Sprayer Type and Finish Quality

In expert hands, either HVLP or air-assisted spray guns can turn out premium work. The difference is really more about efficiency, economy, and equipment durability. October 28, 2005

Everything I spray is waterbase. If money is no object, which one gives a better finish – HVLP or air assisted airless?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor A:
Air Assisted is way to go. No thinning (typically) and transfer efficiency is 60-80% on average with air assisted (Kremlin) vs. 30-50% with HVLP. If you are using knowledge and equipment correctly, you will get an unbelievable finish.

From Paul Snyder, forum technical advisor :
It's not so much about quality as much as it's about speed. I've used some cheapo spray guns and got a great finish. The more expensive spray guns just work better and last longer. An air-assisted airless pump like the Kremlin also produces a beautiful finish, but sprays a lot faster. The better transfer efficiency saves you a lot on finishes in a year as well. If you spray enough to make use of the pump, it's a great choice.

From contributor B:
Keep in mind that when you pull the trigger on an airless you get material and no air. If you want to blow the sanding dust off the project or want to blow the sawdust from within a cabinet, an airless won’t work for that step. I would question the transfer efficiency of only 30-50% with an HVLP. I personally like an HVLP hooked up to a Binks pressure pot.

From contributor C:
In my experience the most important part of finish quality is the craftsman. I have seen flawless work from all the systems. I agree that HVLP properly set up should give much better utilization rates. If you use them a lot, the more expensive setups last longer. Any air supplied to a solvent based finish must be bone dry for top quality. It seems to me that the more exotic the solvent, the more critical dry air is. Often people don't use or maintain dryers. I had an orange peel problem painting a shop truck using Sikkens Eurostyle finish. The distributor rep came out to look, added another desiccant dryer and that resulted in absolutely great flowout - and yes, it was humid.