In the final instalment of our series on the Dulux Academy, Professional Builder attends its Advanced Spray Application – Airless course.
Designed to improve application techniques and enhance attendees’ knowledge of ancillary equipment, this one-day course is ideal for professionals working predominantly in the commercial or new-build sectors.
Advanced Spray Application – Airless
Having arrived at AkzoNobel’s head office in Slough, we are taken to the Dulux Academy – a purpose-built facility created to upskill the painting and decorating industry. Prior to starting the course, we are offered breakfast and given a chance to meet the other attendees on the course – giving them a great opportunity to share experiences and knowledge in a relaxed environment.
We are introduced to Tony Pearson-Young – our trainer for the day. With over 30-years in the industry, Tony’s passion for painting and decorating is as strong as ever, and after an overview of the basics of health and safety – as well as how the day will be structured – we quickly start discussing our experiences with spray and spray equipment to help identify every delegate’s needs and objectives.
The first part of the day is based in one of the Dulux Academy’s classroom environments. Here, Tony takes the lead in demonstrating the importance of correct tip selection, including how to determine the ideal spray tip size for any job in hand whilst reinforcing correct application technique. Tony also explains the differences between normal and fine finish low pressure (FFLP) tips and in which circumstances these should be selected.
Before taking a short break, we are walked through the basics of the piston pump – a key component of airless spray systems – and introduced to the filters, the importance of the correct sizes and for which products these are most appropriate for.
We then leave the classroom and move into one of the two practical areas, where we are introduced to the Graco Ultra Max II 695 – a manufacturer heralded as the industry standard for professional contractors, and the main piece of kit we will be using to refine and improve spray technique.
Once we have been directed in how to set-up the equipment, we are introduced to the correct technique including how to identify whether the appropriate pressure is being used, how to ensure even coverage and how to approach applicating spray in corners. Once these basics have been covered, it’s over to us to demonstrate our newly acquired skills by spraying individual training rooms.
Returning from lunch, we are introduced to the application preparation method when it comes to FFLP tips. Unlike standard tips, FFLP tips use considerably less pressure than their traditional counterparts whilst producing a higher quality finish.
Having demonstrated FFLP tips, we move onto a number of other common accessories that can be used in conjunction with spray equipment, including a lance – an attachment that extends the length of the gun, making it easier to paint ceilings and high walls – and a swivel enabling the tip to be positioned to allow spraying at a better angle, and demonstrates the benefits of pairing a c lean shot valve with a lance – preventing ‘spitting’ when letting go of the trigger.
Heading into the final section of the day, we are tasked with spraying a ceiling using the extensions introduced in the previous portion of the day. On completion, we are shown the correct way of how to properly clean the airless spray machine to maximise the life of the equipment. Finally, to conclude the course, we have an open Q&A with Tony to clarify any parts of the day and to ask additional questions.
The course has been a great experience and each of us has shown real improvement in both application and knowledge. Speaking with other attendees, it’s clear that they feel the course has not only improved their confidence but has also provided them with the ability to integrate airless spray into their businesses.
What did the attendees think?
With 26-years’ experience within the industry, Keith Gailey of KG Decor has been using airless spray with increasing regularity. Based in Northern Ireland, Keith travelled to the Dulux Academy from Belfast to refine his skills and increase his competency in spray application.
“I’ve been using airless spray for the last seven years; however, it’s becoming more and more important for the jobs I’m now working on. Having been self-taught, I attended today’s course to refine my skills and improve my confidence. The day has been excellent, and I’ve really enjoyed the approach of the trainer – he was easy going, experienced and always happy to impart knowledge.”
Primarily working in the residential sector – and specialising in older properties and listed buildings – Laurie Andrews of Andrews Decorating is a Dulux Select Decorator with 20-years’ experience as a painter and decorator. Operating out of Canterbury, Laurie attended the course to learn the tips and tricks of airless spray application, so he could incorporate them into his business.
“Although I have some experience working with spray, I have primarily used HVLP over airless, and I was keen to brush up my application skills. As a sole trader, it’s easy to get stuck in your own bubble and use methods you feel comfortable with – but that doesn’t always necessarily mean best practice. Learning from Tony, a trade professional with vast experience, you get an excellent insight into how best to approach each situation and how to solve common problems with spray application.”
The first and only dedicated facility of its kind, the Dulux Academy provides a range of courses to help trade professionals of all levels to upskill, develop their businesses and hone their design knowledge.