Paint Sprayer Review updated in 2020. As a painter for well over 30 years, I’ve applied tons of paint: literally. A good paint sprayer will save you time and cut through frustration. We review here the best paint sprayer on the market for homeowners.
Are paint sprayers worth it?
Paint sprayers are really worth it for big jobs, and they will save you time on any paint job. I have used a range of quality paint sprayers that use air compressors (a.k.a. electric paint sprayers), as well as every kind of airless paint sprayer. The best airless paint sprayer simply pump liquids.
Best paint sprayer for 3 budgets. (Details below.)
1. Lowest Budget: There are really two separate worlds of paint sprayers: airless and air. The lowest budget model is an electric paint sprayer (mixes paint and air), I have to recommend the Wagner Flexio 590, check the price here. It is a very good quality paint sprayer gun for the money: the most quality for the least cost, thus the best price paint sprayer. Read my full review below.
2. Medium Budget: The best airless paint sprayer simply pumps liquids, not air. The Graco Magnum is the winner: see this powerful machine. For a medium budget, it is a high-quality airless sprayer. Taken care of, this excellent paint sprayer will last a lifetime. Read my review below.
3. Top Pick Sprayer: The Graco Magnum X7, check price online. My baby. Many pros use this. More below.
Is an airless paint sprayer better? With an airless sprayer, you get a better finish and faster results (higher flow rate) compared to an electric paint sprayer, but you will pay more. A big plus—no brush marks are left on the painted surface when you use an airless paint sprayer. If you spend this kind of money, be sure to use one of the most recommended paint sprayers, as using a quality sprayer will live longer, and the results will be much better.
All of my recommended paint sprayers are truely quality sprayers and will live longer than the off-brand sprayers.
Good sprayer companies
- First, the Titan (company website) has a selection of airless sprayers. They are a good, but small company, so parts can be hard to find.
- But I will always prefer Graco (company website) because of their great reputation, very well earned. Graco replacement parts are much easier to find. Most pros go with Graco.
Honorable mention for small project sprayers is Wagner (company website). They’ve been around forever, but they never cracked the professional market. Still, you can count on them if you have a lot of paint you want to spray.
All of what you find below will be fine as a latex paint sprayer or for oils, which is rare these days. These are all fine paint guns.
The best paint sprayer maker of low-end sprayers today is Wagner.
I consider this sprayer to be the only reliable choice that is not an airless paint sprayer:
- Very good reviews for this Wagner Flexio 590.
- No need to re-prime every time the siphon sucks air—nice
- Need to refill the reservoir frequently—not so nice
- Ideal for decks, fences, etc.
Honorable mention: Rexbeti. A reader tells us she loves her 500-watt Rexbeti. See it here: good reviews and growing.
Low budget sprayer notes:
If you have only one project like interior paint spraying and you want to spray and then sell the machine (you only need it for a while), you can be sure the Wagner below will get you through.
- These cannot be used with a power roller extension: you need a separate unit for that or the sprayers just below. We explain power rollers in a post just for them.
- If you go low budget, you’ll eliminate a lot of painting hassles and save a lot of time, but you won’t have it for many years to come. For the money, they cannot go that distance.
2. The Graco Magnum: Best Medium-Budget Paint Sprayer
This online price is the best around for an excellent choice for DIY painting projects.
Tips and maintenance are made easy by this great sprayer company.
- The winner in the DIY airless race, from Graco: the Magnum X5 Stand Airless Paint Sprayer.
- Comes with RAC 4 latex tip and guard (“515” tip).
- On sale for at time of publication: they seem to always be “on-sale” if you know what I mean.
- Classified as a “DIY”, but used by many professionals (but check the high-budget below).
- Can be paired with Graco Pressure Roller Extension (buy the special roller covers on this page too). You’ll fly with this.
- I have a short post just on power rollers.
- Can be used with the Graco sprayer extension wand (it comes with the Rac4 Tip Guard). The extra paint spraying speed is well worth the cost. We use the 30″. Unlike the low-budget models, airless paint sprayer tips can be reversed and cleaned on the fly if clogged.
Watch a video of an airless sprayer get cleaned quickly. I chose a Titan video because it is exactly the same as Graco or any other airless model. It’s all in your manual anyway. When he says ‘pump terps’ it means paint thinner (turpentine), blimey, mate.
