A couple of weeks ago, the people at Wagner (they're based in nearby Plymouth, MN) sent me one of their new EZ Tilt Spray Painters (if you're looking for one, you can buy it here on Amaazon) to try out. We had been planning on re-painting our porch floor, so we decided to put it to the test and get a minor project out of the way at the same time. Read on to see how it went.
Paint sprayers break down into two categories; cup-fed and hose-fed. The hose-fed sprayers are more expensive, and the gun connects to a hose, which pulls paint from a remote source. The cup sprayers have a little cup that attaches to the sprayer body, and the paint goes in there. They're cheaper, and somewhat more maneuverable since you're not tethered by a hose. The downside is, the cup is small, so you have to refill more often.
The EZ tilt sprayer (I had the EZ Tilt Plus) has a flexible suction tube that sits in the 1-quart-capactiy paint cup and turns with gravity so it's always submerged in the paint. That means you can spray at any angle (in our case, vertical was especially nice) without having paint splatter (splatter happens in other cup-sprayers when the nozzle is partially out of the paint).
(We started by clearing the porch off and hosing it down; the amount of black grime streaming off of things was tremendous)
I bet our neighbors just love us (Hi Matt! Hi Sally!):
You're going to be shooting atomized paint particles around, and they're not likely to stay exactly where you tell them to, so preparing the work area is really important. This isn't like brushing or rolling, where, if you mis-paint, you can always just go back and touch something up. If your paint spray drifts over onto something you don't intend to paint, the whole thing will have an impercebtible tinge of paint on it. I used plastic to cover the stucco of the home's exterior wall, and paper on the porch wainscoting:
DON'T DO THIS! I actually had another 100 feet of plastic just sitting there, waiting for me, but I opted for the paper instead (on the right side). Mistake! More on that later.
In practice, I found the EZ Tilt really easy and fast to use. I haven't used other sprayers before, so I can't really compare, but the EZ Tilt gave me a nice, even coat, great coverage, and little overspray. I practiced for about 5 minutes on a piece of sheetrock, and was able to get the hang of it right away. As advertised, it had no problem spraying while pointed straight down at the floor. It did, however, splatter a little bit when the paint cup got close to empty (I assume more sprayers will do that). So you have to keep an eye on your paint level and refill before you get to the bottom.
Spraying is extremely fast; I did one coat on our porch floor (about 8x30 feet) in under five minutes. Of course, that speed is offset by the extra preparation you need to do to use a paint sprayer. I spent at least a half hour taping and putting up plastic on the walls. Don't even think about using one of these indoors; it would work fine, but just wouldn't be worth the trouble.
To clean the Wagner EZ Title up, you basically take the whole thing apart, piece by piece, and flush everything with water. The instructions make this look very scary and time-consuming, and the first time, it was. But after you've done it once, it's actually pretty easy, and not nearly as cringe inducing as you'd expect. One my second time cleaning the sprayer, I'd guess I spent about the same amount of time that I would have spent cleaning up paint brushes, rollers and pans.
This is not really specific to the EZ Tilt, but more to spraying in general: cover EVERYTHING you don't want painted with plastic. I made the mistake of skimping on the plastic in a few spots (using just painter's paper instead), and ended up with faint paint spray on the walls. I take full responsibility; it's a paint sprayer - even the tiny amount of breeze will blow neary-invisible poofs of paint around, and you probably won't notice them on the walls until you take the protective paper/tape/plastic down. Seriously; plastic is cheap, go crazy with it.
Another tip: paint on a calm (not breezy) day. Duh.
Finally: don't spray at night, or when your grouchy two-year-old is napping. This thing is pretty loud.
The EZ Tilt is a well-designed, well-built paint sprayer that really does spray at any angle. It's compact, easy to clean up, and reasonably affordable (starting at $129 on Amazon). If you're doing a small, detail job, stick to your brushes and rollers, but if you're doing a larger outdoor job (like a porch, deck, or exterior wall/fence), I'd definitely recommend it. You'll save time and get a smoother finish.
(PS - I'd show you an 'after' photo, but frankly, it looks about the same as the 'before' photo ... a gray, painted floor. I could go out a take a picture, but I think you'll have more fun imagining it. Put some unicorns in there for me!)