How to Prevent Overspray

Paint sprayers are so typical nowadays. If you want to get a painting project covering huge areas done, you tend to use a tool which is capable of doing the job the most effective and efficient way. 

Because it is widely accessible to users, a lot of do-it-yourself (DIY) enthusiasts have laid their hands of these machines.

Not only are they a friendly tool for beginners, but paint sprayers are also a go-to option of professionals.

However, even though we all like using paint sprayers because of its efficiency, its usage may also have quite disadvantages.

Paint sprayers may result in overspray - this is one of the common problems painters encounter.

Read along to understand what overspray is, what causes it, and most importantly how to prevent it from ruining your project.


When we say there is an overspray, we pertain to the excessive amount of material which does not reach the target surface.

For instance, after pulling the trigger, the paint disperses into the air rather than attaching directly to the target surface.

Not only that you may waste a certain amount of materials in overspray, but you also ruin the texture of the target area.

Instead of creating a smooth surface, you will notice overspray creates lumps of particles.

The good thing is that this problem can be solved by adjusting some parts of the machine and following precautionary measures.

You can control the paint overspray by referring to the below possible solutions.

What Causes Overspray?

Before we go to the point of preventing overspray, it is essential for us to understand what causes this. In learning so, we will be able to understand better how we will be able to prevent such a case.

1. Air Pressure

Air pressure affects the amount and power by which materials are released. It is one of the leading causes of overspray, mainly if you are working on high demand.

Needless to say, sprayers with low-pressure strategy cause the least overspray. Spraying at low pressure makes easy for any user to handle and control the material.

When spraying at high pressure, the article bounces on the surface so hard and creates a cloud. It continues bouncing and gets out of control. This is where lumps start to appear.


Because of this, one of the ways to solve this problem is by reducing the air pressure of the machine. This can be done quickly because most, if not all, spray guns have pressure adjustment options.

2. Spray Pattern 

Another reason why there is a higher amount of overspray is working with a wrong spray pattern. Different users have different projects to finish and different sizes to spray.

Before starting painting, make sure that you have set the spray pattern correctly. This means that you have to set the design according to the width of the target surface.

Obviously, if the surface is narrow but the spray pattern set is broad, there would be colossal overspray and mess.

Only use the broad spray pattern only when you are covering a large surface like walls or cabinets. On the other hand, when you are about to spray a smaller portion, set the model to narrow.

This way you will prevent overspray.

When finishing different sizes of projects, it is wise if you buy a sprayer which comes with multiple pattern options to allow you to adjust accordingly.

There are a lot of machines in the market which offers this feature or addition.

3. Distance from Surface

The distance between the sprayer and the target surface is another thing to keep in mind.

You would want to avoid getting too close to the surface when spraying because it will cause overspray. Moreover, spraying too close will also result in an uneven finish since it may cause the paint to drip down.

On the other hand, if you get too far from the target, not only will you not be able to cover the target area, but your paint will splatter all over the place.

Read the sprayer manual so you will learn about the ideal distance to follow between the sprayer and the surface target. Usually, 6 to 10 inches distance between you and the target surface will be exceptional.

4. Wind

Yes, the wind may also affect your work. More particularly, the direction and the pressure of the wind are the factors which may cause overspray.

When finishing a painting job, it is best for you to turn off the fan because it may prevent the paint mist to land onto the surface.

Now if you are working outdoors and of course you cannot control the wind, wait for the right time to spray.

That is, spray until you observe that the wind is slow. Regarding pressure, the wind blowing in one direction will cause the overspray.

This happens because the paint mist is pushed in the same direction. The best situation is to work in the mild breeze.

Ways to Prevent Overspray When Painting

main painting wall

Preparation is very much necessary for you to prevent overspray. See to it that you cover everything thoroughly before you start spraying, so you do not sprinkle all over the place.

Basically, for everything which you will not be painting, cover them with newspaper or cloth. You may also use painter tapes and plastic sheets to coat everything thoroughly.

For more specific ways on how to prevent overspray, continue reading along.

Set the correct pressure

We have mentioned earlier that one of the causes of overspray is the air pressure. The pressure released by a specific sprayer may not apply to all types of project.

A lot of painters or do-it-yourself (DIY) enthusiasts prefer using airless paint sprayers. This is because airless paint sprayers are more efficient and impressive regarding paint application.

Why? Basically, these sprayers use pressure to release the paint in the form of fine mist.

Because of this, paint sprayers cover a more significant area in the shortest span of time. On the other hand, paint guns use air to atomize the fluid for a fine coating.

