Buyer’s Guide: Paint Sprayers
Speeding through your next painting project starts with choosing a paint sprayer with the right pump, tip, and features for your needs.
Want to speed up your paint job? Equip yourself with a paint sprayer! Ahead, we’ve outlined the key considerations for selecting the best paint sprayer for your needs. Keep reading for our tips—and don’t miss our top picks, below!
- BEST OVERALL: Wagner Spraytech Control Spray Max HVLP Paint or Stain Sprayer
- BEST FOR LIGHT DUTY: HomeRight Finish Max C800766
- BEST FOR HEAVY DUTY: Graco Magnum ProX19 Cart Airless Paint Sprayer
Types of Paint Sprayers
Heavy-duty air-driven paint sprayers use high-pressure air from an air compressor to atomize paint or stain and provide a fine finish. Airless sprayers are electric- or gas-powered tools that mechanically pump paint or stain into the sprayer, which then pushes the finish through the sprayer tip, where it’s atomized and becomes a spray.
Sprayer Tips and Patterns
Sprayers are rated for the tip size or sizes they can support.
- A sprayer’s tip size sometimes refers only to the size of the opening, as in a .015 tip. Other times, it indicates two things at once—both the fan size (in inches) and the size of the tip opening. For example, a 515 tip sprays paint in a 5-inch diameter out of tip opening that measures .015 inches.
- Stains require smaller tip sizes and less pressure, while paints and heavier coatings need larger tip sizes and more pressure. Consider the jobs you will be tackling, and for each sprayer option you consider, pay attention to its maximum recommended tip size. The greater the maximum recommended tip size, the more finish the sprayer can output per minute.
- A paint sprayer’s spray pattern is the shape in which the tool outputs the finish. The best paint sprayers are able to spray in multiple patterns: round, horizontal, and vertical. Having these options available means you can switch from spraying a wide fan across a surface to a fan of the same width moving up-and-down without having to turn the sprayer.
- Each tip size comes in multiple spray-pattern widths. Widths can vary from about six to 14 inches wide. Smaller surfaces, like fence rails, call for a smaller pattern width. Ceilings, walls, and larger surfaces call for a larger pattern width.
- Tips can be standard or reversible. The difference? A reversible tip can be unclogged easily by turning it around and blowing out the blockage.
Tips for Picking the Best Paint Sprayer
- Sprayers with 25 feet or more of flexible hose or a long extension cord are best for jobs that require distance, like painting a fence. An extension cord makes cleanup even easier at the end of the job.
- If you need to carry your paint supply a long distance, consider a unit with wheels or a backpack.
- Determine your paint capacity and how often you’ll need to refill. You might opt for a larger hopper or a unit that draws straight from the can.
- Think about cleanup and whether you want a unit that comes apart for easy cleaning. Smooth interior surfaces and units that draw from the can make cleaning easier, too.
- Consider an adjustable pressure control with high, low, cleaning, or roller settings to help extend the life of your spray tips. A model that comes with a pressure roller attachment can also take over on projects where spraying isn’t possible (it, too, applies paint up to four times faster than a traditional roller and with less mess!).
- Note whether or not the sprayer takes tip extensions—a handy feature when painting high ceilings, foyers, and hard-to-reach spaces.
Sprayers demand your respect. Always read and follow the manufacturer’s safety, setup, and operating instructions. Use a respirator mask and proper eye protection when spraying, and never spray at a person, animal, or window.
Cover or mask off anything in the vicinity of your project, including windows and trim, because vaporized paint gets into everything. If spraying outside, cover plants and avoid painting on windy days.
Our Top Picks
1. BEST OVERALL: Wagner Spraytech Control Spray Max HVLP Paint or Stain Sprayerr
Boasting a 20-foot-tall flexible hose, this 11.2-pound, 110-volt, air-driven electric sprayer unleashes a high volume of paint or stain at low pressure. The sprayer’s 1.5-quart capacity hopper and two-stage turbine enable you to spray virtually any finish, be it as viscous as latex paint or as thin as wood stain. With a simple twist of the air cap, you can spray your chosen finish in a vertical, horizontal, or round spray pattern. All the while, the sprayer’s variable air pressure control, ranging from 1.50 to 2.63 PSI, reduces the risk of overspray.
2. BEST FOR LIGHT DUTY: HomeRight Finish Max
This 3.3-pound, air-driven electric sprayer is great for small- and medium-size painting projects. The adjustable air cap unleashes a high volume of air at low pressure to allow more paint to reach surfaces, while the twist-and-click adjustable nozzle allows you to spray on a smooth finish using a vertical, horizontal, or round spray pattern. Once you’ve achieved a look you love, cleanup is as easy—simply filling the spacious, 27-ounce hopper with water and spray until the water runs clear.
3. BEST FOR HEAVY DUTY: Graco Magnum ProX19 Cart Paint Sprayer
This professional-grade, 42-pound spray unit features adjustable pressure, a stainless steel piston pump, and a flexible suction tube that lets you spray paint at your preferred rate of flow directly from a one- or five-gallon paint cant. The built-in, wheeled cart helps you haul cans of paint, and the 50-foot flexible hose allows you to spray hard-to-reach surfaces, such as the side of a multi-story house. The Graco is rated for use for up to 500 gallons of paint annually.