HVLP Paint Sprayers vs Airless Paint Sprayers: What’s the difference?

If I had one dollar for every time someone asked me about HVLP vs airless paint sprayers I would be a millionaire. Okay, maybe not a millionaire, but I would have some extra pocket money. And to be fair, this is a very important question that every one that is looking to buy a paint sprayer should know. Who is better – HVLP paint sprayers vs Airless Paint Sprayers?

A few years ago everyone was using paint rollers, and a few people were familiar with paint sprayers and how they work. But since paint sprayers are better and do a better job they became popular very fast and a lot of people started to use them. Nowadays almost everyone who is doing home renovations uses a paint sprayer.

Since a lot of people started using them, a lot of companies caught up and created their own products. There are a lot of different models available and a lot of different paint sprayer types, but the most used ones are the HVLP and the Airless Paint Sprayers.

Airless Paint Sprayers vs HVLP Paint Sprayers – The Difference

Before listing all their differences, both of these two sprayers are good but they are used for different projects. Here’s the list of HVLP vs Airless

  • Atomization – HVLP sprayers use air to archive atomization and Airless sprayers use the paint itself to do it.
  • Paint Thickness – Because of the atomization, airless paint sprayers can spray thick paint and HVLP paint sprayers are not (unless you thin it first).
  • Speed – Airless Paint sprayers are faster, they can spray up to 7 liters per minute and use up to 3000 PSI where HVLP sprayers use 20 PSI.
  • Price –  HVLP sprayers are cheaper, they usually cost 2x less.
  • Precise – Due to the higher pressure airless paint sprayers are hard to control, therefore they are not very precise.  HVLP sprayers are precise.

There are a lot of money differences that you can read down below. But, to sum it up, the difference is that HVLP sprayers are used when you need a detailed and high-quality finish and Airless sprayers are used when you need speed and to spray large surfaces without needing a high-quality finish.

What are HVLP Paint Sprayers?

The HVLP stands for High Volume Low Pressure. These are sprayers that are mostly used for detailed projects, they are not very fast but they provide a very smooth and high-quality finish.Before explaining how these sprayers work, let’s explain the name – The HVLP stands for High Volume Less Pressure. This basically means that it will use less pressure but it will spray more paint.

Unlike other traditional sprayers, HVLP paint sprayers come with two separate chambers – one for the fluid and the other for the air. The fluid is fed at the fluid nozzle and the air goes at the fluid only after the fluid leaves the nozzle. This allows the tool to create atomization which helps with the finish quality.  Usually, the HVLP sprayers provide a very smooth finish quality which is a result of the atomization.

And because of the HVLP technology, the sprayer will use less pressure but it will spray a lot more material. But, even though it doesn’t need a lot of pressure, you still need an air compressor so you can spray. Although, some of the models don’t need an air compressor. If you are interested you can check our post about What’s the best HVLP paint sprayer?

When should you use an HVLP Paint Sprayer?

Although HVLP paint sprayers are good for almost every painting project, there are some things that they are the best at. I usually use HVLP paint sprayers when I need a quality finish rather than a fast finish.

Another good scenario where you can use HVLP sprayers is when you don’t need a lot of paint. Usually, HVLP sprayers work with different painting cups.  You can use paint cups at different sizes, gravity-fed cups, suction cups, etc.  And if you don’t need a lot of paint then you can attach a smaller paint cup and you can spray knowing that you won’t spend more paint then necessary.

HVLP sprayers are known for detailed projects and they are mostly used when you need a fine finish.

Where shouldn’t you use an HVLP Paint Sprayer?

You can still use HVLP sprayers for these tasks, but there are better options available (Airless Paint Sprayers), and if you have the chance it’s better to choose them than an HVLP paint sprayer.

I don’t recommend using HVLP sprayers if you need to spray a very large surface. Since these sprayers use low pressure, they won’t be able to finish the whole surface fast. As mentioned before, HVLP sprayers are mostly made for detailed projects and not large ones.

Another scenario where you shouldn’t use HVLP sprayers is when you are dealing with thick paint. As we mentioned earlier, the air comes only after the paint has left the nozzle, if the paint is too thick then the machine struggles to atomize the paint. If you are dealing with thick paint then it’s better to thin them before.

What are Airless Paint Sprayers?

Airless paint sprayers are faster but they don't provide a very smooth finish quality/ If you need to spray large surfaces then airless paint sprayers are your best friend. It can spray up to 0.33 gallons per minute ( Depending on the model), and it uses up to 3000 PSI.Airless paint sprayers are very used by a lot of people – mostly professionals. These sprayers use atomization too- but they archive it in another way.

As we mentioned earlier – HVLP sprayers use air after the paint has left the nozzle to create atomization. But, airless paint sprayers don’t use air – hence the name “Airless”.

The airless paint sprayers archive atomization by forcing up a huge amount of paint up the hose to the small nozzle at the spray gun. Basically, these sprayers don’t use air, but they use the paint itself to create the atomization. Learn here: Best Airless Paint Sprayers Reviews

Airless Paint Sprayers Pros

Because of its technology the airless paint sprayers are very good when you need to spray a very large surface. They are very powerful and fast which makes them perfect to spray large surfaces such as warehouses, home walls, etc.

Since they don’t need air to atomize the paint, you can easily use thick paints such as fire-resistant paint and even plaster. In most cases, you don’t need to thin the materials.  And they are very fast. Some models can spray up to 7 liters of paint per minute. Which is way faster than any HVLP sprayer.

In comparison to the HVLP sprayers, airless sprayers use more pressure. HVLP sprayers usually use 20 PSI and airless paint sprayers can use up to 3000 PSI. That’s a huge difference.

Airless Paint Sprayers Cons

Because of the atomization technique, these sprayers are made for professionals and experienced people only. You can easily mess up and overspray which can be a huge problem.

Airless paint sprayers also cost a lot more money. Sometimes, you need to pay 2x more money to get an airless paint sprayer then you would for an HVLP paint sprayer.

Because of the high pressure, it is very hard to control the paint using an airless sprayer, therefore airless paint sprayers are less accurate. Also,  it doesn’t offer a finish as good as the HVLP sprayers.

Final Words

These are all the pieces of information you need about HVLP vs Airless paint sprayers. Which one should you choose? Well, it depends on your project. Find out what project you will be working on and you will know your answer. Don’t forget, we made a list about the best models of these sprayers so make sure to check them out.

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