How Long Can A Paint Sprayer Sit With Paint In It?

When it comes to painting, the job isn’t over as soon as the paint is done, because there is always quite a bit of cleaning in the aftermath. For example, paintbrushes need to be cleaned immediately after use, or else the paint will dry up and cause damage to the bristles, making the brushes a lot less effective next time you use them.

But what about paint sprayers? Do you also have to clean them up immediately, or can the paint sit in them for a while? And if so, then how long can the paint sit in the sprayer?

paint sprayer sit with paint

Well, luckily, you don’t have to clean out the paint sprayer immediately after use, as it can survive having the paint sitting in it for a while. So no need to rush around it! It also makes it a lot more convenient if you’re having to wait between paint coatings. Instead of cleaning out the sprayer just to get it dirty with the same paint a few hours later, you can just let it sit and then keep on using it.

As a general rule, you could leave the paint to sit in the sprayer for up to 3 days, but after that amount of time, it is understood that the job should be done, meaning you should absolutely clean the paint spray gun. However, just letting it sit isn’t the way, there are a few precautions you need to take in order to ensure the paint isn’t drying up and blocking the gun’s nozzle and mechanism.

Here is how to let the paint sit in the sprayer, without risk:

  • Never leave the gun pressurized!
  • Remove the nozzle or cap, or leave it soaking in either thinner or water, so that the paint doesn’t thicken and dry up
  • Leave the end of the intake tube in water, so that the paint doesn’t dry up and block it

Can you leave paint in the sprayer overnight?

Leaving paint in the sprayer overnight should, as a general rule, be okay. However, this should only be done if necessary, for example, if you’re going to continue using that same sprayer in the morning for the next coating of paint.

If you do leave the sprayer with paint overnight, it is best to leave it somewhere indoors, as the temperature outside might get cold, and cold temperatures cause the paint to thicken, which could then block the sprayer and damage the mechanism.

You should also leave the cap or nozzle in a cup of thinner, as this is the part of the sprayer most prone to getting blocked by dried-up or thick paint.

However, if you have finished painting, and you’re not going to need the sprayer the following day, then it is highly recommended that you clean it out as soon as possible. Although it should be fine to leave it overnight, it is always better to keep it clean, and it can prevent risks of damage, as well as avoiding wear and tear to the sprayer’s mechanism.

Can you leave paint in an airless sprayer between coats?

Airless sprayers are the best at handling thick paint, as they don’t get blocked up as easily, and they will work completely fine with most thicker paints. This also means that they are the type of sprayer with less risk of damage if left to sit with the paint still inside, meaning they should be perfectly okay to be left in between coats.

This doesn’t mean that you should never clean them. Airless sprayers still need to be cleaned after use and should be kept clean and well-maintained, to ensure they always work in top condition and that they last as long as possible without causing complications.

But if you do have to wait a few hours, or even overnight, in between coats of paint, you can simply leave the airless sprayer sit, without worrying about it getting blocked.

But if you do so, most painters choose to drop it in a bucket of water. This way they make sure the paint doesn’t dry up and cause a blockage, and it’s a pretty easy way to store it while it’s on hold.

Another option is to wet or dampen a cloth, and to wrap that around the nozzle and cap of the sprayer. This will keep it from blocking, as the paint will not dry up or become thicker, and the cap and nozzle of a sprayer are the most fragile pieces, and therefore are the ones that need to be the most protected.

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