If you're thinking of buying a paint sprayer to replace those traditional brushes and rollers, there's a few things to consider. We've compiled a list of frequently asked questions and have presented them here so that you're well-informed about your next paint sprayer purchase.

Is an airless paint sprayer worth it?

airless paint sprayer


An airless paint sprayer can be a valuable investment, especially if you are undertaking large-scale painting projects or desire a high-quality finish. Unlike traditional paint brushes or rollers, airless sprayers use high pressure to atomise paint, ensuring a smooth, even coat. This technique is particularly effective for covering large areas quickly, making it a time-saver for tasks like painting walls, fences, or decks.

For professional painters or those frequently involved in home renovations, the efficiency and finish quality provided by an airless sprayer justify its cost. It's also an excellent tool for applying thicker paints that are challenging to spread evenly with a brush or roller. Additionally, the ability to adjust pressure settings allows for versatility across different project types and paint viscosities.

However, for casual users or those with smaller projects, the high cost might not be justifiable. Airless paint sprayers require a significant upfront investment, and there's also the matter of maintenance and cleaning, which can be more labour-intensive than traditional painting tools. Moreover, there's a learning curve involved in achieving an even application without overspray or uneven coverage.

What is the difference between a paint sprayer and an airless paint sprayer?

The primary difference between a traditional paint sprayer and an airless paint sprayer lies in their mechanisms and applications.

Traditional paint sprayers, often referred to as air sprayers, use compressed air to atomise the paint, creating a fine spray. This method is excellent for achieving a smooth and even finish, particularly useful for detailed work or surfaces that require a high-quality finish, such as furniture or cabinetry. However, air sprayers tend to produce a significant amount of overspray, meaning more paint can end up in the air rather than on your surface. This can lead to wastage and requires careful preparation to protect surrounding areas. Additionally, they are typically better suited for thinner paints.

On the other hand, airless paint sprayers do not use air to atomise the paint. Instead, they pump paint at very high pressure through a small nozzle, effectively atomising it without the use of compressed air. This method allows airless sprayers to handle thicker paints, including latex and varnish, without the need for thinning. They are highly efficient for covering large areas quickly, making them ideal for big projects like painting walls, ceilings, or exteriors. Airless sprayers also tend to have less overspray compared to air sprayers, although they still require protective measures for surrounding areas.

What are the disadvantages of airless paint sprayer?

Airless paint sprayers, while efficient for certain tasks, come with their own set of challenges. One of the primary disadvantages is overspray. Due to the high pressure at which these sprayers operate, fine paint particles can disperse widely, often leading to wastage and necessitating extensive clean-up, especially in windy conditions or in areas with many surrounding objects. This aspect makes them less suitable for detailed or small-scale work.

Another concern is the cost. Airless sprayers are generally more expensive than traditional rollers or brushes, and even some other types of sprayers. This investment might not be justifiable for those who only occasionally undertake painting projects. Alongside the initial cost, maintenance and cleaning can also be more demanding. Thorough cleaning is essential to prevent clogging and ensure the longevity of the machine, which can be a time-consuming process.

Additionally, airless paint sprayers have a steep learning curve. Achieving a uniform, even coat without drips or uneven layers requires practice and skill. For beginners, this can be challenging and may lead to unsatisfactory results on initial attempts.

Lastly, while they are excellent for applying a range of thicker paints, they may not perform as well with thinner materials, which could limit their versatility depending on the project requirements.

What is the best beginner spray paint gun?

best paint sprayer for beginners


Choosing the best beginner spray paint gun depends on various factors, including the type of projects you'll be undertaking, your budget, and ease of use. For beginners, it's essential to find a balance between functionality, simplicity, and cost-effectiveness.

A highly recommended option for beginners is an HVLP (High Volume Low Pressure) spray gun. HVLP guns are known for their user-friendly nature and are particularly well-suited to beginners due to their lower pressure operation. This feature reduces overspray, making it easier to control and more efficient in terms of paint usage. They are excellent for smaller, detailed projects like furniture, cabinets, or crafts, where precision is key.

One popular model for beginners is the Wagner Control Spray Max HVLP Sprayer. This model is widely appreciated for its ease of use, affordability, and versatility. It offers adjustable settings for flow control and pattern shape, which can help novices get accustomed to different spray techniques. Additionally, it’s relatively easy to clean, a crucial consideration for those new to spray painting.

The Graco Magnum X5 is another option that's well-suited for beginners. It's slightly more advanced than other options, but still manageable for those new to spray painting. This model offers adjustable pressure control, allowing users to control the paint flow for precise application. It's also compatible with a range of paint types and is easy to clean and maintain, which is crucial for beginners.

