Choosing the right paint sprayer | Pro Construction Guide
How to choose the right paint sprayer

Choosing the right paint sprayer

Whether staining a deck outside or painting walls inside, choosing the right paint sprayer can make all the difference. Using a paint sprayer provides faster application time and more uniform coverage than other painting methods. So when choosing a piece of equipment, the sprayer’s features need to support the kind of work being done. For the pro contractor, the top paint sprayer manufacturers know it’s all about what you plan to spray and how often.

According to Steve Engleson, Director of Sales and Marketing with Minneapolis-based Graco, choosing the right paint sprayer is based on knowing how and when the equipment will be used. “What you’re looking for,” he says, “are answers to the questions: How much painting am I going to be doing? What kinds of coating will I be applying?” Those answers help determine the capacity of the machine needed to do the job.

How to choose the right paint sprayer

Essentially, a paint sprayer pumps paint, stain, or other liquids, under pressure, through a spray tip to coat a surface. The flow rate of the sprayer determines the maximum size tip the unit will support. The most common spray tips come in openings (hole sizes) from .011 to .021 inches. Typically, latex house paint requires tip sizes at or above .015 inches, while stains, sealers and other viscous materials use tip sizes in the .011- to .015-inch range.

As the tip size increase, the viscosity of fluid that can be used increases as well. For each size tip, a variety of spray-pattern widths can be selected. That’s why Engleson stresses knowing your work load before buying a paint sprayer. “It’s more important to focus on the maximum tip size a sprayer can support,” he adds, “than it is to focus on the one with the most horsepower.”

Make it last

Choosing the right paint sprayer for the job also requires that the tool provide consistent service, for a long time. Jerry Falk, product manager at Wagner Spray Tech Corp., maker of Titan paint sprayers, says that the life of the product depends on how the paint sprayer is used. The longevity of a paint sprayer, he explains, is affected by the frequency of use, the type of material being sprayed, and how well the sprayer is maintained.

Falk cites the difference between the remodeler-user, who may need a paint sprayer on an occasional basis, and the pro customer, who runs a sprayer five days a week for eight- to 10-hour days. “The expectation of reliability and durability is greater for the professional painter than it is for the homeowner,” Falk says.

Spray tip guidelines

Know what the job requires and choose the right spray tip accordingly. This easy guide should help you when choosing the right paint sprayer.

  • Small: .011 to .013 – Use for spraying stain, varnish, or polyurethane
  • Medium: .013 to .015 –Use for enamels, oil-based paints, latex, and thicker stains
  • Large: .015 to .021 – Use for premium latex, barn and fence paint, roof coatings, and thicker, elastomeric coatings

Using a paint sprayer daily

Even if you use a paint sprayer on a daily basis, you might not know about these new or seldom-used features :

  • A pusher valve found in the top four models of the Titan XT line is an exclusive feature. Labeled SureFlo, the valve automatically disengages the ball from the seat in the inlet valve when the sprayer is turned on.
  • At the heart of the Graco and Magnum paint-sprayer offerings is the piston-pump system. Pressure-control knobs adjust the spray pattern.
  • Magnum series sprayers include user-friendly icons for quick readability.
  • The Graco 190ES features a power-flush cleaning system specifically designed for the pro contractor. “If there’s anything contractors hate, it’s prep and clean-up,” Graco’s Steve Engleson explains. “When it comes to clean-up, this system reduces time significantly.”
  • Streamlining storage and making transportation of the equipment easier, the Titan XT440, along with three others in the Wagner line, includes a collapsible cart.

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