The Information You Need To Know About Paint Sprayers

The Information You Need To Know About Paint Sprayers

Have you ever wondered why we paint objects? There is a number of reasons why painting is so prevalent. While it is true that a large part of the reason for painting is to improve the aesthetic value of an object, there are a few other reasons why painting is usually a good idea, even if you don’t care for looks.

The first reason that comes to mind aside from improved aesthetics is the added protection that paint offers an object. Since paint is applied to an object in coats, you will find that these coats can prevent a good deal of damage to the exterior of your chosen object.

Regardless of whether you are painting a toy or a house, the basic principle of corrosion resistance is one which is crucial when it comes to the question of why we paint things. Even if corrosion is not a primary concern, the paint will still protect against superficial damage and sometimes even moisture damage.

Hand Held Paint Sprayer

Today, we are going to be talking about a particular type of painting. More specifically, we are going to be discussing spray painting and the machines used for it: spray painters. We will take a closer look at the workings of these machines and the differences between different types.

Before we get started, we are going to be talking about spray painting and the ways that it differs from more traditional painting methods.

What Is Spray Painting?

The concept behind spray painting is, in reality, quite simple. Spray painting is any painting method which uses a tool, usually a sprayer in the shape of a gun (referred to as a spray gun) to spray paint through the air and onto the substance you are painting.

Man Paint Spraying Wall

Spray painting has been around for at least 100 years, but it did not grow hugely popular until the invention of aerosol spray paint cans around the 1950s. Even then, it took a while for it to expand in terms of popularity since proper paint sprayers were very expensive and nearly inaccessible.

Spray painting has a number of advantages over painting with brushes and rollers, but there are also aspects in which it is at a disadvantage. We will be taking a closer look at these pros and cons later on, but the most prominent of these aspects is the superior speed offered by spray painters.

What Is A Paint Sprayer?

A paint sprayer is a device which is designed to spray paint upon your chosen surface. There are many different types of paint sprayers which operate using different principles. While any device used to spray paint may be termed a paint sprayer, there are a few types that we will be discussing in more detail.

While aerosol paint cans are technically paint sprayers, they are not the type that we intend to look at. The paint sprayers that we are talking about are the larger models that you would use to paint a home or similar project. These often feature a compressor and tend to be less mobile than most other methods used to spray paint.

Paint sprayers often need to be transported on carts to ensure that they are as mobile as possible, but they can be found on their own as well.

Since there are so many different types of paint sprayers, it is difficult to define them in any other terms than explaining that they are used to spray paint, which is obvious from the name. For this reason, we will move on so we can provide more in-depth information about them.

How Does A Paint Sprayer Work?

The idea behind a paint sprayer is quite simple. First, a flexible tube is usually connected to the source of paint, regardless of whether it is a bucket or paint can. Most modern paint sprayers come equipped with a suction tube to ensure that you can get the paint right out of a can directly.

Illustration How Paint Sprayer Works

This significantly improves the speed of painting since you will not have to reapply paint to a brush or a roller, the paint is simply fed directly to your paint sprayer. Once the paint feed has been connected, you can plug in your paint sprayer, so it has sufficient power to operate.

When you are ready to start painting, you turn on the paint sprayer, which activates the compressor and primes the gun for use. Paint sprayers work by compressing your paint to high-pressure levels and then spraying them through a very narrow nozzle. This nozzle is designed to ensure the even distribution of your paint.

The nozzle breaks up the relatively thick paint into tiny droplets, and they are propelled out of the gun at high speed. This makes them more likely to stick to the surface that you are painting since they are lighter and they have a smaller surface area.

One of the main drawbacks of this process is that you end up losing a significant percentage of your paint to the air. As much as a fifth of the paint can end up missing your target, which is why you have to apply masking tape to the surrounding area liberally.

While spray painting is much faster than most of the alternative painting methods at your disposal, you will find that it can get a little time-consuming thanks to the need for masking. As the surface area you plan to paint increases, however, you will find that spray painting becomes more and more efficient.