Do I need to thin paint for use in an airless sprayer?

When using an airless sprayer, the general rule is that thinning paint is not usually required, which is one of the significant benefits of these types of sprayers. Airless paint sprayers are specifically designed to handle a variety of paint viscosities, including thicker paints like latex and acrylics, without the need for dilution. They achieve this by pumping paint at a high pressure through a small nozzle, effectively atomising the paint for a smooth, even application.

However, it's important to note that there are exceptions based on the type of paint and its consistency. Some paints, particularly if they are exceptionally thick or viscous, might still benefit from thinning to ensure a consistent spray pattern and to prevent clogging of the sprayer. It's always advisable to check the manufacturer's recommendations for the specific paint you're using. If thinning is required, the manufacturer will usually provide guidelines on the appropriate thinning ratio.

Additionally, the condition of the paint matters. Older or settled paint may have thickened over time and could require thinning before use in an airless sprayer.

What do professional painters use to spray paint?

professional painters use paint sprayer


Professional painters have a diverse toolkit when it comes to spray painting, and their choice of equipment largely depends on the nature and scale of the project at hand. Among the most commonly used tools are airless paint sprayers, HVLP (High Volume Low Pressure) sprayers, and conventional air sprayers.

Airless paint sprayers are particularly popular for large-scale projects like painting walls, ceilings, or exteriors. They work by pumping paint at high pressure, allowing for rapid coverage of large areas. This efficiency, combined with their ability to handle thicker paints without thinning, makes them a go-to choice for professional painters dealing with extensive surface areas.

HVLP sprayers, on the other hand, are favoured for their precision and efficiency in paint usage. They use a high volume of air at low pressure to atomize paint, resulting in a finer, more controllable spray. This makes them ideal for detailed work, such as cabinetry, furniture, and trim, where a smooth, high-quality finish is paramount.

Conventional air sprayers, using compressed air to atomize the paint, are also part of a professional painter's arsenal. While they can be more prone to overspray, they are still valued for certain types of projects, particularly where a very smooth, high-quality finish is required.

In addition to the type of sprayer, professionals also consider the type of paint and the specific requirements of the job, such as the desired finish, the project's scale, and environmental factors. Their expertise allows them to choose the most suitable tool, ensuring efficiency, quality, and durability of the paint job.

How do you get a smooth finish with an airless sprayer?

Getting a smooth finish with an airless sprayer requires careful attention to both preparation and technique. Firstly, the surface to be painted must be meticulously prepared – it should be clean, dry, and smooth. Any imperfections, such as cracks or holes, should be filled and sanded down. Dust and debris can ruin the finish, so it's crucial to ensure the surface is as clean as possible before starting.

Choosing the right paint and ensuring it's at the correct consistency is also important. While airless sprayers are adept at handling thicker paints, making sure the paint is not too thick or thin for the sprayer model you're using is vital. If necessary, thin the paint according to the manufacturer's recommendations.

The choice of nozzle and spray tip plays a significant role in the quality of the finish. A worn or incorrect size nozzle can cause a poor spray pattern. Ensure you're using the right size and type of tip for the paint and the kind of finish you're aiming for.

Technique is key. Hold the sprayer at a consistent distance from the surface – usually around 12 inches – and keep your hand steady. Spray in a sweeping motion, maintaining a constant speed, and overlap each stroke by about 50% to avoid missed spots or uneven layers. Avoid tilting the sprayer, as this can result in an uneven application.

Adjusting the pressure setting of the sprayer to suit the paint's viscosity and the type of job is also important. Too much pressure can lead to overspray and an uneven finish, while too little pressure can cause poor coverage.

Finally, practice is essential. If you're new to using an airless sprayer, try practising on a piece of cardboard or scrap material to get a feel for the sprayer and to refine your technique before moving on to the actual project.

What do I need to know before using a paint sprayer?

Before diving into using a paint sprayer, it's crucial to arm yourself with some essential knowledge to ensure effective and safe results. Understanding the type of sprayer you're using is the first step – each kind (like HVLP, airless, or compressed air) has its own set of characteristics and suitable applications. Familiarise yourself with how your specific model works, its adjustments, and its capabilities.

Preparation is vital. This means not only preparing the surface you're going to paint – cleaning, sanding, and priming as necessary – but also setting up your workspace. Ensure that the area is well-ventilated, especially important when working indoors, and protect surrounding areas with drop cloths or plastic sheeting to guard against overspray.

Safety cannot be overemphasised. Wear appropriate protective gear, including a mask or respirator to avoid inhaling paint fumes, goggles for eye protection, and gloves. Remember, paint sprayers often use high pressure, and the paint particles can be harmful if inhaled or if they come into contact with your eyes.

