Building and Construction, Operations, V8I2

How Efficient is Your Paint Process?

(Photos courtesy of PPG)

In the shed manufacturing process, material costs such as lumber, shingles, paint, and accessories can have a big impact on your profits. In short, using these items more efficiently will help improve your bottom line. 

In this edition of the “Maximize Your Paint Process” series, we’ll take a look at some of the ways you can improve the efficiency of your paint operation—and enhance the quality of your work.

We visit shed manufacturing facilities across the United States and Canada each year in an effort to better understand and address the challenges customers face from a paint perspective.

 In recent years, we’ve noticed that there are shed builders who are not taking advantage of the paint technology available to them or utilizing proper spray techniques to help them paint more efficiently. 

For example, by using the right amount of pressure on your spray equipment, the correct tip size and possibly even a tip extension, you can reduce the amount of paint needed to cover a shed.  


Many shops are painting their sheds with some version of an airless or air-assisted airless sprayer. One of the most important parts of these sprayers is the spray tip. 

Regardless of the brand, your tip will have a three-digit code that signifies its size (for example, “517” or “413”). So, what do these numbers mean? 

Let’s use the 517 tip as an example. The first digit, in this case a “5,” is the fan width.  This number is doubled, which means in this example, holding the spray gun 12 inches from the shed wall will produce a 10-inch wide fan. 

The last two digits represent the orifice size of the tip. The higher the number, the larger the orifice. The general idea is that the thicker the coating, the larger orifice size you will need for the coating to go through the tip and be atomized into a paint film.


Factors such as the speed at which the painter moves while spraying, proximity to the shed, and the thickness of the coating used will determine which tip size is appropriate for the job. 

When applying AQUACRON® 200 semi-transparent waterborne urethane, we normally recommend a 513 tip. This will give you a 10-inch fan, allowing you to paint a building faster by covering a wider area and making it easier for you to overlap your spray pattern with the recommended 50 percent overlap. 

We have found that the 513 tip delivers just the right amount of product to get a great look. 

For the Aquacron 100 acrylic enamel, we recommend a 515 tip. This is also a 10-inch fan, so you can cover more area. The increase to a “15” orifice allows for the thicker coating to spray more effectively. 

You can use a larger tip, but there may be a point where you’re creating a lot of overspray—increasing the likelihood of using more paint than necessary and producing runs in the finish. 


When using an airless sprayer with urethane and acrylic shed coatings, we recommend setting your pressure at roughly three-quarters of the adjustment range, or 2750 PSI. You want just enough fluid pressure to atomize the coating evenly on the shed. 

For an easy test, spray the coating on a scrap piece of material and look at the fan pattern. Do you see an even pattern, or do you see “fingers” or “tails” in the middle or outside of the pattern? If you’re seeing either of these, then you may need to turn your pressure up or get a smaller tip. 

Try multiple tips until you find the one that gets the appearance you desire, with the minimum amount of pressure and overspray.  


When applying coatings to a shed with an airless or air-assisted airless sprayer, there are five basic principles to follow. These steps will help you use less paint, reduce your painting time per shed and get a better finish:

Proper Distance from the Part—Spray tips are designed to give their best performance roughly 12 inches from the part. When held too close, the finish will be too heavy. When held too far away, the majority of your coating will not make it onto the shed. 

Proper gun distance from the shed will result in the best finish possible.

Correct Speed—There is not one set speed to properly apply coatings to a shed.  Each painter will spray at different speeds according to their experience and/or training. 

If the painter moves too fast, they will not get enough coating on the shed and will have to repeat the process in order to get the required appearance. Moving too slow will result in the application of excess coating and the chance for runs in the paint. 

The idea is to find the right speed for applying an even coat at 12 inches from the part with the proper tip size.

50 Percent Overlap of Spray Pattern—Most sheds are painted with a vertical spray pattern. After making your first pass, move over roughly 50 percent from the previously painted surface to make your next pass. By overlapping, you’ll achieve a more even coat and avoid the potential for creating light spots or stripes in your finish. 

If you’re using a semi-transparent coating, the 50 percent overlap is critical to getting a consistent look. This overlap procedure is also important when using a coating designed for one-coat coverage. 

Bending Your Knees—To maintain a 12-inch distance from the surface at all times, you’ll want to bend your knees. If you stand stiff and move only your arms, your coating will be heavily concentrated directly in front of you, and light in the areas above and below. 

By bending your knees, you’ll produce a much more uniform coating on the shed.

Using a Spray Gun Extension—The last aspect to achieving efficient and appealing paintwork involves using a spray gun extension (wand). This is a very effective tool that a lot of shed builders fail to utilize. 

Spray gun extensions come in a number of different lengths, although they typically range 10 to 12 inches. The extension fits on your spray gun where your tip guard is normally located, with your tip and guard attaching to the end of the extension. This will allow you to maintain a consistent pattern when spraying high points on a shed while eliminating or reducing the need for a ladder. 

(Note: spray gun extensions are not available with air-assisted airless sprayers.)   


Maximize Your Paint Process, Nov. 17, 2021

What’s the Key to Ensuring Paint Consistency? Mix, Mix, Mix!, Jan. 19, 2022

Painting in Cold Temperatures, March 30, 2022

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Current Issue