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How to Stop an Airbrush From Spattering

Airbrushes are complicated tools. They allow an artist to create amazing pictures, but they also have many small parts and often need basic maintenance. One common problem with airbrushes is "spattering," or spitting little gobs of paint onto the canvas instead of spraying a fine stream. There are many things that can cause an airbrush to spatter, most of them simple. You can fix the problem yourself with a little patience.

Spattering can ruin a good paint job.
  1. Disassemble the airbrush and clean the parts thoroughly. The only tool required is a small wrench, which is included with the airbrush. Allow any parts with caked-on paint to soak in a jar of solvent. Clogs and foreign matter (such as dried paint) can interrupt the flow of air and paint, causing the airbrush to spatter.

  2. Check the tip of the needle to see it it's bent. A bend in the needle deflects the paint, causing it to spatter in random directions. If the tip is bent, sand it smooth with an emery file or replace the needle entirely.

  3. Install a water trap on the air source, whether it is an air compressor or a tank of air. When air is compressed it creates moisture, which can get into the air supply and cause interruptions in the airflow. The result is a spitting, spattering airbrush. A water trap strips this moisture out of the airflow before it is sent to the airbrush.

  4. Increase the air pressure. Some airbrushes spatter when the PSI is too low. Try beginning at 40 PSI and increase gradually from there until the spattering stops. Do not turn it up so high that you are spraying clouds of paint into the air as this is hazardous to your health.

  5. Thin down paint in small increments, using only the appropriate thinner for the paint that you are using. Thin the paint only as much as is needed. Paint with too much thinner in it, or with thinner incompletely mixed, will spatter. Thinned paint separates quickly, so shake the bottle vigorously every time you add paint to the airbrush's reservoir.

Warning

  • Do not soak rubber parts in paint solvent. They will degrade and have to be replaced.

About the Author

Alex Smith began writing in 2006 and brings a combination of education and humor to various websites. He holds a Master of Arts in theater and works as a professional makeup and special-effects artist.