Knowing your paint is also crucial. Different paints have different consistencies and may require thinning before they can be used in a sprayer. Follow the paint manufacturer's guidelines for preparation and compatibility with your type of sprayer.

Technique plays a big part in achieving a smooth, even finish. Practise your spraying technique – keeping a consistent distance from the surface, moving in smooth, even strokes – on a piece of cardboard or scrap material first.

Finally, maintenance is key to the longevity of your sprayer. Clean it thoroughly after each use to prevent clogging and wear, and store it according to the manufacturer's instructions.

By understanding these aspects – the type of sprayer, preparation, safety, paint characteristics, technique, and maintenance – you can use a paint sprayer effectively and safely, achieving professional-quality results even on your first try.

What is the best brand of airless sprayer?

Graco is widely regarded as the best brand for airless sprayers, renowned for its quality, durability, and performance. Graco's airless sprayers are favoured by both professionals and DIY enthusiasts for their reliability, ease of use, and efficiency in a wide range of painting projects.

Graco airless sprayers stand out due to their innovative design and technology. They offer a range of models suited for different needs, from smaller, portable units for home use to more robust and powerful options for commercial applications. These sprayers are designed to handle a variety of paint types and viscosities, making them versatile for different project requirements.

One of the key strengths of Graco is their attention to user experience. Their sprayers are engineered for comfort and ease of operation, with features like adjustable pressure settings, easy-to-clean systems, and user-friendly controls. This focus on usability does not come at the expense of performance; Graco sprayers are known for their consistent and even paint application, ensuring a high-quality finish.

Additionally, Graco's commitment to durability and quality makes their products a long-term investment. They are built to withstand the rigours of frequent use, and with proper maintenance, can last for years, making them a popular choice among professionals who rely on their tools daily.

What is the difference between airless paint sprayer and an HVLP sprayer?

The difference between an airless paint sprayer and an HVLP (High Volume Low Pressure) sprayer lies in their operating mechanisms, the type of finish they provide, and their suitable applications.

An airless paint sprayer works by pumping paint at high pressure through a small tip, without the use of air. This method allows it to cover large areas quickly, making it ideal for big projects like walls, ceilings, and exteriors. Airless sprayers can handle thicker paints with ease and are known for their efficiency in paint usage. However, due to the high pressure, they can produce more overspray and may not be the best choice for detailed or precision work.

In contrast, HVLP sprayers use a high volume of air at low pressure to atomize the paint into fine particles. This results in a very controlled and smooth finish, which is excellent for detailed work, such as furniture, cabinets, and trim. HVLP sprayers are more efficient in reducing overspray and paint wastage compared to airless systems. They are better suited for indoor projects or where a high-quality finish is essential. However, HVLP sprayers typically work slower than airless sprayers and are not as effective for painting large, flat surfaces.

What should I use to clean my sprayer?

Cleaning your paint sprayer properly after each use is essential for maintaining its performance and extending its lifespan. The method of cleaning depends on whether you've used water-based or oil-based paints.

For water-based paints, such as latex, start by flushing the sprayer with warm, soapy water. This initial step helps remove most of the paint residue. Follow this with a thorough rinse using clean water to ensure all traces of soap and paint are gone. If your sprayer has a filter, it should be removed and cleaned separately. To ensure a comprehensive clean and maintain the sprayer's condition, it's often advised to run a mixture of water and a specialised paint sprayer cleaner through the system. This step helps to eliminate any lingering paint particles and conditions the pump and hose. After cleaning, drying all parts thoroughly is crucial to prevent any rust or corrosion.

For oil-based paints, like enamel, the cleaning process involves using a solvent such as mineral spirits or paint thinner. Begin by flushing the system with the solvent to dissolve and remove the paint. Disassemble the sprayer parts that have been in contact with paint and clean them individually in the solvent. A second flush with fresh solvent can ensure that all residues are removed. Finish by rinsing with a bit of solvent to eliminate any remaining cleaner, and then dry all components completely before reassembling and storing the sprayer.

Piston or diaphragm pump; what's the difference?

There are a few key differences between piston pumps and diaphragm pumps. Though both are airless pumps

Piston pumps are generally high-pressure pumps that produce better paint atomisation and are more suited to a wider range of materials. That means you can spray both high and low viscosity liquids. Piston pumps run only as needed, which means less wear and tear, and they are generally easier to repair. A stainless steel piston pump can last for years with careful and consistent maintenance.If pump life is an important consideration for you, a piston pump might be the right choice for you.