Due to how paint sprayers work, you will find that there is a particular set of applications in which they may be used ideally. While they could be employed in a number of scenarios, the following section will address the circumstances in which the use of a paint sprayer would be ideal.

Different Uses For A Paint Sprayer

There are many possible uses when it comes to paint sprayers; you will find that they are ideal for situations which require a larger surface area to be painted in a relatively short time period. For example, when painting the outside of a house, you will find it far more convenient to do the job using a paint sprayer rather than a roller.

Man Paint Spraying House

Houses are not the only constructs which can be painted with far more ease using a paint sprayer. You can paint barns and other construction projects with a paint sprayer if you want to ensure that the job gets done as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Aside from buildings and barns, you can also paint interiors with paint sprayers, but you must ensure that you are wearing proper respiratory protection. You must also make sure that the interior which is being painted is sufficiently ventilated to ensure that the paint vapors can make it outside.

One of the main obstacles to using a paint sprayer indoors is that you have to mask most of the surrounding surfaces or they’ll end up getting paint on them. This makes paint sprayers ideally suited for use when you want an entire area painted, but it makes them less effective when used for more precise tasks.

Types

When you start thinking about the purchase of a paint sprayer, then it becomes important to purchase one that is equipped to do the job that needs to be completed.

HVLP Paint Sprayers

HVLP stands for high volume low pressure. The high volume is the amount of air which is used to turn the paint into an aerosol for proper spraying. Low pressure refers to the fact that the pressure in the spray gun will be lower than in a more traditional air powered paint sprayer.

Airless Paint Sprayers

Airless paint sprayers tend to be the most effective models for a number of reasons that we will address in the coming section. They operate differently from most other paint sprayers in that they do not turn the paint into an aerosol before it is projected through the gun.

Graco Stand Airless Paint Sprayer

They instead operate at extremely high pressures which will atomize your paint and allow it to be shot out of a number of nozzles which are specifically chosen for the application at hand.

Air Paint Sprayers

Air paint sprayers are similar to HVLP sprayers, except the pressure in the paint gun is a little higher, and there is a lower volume of air present. You will find that these are some of the most basic paint sprayers you will come across, so they will be more affordable and less mechanically complex than some of the other options.

Cup Sprayers

Cup sprayers are also very simple models of paint sprayers. They are designed to operate using a cup of paint which is usually placed above the gun. The reason that the paint is positioned in such a manner is that it is fed into the paint gun using gravity, which simplifies the paint sprayer to a great degree.

HVLP Paint Sprayer

We will now take a closer look at HVLP paint sprayers and how they operate. HVLP paint sprayers are essentially air paint sprayers, but their design is superior in a number of ways. Since they operate using a higher volume of air, you will find that they work far more efficiently than your typical air paint sprayers.

Their efficiency is improved since they make better use of the paint which is fed into them. What we mean by this is that HVLP paint sprayers will not use as much paint as traditional air paint sprayers. This is due to a number of factors. The first is that less paint is fed into them due to the higher volume of air.

The next reason is that HVLP paint sprayers tend to be more accurate, so less of your paint will end up dissipating into the surrounding atmosphere. You will find that this reduced level of paint dissipation not only has advantages regarding the amount of paint you end up using.

Electric HVLP Paint Sprayer

HVLP paint guns are far more environmentally friendly since less paint will end up getting atomized into the surrounding air. These are some of the many reasons that HVLP paint sprayers have largely replaced more traditional models of air paint sprayers.

Airless Paint Sprayer

Airless paint sprayers tend to be used for more industrial applications than your typical sprayer which is powered using compressed air to aerosolize the paint. Airless paint sprayers are highly effective in most applications, but they are not better in every aspect possible.

To understand the imperfections of airless paint sprayers, it is important to understand their operating principles. Instead of using high-pressure steam to turn your paint into an aerosol, airless paint sprayers use a pump to pressurize and atomize the paint or other coatings.

