait about 15 mins after you over brush to hang them so they won't develop runs. Depending on temp and humidity, you may be able to lay them back down on some sharp pointed supports to do the other side in about 4 hours. Depending on whether they are bare wood or pre-primed doors, count on at least two coats. If they are bare wood, you will have to add in a sanding, priming, sand again, then two coats of paint.

  • Now knowing you have textured Masonite doors, over brushing is even more important. Spraying alone can fill the texture and run like crazy. Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 23:43
  • I sprayed them last night leaning against the wall and was able to get both sides by carefully turning them around and making sure that only an 1/8" or less of the top was making contact with the wall. Checked them this morning, I had no runs and the paint seems to be adhering really well. Thanks for the advice on the Flotrol, I will have to try that when I start spraying the rest of the basement.
    – Ode
    Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 15:55

Set up a paint booth in your garage.

Install some eye-bolts into the top of the door so that you can hang it. Drape and secure plastic to the ceiling, mount some hardware in the ceiling to hang the door from.

Continue with plastic on the floor, and forming all the walls.

Get a basic box fan and tape on an air filter so that it filters the air sucked into the fan. Set this fan on low to blow filtered air into your plastic paint booth, thus maintaining positive pressure.

You can now safely paint your doors, on both sides at once, and they'll dry, too!

Make quick passes with the sprayer, experiment on some scrap to get the distance correct.


Stand the doors up in a zig-zag arrangement. Attach a piece of furring to the top of the doors with a drywall screw in each door top edge to stiffen up the arrangement. This allows you to paint the fronts, backs and edges without touching the doors.


Take a 1×2 board whose length depends on how many doors you are spraying, drill it into the top of your first door with the door on a slight angle, continue down the line with doors spaced enough so you can move with your gun, after that prime both sides, let dry, finish coat both sides, and let dry. Take the board off then hang the doors.

I spray new build homes at over 25 doors per house, this method works great: no masking walls, no getting plastic stuck to doors, no flipping doors either.


If you don't mind filling some screw holes, (3) 2" deck screws and 2 stable sawhorses.

Place one screw at the balance point (it may not be center of door drilled for lockset), place the other 2 widely spaced at the other end. Embed about 1" into door.

Flip the door after painting from the 2 screw end.

Allow the door to tack up for 10 min before standing up for run insurance. A small bumper can be fashioned from a 2" piece of paint stick over the top single screw.

I can also recommend the Proclassic for doors. You may have to thin and/or use some Floetrol from Flood for better sprayability. Thin no more than 10%. A viscosity gauge is inexpensive and will let you judge future paints for spraying.

Running your final mix through a filter is cheap insurance against clogs and splatters.


This is what I do when spraying doors.

Make 4 small legs for each door from scrap trim boards, about 8 inchs each. I then tack the boards to the top and bottom ends of the door leaving about 3 inches of leg on each side. I lay the doors down on the four legs, spray, have someone help flip, and then spray the other side. After the doors dry, stand them up on end so they take up less space but I'll leave the legs on until I'm ready to reinstall because they will keep the uncured paint from touching a wall and messing up the finish on the edge.

The small nail holes are never seen since no one looks at the top or bottom ends of the door.

  • Do you paint the tops and bottoms of the doors?
    – Niall C.
    Commented Mar 1, 2013 at 19:50
  • I know you are supposed to, but most of the time I don't. If the door is in a high moisture area that I will make sure it is sealed all the way around but for a standard bedroom door I don't bother.
    – diceless
    Commented Mar 8, 2013 at 16:03

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