What's the best HVLP system?

Finishing forum participants chime in with their feelings about the best HVLP spray finishing systems. May 29, 2000

What's the best HVLP system you have used? I'm considering buying one this year for my small garage workshop. I've received info for Apollo and few others. Any suggestions?

I use a Graco/Croix, but would not recommend it. The Graco system has a gun wich does not shut off the air flow when you release the trigger, so you have to be veruy sure the gun is pointed away from your project when not applying finish. Also, it's made entirely of aluminum, and water-based finishes are eating the aluminum. Even though I clean it thouroughly after each use, the aluminum cup is corroding.

The only good thing about my setup is the 2 quart remote cup. I like being able to hold the spray nozzle at any angle.

I would recommend an all-stainless system that cuts off the air flow with the trigger and with a remote 2 quart cup.

By HVLP I assume that you mean a turbine HVLP and not a conversion gun which runs off of a shop compressor.

First of all, there is no such thing as "best". That is a subjective term, and it unfairly castigates all the other manufacturers who have good products, yet for arbritrary reasons do not pass the muster of the so-called judge and jury.

There are pluses and minuses in any of the systems. You have to weigh those benefits and liabilities and see how they apply to your world. The best way for you to do that is for YOU to make an informed decision, not someone deciding for you what works for them.

There is a consensus about the quality of Accuspray guns as top notch. With that comes a premium price tag. Their turbines are also very good, compact (smart design!) and not as noisy as many other turbines.

The liability of an Accuspray gun is that the body is made of two halves, screwed together and sealed with gaskets and O-rings. To clean these guns, you have to disassemble the halves and occasionally replace the gaskets and o-rings, plus worry about fitting the halves back together in an exact fashion so that you get nice, airtight seals. This is not fun onsite, or anytime that you are -- ahem -- under the gun.

The same good marks go to Wagner for their excellent gun and really excellent turbines.

Make sure that you get at least a three-stage turbine, but the four-stages are even better. The more power and CFM, the more versatility and control.

The best cup design goes to Titan. They are the ONLY ones with a flexible fluid pick up tube. It really works! I have one and I make sure that when I am spraying a table top with an attached cup, this is the cup that I am going to use so that I can get maximum benenfit out of the material in my cup (running low on material in the middle of a conference table is not my idea of fun).

Make sure to get a stop-check valve. This keeps fluid from leaking back up into the gun assembly from the cup (which is pressurized). Get the Titan RE-USEABLE stop-check valves (available from Sherwin-Williams for only a few dollars each). You can take these apart and soak them in thinners or paint stripper to clean off any dried finish on them. You cannot do that with the commonly available PVC stop-check valves.

I have been using the Apollo for about 10 years or so. I am not a professional. I have been pleased with the quality of the product. It is all stainless steel. I only use waterborne finishes with it and I clean it at the kitchen sink. I just run warm water through it and blow it out (with my mouth). About once a year, I disassemble it and clean it real well with a paint remover type product. The Apollo has been made for about 35 years or so.

It is a little pricey, but an old-timer told me a long time ago... "Son, you can cuss a tool once when you buy it or you cuss it every time that you use it." Based on his advice, I have some pretty nice quality tools in my shop.

If you have a legitimate shop compressor and a deep pocket my money is on the Accuspray 36 Series
I can spray anything from polyester resin filled with metal (it's as thick as mud) with great results to NGR stains, with little or no overspray even inside drawers and cabinets.

I never take this gun apart for cleaning and would not recommend doing so unless you treed to use something other than clean air to power it.

The fluid tips and air caps clean as easily as any.
The throat can be cleaned easily also, without opening the rest of the gun, since it is basically just a low pressure (10 psi max.)passage way.

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor A:
I have used Apollo and Binks and Turbine-air. I like them all. What kind of finish are you spraying most of the time? If it is lacquer, then the field is wide open, being that lacquer is very flexible. I do not like the Binks gun for spraying water-based finish, but I love it for lacquer. When it comes to lacquer, I have a hard time dailing in what I want with the turbine-air. It is really all about how you finish and how you work in your shop. I suggest you find a way to try out these different guns and then go with the one you can make work the best.