If you need to paint a large area quickly, an airless paint sprayer is the best tool for the job. Unlike air-powered paint sprayers, which use compressors to push paint through the gun, airless paint sprayers have a piston that sprays paint to quickly coat large surfaces. Airless paint sprayers are more versatile and intuitive than their air-powered counterparts, though they still take some getting used to. Our guide will break down the basics of airless paint sprayers to help you find the right tool for your needs and your budget. The top sprayer is from Graco and its lightweight design is perfect for amateurs and experts alike.
Considerations when choosing airless paint sprayers
There are two main types of airless paint sprayers, both of which have their strengths and weaknesses.
Handheld airless paint sprayers
Handheld airless paint sprayers are compact units that house the spray gun, paint supply, and motor in one device. The small size of these paint sprayers makes them easier to maneuver than larger sprayers.
These sprayers are generally inexpensive and may have different nozzles to create different spray patterns. The size of handheld sprayers makes them highly portable since they have no hose attached.
That said, handheld paint sprayers have limited capacity, usually 28 ounces of paint. This means that frequent refills are necessary for larger jobs, and the paint cup adds weight to the gun.
Stand-mounted airless paint sprayers
A stand-mounted airless paint sprayer, also called a cart-mounted sprayer, is the ideal choice for a larger paint job due to the increased capacity and lightweight design.
Since the gun is a separate unit from the paint can or bucket and motor, it is much lighter and easier to use for long stretches. This makes these sprayers the best option for beginners or large paint jobs. However, they are also a good choice for small jobs like painting furniture.
You will need to prime the pump before each use with a stand-mounted airless paint sprayer, and the extra power means there is an increase in overspray. The hose also limits how far away from the cart you can be.
The weight of an airless paint sprayer can range from 10 pounds to as much as 60 pounds with cart-mounted models. While larger models are usually wheeled, they can still be difficult to move from one room to the next or up and down staircases.
The horsepower and maximum pressure vary greatly among airless paint sprayers, with the most powerful commercial airless paint sprayers clocking in at around 1 hp and 3,000 psi. The flow rate is another major factor--this is the measurement of the amount of paint per minute a gun can spray.
Airless paint sprayers vary widely in price depending on whether they are intended for small residential jobs, larger paint jobs, or commercial use. An entry-level or mid-range airless paint sprayer costs between $30 and $70. High-end sprayers cost up to $400, and professional airless paint sprayers may cost $700 or more.
Q. What is overspray?
A. Overspray is excess paint droplets that go outside of your target area. This is no big deal when painting a wall as you blend each pass into another, but it becomes an issue when you are painting around trim or windows.
Q. What do different spray tips do?
A. Spray tips can widen or narrow the spray or even change the shape of the spray, allowing you to work carefully and make controlled passes. Most airless paint sprayers come with a 515 spray tip.
Airless paint sprayers we recommend
Best of the best: Graco Magnum 262800 X5 Stand Airless Paint Sprayer
Our take: The lightweight design of this paint gun allows you to use it for long periods without fatiguing.
What we like: This is a good first-time airless paint sprayer due to its lightweight gun and steady spray. Some thicker paints may need to be watered down, though.
What we dislike: This sprayer can be finicky about certain paint types.
Best bang for your buck: Graco Magnum 257025 Project Painter
Our take: This airless paint sprayer stands out for its compact design, which makes it a good option for beginners.
What we like: The pump does not run constantly, which reduces noise and wear. We love how easy it is to clear blockages due to the design of the gun.
What we dislike: A few customers have reported lemons. Repairing this gun can be challenging.
Our take: The reversible tip makes this airless paint sprayer easy to unclog, and cleaning the gun is easy.
What we like: This sprayer is well-equipped for big paint jobs and has a convenient 25-foot hose, giving you mobility while you work.
What we dislike: A few customers have experienced leaks between the hose and the spray gun. The suction tube can be challenging to use.
Pete McPherson is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.