Latex Paint Application

Application of latex paint on aircraft involves one or more of the following three techniques.


Brushing is the cheapest and easiest method of applying latex. The most popular brushes are the inexpensive foam one, but some people use high-end bristle brushes. Brushing does not require a paint booth, simply a drop cloth to catch any drips. No masking is required either, unless multiple colors are used. But brushing typically leaves brushmarks in the finish. This is less of an issue on flat finishes and more of a problem on glossy finishes.


Rolling generally goes a little faster than brushing. 4" foam rollers are used to spread the paint, and a smooth board is used for a paint tray. Ribbed paint trays are not used since their pattern would be imprinted on the roller and would be transferred to the airplane. As with brushing, no paint booth or masking are required. But care must be taken to avoid lines from the roller edges. Rolling can leave air bubbles in the finish if rolled too fast. And the roller tends to leave a orange peel texture in the paint, especially if the paint has not been thinned. Some have had success "tipping" the rolled paint by lightly dragging a paint brush through the wet paint to help smooth it. Check out the Kolb Ultrastar and the Paint Rolling video for examples of brushing and rolling.


Spraying is the most expensive and involved way to apply the paint. Spraying is very fast once everything has been preped, and it gives the best quality finish. But spraying requires some practice to achieve a good finish without runs or overspray. Spraying requires some type of paint booth to contain the overspray, and you need to mask the parts that are not to be painted. You will need some equipment to spray the paint, either an air compressor and spray gun, or an HVLP turbine system, or an airless spray system.