Choosing the right paint sprayer can be a challenging task There are so many sprayers to choose from – handheld sprayers, HVLP, airless, consumer, commercial. What is the difference and what do I really need to to complete my job? And the price – I have seen them for $49 to $899 at the big box stores. So which one should I buy? Those are some of the questions we are asked over and over. So here’s our recommendations.
First off, there is not a “perfect” sprayer that will work for every job. Depending on what you are spraying will depend on the recommendation we give. For example if you are spraying a house we would recommend an airless sprayer – but not just any airless. Each unit will serve a particular purpose. Over the past few years Graco has come out with a widely popular handheld sprayer- the TrueCoat. It sprays latex and oil paints extremely well. It is airless but I would not recommend using it to paint your house. It would take weeks instead of days because you are painting out of a small cup that you would have to refill hundreds of time. But if you are spraying some lattice, railings or outdoor furniture it would be a great choice. For a house I would recommend a unit that will work with a 5 gallon bucket and will spray at least .25 gallons per minute (I would not go any lower on the gpm). Now if you are spraying cabinets we would not recommend an airless sprayer at all. I would say it is time to buy and HVLP sprayer. An HVLP (high volume low pressure) is designed to give you a fine finish, which is what you want on your kitchen cabinets. So now that I have given you a brief introduction here are some questions to help you make an educated decision.
Choosing the Right Sprayer
- What type of material do you plan on spraying?
The reason I ask this is because the material you spray will determine the size of the tip that is needed- which will let us know what size sprayer you will need. So if you called me and said that you are spraying latex paint on the exterior of your house I would ask you what type of paint you are using and what size tip the manufacturer recommends you to use when spraying their product. That information is usually found on the back of the bucket or on the the mfg website. So why does this matter? If you have been out shopping for sprayers you will see specifications that the manufacturer puts on the box. So let’s say you are looking at a Graco sprayer and on the box it states that this sprayer has a maximum pressure of 3000 psi and a max tip size of .017. That means that the unit will spray up to 3000 psi and that the maximum size tip that this sprayer will support is a .017 (17 thousandths) tip. So then you go to your paint bucket and you see that they recommend a .019 tip to spray their product. In this case I would recommend you to not buy this sprayer because it will not support the tip size and there is a chance it won’t work. So you go to the next size up and Graco tells you it will support a .021 tip. That would be the one I recommend. **One last note- when purchasing the sprayer always buy up and not even or down. If your paint mfg calls for a .017 don’t buy a unit that has a max tip size of .015 or .017. Buy a unit that exceeds the maximum recommended size – so go with the units with a max tip size of .019 or .021.**
- How often do you plan on using your sprayer?
As we mentioned above there are many different types of paints sprayers. There are also differences in quality which will usually determine how much you can use that sprayer before it breaks down. A consumer sprayer that you find at a big box store will spray similarly to the more commercial grade sprayer but generally will not hold up to day to day use like its commercial counterpart. So how often do you plan to use your sprayer? If once a year then save some money and buy the consumer unit. If you plan on using it 1-5 days a week then buy the commercial unit. The commercial unit will have better quality components on them and come with a much better warranty.
- What type of surface do you plan on spraying?
So what is it that you are wanting to spray? If you need a sprayer to spray some small pieces of furniture around the house consider buying a small airless or a handheld TrueCoat sprayer. But if you have big plans that include the interior and exterior of the house it’s time to purchase a larger airless unit– not necessarily commercial grade but something that will be able to handle a larger variety of materials. Always remember that you can always use a larger airless to handle the smaller jobs but you cannot use the smaller units to handle the bigger jobs- unless of course you have more time and patience than money. If you are wanting to spray cabinets or trim we recommend an HVLP sprayer or an air-assisted airless unit. You will pay more but you will thank me when you are finished- or maybe not when you see how much time is involved. Now on to the last and probably most important question when choosing the right sprayer.
- How much money do you want to spend?
As with most pieces of equipment paint sprayers are an investment. You don’t want to over buy and throw your money away and you definitely don’t want to under buy and live in frustration. Our largest market by far is the DIYer and they are looking for the best deal possible. But cheap doesn’t always mean better. Years ago we had a rental pressure washer made by Mi-T-M that had a commercial grade Honda motor and a commercial grade AR pump. We rented it for 10 years with no problems until one day a customer decided to set it on a hill and use it. The oil was not level and and one of the pump rods overheated and scarred the crankshaft. But 10 years is still a good track record. If I would have rented a cheaper unit with a consumer pump I would have had to replace the pump every year or so. So a unit that costs $300 more made me thousands of dollars and saved me up to $1000 in replacement pump, not counting the labor time I would have had to pay my guys to replace it. So keep that in the back of your mind when you invest in a sprayer. You will get what you pay for. The questions I would ask is How much will it cost in the beginning? How much are replacement parts when something breaks down? How long is the warranty? How much will I save doing the job myself with the right equipment? How many days will I have to sleep in the dog house if I fuss at my wife because I purchased a sprayer that doesn’t suit my needs. Consider those questions and if you still need help call or email us. We will be glad to help.