Got a fence that needs painting? Perhaps your siding is starting to look a little worn, or you are continuously building wooden furniture that needs finishing. Or maybe you are just in the market for a new tool.
If the idea of spending hours in the sun with a roller or a 4″ brush, or of working a small brush into the corners of yet another drawer, perhaps it’s time to consider an electric paint spray gun.
So what’s the big deal?
While the regular old spray gun pushes liquid into a stream of air to atomize the finish and fling it at a surface, airless guns push the liquid itself through a nozzle at very high pressure. When the paint leaves the gun it spreads out in a very fine spray.
The typical high volume airless paint sprayer used by painting contractors (more on those units below) place a pump directly atop a container of finish and pump the liquid through a long hose to a handheld gun.
The newer crop of electric spray guns pack the basic principles of the airless sprayer into a compact handheld unit that has many of the advantages of the larger, more expensive commercial grade sprayers.
Some of the Advantages
Ease of use. Take the paint (or stain) out of the can, put it in the gun, and go to town. No messing with thinning, and no need for adding expensive solvents that just evaporate once they hit the air.
Less Waste. Compared with air powered sprayers, electric paint sprayers also manage to get much more of the finish to the place it needs to be. That means less wasted paint and faster finish times.
Time. Even small airless electric sprayers can apply 5 gallons of paint in under an hour. That’s faster than pretty much any way you can get paint from a can to a wall.
Speed. Pumping out paint at that rate can making fine control of the finish difficult. If you happen to tarry for a moment in one place you can suddenly have a high build up, sometimes leading to runs, and certainly affecting the appearance of the finish in that area.
Current guns address the problem of applying finish at a rate that is beyond the conditions, or your expertise, to control. They have adjustments for power and volume controls. This allows you to change up your application for different materials to be sprayed and for applying to different surfaces. You definitely want to be able to apply paint faster to a fence than you would to the new piece of furniture you just built.
The other two disadvantages are related to the major advantage of the electric airless spray gun – its handheld convenience. Instead of just having a spray gun in your hand, you also have the motor that makes the thing work and the paint that you will be applying. It doesn’t take too long for that little gun to feel like an iron weight you’re dragging around.
The other downside is the paint you are carrying around. Even if the gun you use has a cup that holds a quart of paint, you can imagine how fast that disappears when you can apply a gallon in ten minutes or so. That’s a lot of stopping and starting.
It’s a good thing, then, that most handheld paint sprayers come with attachments that allow you to run a hose directly to a paint can.
Maybe A Bigger Airless Sprayer
On the other end of the scale are the commercial grade airless paint sprayers. And commercial grade just means that they are more aimed at the professional end of the market.
The fact is that at the lower end of the market these airless paint sprayers are not much more expensive than some of the handheld guns.
As noted above, what separates these airless sprayers from the more common electric sprayers is their design. They are made to pump paint directly from the container through a hose to a handheld spray gun. Many of them are able to apply paint at an amazing pace. A professional using one can apply 25 – 35 gallons of paint in the course of an afternoon, priming a small house interior from top to bottom in less than a day.
Many of the advantages of these guns are the same as those of the smaller units, with the added advantages of lighter weight in your hands, less time messing with the finish (no filling paint cups), and portability – put the pickup tube in a 5 gallon bucket and you have the freedom to travel as far as the 50 foot feeder hose will let you.
One disadvantage involves clean up. You have to be sure that the hose and the gun are clean of paint before putting them away, and that the unit is prepared for storage if it’s going to be a while before it is used again.
If you are the type of person who finds themselves involved in larger projects from time to time (or your friends and relatives are), it might be worth taking a look at one of these larger airless spray guns. If nothing else,they are very fun to use.
If you have thought of getting an electric spray gun for your next project, it’s definitely worth your while to consider it seriously.
Don’t have the opinion that the handheld electric paint spray guns are “homeowner specials”. Of course, some of the cheaper models are, but in general these units are worthy of being used by professionals. In fact, many are. After all, a true professional doesn’t try to adapt one tool to all situations. They realize that there is a right tool for every job, and these handheld electric spray guns might just be the right tool for you.