Diaphragm pumps move a larger volume of liquid while generally being smaller units, which means they are easier to move. They also offer better pressure control and work at a lower overall pressure. That makes them more efficient and cost effective. However, diaphragm pumps run constantly, which can mean more wear and tear over time. If efficiency and volume are important to you, a diaphragm pump might be the way to go.

What size tip should I use?

Choosing the right size tip for your paint sprayer is crucial for achieving the desired finish and efficient paint application. The tip size is determined by the type of paint you're using and the specifics of your project. Even in Australia, paint sprayer tips are measured in thousandths of an inch, and the size determines the width of the paint fan and the flow rate of the paint.

For thinner materials like stains and lacquers, a smaller tip is typically suitable. These materials require precision, and a smaller tip provides a finer spray pattern, which is ideal for detailed work. Tips in the range of .011 to .013 inches are often recommended for such materials.

When it comes to medium-thickness paints, such as latex or acrylics used for interior walls, a medium-sized tip is generally appropriate. These tips allow for a wider spray pattern and a higher flow rate, making them efficient for covering larger surfaces. Sizes around .015 to .019 inches are commonly used for these types of paints.

For thicker paints, such as exterior latex or oil-based paints, you'll need a larger tip. A larger tip allows the thicker paint to flow through more easily, preventing clogging and ensuring a consistent spray pattern. Tips in the range of .021 to .025 inches are often suitable for these heavier materials.

It's important to also consider the spray pattern width. Tips are often labelled with a three-digit code – the first digit, multiplied by two, indicates the width of the spray pattern when held 12 inches from the surface. The last two digits indicate the size of the opening in thousandths of an inch.

Always refer to the paint and sprayer manufacturer's recommendations for the best results, as using the wrong tip size can lead to poor coverage, excessive overspray, or damage to your sprayer.

How do you know when to replace your tips?

You should consider replacing the tips of your paint sprayer when you observe a change in the spray pattern or a decline in finish quality. Signs that indicate the need for a new tip include uneven spray patterns or "tails" at the edges of the pattern. This happens because the orifice of the tip wears out and enlarges over time, allowing more paint to flow through and reducing precision. Regular inspection and comparison with the manufacturer's specifications can guide you on when to replace the tip. As a general rule, consider replacing the tip after using approximately 60 litres of paint. This ensures you maintain a consistent and high-quality finish in your painting projects.

What is a "whip-hose"?

A "whip hose" is a flexible, short hose used with airless paint sprayers, usually measuring between 1 to 2 metres in length. It connects between the main airless hose and the spray gun. This hose is designed to provide increased flexibility and manoeuvrability, allowing for easier control of the spray gun, particularly in tight spaces or when executing detailed work. The whip hose's flexibility helps reduce hand fatigue and improves the overall handling of the spray gun, making it a useful addition for both professional and DIY painting projects. It's especially helpful in reducing the strain caused by the rigidity of longer, standard airless hoses.

Do I really need to wear a mask or respirator?

Yes, wearing a spray mask or respirator is crucial when using a paint sprayer. Spray painting generates a mist of paint particles that can be harmful if inhaled. These particles can contain hazardous chemicals, solvents, and additives, which pose risks to your respiratory health. A mask or respirator is essential to filter out these harmful particles and protect your lungs.

For water-based paints, a basic mask may suffice to block larger particles. However, for oil-based paints or those containing solvents, a proper respirator with cartridges designed to filter out organic vapours and fine particulates is necessary. Besides protecting your lungs, it also guards against headaches, dizziness, and other health issues associated with inhaling paint fumes.

Furthermore, in a professional setting or during prolonged use, it's not just recommended but often required by safety regulations to wear appropriate respiratory protection. Always ensure that the mask or respirator fits well and is appropriate for the type of paint and sprayer you are using. Safety should be a top priority in any spray painting project.

What should I do if I accidentally spray myself?

If you accidentally spray yourself with paint, immediate action is needed. For skin contact, swiftly remove any clothing that's been contaminated to prevent further absorption of the paint. Wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water. If you're using oil-based paint or a solvent-based product, you may need a specialised cleaner to remove the paint effectively.

In case of eye contact, rinse your eyes with plenty of water. Keep rinsing for at least 15 minutes and seek medical attention if irritation persists. For inhalation, move to an area with fresh air immediately. If you experience difficulty breathing, dizziness, or other severe symptoms, seek medical attention.

Remember, while washing off the paint is important, your health is the priority. In any case of severe reaction or if symptoms persist, it's crucial to seek professional medical advice. Safety measures, such as wearing protective gear, are essential when using a paint sprayer to minimise these risks.