Looking for a faster and more efficient way to paint your home or workspace? Then an HVLP or an airless paint sprayer can be a better choice than traditional brushes and rollers. Both of these sprayers come with distinct features and facilities. But if you ask me to compare them, I’d say it’s difficult to pick the best one for a painting project.
The main difference between these sprayers is that an HVLP paint sprayer has a lower pressure, whereas an airless paint sprayer has a higher pressure rating. As a result, the first one is good for smaller projects that require precision. Besides, the second one is better for larger projects.
However, that’s not all. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or a professional painter, understanding their differences can help you achieve the best results for your painting project. Let’s dive deep into the detailed differences between an airless paint sprayer and an HVLP paint sprayer.
What is an HVLP Paint Sprayer?
An HVLP or High Volume Low-Pressure paint sprayer uses a compressor to move air through the gun but produces a higher volume with a lower pressure.
In general, paint sprayers use a higher pressure to paint quickly. But that results in a lot of paint waste. In contrast to them, HVLP sprayers use low pressure and reduce waste to a great extent.
HVLP paint sprayers are mostly used for projects that require greater detail and precision. For instance, you can get better results with it for paint jobs like cabinet painting, furniture staining, trim, finish work, etc.
- It produces an even spray
- It is easy to use and beginner friendly
- It has a high transfer efficiency rate
- It is not well suited with high viscosity or thicker paints
What is an Airless Paint Sprayer?
An airless paint sprayer uses electricity, a pneumatic pump, or gas instead of a compressor to move the paint. It allows the sprayer to spray a higher volume at a faster speed.
The primary function of an airless paint sprayer is to cover a larger area in less time. Not to mention, it can produce a smoother and long-lasting finish.
Airless paint sprayers are the perfect choice for larger paint projects. You can use it to paint the walls of your house. The sprayer is suitable for both interior and exterior painting.
- It can produce a smoother and more even finish
- It is suitable with all paint types
- It enables you to paint quickly
- It has a lower paint transfer rate
HVLP vs airless paint sprayer: Quick Comparison Chart 80
|Basis for comparison||HVLP||Airless Paint Sprayer|
|Pressure Rating||10 PSI||1700 PSI|
|Portability||Highly portable||Less portable|
|Atomization||Fine Mist||Coarse Mist|
|Surface||Small to Medium||Large|
|Best Paint Types||Thin paints||Thick paints|
|Transfer Rate||90 Percent||50-60 Percent|
|Speed||15-20 ounces per minute||0.5-2.0 Gallons per minute|
HVLP vs Airless Paint Sprayer: Detail Differences
Both HVLP and airless have their own uses and benefits. Their differences make them suitable for different painting projects. The above table provides a quick overview of the distinction.
If you are not sure which one to pick for your next painting project, here are the detailed differences between an airless paint sprayer and an HVLP paint sprayer:
- Volume & Operating Pressure
While both HVLP and airless paint sprayers operate at a high volume, they have a completely different operating pressure. An HVLP sprayer operates at low pressure, usually only 10 to 30 PSI. But an airless sprayer can produce up to 1700 PSI.
The pressure level significantly influences atomization. A lower operating pressure allows the HVLP sprayer to pump out softer paints and fine mist. On the other hand, the Airless paint sprayer’s atomization results in a coarse mist that will give you a smoother finish.
HVLP paint sprayers are more portable compared to airless paint sprayers. Both sprayers are identical in size but significantly differ in weight distribution.
HVLP sprayers usually use fewer components. That is why they weigh less, and you can carry them comfortably. But the airless paint sprayer uses more components to produce high pressure. As a result, they are slightly heavier and harder to carry around.
An HVLP paint sprayer has better coverage than an airless paint sprayer. An airless sprayer sprays a huge amount of paint due to its high pressure. As a result, it oversprays significantly more than HVLP sprayers. It means you can cover a larger area with less paint using an HVLP paint sprayer.
However, an airless sprayer is quicker than an HVLP sprayer. Therefore, you can cover a larger area in a shorter time using the airless paint sprayer. Usually, an HVLP spray covers up to 250 square feet per hour, whereas an airless spray can cover up to 400 square feet per hour.
HVLP paint sprayers are better compatible with thin pints due to their low-pressure atomization system. However, airless paint sprayers work better with thicker paints. It can atomize the particles more efficiently with higher pressure.
Therefore, you can select the sprayer depending on which type of paint you are using. If you use high-viscosity flat or enamel latex paints, you will need the airless sprayer to get a better result. In contrast, an HVLP sprayer will be a better choice if you are using thin paints.
Airless paint sprayers have a super fast spraying speed compared to HVLP sprayers’ slow speed. An HVLP sprayer can only spray 15 to 20 ounces of paint per minute. But an airless paint sprayer can spray up to 0.5 to 2.0 gallons per minute.
You can literally fly with an airless paint spray. If you are looking forward to covering a large area in a short time, then airless paint spray is obviously the best choice. However, some smaller works necessitate greater precision and a slower pace. For such a painting job, an HVLP sprayer will be better.
