Why Is My Airbrush Not Spraying Paint?

Randy Charles
Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Hi, I’m Randy Charles, the creator and chief editor of this site Paintcentric. I’m a businessman now by profession, but I used to work as...Read more

I bought my airbrush about two years ago, and it has been serving me well. I clean it more often and take good care of it. It is frustrating to see my airbrush not spraying any paint at all. So, why is my airbrush not spraying paint?

But through costly trials and errors, I discovered the reasons behind the airbrush not spraying any paint at all. I wrote this article in the hope of helping anyone encountering this problem at the moment. Keep reading to learn how to fix the issue without seeking assistance.

Why Is My Airbrush Not Spraying Paint?

It can be frustrating to see your airbrush is not spraying paint. Well, there is no need to buy a new one since I will help you resolve the issues.

I have listed these issues from the most common to the least. I recommend going through each problem with its respective solution in the order I have presented below.

Why Is My Airbrush Not Spraying Paint

1. Inappropriate Thinning Agent

Not all thinner agents work for every painting. Some will make your paint thicken and form gum in your airbrush. The clogging issue is the reason behind the airbrush not spraying paint.

I recommend taking the airbrush apart and unclogging the affected parts. Be sure to assemble the airbrush again according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.

2. Too Thick Paint

Thick paint will make your airbrush blow out air only instead of the paint. It is another common reason behind the airbrush not spraying paint.

Clean the paint reservoir thoroughly and fill it with water to test it. If the airbrush is spraying water, the thick paint could be the problem.

Fix the problem by mixing the thick paint with a correct thinning agent. Ensure no lumps are forming in the system of your airbrush. Increase pressure to help disperse the paint.

3. Loose Needle Chuck

Many people usually overlook this problem when their airbrush is not spraying paint. Try to pull the needle and see if it is moving or static.

The needle chuck needs to move freely to allow paint flow via the nozzle. A static needle will inhibit paint from flowing through the nozzle.

Tighten the needle chuck to position it in a neutral state. Disassemble the airbrush if the needle is stuck and clean to remove dirt. Reassemble the airbrush and position the needle well.

4. Clogged Nozzle

The plugged nozzle is a rare phenomenon when dealing with an airbrush. The bubble presence in the paint reservoir is the reason behind the plugging.

Taking the airbrush apart is the best technique for resolving the issue. Blow the air through the nozzle to test if something is blocking the paint flow.

Clean the nozzle and paint reservoir by rubbing with alcohol. Submerge the nozzle in water overnight and reassemble the airbrush. Test if the nozzle is blowing the paint first and fix it well.

5. Needle Size

Incorrect needle size on your airbrush could be the reason behind the problem. A thick needle inhibits smooth paint flow via the nozzle.

Disassemble the airbrush partially and inspect the needle size on the nozzle engravings. Get a perfect match needle and replace the old one.

6. Inspect the Paint Cup Lid or Siphon Bottle

Check the paint cup lid and siphon bottle for the vent hole. Leaving the paint cup lid open and clogged vent hole could inhibit the airbrush from working.

Clean the vent hole and unclog it. Be sure to fix the leaky needle seal and bearing to prevent vacuum formation. Replace the damaged parts where possible to resolve the problem.

What Should I Do If My Airbrush Doesn’t Spray Paint?

Many people give up on an airbrush not spraying paint. The majority decide to replace the old airbrush with a new one. But this is not cost-effective in the long run.

So, what should I do if my airbrush doesn’t spray paint? Take the time to disassemble the airbrush and inspect to identify the exact cause and fix it.

Clogged vent holes and nozzle are the leading cause of airbrushes not spraying paint. Other possible causes are loose needle chuck, thick paint, and incorrect thinning agent.

Airbrush components are robust and durable to minimize the risk of depreciation. But wear and tear is inevitable to most moving parts.

Always take your airbrush apart and replace any damaged components. It will help to facilitate smooth paint flow via the nozzle.

Related ReadWhat Is Monotone Paint?

Is It Necessary To Clean My Airbrush After Every Use?

Cleaning an airbrush is the most crucial routine for maintaining and enhancing the functionality of your equipment. Knowing when and how often to clean can be a little bit challenging.

So, is it necessary to clean my airbrush after every use? Yes. I recommend cleaning your airbrush with every color change to minimize the risk of clogging.

Simple clean is ideal for every session and deep clean at the end of each week. Thorough cleaning prevents the build-up of dirt and debris inside the airbrush.

However, airbrush comes in different brands, and telling the exact time to clean can be a daunting experience. Cleaning is a crucial routine to keep the airbrush in excellent condition.

What Kind of Paint Can I Use In An Airbrush?

It is the most common question asked in many painting forums. You do not need special airbrush paint for airbrushing tasks. Below are a few kinds of paints to use in an airbrush.

What Kind Of Paint Can I Use In An Airbrush

Airbrush Paint

The regular airbrush paint is the leading on the list. It is the easiest and the best choice for beginners looking to airbrush their projects.

The paint has the best consistency for airbrushing and can be diluted with water. It also reduces the risk of clogging and provides brilliant colors in the long run.

I recommend Vallejo airbrush paint due to its miniature traits. The airbrush paint is also readily available and affordable in many paint stores.  (Check Best Deal on Amazon).

Acrylic Paint

It is the best airbrush paint in the crafting industry. The versatility and ease of usage is the reason behind its popularity among avid painters.

Use water to thin the acrylic paint before using it in your airbrush. Medium to high-quality viscosity provides excellent pigments on projects.

Acrylic Paint

My favorite thing is the ability not to clog the airbrush. But I recommend cleaning your airbrush every session and at the end of the task.

Most acrylic paints are affordable and readily available. (Check Best Deals on Amazon). These paints can be diluted with water and maintain high quality.

Enamel Paint

Enamel paint is the last on my list, making it ideal for professional painters only. Newbies in airbrushing will find it challenging to thin and clean from the airbrush.

Enamel Paint

Use white spirit to thin enamel paint and obtain saturated colors. The paint also offers an even finish on projects after drying. It is easier and more convenient to use during airbrushing.

Enamel paints come in different brands that are affordable and readily available. But cleaning these paints can be a cumbersome experience.  (Check Best Deals on Amazon).


Cleaning an airbrush tool more often guarantees better functioning and smooth paint flow during airbrushing. Constant cleaning and inspection of components help to minimize the risk of blockages.

If your airbrush is not spraying paint, consider the above causes and their respective solution. It will save you from the cost of replacing your precision tool.

I hope you were able to find the solutions to your problems here. Feel free to share your experience on an airbrush not spraying paint in the comment section.

Randy Charles
Randy CharlesProfessional Painter

Hi, I’m Randy Charles, the creator and chief editor of this site Paintcentric. I’m a businessman now by profession, but I used to work as a painter earlier in my professional career. There is simply nothing about painting that I didn’t do as a painter. From painting a fridge to a multi-storied building, I left nothing. I retired from my painting job in the mid of 2018 due to back arthritis problems.

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