Choosing an
Airless Paint Sprayer

An airless paint sprayer is commonly used with all types of non-textured paint coatings for residential and commercial painting applications.

Airless paint sprayers are designed to contend with all types of non-textured paint coatings ranging from heavy bodied elastomeric paint to fine lacquers. Airless spray equipment varies in size and capacity starting with small handheld one piece units, extending up to large commercial sprayers that can accommodate up to six spray guns simultaneously.

Airless sprayers do not use air flow to atomize paint. Instead, they utilize a high pressure pump usually driven by an electric motor. Some of the larger units are equipped with gasoline engines. The vast majority of airless sprayers employ a piston pump design, although some use diaphragm pumps. The paint output can be controlled with a pressure adjustment knob and the orifice size of the spray tip. Selecting the proper spray tip for a particular paint application is the key to controlled airless spraying.

Handheld Airless Paint Sprayers

Light duty spray equipment includes all handheld units. Handheld paint sprayers are designed for light residential use. These small one piece sprayers are configured with a spray gun attached to a paint holding cup. Most of these units use a small piston pump operated with an electric motor. Some manufacturers offer a cordless version outfitted with an 18 volt battery.

Many of the inexpensive handheld sprayers use an adjustable spray fan instead of the standard airless spray tips. Some of the higher quality, newer models do use reversible airless spray tips in much the same way as traditional airless sprayers.

Before purchasing a handheld airless sprayer, keep in mind that many of these small pumps are inadequate for spraying certain types of paint coatings. Some handheld units are only effective spraying sufficiently thinned materials. The quality handheld sprayers utilizing reversible airless spray tips can handle more viscous materials and are probably a better choice for a wider range of paint coatings.

Light/Medium Duty Airless Sprayers

Light and medium duty airless paint sprayers are designed for all aspects of residential painting. Medium duty spray equipment is also adequate for many commercial applications. A typical unit comes equipped with a 25 foot or a 50 foot airless pressure hose, spray gun, tip guard, and reversible spray tip. Many airless sprayers also have an external filter to reduce tip clogs.

An airless sprayer with a maximum delivery rating of about 0.30 gallons per minute or greater is large enough to carry out most house painting applications. Airless sprayers of this capacity along with the proper airless spray tips can handle a variety of paints ranging from heavy body exterior latex paint to fine lacquer coatings for cabinets and furniture. Pricing for a brand new fully equipped smaller unit typically starts around $400.00.


There are several manufacturers of airless spray paint equipment. Some of the leading brands include Graco, Wagner, Titan, Spray Tech, Binks, Campbell Hausfeld, and Airlessco.

Setting Up an Airless Sprayer

Setting up an airless sprayer for painting involves a few basic steps. The solvent inside the pump and pressure hose needs to be replaced with paint. If you are using a rental unit or you are not sure what solvent is in the sprayer, it is a good idea to rinse it out with the proper solvent (water, mineral spirits, or lacquer thinner depending on the paint you are using) before setting up the paint.

Cleaning an Airless Paint Sprayer

Cleaning an airless sprayer is basically the same procedure as setting one up for painting. The paint inside the pump and pressure hose needs to be replaced with clean solvent.

Paint Safety

Carefully read all the instructions that accompany the airless paint sprayer before use. Be sure to follow all safety precautions so as to avoid bodily injury or death. Always provide proper ventilation when spraying indoors. Always wear respiratory protection (paint respirator) when spray painting. Never point an airless spray gun toward any part of your body or at anyone else. High pressure spray can inject paint into the skin, damaging tissue and blood flow.

Final Thoughts

For some painting applications, spray painting is the best and perhaps only option. Because paint sprayers are most likely the highest priced items among all the tools for painting, you should decide whether to purchase or rent the necessary equipment. Renting an airless paint sprayer may be a good alternative to purchasing one. Daily rentals range between thirty dollars and seventy dollars. The savings can be substantial for jobs that can be completed in a short amount of time.

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Professional Painting, Inc. is a full service painting company serving the San Francisco Bay Area since 1988.