The 5 Types of Paint Sprayers – Choose The Right One

types of paint sprayers

Bummer! My wife and I were looking for a new place to live ever since the marriage and our search ended when we came across an apartment which was perfect for our budget and was beautiful enough to be called home. The moving day came and we got all our stuff in a truck and got to our new home.

That day I learned a little something about human psychology – when something coveted actually becomes yours, you start to see every little imperfection in it. Sad attempts at being “Dr. Fraud” aside, we realized that this new place needed a lot of work, especially on the paint front.

There were pencil marks, tape marks, scratches all around the walls and the cupboards.

My wife gave me a look and I was wise enough to understand that something had to be done, and quickly. That is when I reached out to my wisest friend, Google, to understand the best/ most efficient way to redo the paint job of my house.

I am a wiser man now, and as I am a giver, I want to share all my experiences with whomever it would help.

Now, as my wife was very clear about the colors she would want, the only thing I had to search was the best equipment that would allow me to finish the job quickly, with top quality. I stumbled onto the following options:

1) Paint Brushes: The simplest, most primitive weapon of a painter. While it is easier to get acquainted with the use, it is relatively difficult to ensure the consistency of the paint is maintained throughout. Nooks and crannies are especially difficult.

You will need professional level proficiency to efficiently use it. Plus, and this was a big plus for me, it takes forever to paint a single wall (yes, wall, not even a room). The only advantages of these brushes are the low investment and a fairly straightforward and quick clean up.

2) Rollers: The best evolution paint brushes could have hoped for came in the form of Paint rollers. Relatively easier to use, an easier execution (the roller maintains consistency with relatively less effort) and quicker completion.

Rollers are very effective on flat surfaces but edges, joints, and smaller surfaces are difficult to paint.

3) Paint Sprayers: Just when I thought I was sold on the rollers, I came across an Iron Man among stone age fighters – paint sprayers.

They reduce the time required to paint a surface by at least 50% (the difference in time is even higher for bigger areas or intricate surfaces). They work well on uneven surfaces, intricate carvings on furniture and corners (I even used a paint sprayer to paint my car, but more on that later). Also, they are easy to operate, as in you will need no creative proficiency but only the basic understanding of pressure and area.

While my first experience with a paint sprayer was with a Low Volume Low Pressure sprayer that is perfect for beginners, over a period of time, I did come across several other varieties too. 

Through experience I also learned that every category of paint sprayer is suited for a particular type of task. To help novices like me get a better hang of things, I created a list of categories of sprayers and their best use.

I hope the following helps you understand if and which type of paint sprayer is the best for you.

Types of Paint Sprayers

1) Low Volume Low Pressure (LVLP) Paint Sprayers

During my extensive research, I found that Low Volume Low Pressure Paint Sprayers are best for people who are new to both painting and paint sprayers. I got hold of one and found the research to be right on point.

Low Volume Low-Pressure paint sprayers also don’t sacrifice the quality and are considerably fast when compared to their high-pressure counterparts. This makes them ideal for personal use even for a layperson with zero experience.

LVLP paint sprayers work with low pressure of a meager 10 psi. And this means you don’t have to spend a fortune on high-pressure air compressors. Low Volume Low-Pressure spray guns also overcomes the expensive difficulty which a lot of paint sprayers have to deal with: faulty compressors.

That being said, LVLP is extremely cost-efficient and can very well do a wonderful job for furniture, vehicles, walls, and carpentry, they dominate personal use-cases.

NOTE: LVLPs are not very suitable for thicker paints — of course, because of the low pressure. Using thinners can work, but they are not the winning formula to be followed ardently. And this also reason why LVLP is not preferred for professional use where thicker paints and materials are often used.

2) Airless Paint Sprayers

Airless paint sprayers were the answer to the lack of professional quality spray paints of the LVLPs.

Airless paint sprayers, unlike many sprayers that use air to increase the speed of spray, uses heavy pressure to atomize the paint and spray at high speed.

Despite the high pressure of spray — up to 3000 psi — the paint droplets that come out of the tiny hole in the gun tip spreads evenly in a fan shape. The sprayer can also be used to spray thin liquid such as lacquer and varnish.

