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Paint Sprayer Buying Guide

Use a paint sprayer to do the same job in a fraction of the time. Find out what you need to know before purchasing one.

Man using a paint sprayer


With paint sprayers, it's important to purchase one that's suited to the job and the type of paint you'll use. Choose from the following:

Airless Paint Sprayer
Airless sprayers work by pumping out paint at a very high pressure, fanning out droplets to evenly coat the surface. They're good for painting exterior surfaces such as fences, lattice, decks and shutters, as well as interior walls and ceilings. Airless sprayers can also handle thicker paints than compressed air or HVLP (High Volume Low Pressure) sprayers.

Compressed Air Sprayer
These sprayers use compressed air to apply paint to a surface, producing a smooth and even finish. They're good for painting furniture and cabinets. However, compressed air sprayers are messy and emit more overspray than others. They also use the most paint, but the sprayers themselves cost much less than airless or HVLP sprayers. If you already have an air compressor, you just need a good hose and a paint gun.

High Volume Low Pressure Sprayer
HVLP (High Volume Low Pressure) sprayers carry droplets of paint on a steady but large volume of air. The paint travels slower, so that more droplets stick to the surface, creating a smooth finish. These sprayers waste less paint, but they typically cost more than other sprayers. They're good to use on interior projects, such as painting cabinets, trim, moulding and doors. Unless you're investing in an expensive commercial sprayer, avoid using with thicker paints (lacquers or varnishes).

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All paint sprayers should be handled with care, but be especially mindful with an airless sprayer, which works under very high pressure. If your skin makes contact with the sprayer tip, it can inject paint and dangerous toxins under the skin. Seek immediate medical treatment.

When Should I Use a Paint Sprayer?

Paint sprayer and shutter.

When to Use

  • When you're covering a large space (painting your home's siding).
  • On furniture. Spraying a fine mist gets into the nooks and hard-to-reach spots that brushes and rollers can't.
  • When you're painting an empty room or house.
  • It's messy so it's better if you're painting the walls, ceiling and trim.

When Not to Use

  • Small jobs or if you don't have a suitable spray area for your project.
  • If you're worried about the amount of paint you have. Sprayers use more paint than traditional rollers and brushes.
  • If you don't want to do lots of prep work. Everything has to be taped and covered.
  • If you dislike the cleanup process. Taking apart and cleaning a paint sprayer is more time-consuming than cleaning brushes, rollers and trays.

Always use a paint sprayer in a well-ventilated area and wear protective gear.


Adjustable Models
With an adjustable model, the paint can be dispensed at various thicknesses, speeds or in different spray patterns.

Quick Cleanup
Taking apart and flushing out a paint sprayer can be more time-consuming than washing out rollers and pans. Look for models that attach to a garden hose for fast and easy cleanup.

Portable paint sprayers are handy for large projects when easy mobility is essential. They come in two versions: backpack and wheeled.

Powered By
Paint sprayers can be powered several different ways, including cordless, electric or gas.


Paint sprayer and brush

Here are a few accessories that will make your job easier and extend the life of your paint sprayer:

Conditioners & Protectants
These liquid formulas can be applied to your paint sprayer to prevent sticking, freezing, rust and corrosion, which extends the life of your equipment.

Extension rods allow you to paint decks without hurting your back and to get to hard-to-reach areas, such as ceilings.

Filters are essential for a smooth finish. They remove debris from paint, as well as prevent the tip from getting clogged and causing paint to splatter.

Consider the job you're doing when selecting a hose. Jobs in a smaller space require a shorter hose. If you're painting a large or long area -- such as a fence -- you'll want to get a hose that's at least 25 feet.

Protective Gear
The right gear is essential when dealing with paint and fumes. Wear protective clothing, goggles and a face mask or respirator.

Different tips are used for different purposes. They can emit various spray patterns, handle thinner or thicker paints, and be used for interior or exterior projects.

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