Tools of the Trade: Paint Sprayer Variations in Professional Painting Reply

Paint sprayers have revolutionized how professional painters work. Sprayers are considered as much as ten times faster than using a brush. Think about that: a traditional paint job can be accomplished in a fraction of the time needed to use a brush on the same job. The downside, however, is that to achieve these results the painter must be using the right paint sprayer. Considering the number of parts and pieces working together in a paint sprayer setup, it can be very difficult for even the most seasoned and experienced paint professional to know what the right setup is for the work they are doing.

It should come as no surprise that paint sprayers come in a variety of different sizes and styles. It should also come as no surprise that different sprayers carry different costs, not just for upfront purchase, but also ongoing maintenance and use. The correct sprayer can pay for itself quickly, but have you ever stopped to research the sprayer you are using as a professional painter to confirm that it is indeed the best option for you? It is possible – even likely – that the paint sprayer you are using is not optimized for the work you do.

old paint sprayer technology

Even early paint sprayer technology accelerated the speed at which a job could be completed.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Consider that the right equipment for your job will result in:

  • Reduced overspray and paint waste.  One of the largest incremental expenses for painters is wasted paint. It can be impossible to track how much paint is wasted from overspray or inconsistent application, but the results certainly do add up over time. Nothing can be more frustrating then getting to the end a large job and realizing that you will be a gallon or two short to finish the job. The right sprayer can prevent this from occurring.
  • More efficient coating.  If wasted paint is the actual cost of using the wrong sprayer, then more efficient coating is the benefit you will realize as soon as you begin using the correct sprayer. A sprayer that applies paint too thick or thin for the job at hand means that your actual paint work is below par. True, most sprayers have adjustable valves to control the flow of paint, but that doesn’t address inefficiencies found in using the wrong tips or hoses as you pursue a consistent and uniform application of the coating.
  • A better use of your time.  Using the wrong paint sprayer will invariably lead to your jobs taking more time than you planned. From more time on the initial work to (more significantly) the time needed to revisit a job and correct any errors, the wasted time adds up quickly and pulls you away from other more profitable jobs.

To choose the right paint sprayer for your work among the near-countless paint sprayer variations, follow these simple guidelines:

  • Pump:  The more horsepower a pump has, the more paint volume it can push through the sprayer in a specific time frame. A more powerful pump will move more paint in a shorter amount of time. That said, consider the ideal speed of distribution for the typical jobs you work on. Do you need to work quickly, like when painting walls in an office building? Or are you using more expensive coatings and any waste from overspray is a big concern? A pump that is too strong will spray more paint than you need and waste material. A pump too weak, however, can lead to clogging and lost work time as you clean and fix your equipment. Choose a pump that produces the paint volume right for your work, not the most expensive pump you can afford with the most horsepower possible.
  • Tip:  The tip of your paint sprayer determines how quickly paint can be applied to the substrate, as well as how it comes out of the sprayer: in a thin line or wide fan. Choosing a tip also comes down to the type of paint you will be using. Thicker coatings like exterior latex require wider tips and more horsepower to properly spray, whereas thin cabinet paint can be applied with less horsepower and a smaller tip. Having a tip that is too wide for the paint you are using could result in overspray and wasted materials. A tip too narrow or small can result in the job taking far more time than it should.
  • Gun:  The most important part of choosing a paint gun is considering the size, weight, and balance of the physical tool itself. Consider that you will be lifting this gun up and down over and over as a job progresses. It is important that you be able to do so without tiring your arms and shoulders too much – imagine how much time you might lose working if you have to stop and rest over and over again during the course of the job!
  • Hose:  Your hose length should be determined by how expansive the job is likely to be. If you’re planning on walking the length of a warehouse while applying a coat of paint, it is in your best interest to invest in a longer, more durable hose. If most of your paint work takes place in a paint room (as in automotive painting) then a longer hose is less important since you won’t be moving a great deal.
  • Other considerations like portability and compressor weight should factor in to your decision as well. Some compressors have wheels for easy moving while others are built to last for years and years so long as you leave them in the same place. It’s also important to consider the ease with which the entire apparatus can be cleaned if you will be switching from job to job with the same sprayer in a short amount of time.

Stopping to make sure the entirety of your paint sprayer setup works in unison will likely reveal inefficiencies in your tools that are costing you time and money. With the competitive nature of professional painting, every minute is precious and every dollar vital. There is simply no excuse for wasting money or time because you are using tools that are not right for the job. Take a look at the paint sprayer you are using and use the tips above to make sure that your entire setup is optimized for your work. Click here to learn more about the different instruments and tools you can use to make paint jobs easier and more efficient!

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