Airless paint sprayers operate at a very high pressure, so they require much more care to use than your typical air paint sprayer. This is why they are not as widely used since they require proper training and protective equipment. The speed and pressure at which the paint is propelled through these sprayers turns the paint droplets into thousands of little bullets.

An injury which is caused by these types of paint sprayers can result in either amputation or even death, in the worst cases. The risk is worth the reward, however, as airless paint sprayers have a few major advantages over other types of paint sprayers which use air for propulsion.

For example, since the air is propelled at such high pressures, an airless paint sprayer will be able to fill indentations and cracks in a surface with paint better. This ensures that you will not end up having to do detail work later on, as you sometimes have to do when you use air paint sprayers.

The coating which is sprayed will also stick to surfaces better and require fewer coats thanks to the improved spray velocity and pressure.

Innovative Features To Look For in Your Paint Sprayer

  • Variable speed for more control the paint spray 
  • Light in weight for easier portability
  • Spray time with fewer refills
  • Versatility in various types of projects including those with un-thinned paints, stains, sealers, and polyurethanes
  • Multiple attachments for different size paint containers
  • Cleanup system
  • Multipurpose/Adjustable nozzles for detail finishing work including even finishes with various spray patterns
  • Flexible suction for ease in mobility for maneuvering around job sites and projects
  • Horsepower and performance

Benefits Of A Paint Sprayer

There are an endless number of advantages to using airless sprayers over more traditional painting methods such as rollers or brushes.

Woman Paint Spraying Shelf

Quick

The main benefit you gain out of using a paint sprayer is that it is far faster than most other methods of painting. This ensures that you will be able to get the job done in less time, necessitating fewer staff-hours worth of work. There are more advantages to painting speed than reducing staff-hours, however.

For example, you will end up far less tired after a painting session using a paint sprayer since you will not have to reach the spot that you are painting, as you would with a roller or brush. It also prevents you from having to reach back down to the paint bucket to reapply paint.

Versatile

Versatility is another advantage of spray painters. Since there are so many different types of spray painters, you will usually find a model which is perfect for every use. For example, aerosol paint cans are considered paint sprayers, no matter how loosely they fit the description.

Paint sprayers can be used in almost every application; it is simply a question of what is the more convenient option. If you value speed and work efficiency above all else, you will find that spray painters are the best choice, but if you would rather save money on paint, you will likely prefer another option.

Better Results

A paint sprayer can also provide better results than another option for painting. You will find that paint sprayers are highly effective as long as you employ the proper technique while using them. Since different types of paint sprayers require different techniques for use, it is rather difficult to sum them up.

One of the universal ways to ensure proper results while using a paint sprayer is to apply multiple coats of your paint. This will ensure that the end product looks even and ends up painted properly. An even coat of paint is one of the most important aspects of a good paint job, and it is quite easy to achieve with a paint sprayer.

Easier For Large Surfaces

You will find that larger surfaces are easier to paint with a paint sprayer since they will take far longer with a traditional paint brush or even a paint roller. When it comes to painting large surfaces, you will usually want to ensure that the job is done as quickly as possible, since it can take multiple painting sessions.

Man Staining A Deck

Having to pause and continue the job at another time can cause the outer coat of paint to end up looking uneven.

Great For Rough Surfaces

Paint guns are also ideal for use on rough surfaces thanks to the manner in which they work. Of particular note are airless paint sprayers, but you will find that air paint sprayers are still a better choice than rollers or brushes. If you have ever painted a rough surface with a roller before, you know how difficult it is to paint pits and rough spots.

When a material is rough, you will find it difficult to paint it evenly, but a paint sprayer will project a more even stream of paint onto the wall than can be achieved through direct application. Some rough materials can also end up damaging more sensitive rollers and brushes.

Even Coat

The evenness of the coat that can be achieved when using paint sprayers is also highly impressive, especially when compared to rollers and paint brushes. It takes more concentration to ensure that your coats remain even when you use other painting methods, with a paint gun, you can simply run it over large swathes of the surface at a time.