Although an airless paint sprayer is faster, an HVLP paint sprayer is more efficient. An HVLP sprayer has a paint transfer rate of nearly 90%, whereas an airless sprayer gives you only a 50% to 60% transfer rate.
The rest of the paint becomes waste. Needless to say, the HVLP paint sprayer wastes a lot less paint and is highly efficient. However, the other oversprays a lot, resulting in a lot of waste and being less efficient.
- Ease of use
An HVLP paint sprayer is way less complex than an airless paint sprayer. That is why it is easy to use and a better choice for beginner painters. But using the airless paint sprayer is a little bit complicated, and usually, professionals use it.
Besides, there are also safety issues with the airless paint sprayer. As it has a higher pressure and a complicated system, you can easily make a mess with it if you don’t know how to use it. Hence, HVLP sprayers are the safer option.
HVLP paint sprayers are cheaper than airless sprayers. There are some airless sprayers that are cheaper than HVLP. However, if you want a high-quality sprayer, airless sprayers are much more expensive than HVLP sprayers.
Generally, an HVLP paint sprayer costs around $100 to $700, whereas an airless sprayer will cost you around $100 to $1,000.
When to use an HVLP paint sprayer? [Best HVLP Paint Sprayer]
When you are painting or staining a smaller surface area, such as your cabinet, deck, furniture, or similar items, then use an HVLP paint sprayer instead of an airless paint sprayer. The lower pressure will allow you to paint with more precision. Besides, the waste will also be lower.
To get an excellent finish, however, you must use a high-quality sprayer. Here are the two best HVLP paint sprayers:
- Wagner Spraytech 0518080 Control Spray Max HVLP Paint or Stain Sprayer – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B003PGQI48/
Wagner Spraytech Control Spray Max is one of the best HVLP paint sprayers for light jobs. You can get cabinet-grade results with its precision. It has a pressure control button that you can adjust to get the desired results.
The sprayer uses turbine technology to atomize the paint into fine particles. You can get an even and smooth finish with it. Besides, the price is not too high. Overall, this is an excellent HVLP paint sprayer for beginners.
- Fuji Spray 2203G Semi-PRO 2-Gravity HVLP Spray System – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00D4NPPQY/
If you are looking for a professional-level HVLP paint sprayer, then the Fuji Spray Semi-PRO 2 can be your best choice. It has a lot of professional features, such as a dedicated fan control to change the pattern size.
Besides, it has multiple cap sizes to better fit different viscosities of paint. The sprayer is also quite easy to disassemble and clean. Although the price is a little bit higher than the previous one, the extra money is absolutely worth it.
Why use an Airless paint sprayer? [Best Airless Paint Sprayers]
If you are painting the wall of your home or a larger surface area, then an airless paint sprayer is the best choice. An HVLP sprayer will take ages to complete such projects. But you can do it quickly with the airless paint sprayer.
There is a lot of good quality airless paint sprayers in the market. But as per our research, the following are two of the best airless paint sprayers in the market:
- Graco Magnum 262800 X5 Stand Airless Paint Sprayer – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0026SR0FW/
The Graco Magnum X5 Stand is undoubtedly one of the best airless paint sprayers for medium-sized painting projects (10 gallons). If you prepare the paint properly and know how to use an airless paint sprayer, this one will work like a rocket. You can cover a large area in a short time.
The sprayer can produce up to 1700 PSI, which is almost double the normal pressure rating. It has a 75-foot paint hose that allows you to paint both the interior and exterior quite comfortably. Not to mention, its affordable price makes it the best value-for-money airless paint sprayer.
- Graco Ultra Cordless Airless Handheld Paint Sprayer – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072C4HZ9B/
If you are looking for a cordless option with great maneuverability, then the Graco Ultra Cordless Airless Handheld Paint Sprayer is undoubtedly the best option. It requires two lithium-ion batteries that can provide more than one hour of usage straight on one charge.
It can produce a nice and smooth finish. However, the price of this product is slightly expensive. If you want to carry around the sprayer and work on small to medium projects, then Graco Ultra is a great choice. But for larger projects, we recommend the Graco Magnum.
- Can I use HVLP for house paint?
Yes, you can use an HVLP sprayer for house paint. They are more suitable for interior projects where you need more precision. However, it is a little bit slower and is not recommended for larger surface areas.
- How long do airless sprayers last?
Airless sprayers typically last 50 to 60 gallons. Some high-end models also last more than 100 gallons. However, using a higher pressure usually decreases their lifespan.
- Are airless paint sprayers noisy?
Yes, airless paint sprayers are usually noisy compared to other sprayers. The piston pump is responsible for making the noise due to the absence of air.
The differences between the HVLP vs Airless Paint Sprayer clearly state they are suitable for different painting projects. To easily make your decision, think of the HVLP paint sprayer as an alternative to the brush and the airless paint sprayer as an alternative to the rollers. You can use both sprayers side by side for your next painting projects instead of using them as alternatives.