Airless paint sprayers are also mostly owned by professionals and are used for business. But with little practice, anyone can use the sprayer. While the premium products are fairly expensive, commercially affordable sprayers are also available for personal use.

Before it turns out to be exhilarating, airless paint sprayers also have a few drawbacks. For starters, not all the paint droplets that come out of the spray sticks to the surface. A large portion often tends to drift in the air — up to 40%.

And that implies, your paint can also find its way to other unintended regions of your house. The spray also wavers with even the slightest of breeze, so necessary steps ought to be taken.

Again, airless sprayers are not suitable for craftwork. If you have to make a unique or special design on your furniture, you might as well choose a different sprayer. Not to mention, you also have to clean the filters and install a special storage fluid for it to work effectively. 

Despite all the disadvantages, airless paint sprayer gets the job done quickly and provides a professional level quality.

3) High Volume Low Pressure (HVLP) Paint Sprayers

High Volume Low Pressure (HVLP) Paint Sprayers are the exact opposite of airless spray guns. Although it atomizes the paint, the pressure is far less than compared to the airless counterparts. And that results in them having a less rebound from the surface leading to efficient paint consumption.

High Volume and Low-Pressure spray guns, instead of using high pressure to create a powerful spray, use high volume to get the right effect. This implies that it is not a sprayer of speed to cover large volumes in a short time, but a tool of precision that can paint designs on furniture and sorts.  

However, HVLP too has drawbacks. One such issue is that they clog a lot. Although it is the case with all paint sprayers, High Volume Low-Pressure sprayers have a higher clogging frequency in tubes and tips than the rest. This renders them useless until cleaned.

When using this type of sprayer, you have three things to pay attention to: the fan size, the air pressure, and the paint flow. The best inlet air pressure recommended in 30 – 50 psi as greater might lead to overspray. The fan size is responsible for the spray size and can be chosen according to the surface that needed painting. Then there is paint flow which should remain constant throughout the session for accuracy and coat quality. 

NOTE: HVLP paint sprayers are very economical and should be definitely considered if budget is a factor.

4) Gravity Feed Spray Guns

Gravity feed Spray Guns are praised for their precision and fine coating. The sprayer has a siphoning component situated at the top and hence requires less pressure to operate. That also explains the name of the sprayer — gravity feed.

The word precision might have caused you to doubt if this sprayer can be used to cover large areas. And rightfully so, it is not a good choice to cover the gargantuan surface areas, although it can be made to do so inefficiently.

Just like HVLP, gravity feed guns can produce various layers of fine coat and is best suited for intricate work. 

Need to paint wonderful designs on surfaces? Gravity feed guns should come to your head knocking. There is also no overspray and less clean up using this model.

5) Compressed Air Paint Sprayers

If you have ever been to a workshop, you might have seen a compressed air paint sprayer (even if you might not have recognized it).

Compressed Paint Sprayers are one of the first paint sprayers. Just as the name suggests, they use compressed air to release paint into a fine mist of particles.

Compressed Air Paint Sprayers are also one of the sprayers that are super easy to set up. All you need is a spray gun and an air compressor. And hence, it is preferred by amateurs and sometimes, even professionals.

High pressure usually makes sprayers ideal for large volume painting, but compressed air paint sprayers just refuse to die down with a simple use case. With accessories, this type of sprayer can also be used for precession painting.

The main disadvantage of compressed spray guns is that high pressure makes them hard to control and the paint tends to drift everywhere. And there is also paint clogging in the tubes and tips.

Since they are high pressure and considering the early release of the model, they are quite noisy and not suitable for noise-sensitive places.

NOTE: Compressed air paint sprayers are quite hard to find in the markets, and have now evolved into LVLPs.

Wrapping Up

All these air paint sprayers are unique and have their own specific roles to fit. For example, if you are painting a huge building and need to cover a humongous surface area airless and compressed air paint sprayers might be the right fit for you. On the other hand, HVLPs or LVLPs or Gravity feed sprayers are great for precision painting.