Features to consider when choosing an indoor paint sprayer
While all paint sprayers achieve the same end goal – evenly coating your wall or cabinets – they differ quite a bit in how they get there. Here, we’ll take a closer look at how indoor paint sprayers work, and how differences among models can affect a sprayers’ utility.
Spray system type
There are two different types of paint sprayers: airless and high volume, low pressure (HVLP).
As the name suggests, airless paint sprayers don’t rely on compressed air to spray paint. Instead, they have a fluid pump that pushes paint from the container through the nozzle. The pressure created in the process is enough to aerosolize the paint into a fine spray.
Airless paint sprayers are relatively common because the technology offers a few key advantages. First, most airless paint sprayers allow you to adjust the spray pressure so that you can release more or less paint at once. In general, airless sprayers are best for covering large areas quickly, rather than working in finely detailed spaces. Airless tools can also be used with a variety of common paint types, including varnishes, oil-based paints, and latex-based paints. Finally, airless paint sprayers are easy to clean, since you can simply run water through the tool to clean up any paint leftover after your job.
The downside to airless paint sprayers, though, is that they’re very susceptible to overspraying. Even after adjusting the pressure down, they tend to shoot paint over a pretty wide area. So, you’ll need to take care to cover up any nearby surfaces that you don’t want to paint when using an airless sprayer.
HVLP sprayers do use an air pump, which allows them to operate at much lower spray pressures than airless sprayers. These sprayers require you to be slow and steady in your application, but it’s much easier to paint small areas without also unintentionally painting everything nearby.
HVLP sprayers are ideal for spraying smaller surfaces like cabinets – although that certainly doesn’t mean they can’t be used for painting entire walls.
The pressure that an interior paint sprayer creates will determine how much paint is released, and over what area. Higher air pressure will create a wider area of spray – that’s in large part why airless paint sprayers, which produce pressures of 1,500 to 3,000 PSI, are susceptible to overspray. Lower air pressure will give you a more focused, but also lower volume, area of paint. HVLP sprayers typically produce just a few PSI of pressure – roughly 1,000 times less pressure than airless sprayers!
The nozzle on your paint sprayer plays a big role in determining the shape and area of your spray pattern. Some nozzles offer a diagonal spray pattern, for example, while others offer a horizontal or circular pattern.
For added versatility, some indoor paint sprayers, like the HomeRight model, come with multiple different nozzles. Changing nozzles allows you to quickly change your paint area so you can switch between painting full walls and detailed cabinetry with ease.
Feed cup capacity
Most interior paint sprayers include a feed cup that holds your paint so it can be aerosolized by the pump inside the tool. Most feed cups are around one quart in capacity, which corresponds roughly to a small can of paint. However, some sprayers, like the VonHaus and HomeRight sprayers, have larger 40-ounce feed cups so you can spray larger areas between refills.
Note that some indoor paint sprayers, like the Graco 257025 and 262800 X5 models, actually feed directly from your paint bucket. In that case, there’s theoretically no limit on how much paint you can feed in. However, you have to worry about moving your paint bucket around the house with you as you work.
Power cord length
No one wants to be limited by the fact that your nearest power outlet is just slightly too far away from the wall you want to paint. Most of the sprayers we reviewed come with long six-foot power cords to eliminate this problem. You can use an extension cord with your paint sprayer, but you’ll need to make sure it’s a large enough gauge to safely power your tool.
While some paint sprayers are designed to be held while you work, others are designed to sit on the ground and offer just a controllable spray nozzle to make it easier to get into fine areas. In this case, hose length is very important. Most hoses are much longer than any interior painter needs – for example, the Graco Magnum X5 supports hoses up to 75 feet in length, while the Earlex sprayer comes with a nine-foot hose. Just beware of hose length if you have extra tall or extra long walls that may pose a particular issue for reach.
The weight of your paint sprayer is very important if its designed to be held while you paint, as the HomeRight, Graco 16Y385, and Graco 17M363 Ultra models are. In this case, even a difference of a few pounds can be enough to tire out your arms over a full day of painting.
Weight is less important if the sprayer sits on the ground and you only have to hold the spray nozzle. However, keep in mind that heavy units, like the 20-pound Graco Magnum X5, will still take some effort to move up and down stairs.
An indoor paint sprayer is a big investment, so you want to be sure it will last for multiple projects over the course of years. Most of the paint sprayers we reviewed come with a one-year limited warranty from the manufacturer to protect you against defects. However, a few models, like those from Earlex, VonHaus, and HomeRight, offer an extended two-year warranty for even more peace of mind.
There are tons of additional features to look for that can make your painting jobs easier. For example, some paint sprayers, like the Graco 17M363 Ultra, have an onboard battery that allows you to move around your home without worrying about cords. Graco also adds Reverse-A-Clean reversible nozzles to many of its sprayers, which ensures that you won’t end up with clumps of paint clogging up the nozzle.
Cleaning is another area where extra features abound. Graco sets itself apart with its Reverse-A-Clean nozzles, which can be reversed so that you simply spray through any paint clogs that form during your work.
Many airless sprayers, like the Graco Magnum 262800 X5
in particular, can connect to a garden hose so that you can easily run water through the entire sprayer after your job is done.
Paint sprayer types for different kinds of paint
Both airless and HVLP sprayers can handle most types of oil-based and water-based paints. However, if you’re planning on using thicker latex-based paint to cover your walls or cabinets, airless sprayers are the better choice.
HVLP sprayers can deal with latex paint, but you’ll have to thin the paint first and possible use an additive to decrease the viscosity. Varnishes can also present an issue for HVLP sprayers, depending on how thick they are.
Indoor paint sprayers are relatively safe when used properly. That said, there are a few precautions you can take to protect yourself when using these tools.
First, always wear safety glasses when operating an interior paint sprayer. You’re aerosolizing paint in an enclosed area, so there’s a good chance that some droplets will end up near your eyes. For the same reason, it’s highly recommended to wear a mask over your mouth and nose so you’re not breathing in paint fumes.
The other thing you can do to increase safety is to make sure that the area you’re working in is completely clear of obstacles. That ensures that you won’t accidentally trip over something while you’re in the middle of painting.