Airless paint sprayers spray paint at high pressure. Because of this, the color comes our faster and covers the target surface in no amount of time.

However, because it is spraying at high pressure, airless spray guns also cause overspray.

To avoid overspray, choose the lowest pressure when you are just starting spraying. Begin with the low weight and gradually increase it as you go along the work.

This way you can control the release of paint and in the result. Good control helps you avoid overspray and uneven finish.

Select the correct nozzle size

The nozzle of the tip of the paint sprayer you will use should vary according to the type of job that you will do. You can avoid excessive overspray if you pick out the correct tip size.

man with paint sprayer on hand

You should also consider the viscosity or how sticky and thick your material is.

There are a lot of paint sprayers out there which are sold with adjustable or additional nozzles for you to change tip sizes and patterns quickly. 

In selecting a nozzle or tip size, merely remember these: use a larger tip size if you are covering a vast surface and a smaller size for small areas. 

A larger tip releases more amount of material in no time. Obviously, you should use a smaller tip size when you are covering small surfaces and delicate parts such as frames, figurines, etc.

Similarly, you should also consider the pattern of the spray.

Use a broad spray pattern for large surfaces such as walls, fences, cabinets, etc. Meanwhile, switch to narrow models when you are working on small-scale projects.

So keep in mind the size of the surface and the type of work done in picking out the tip size as well as the pattern.

Choose the right type of sprayer

Another way to effectively prevent overspray is getting a hold on the correct and useful tool or machines.

We mentioned a while ago that airless sprayers are quite efficient because of the high pressure it uses when spraying.

However, there are also other products in the market which offers the same efficiency and fast application with a little amount of overspray.

If can quite stretch your budget a little more and if your concern is maximizing your materials, you can try using high volume low pressure (HVLP) paint sprayers

Not only that it reduces overspray, but HVLPs also get the job done faster and provide better application and coating. 

Apart from switching to HVLPs, you can also convert your existing airless paint sprayer into an air assist paint sprayer.

Air assist paint sprayers give you the same efficiency as HVLP with the least amount of overspray. 

In choosing the right equipment, remember that machines with high pressure would always have a higher tendency of overspray.

paint sprayer

On the one hand, low-pressure devices are more efficient to reduce overspray.

It is another plus point when the machine is sold with other accessories such as tips, spray guns and pressure pots which will help you reduce the overspray.

However, these accessories are no longer necessary if you are using HVLPs as their low-pressure spray already prevents overspray.

Study spraying techniques

It is essential that you know the right or effective techniques for spraying to avoid any kind of overspray. If you are a DIY enthusiast or only just beginning to paint on your own, it might be helpful to watch spraying techniques.

Spraying techniques include keeping the fan pattern at a stable level, adopting perpendicular angle for spraying, etc.

Watching experts or experienced people do their job will give you an idea on how to spray correctly.

Check out the below video:

Create a spray booth 

If you have the time and resources, you can also reduce overspray by working within a spray booth. You can create your own cabin by simply using cardboards and assembling them to form a big box.

street artist painting

Obviously, enclosing your project in an enclosure save other items from being sprayed on. 

A spray booth will also save you the trouble of covering all your things before being able to start spraying. It even allows you to move and spray easily as you will not be worried of spilling paint all over the place.

Basically, the cardboard has it all covered. Some users also include the spray booth with a plastic sheet. This way they will not have to box again and again and just merely wash the tainted plastic sheet.

When you have a spray booth, you just have to bring the items you want to spray inside and not worry about over-spraying on other stuff.

Increase Electrostatic Charge

Lastly, for users who are pro in spraying/painting, you can also increase the electrostatic charge on paint particles to prevent overspray.

In doing so, the paint mist will be more attracted to the target surface. Hence, you avoid overspray.

Not only that, increasing the electrostatic charge on paint particles, the fluid attaches to the surface and creates a smooth layer.

More and more users are switching to paint sprayers because of the efficiency and better coating they bring.

However, as all other tools are, paint sprayers also have disadvantages and one of which is the tendency of overspray.

Overspray does not only affect the coating by creating uneven layer or surface, but it causes wastage of material and time.

Luckily, you can prevent or minimize at the most possible degree, over-spraying when using a paint sprayer.

Wrap up

To sum up, be mindful of the air pressure of the sprayer, the spray pattern, distance from the target surface, wind, etc. Be also aware of the simple steps you can take into to prevent overspray.

This includes setting the possible pressure, choosing the correct tip and spraying pattern, watching spraying techniques, etc. In the end, the real way to prevent overspray is by having enough preparation before doing the job.