Note: There are 2 versions of the Magnum 5: X and LTS. The LTS is sold only at Lowes so you get limited if you buy it there. But they are basically the same machine.
Many residential pros use this machine. It’s designed for those doing up to 12 new homes per year, so the quality is a step up. This means better reliability for only a little more price than the X5.
In the contractor chat rooms and in the paint stores, you’ll see that this is the most favored machine because of its longevity. For them, it pays for itself very quickly. Worth every dollar it costs.
Ample power for a 100 ft. hose to shoot ceilings and walls, interior, exterior…everything.
For all of you home-owners, this is my top recommendation in an airless paint sprayer.
You will get a great price online.
Enjoy. Lucky you.
Great Accessory: tip extension for an airless paint sprayer
The paint sprayer “wand” is a very helpful add-on. This page offers different lengths: my choice is the 30-inch wand, but you can have bigger or smaller. Size matters!
- Worth the small amount of extra cash for control and speed (and less ladder climbing)
- Excellent for indoor paint spraying
Hyde tools company has been around for 100 years: see the history of this great American success story on their website.
4. How to Use an Airless Paint Sprayer
You will find all the supplies I use on the paint sprayer accessories page
A quality paint sprayer is useless if not maintained properly: but it’s not hard.
You mostly just need to clean it well.
How to set up your paint spraying workspace:
- Pick a home base and clear the spraying area of anything that could get in your way: you’ll not be able to see obstacles and you could trip…and the hose can get stuck and hold you up (and tip over buckets).
- Protect everything! You can never have enough drop cloths. As a rule, I use old bedsheets from 2nd hand stores to cover furniture (sometimes doubled with a sheet of plastic) and keep the canvas on the floor. Always stir your paint well and then strain it to prevent clogs in the tip or at any internal filters. Clogging is the number-one complaint about spray-painting (see just below).
- Use a strainer bag for all paint, even new paint and keep the reservoir bucket covered with a clean piece of plastic: not an old drop cloth. We strain all paint, even right from the store (it can have small lumps from storage time). Strainers here.
- Spend a fair amount of time masking everything in the area and covering cars outdoors. Indoors use plastic and green painter’s tape (not the tan stuff) on windows. The best use of your time is to not try and make the masking perfect except around the odd piece of hardware. For example, to mask a window, use tape to cover some of the frame and all of the glass, then brush the frame later. It’s MUCH faster that way.
- This hand masker is your key tool. It rolls out tape connected to paper or plastic.
- Wear a respirator: HEPA for latex (really just for particles of paint), and chemical filters for oils. The ones I use are on the accessories page, but you can read all about the crazy, complicated world of respirators and filters: I simplified it all here.
- I never really used spray suits but some painters do. My clothes were fine unless spraying oil-based stains or something nasty. If you get a spray suit, get 2 sizes too big and cuff the pants and arms: thank me later. The respirator is really the biggest necessity.
Spraying tips for beginners: how to use an airless paint sprayer
- Before starting the work, test the spray fan in a different area (or on some cardboard) to get the pattern that you want: always mask nearby items.
- Keep the paint sprayer fan perpendicular to the surface about 12″ away (don’t swing in an arc): this keeps the width or fan of the pass even and saves paint.
- Keep your pump pressure as low as possible and still be able to get a good spray pattern. This also reduces overspray and saves on tip life (and paint).
- On each pass, get the gun moving just before you pull the trigger. Paint in rows as long as possible before you start to arc away from perpendicular. A tip extension wand is great for this: a real money-maker (see above).
- While you are first learning, you will want to let off the trigger at the end of each stroke (before the gun stops moving). But as you get better, you’ll discover how to ‘flip your wrist’ at the end of a long stroke and jump to the next row in the opposite direction without stopping. Don’t rush that or your get drips and runs and sags at the end of the rows.
- Overlap passes of the fan slightly. If you don’t, the coverage will have gaps.
Why does my sprayer tip become clogged? Two reasons.
- You let the sprayer tip get dry when not in use: to prevent this, just rest the sprayer gun in a bucket of water/solvent.
- You need to strain every bit of paint, even new-right-from-the-store paint (this paint is already old and will have some coagulation.
