I love painting; whether it's by hand or spraying. Sometimes I do both; prime a piece with my sprayer and hand paint the rest. This post is going to explain to you what sprayers I have used and the pros and cons of each in my unbiased opinion.
Disclaimer: This post does contain affiliate links which simply means that if you click on one of the links in this post and either buy the product or buy something else at that time, I will get paid a few bucks :-)
When I was first starting out my mom and I wanted to start a little side business of painting furniture. After a couple of hand painted pieces, we both agreed that we needed a sprayer and we didn't have much money to spend. So...I started doing a little Facebook page'n and found a few groups, asked a few questions, and found out that a lot of people were using a small little sprayer called THE CRITTER. OMG...I loved this thing. It uses 16 oz mason jars which is perfect because you can store away your paint and be ready for your next job. Cleaning was a breeze. The cons...you have to super strain your paint...make sure there are no paint boogers. I used these cones to strain my paint and they worked great. You have to thin your paint (with just water). It's kind of a science and back then I was still getting my feet wet so it was a learning experience but I'm a pro now and I kinda know what I'm doing. Another pro for us is that it only required a 3/4 hp compressor which we happen to already have. Another con was....you can't spray during the time the tank is filling...the pressure just isn't there. That may have been just my old compressor too. The tank fills like every 5 minutes or so and takes about a minute so you are spraying a little...waiting a minute...and repeating. For small jobs, it was awesome.
The next sprayer I bought was the Homeright HVLP spray gun. This one was awesome because it didn't need a compressor. You just plugged it in and spray away! Now...the one I am reviewing isn't sold anymore. The new one looks to be much more improved. It now has interchangeable tips (that's awesome) and a bigger container to hold more paint. I went through 3 of these because I would burn them up since I sprayed almost everyday. You have to strain and thin your paint but that's with every paint sprayer so you might as well get used to that. They weren't really meant for the volume of spraying we did but I would highly recommend this to the hobby painter or someone that is doing a once only project...like painting kitchen cabinets. It was a pain to clean and the overspray was pretty bad but once again...the newer model might be better. The unit I had got extremely hot after about 10 minutes of using so that was a pain. Having to stop, put the gun in front of a fan to cool off was really inconvenient.
The next sprayer I got was the Fuji Mini Mite HVLP sprayer. It has a turbine motor that's much quieter and more powerful than the Homeright. Once again...I didn't need a compressor which was a good thing. I noticed IMMEDIATELY that I didn't have the spray steaks that I would get with the Homeright. This thing ROCKS! I love (and still love) my Fuji. I did something bad and I burned up the Turbine by not cleaning my filter. The turbine was exposed to overspray and that's a bad thing. BUT...I was able to send the unit in and Fuji sent me a BRAND NEW ONE for FREE!!! I was totally impressed. I actually gifted this one to my son because he didn't have a compressor and as many of you know, my son does all of my custom painting now so he needs a good, dependable sprayer. It's a bit of a pain to clean but after you get used to it....it's really like brushing your teeth. I know the price is steep but if you are a professional furniture painter...this might be the sprayer for you. Especially if you have to take it places to paint. You can't haul a giant air compressor to the job site and the small compressors won't cut it when doing big jobs (like fences).
So...when my Fuji Mini Mite was out of commission for my stupidity, I was forced to go to Harbor Freight and buy one of their cheesy Automotive spray guns . Good thing...I bought mine for $15 (with a coupon...$20 regularly) in store. They last about a month and then you have to take it back, get another one, and repeat well FOREVER!!! Good thing...is they really work well. In fact...I have one at all times loaded with my poly top coat. Since I poly almost EVERYTHING, it's just easier to have one loaded and ready to go. When it starts messing up...I go get another one. It's actually the only spray gun that sprays my poly beautifully. Sometimes I get huge poly boogers that I have to take the gun apart and pull them out but sometimes I am just too busy for that and go to my stash of extra Harbor Freight sprayers. I buy like a half a dozen at a time. I know that's pathetic but if you know me...you know I am an extremely busy person and I don't have the time to fix a $15 sprayer. Time is money folks! The only downside is that you have to have a really large compressor to make this work properly. We happen to have this huge compressor from our previous business. You can use a smaller compressor but TRUST ME when I say...a small compressor is useless. You need one that's really powerful if you don't want the sprayer streaks!
And last but not least is the Accuspray by 3M. I'm still on the fence with this one because I've only used a few months but overall I'm pretty happy with it's performance. You must have a powerful compressor, which, of course, I do. It's sprays beautifully. It's a breeze to clean. Theres really no maintenance to it. It has a built in filter...just pour your paint without straining and you are ready to go. The overspray is minimal; In fact, the best I've used thus far. You can spray upside down with this one so it's really good when painting the tops of cabinets. Less paint being wasted during cleaning process. Interchangeable heads that allow you to spray any type of material including stains, poly, chalk paint etc. Cons....it's pricey. After purchasing the unit, you need to buy the liners, and more atomizing heads. But the good thing...is that you can use the liners and lids multiple times if you feel like cleaning them or just toss them out after use. Or...what I do is I leave the paint in the liners and add a plug (included in the refill kit) to the lid and I can use the paint again until it's gone. Do note though that the lid has a built in filter and I rinse that before storing the paint. I use the atomizing heads over and over. I use the clear ones vs the other colors. It just seems to work. The only downfall on the interchangeable heads is that they are so hard to remove and when you remove them...they are pretty much shot...you can't reuse them because of the damage to the tiny brads on the side. I just take a clean container of warm water and run it through to clean the head and so far...I've only gone through a couple of heads. It's a very simple, easy gun and if you have a powerful compressor, then this would be an excellent gun for you.
So there you have it. My take on sprayers. Do I have another sprayer in mind? Not really. I think I'm going to stick with my Accuspray (since I have enough liners for a year!) but who knows what I will want next.
So do know that this post isn't for everyone. After reading this, you might think..."I'll just stick to hand painting" and that is ok. If you want a super smooth, professional finish, then a sprayer is the way to go. Just know that to get that factory finish, you need a good sprayer. Priming furniture is a must for me and if that's all I was doing, I would just have the Homeright. But...we prime, paint, stain, and clear coat and for that, I need the best of the best. Each sprayer I've owned has had it's pros and cons so you decide what sprayer is right for you.
I might add...we custom paint. If you don't have a place to spray and want something refinished, we're your people. We also can prime pieces and make them ready for you to hand paint. Give us a call @ 352-867-0537 and let us know how we can help.
Thanks for being Flamazing!