How to Choose the Right Paint Sprayer for Your Project

choosing a paint sprayer

Last updated on March 19th, 2023 at 12:30 am

One of the best and most effective methods of applying paint on any surface is to spray it on the surface using a paint sprayer.

Spraying it allows it to penetrate more evenly through all the pits and crevices of the surface, thus resulting in a more even and uniform appearance.

However, there’re many types of paint sprayers out there and choosing the right type for the project you have in hand can be quite tricky especially if you haven’t used one before.

The one you choose however usually depends on a few factors such as:

    • The type of paint you want to use
    • Amount of paint needed
    • Mess created or overspray
    • Material or surface you’re painting
    • Speed of application
    • The resulting finish
    • Ergonomics or comfort

Considering these factors above will help you narrow down your choices and pick a very good sprayer for your project.

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With that said, the following is a list of the different types of paint sprayers and how they compare to each other considering the factors I mentioned above.

Air Paint Sprayers

air paint sprayers

Air paint sprayers make use of compressed air to atomize the fluid. It usually consists of an air gun with a spray tip or nozzle, a cup or basin and the air compressor.

Pressing the trigger of the air gun causes the paint to mix with the compressed air stream and released through the nozzle onto the object to be covered.

The shape and size of the nozzle determines the spray pattern and consistency. It also determines the viscosity of the paint you can spray with it.

So, you can choose to buy different sizes of tips for the same air sprayer so you can apply different types of fluids and paint different types of objects or surfaces.

Air paint sprayers can be used for furniture, decks, fence, doors, cabinets, interior and exteriors of buildings.

HVLP Paint Sprayers

HVLP paint sprayers

HVLP is an acronym which translates to High Volume Low Pressure. A HVLP spray gun is just like a conventional air paint sprayer but it makes use of a high volume of air at a much lower pressure to atomize the fluid and propel it to the surface or object.

This results in very little overspray compared to a standard air sprayer because the lower pressure causes more of the fluid to reach the surface instead of ending up in the surrounding air and on other surfaces.

There’s less material consumption and air pollution. HVLP units are normally used for automotive parts, marine vessels like ships, furniture finishing, scenic painting, cosmetic and even architectural coating.

With an HVLP spray gun, pressure from the air compressor is usually reduced using a regulator so that the paint atomizes properly.

HVLP sprayers usually consume a high volume of air between 8 to 20 cfm, so you should always go for a suitable air compressor to match the one you have.


  • Very little overspray compared to air spraying units.
  • Less air pollution.
  • Reduces the amount of paint needed so it doesn’t ends up in the air and surrounding surfaces.
  • Improved finish.


  • Takes more time to paint a surface or an object.
  • Reduced user comfort. Most HVLP systems comes with spray guns with refill cups. That means you’re always carrying some paint with you in addition to the weight of the spray gun.
  • You have to refill the cup several times as you can spray directly from a bucket.

LVLP Paint Sprayer

lvlp sprayer

LVLP stands for Low Volume Low Pressure. These are paint sprayers that use a low volume of air at low pressures to atomize and discharge the fluid on the surface.

The main purpose is to further reduce the amount of overspray or amount of atomized fluid that ends up in the air instead of the surface being covered.

This also reduces the amount of compressed air consumed as a low volume of air at low pressures is needed to spray the paint.

Airless Paint Sprayer

airless paint sprayer nozzle

These are one of the most common type of paint sprayers out there. As the name implies, you don’t need compressed air or an air compressor to make it work.

Instead, it makes use of a high pressure pump capable of producing from 500 to 7500 PSI of pressure in combination with an electric motor to atomize the paint and produce different spray patterns with the help of tips or nozzles of different sizes.

Like I mentioned earlier, they’re very common among professionals because they can be used to spray both light and thick fluids and coatings by simply changing the spray tip.

You’ll usually find these with contract painters who use them for painting heavy duty industrial, marine, and chemical coatings. They can be used for both interior and exteriors of residential buildings and a lot more.

Most airless paint sprayers come equipped with pumps that are powered with electrical motors. But there are airless pumps that are also powered with compressed air or hydraulic systems.

They can also be gasoline or diesel-powered. These types come with gas engines and are usually more mobile and can be used in places where there’s no electricity, as long as you have gasoline.


  • The paint or coating penetrates better into pits and crevices on the surface being painted because of the high pressure pump spraying it through the tip.
  • Thick coatings can be sprayed at once reducing the number of coats required to achieve a uniform coat.
  • No need for paint refill because airless sprayers usually spray the coating directly from the bucket holding it.
  • Airless sprayers are also very comfortable to use compared to other types, because the spray gun does not hold any refill cup or basin, so it weighs significantly less since there’s no other weight to carry apart from the weight of the sprayer.
  • Flexibility of use is also an advantage because it can be used to spray different types of coatings, chemicals and stains of different texture and viscosity. You just have to choose the right tip.


  • Produces a lot of air pollution because of overspray due to the high pressures at which the paint escape the tip or nozzle.
  • Requires the use of more paint than needed as a considerable amount of the ends up in the air and on the surrounding surfaces.

​Electrostatic Sprayers

electrostatic sprayer painting a car wheel

In the late 1940s, Harold Ransburg discovered and patented electrostatic spray painting or powder coating.

He found that the atomized paint particles can be negatively charged, thereby repelling each other as they exit the spray tip, while they attract and stick to the object being covered with paint because it’s positively charged or grounded.

Electrostatic spray painting is built on the principle that like charges repel each other and unlike charges attract.

This method of spraying fluids greatly increase the amount of the fluid that sticks to the object, and thus reduces the amount of fluid material used. Although you should take some precautions when carrying out this type of painting.

Electrostatic spraying also makes it possible for the coating to cover hard to reach areas of the object as the particles are naturally drawn or attracted to every part of it. For instance when painting the front of a cylinder, the coating can be seen to stick to the back of the cylinder even though you’re applying it from the opposite direction.

After the coating is applied, the object is then baked to attach the coating permanently to the object.

Electrostatic sprayers have a lot of applications in automotive, industrial and marine works. It’s used for painting car body panels, bike frames, and even some engine parts.


  • Very little overspray because most of the paint ends up sticking to the object.
  • Provides a better finish as the fluid is more evenly distributed on the object with every area on it touched.


  • High initial cost of buying equipment and setting it up. Although there are now budget friendly electrostatic options you can go for.
  • Spray back on the user. This can be eliminated if the user is properly grounded.

Air-Assisted Airless Sprayers

Airless paint sprayers make use of fluid pressure alone by means of a pump to atomize the paint. With air-assisted airless, both fluid pressure and air pressure is used to atomize the paint.

This allows much thicker or viscous coatings to be sprayed than is possible with a standard air sprayer. The fluid pressure is provided with the aid of an airless pump while the air is introduced into it with the aid of an air nozzle or an air cap.

The added compressed air improves the atomization of the coating and improves the overall finish on the surface. It’s also easier to control the spray pattern with an air-assisted airless unit than with a pure airless unit.

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1 thought on “How to Choose the Right Paint Sprayer for Your Project”

  1. Thank you for this article.
    I am a serious diyer and have done lots of cabinets and woodwork at home.
    I have both air sprayer and hvlp sprayer. I even have a Wagner 570.
    My next project is my Kitchen cabinets. Believe it or not, the painting is what scare me the most. At the end, I want to make sure my customer (my wife) is 100% satisfied (no pun intended)
    I will got with the Airless sprayer based on this article, which I will have to acquire.
    Any recommendations will be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks once again for this info

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