Good For Exterior

Paint guns are excellent for exterior use since you will not have to worry about ventilating the aerosolized paint and there will often be fewer objects which need to be masked. Exterior use is also an optimal application for paint sprayers because the surface to be painted will often be larger than it would be indoors.

Tips Before Using A Paint Sprayer

One of the most important things to understand before using a paint sprayer is that your paint will have to be adequately thinned. While oil-based paints are usually thin enough to work with paint sprayers without any issues, you will have problems trying to use thicker latex paints.

Using Paint Sprayer

If you want to think your latex paint, you will have to add a cup of water for every two gallons of paint. Stick to this rule, and it will be easy to ensure that your paint gun doesn't end up clogged and possibly even ruined.

How To Use A Paint Sprayer

  • Connect your paint sprayer to your paint source
  • Attach the appropriate nozzle for your intended application
  • Plug in the compressor
  • Turn on your paint sprayer
  • Depress the trigger to start painting
  • Ensure that you paint the appropriate number of coats, this will depend on the type of sprayer you are using

Necessary Equipment

  • Gloves
  • Goggles
  • Respirator
  • Overalls or other protective clothing
  • A strong, long sleeved top
  • Work boots

Manufacturers

Here are a list of some of the best paint sprayers manufacturers:

Wagner

Wagner SprayTech is an American company that is based in Minneapolis. They specialize in the construction and design of paint sprayers, more specifically, their specialty lies in HVLP paint sprayers designed for both consumer and commercial use.

Graco

Graco is an American company that has been in operation since 1926. They manufacture all sorts of spraying equipment and valves, largely for use in the construction industry, but their products are also available to consumers.

Fuji

Fuji Spray is not to be confused with the more widely-known Japanese Fujifilm company. In fact, Fuji Spray is not even based in Japan. Instead, they are from Toronto, Canada. They specialize in the manufacture of HVLP models of spray painters, much like Wagner.

HomeRight

HomeRight manufacturers many fantastic spray models perfect for all sorts of projects. We find that buyers get much more value than they're paying for. Simply put, we love the HomeRight brand for their ease of use and affordability.

Titan

A brand that emphasizes new technologies in all of its products for high-grade results, Titan has emerged as a big player in the paint sprayer market. They offer everything from gas and electric airless sprayers, air powered sprayers and even fine finishing sprayers. You cannot go wrong with a Titan sprayer!

Rexbeti

Rexbeti offers a superior quality product and is one of our favorite brands on the market today. Cost, sleek design, and high power make their product suitable for just about anyone.

Astro

Astro developed a wide range of innovative HVLP products. The company has been specializing in manufacturing air tools for years and their HVLP spray models don't fall shy in class. They're are perfect for professionals who have an air compressor.

Central Phnumatic 

A solid choice for a hobbyist but also great for specialists, these spray guns work exceptionally well for projects ranging from automotive to home use. Most of the products they make are HVLP.


Showing Fuji Mini Lite 4 Spray System

Maintenance And Cleaning

It is important to ensure that you always thoroughly clean out your paint sprayers after you are done using them for a job. If you leave paint in the nozzle or the gun, there is a chance that your paint sprayer will be rendered unusable by a clog, which can necessitate the purchase of new parts.

Safety Tips

Safety is also an essential consideration when it comes to handling spray painters. While airless spray painters are far more dangerous than most other types, you will find that it is crucial to ensure that you have all of the necessary equipment while handling even HVLP models.

Conclusion

We hope that we have managed to give a good overview of paint sprayers and all of their different specifics. We will now move on to our buying guide, in which we will review five of the most impressive models of paint sprayer that we have come across.

About the Author John Davis

John Davis is a staff writer for getpaintsprayer.com. Prior to writing for GPS, John founded “The Smooth Finish,” a professional home-based paint spray business that specialized in refinishing cabinets and furniture. Known as a paint maverick in the field, John joined Get Paint Sprayer to share his craft and help others earn their way to a finer finish.

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