It takes about an hour to paint a room with a Graco 360DS paint sprayer. Here’s why I know that. I had to paint a house this month for the first time in about five years. I don’t particularly enjoy painting and I’m not particularly good at it.
An old high school friend helped me out with the exterior, and after seeing his paint sprayer, I had to get one myself. Mine’s less expensive and less fancy than his: I bought a handheld Graco 360DS. While it has some limitations, I’m very glad I bought it.
Its biggest advantage is also its biggest limitation: It feeds its paint from a 32-ounce disposable plastic cup. This makes it very easy to clean and easy to prime, but the limitation is that after painting one interior wall, I had to top off the cup with more paint. It sure seemed like I was spending more time refilling that cup than I spent spraying paint on walls.
But think about how long it takes to pour paint into a cup. Three minutes, maybe? That means I was spraying a coat of paint on a wall in a single-digit number of minutes. With a roller, it takes me 30-45 minutes to paint a bedroom wall.
The first room I painted was an 11×11 bedroom. It took me about an hour, including stopping for refills and rearranging dropcloths. And in the end, I had better coverage than I ever get with a roller. After I gained some experience with the sprayer, I was able to cover the wall with less paint than I need to with a roller, but that did take some practice. In the first room I painted, I used a lot of paint.
Subsequent rooms took less than an hour per coat. I used two coats–first, I put down a coat of primer, tinted to the same color as my final coat, and then I put down a coat of inexpensive paint. When it comes to paint, “professional” grades are cheaper, but the cheap $13/gallon paint covered well with the sprayer. Using a higher grade paint that promises single-coat coverage is a risk. Since I was dealing with bright yellow and bright purple, I opted to use Kilz primer, which mostly covered it, followed by the cheap paint. With a sprayer that was sufficient, but with a roller it may not have been.
The catch–and yes, there is one–is that it took a good hour to clean the sprayer after I was done with it. If you don’t want it to be a single-use item, you need to clean it thoroughly and store it properly, which involves a lot of disassembly and reassembly and running water or mineral spirits through it. I recommend latex paints so you can clean it with water. You can let the sprayer sit overnight if you’re going to paint with it the next day. But when you do that, cleanup gets more difficult.
There’s a second catch too. If you miss a spot with your tarp, paint will find its way there. After you clear your tarps from the room, look around for paint splatters. Believe it or not, baby wipes are very effective at removing small quantities of paint. It will take a dozen passes with the baby wipe, but once it starts working, it works quickly.
I wouldn’t use a Graco 360 to paint just a single room. But if you have several rooms or an exterior to paint, it will save you a lot of time in spite of the tedious cleanup. The last time I had a professional paint a house interior, it cost about a dollar per square foot. This time, the Graco let me get it done myself in a weekend, so I came out ahead.
Graco 360 series sprayers cost between $160 and $200 depending on the model.