Final tips on spraying paint with an airless paint sprayer
- Contours like door panels can leave ‘shadows’ if you don’t angle the gun to get the grooves evenly. Accomplish this by applying several light coats from different directions, each perpendicular to one of the contoured pieces. In other words, hit anything that sticks out or is sunk in from both sides to prevent one side from being in the ‘shadow’.
- When doing primer, or the first of multiple coats, it’s best to ‘backroll’ the paint/primer after spraying for penetration and bonding. The topcoats can just be sprayed after that. Pros: let your customers know that you will do this: many painters will not and the paint job will not last as long (mostly for exteriors). Remember that paint sprayers are simply a method of application and are not known for great penetration. Still, they cut your time greatly.
- Ventilate well indoors, and be careful of wind outside (cars nearby could be damaged!)
List of supplies for painting with a sprayer:
- Respirator, safety glasses
- Fingerless gloves recommended (we cut the fingers off old work gloves)
- Solvent (water for latex, etc)
- At least 3 large buckets for paint, cleaning and trashy paint
- Strainer screens
- Rags and a small bucket for keeping rags wet
- Small bucket to keep spray gun tip soaking while not in use (prevents clogging)
- Drop cloths, plastic and tape, and hand masker (combines paper and tape—see our video below)
- Cardboard for use as a shield (you can buy a special cardboard holder – almost a necessity
Tips on tips
These tips come from my experience of 30+ years as a professional painter. Basic tip chart is below: I only recommend Graco paint sprayer tips.
Basics for beginners:
- Every sprayer comes with a tip. Most Graco sprayers such as the Magnum x5 and the 210 ES ship with a “515” tip.
- How to read the tip model number: The first digit, 5, is half the fan width, so 10 inches. The ’15’ means the opening size which is a measure of volume that comes through. The 515 is a great medium volume tip and is part of the Graco RAC family (see below in Advanced Tips).
- Paint pressure near the spraying tip of the interior paint sprayer is enough to inject paint into your skin: be careful.
- Wear a respirator. The number of filters is mind-numbing. (My post simplifies the crazy complex world of respirator masks).
- Strain every gallon of paint, even right out of the can (prevents tip clogging).
- RAC tips (Reverse-a-Clean), are better even though they cost more, they save time. These tips can be reversed to clear clogs. When your fan pattern is showing ‘fingers’, you simply reverse the top, spray into a bucket, and it is clean. The RAC tips from Graco go in the orange tip guard (on the accessories page also). This tip guard and one RAC 4 (size 515 tip) come with both the Magnum and the 210ES above.
- Every time you stop for even a short break, soak the tip, and even the entire paint gun in a bucket (water for latex, thinner for oils, etc). This keeps the tip from clogging.
Finally, to make this post complete, we recommend a garden sprayer for spraying some stains – you can see it here: please understand what you can and cannot do with it. Read my research on how backpack sprayers not made for stains will die in a day. (Staining a deck? See one of my six articles on decks and staining).
The Chapin shown here can handle very light sealers and it does not cost much more than most good garden sprayers…but for heavy stains… you have to jump up in cost. Opaque stains (which are really just paint) require an airless paint sprayer. Read the backpack sprayer post.
Tip: Keep the paint sprayer tip (and hose) clean, disassemble, and let the hose dry all winter and it will last and still be useful in the garden for years! A bit of petroleum jelly on any gasket helps.
Chart: Recommended Tip Sizes for Common Coating Materials
|Lacquer or Stain||.009 – .013|
|Oil Based Paint||.013 – .015|
|Latex Paint||.015 – .019 (Magnum max size = .015)|
|Heavy Latex or Smooth Elastomeric||.021 – .025|
|Elastomeric & Blockfiller||.025 – .035+|
Here are some paint spraying tips from the maker: Graco website’s tip info chart.
Here is how to efficiently mask a window when spraying indoors or out.
If you will probably only use an interior paint sprayer once or twice, I recommend you spend your money on the low-budget electric paint sprayer: save money and save lots of time. Are the airless sprayers are better? Sure, but the electric paint sprayer will be enough (then you can sell it on eBay!)
Let us know if we forgot anything in the comments below. Thanks.