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Painting a house, fence, cabinets, or furniture can be a time-consuming job. Paint sprayers produce a professional paint job in a fraction of the time it takes to use a brush and roller. Previously, spray guns had to be attached to big, powerful air compressors. Today, however, there are many more options for paint jobs large and small. But with so many new paint sprayers on the market, how do you pick the right one for you?
That’s where we come in. At BestReviews, we’re dedicated to honest and unbiased reviews. We never accept free products or perks from manufacturers. Instead, we buy products ourselves, test them in our labs, consult experts, and gather feedback from real-life owners. When you are faced with a shopping decision, you can trust us.
If you’re ready to click buy, check out the matrix above for our top five paint sprayers. If you want to know more, including what features to look for and how much to pay, just keep reading.
There are three basic types of paint sprayers available today, each with their pros and cons.
High-volume, low-pressure (HVLP) paint sprayers use a high volume of air to push paint through the tip, along with a low-pressure air stream that produces a mist-like spray pattern. They work best at a six- to eight-inch spray distance. This type of sprayer offers the best user control because you can adjust the amount of paint that comes through the tip. HVLP sprayers are ideal for detail projects like cabinets or doors. Their simple design makes them easier to clean than other types of sprayers. However, low-pressure painting can be slow. If you have a large surface area to cover, you may need something more powerful. HVLPs don’t perform as well with lacquer or thick paint.
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With this type of sprayer, an air compressor pushes paint through the tip. Conventional sprayers cut down on paint time and are inexpensive.
They are easy to use, but they do not offer as much control as HVLP or airless sprayers. The size and power of the compressor greatly affects the performance of the paint sprayer. If you choose a compressor that is too small, the paint job may be spotty.
However, if you pick a compressor that is too big, you may use more paint than necessary.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Graco X5 Airless Paint Sprayer
The Graco X5 Airless Paint Sprayer comes in an all-inclusive kit with everything you need for paint jobs large or small. Versatility and performance make this sprayer a favorite of amateurs and professionals alike. It has the power to spray unthinned paint at high pressure for excellent coverage. With its flexible suction tube, it can directly spray from either a one- or five-gallon paint bucket. Cleanup is easy with the included adapter that connects directly to a garden hose. The Graco can also handle up to 75 feet of hose.
Airless paint sprayers use high pressure to pump out paint. An airless sprayer effectively covers a large surface area in a small amount of time. Airless models can be either electric or gas-powered. Adjusting the pressure lets you customize coverage, with results that are often indistinguishable from a professional job.
However, controlling the spray pattern can be difficult. This type of sprayer works best for large jobs like painting a fence or the exterior of a house.
Due to the difficulty of adjusting the spray pattern and the noise of airless sprayers, they aren’t ideal for detail jobs or inside work. Airless paint sprayers cannot spray paint with any grit or texture.
Paint mist does not always “stick” on its first application. Try spraying for 3 to 5 seconds before moving on to another area.
More horsepower means more gallons per minute. If speed is important, higher horsepower is going to get the job done faster.
For safety’s sake, be sure you don’t have more horsepower than you can physically handle.
Always wear eye protection and a mask while spraying paint. Paint in a well-ventilated area to protect yourself from paint fumes.
The type and size of the sprayer’s tip can make a big difference in the overall success of your paint project. Some sprayers work with different tip sizes, while other sprayers can only use one size. Thick paint like exterior latex requires a larger tip; a stain requires a smaller tip.
Tip sizes also come with different spray pattern widths, varying from six to 14 inches wide. If you’re painting an exterior or interior walls, a wider spray pattern will cover more area.
When spraying ceilings or doing a house exterior, look for a sprayer that can accommodate a tip extension. Always follow the tip size recommendations found in your owner’s manual for best results.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Wagner Control Spray Max
The Wagner Control Spray Max is an HVLP sprayer with a light, compact gun, making it highly portable and easy to use in hard-to-reach or narrow areas. It includes its own compressor, which runs smoothly for even coverage. An adjustable spray pattern — round, horizontal, or vertical — makes for incredible versatility. Simple setup and cleanup offers beginners an easy way to do a high-quality job. Inside jobs are no problem as the sprayer is quiet while running.
A long hose can eliminate a lot of frustration and speed up a big paint job.
When painting a house, 25 feet of extendable hose means more time to spray and less time moving the sprayer.
Similarly, a long power cord gives more mobility.
For jobs that require a smooth finish, purchase a filter to remove paint debris.
Different coatings work best with different sprayers. Exterior latex paint needs the bigger tips usually found on conventional or airless sprayers. You may need to thin paint to use it in an HVLP sprayer.
Paint sprayers with pressure control will not wear out their tips as fast as non-adjustable types. High, low, cleaning, and roller settings can improve results and save money by extending the life of the tip.
Don’t paint on a windy day. You won’t get good coverage and may have to use more paint.
The sprayer’s volume is a serious consideration, especially if you are painting indoors. HVLPs are the quietest, while gas-powered sprayers are the loudest and should only be used outdoors.
Depending on the type of job, portability can be important. If you need to move your paint supply and sprayer a long distance, a backpack or sprayer with wheels are both good options.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
HomeRight Max Fine Finish Sprayer
The HomeRight Max Fine Finish Sprayer is a siphon-fed HVLP sprayer that takes some trial and error to master, but it delivers an excellent finish. Best for small projects, this affordable sprayer can handle a versatile range of paint. You can use lacquer, paints of varying thickness, and even chalkboard paint with good results. The spray pattern can be changed by adjusting the pressure on the trigger control for precise work.
Inexpensive: For under $50, you can find conventional paint sprayers that are either gravity- or siphon-fed. You can also find low-end HVLP sprayers. Some sprayers come as part of a kit, which includes several tip sizes to accommodate different types of paint. Keep in mind that most conventional paint sprayers in this price range do not include compressors.
Mid-Range: In the $50 to $150 range are higher quality conventional sprayers and many HVLP sprayers of varying quality that include their own compressors. You’ll also find a few airless sprayers at this price point.
Expensive: From $150 to $250, you’ll find airless sprayers and some HVLP sprayers. Some come as part of a kit, including several tips, a hose, and adaptors. The airless sprayers have more sophisticated and complex pressure controls for fine-tuning the spray.
Premium: Above $250 are semi-pro to professional-grade HVLP and airless sprayers. Some have wheels for portability and pattern control features to adjust the width of the spray.
Use conditioners and protectants to prevent rust or cold weather from damaging your paint sprayer.
Many inexpensive compressors don’t keep an even pressure, which can make paint splatter. Use an air-adjusting valve to help prevent sudden surges and maintain better control.
For quick cleanup, buy a paint sprayer that you can disassemble easily. Also look for a smooth interior, so paint won’t stick or hide.
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At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.