Best Paint Sprayers for Every Home Project

September 20, 2022

best paint spray guns

A paint sprayer is a wonderful tool to have in the homeowner’s arsenal. Its speed and versatility in accomplishing paint and stain projects can save huge amounts of time when used properly, but with all of the sprayer options out there, it is hard to determine which will fit your needs. I have done my best to break down my top choices based upon price and general capabilities!

best paint spray guns - IHOD

Things to keep in mind: Any sprayer will only be as good as it is maintained. Always strain the paint before spraying, and never leave paint sitting in the unit for more than a couple hours. Thoroughly clean the unit after each use. I have never had issues with pumps or clogging by following these rules. Finally, get to know your sprayer by practicing on a scrap surface before beginning your paint project.

HVLP vs. Airless 

Paint sprayers are broken down into two main categories, based upon how the unit sprays the paint or stain onto the work surface: HVLP and Airless. 

An HVLP sprayer uses a pressurized air flow to atomize the paint and push it onto the surface. This often requires the paint to be thinned slightly to ensure a quality finish.  These sprayers are generally best for projects that require thinner coats and more precision, like furniture, trim, handrails, doors, cabinets, and touch-ups. They spray more slowly, allowing more control, and they typically produce a finer finish with less overspray.

paint spray gun reviews

An airless sprayer uses an internal pump to pressurize the paint and spray it directly onto the work surface without the assistance of airflow. These are generally best for larger flat surfaces where heavier and faster application is favorable, such as walls, ceilings, paneling, and the exterior of houses. Due to the high pressure, overspray occurs at a higher rate, and as a general rule, more protection is needed for nearby areas. When using for smaller items such as furniture, it can be easy to lay down an overly thick coat that may be prone to drips and sag.

Best Low-cost HVLP Sprayer for Fence and Deck Staining

Wagner Control Spray 250 HVLP – $85 – Great budget sprayer for stains and thinner paints. Thicker paints will need to be thinned. This is the best low-cost sprayer for fences, decks, and other outdoor stain/sealant applications. Use on small to medium projects, as well as those that require a clear coat.  It should do well on small painting projects like furniture if the paint is properly thinned. 

Best Intro Level HVLP Sprayers for General Painting

Avanti Handheld HVLP Sprayer – $89 – This sprayer has been recommended to me multiple times as a good low-cost sprayer for small and medium projects. I would not recommend it for fine furniture or cabinets, but for general spraying it should do just fine — and the price is hard to beat. Because the price is good, this unit will likely not have the lifespan of other higher-priced units, but it is a good choice for the occasional small project.

Wagner FLEXiO 2500 Handheld HVLP – $165 – I have not used this unit, but based upon my research, it seems to be a good unit at a good price for small projects like furniture, doors, and smaller rooms. It should do well with clear coats also. Some thinning may be necessary with thick paints. This unit is better built compared to the Wagner Control Spray and is a better choice in regards to longevity and power. Wagner also claims this sprayer is designed for refinishing cabinets on a budget, but I cannot speak for the results without personal experience. 

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paint spray gun

(A few projects we have done with the Graco TrueCoat)

Best Basic Handheld Airless Sprayer

Graco TrueCoat 360 VSP – Airless, $246 – A good entry-level airless unit for infrequent, small jobs like doors, furniture, and the occasional small room. Adjustable pressure allows for more control of the sprayed material compared to other handheld airless units. Thinning the paint for this sprayer is not necessary, although it is helpful in some circumstances, depending on what is being painted and the general viscosity of the paint. It only has two tips available, and in my opinion the “fine” tip is not fine enough for a cabinet finishing, but in most other circumstances it has performed well for me. Multiple thin coats will provide better results than less numerous thick coats, as it can be prone to runs/drips due to the high-pressure output.

(The Earlex Spray Station)

Best for Cabinets and Projects Needing a Fine Professional-Level Finish

Update: This paint sprayer seems to be hard to find now! You can still get it here. However, next best bet would be the Graco Magnum X5.

Earlex Spray Station 5500 HVLP – $383- This unit will lay down the silkiest finish on this list. Great for projects that require a fine, smooth finish, such as trim, cabinets, doors, and furniture, because it is designed for the serious hobbyist or semi-professional yet competitively priced. It can spray paint and clear coats like polyurethane and lacquer well, which is a huge plus for someone like me but may not be necessary for the average homeowner. However, if you are planning on repainting your kitchen cabinets, I would suggest considering spending a little more for this sprayer, as it can provide professional-level spray results without paying the price for a professional unit. (This is the one we just upgraded to! Prices will vary depending on the supplier.)

Best Multi-Room and Larger Project Sprayers

Graco Magnum Project Painter Plus – Airless, $298 – Great for occasional medium and large projects like painting multiple rooms or larger exterior projects. It has the ability to pump directly from a 1-gal can or 5-gal bucket, which is a big perk for larger projects.

Graco Magnum X5 – Airless, $340 – This is an upgraded version of the Project Painter Plus. It is built with a stronger pump and upgraded control/durability for semi-frequent large projects. This is ideal for multiple rooms and will even handle the exterior of a small home. If you plan on doing a few large projects a year, this is the sprayer for you. It also has a wide range of tips available to customize your project.   

earlax spray station paint spray gun

(The ZipWall system for paint projects)

Helpful Supplies

Aside from the right sprayer, a few other products can greatly improve your sprayer game. The first is the use of the ZipWall system, which allows you to quickly, easily, and inexpensively create a temporary wall, or spray booth, with cheap plastic sheeting. It really has been a game changer for me. These other products make masking/prep much faster and easier, especially for painting rooms and interior paint projects:

This should cover everything! Let us know if you have any additional questions in the comments.

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