Methods of Applying Finish

in Aircraft Painting and Finishing

There are several methods of applying aircraft finish. Among the most common are dipping, brushing, and spraying.


The application of finishes by dipping is generally confined to factories or large repair stations. The process consists of dipping the part to be finished in a tank filled with the finishing material. Primer coats are frequently applied in this manner.


Brushing has long been a satisfactory method of applying finishes to all types of surfaces. Brushing is generally used for small repair work and on surfaces where it is not practicable to spray paint.

The material to be applied should be thinned to the proper consistency for brushing. A material that is too thick has a tendency to pull or rope under the brush. If the materials are too thin, they are likely to run or not cover the surface adequately. Proper thinning and substrate temperature allows the finish to flow-out and eliminates the brush marks.


Spraying is the preferred method for a quality finish. Spraying is used to cover large surfaces with a uniform layer of material, which results in the most cost effective method of application. All spray systems have several basic similarities. There must be an adequate source of compressed air, a reservoir or feed tank to hold a supply of the finishing material, and a device for controlling the combination of the air and finishing material ejected in an atomized cloud or spray against the surface to be coated.

A self-contained, pressurized spray can of paint meets the above requirements and satisfactory results can be obtained painting components and small areas of touchup. However, the aviation coating materials available in cans is limited, and this chapter addresses the application of mixed components through a spray gun.

There are two main types of spray equipment. A spray gun with an integral paint container is adequate for use when painting small areas. When large areas are painted, pressurefeed equipment is more desirable since a large supply of finishing material can be applied without the interruption of having to stop and refill a paint container. An added bonus is the lighter overall weight of the spray gun and the flexibility of spraying in any direction with a constant pressure to the gun.

The air supply to the spray gun must be entirely free of water or oil in order to produce the optimum results in the finished product. Water traps, as well as suitable filters to remove any trace of oil, must be incorporated in the air pressure supply line. These filters and traps must be serviced on a regular basis.