HVLP Paint Sprayer VS. Airless Paint Sprayer: Which to Choose?

spray paintingHigh Volume Low Pressure or HVLP paint sprayers and airless paint sprayers both save time and are easy to use. However, there are jobs that can be done better with the HVLP and there are paint tasks that will give more satisfaction if done with airless paint.

Let’s try to look at how they scored in terms of performance, thickness, cost, and precautions.

In terms of performance, airless paint sprayers are considered more powerful because the pressure inside the can, which is about 2,000 PSI, is high. HVLP paint sprayers only have about 10 PSI. However, the latter has a lower chance of wasting paint. Because of the better atomization in HVLP, the result looks more pleasing and satisfying. It’s safe to say HVLP paint sprayers are best for detailed and touch-up tasks. When it comes to the amount of paint, airless paint sprayers use a can of paint at two gallons each minute.

If you want a finer spray, choose HVLP. If you use it with a compressor, you can even get an extensive range of pressures. You’ll love the turbine units of HVLP sprayers because their hot air allows the paint to dry faster and therefore, paint buildup inside the hose won’t be your problem. Despite all that, HVLP paint sprayers have a disadvantage in terms of performance—they can’t paint with non-thinned paints.

Meanwhile, airless paint sprayers are used for thick paint jobs that cover large areas. This is because they are portable and are able to release gallons of paints in a minute. Because of all these advantages, they are preferred by professional contractors. They are flexible too, since you can paint water or oil based products using an airless paint sprayer. The downsides? They can’t be used for small paint jobs due to the coarse spray pattern it produces and they are also difficult to control. In addition, they are noisier than HVLP because they use a piston instead of a turbine.

Now, let’s move on to the viscosity. Airless paint sprayers don’t require you to thin the paint because they can spray the paint straight thanks to the high pressure. This isn’t the case for HVLP because thick paints like enamel latex aren’t allowed.

When it comes to the cost, HVLP paint sprayers that come with air compressor cost more than airless paint sprayers coupled with a turbine. If, however, you already own a compressor, you can utilize it with your HVLP spray gun, which will cost you less.

If we put precautions to the picture, airless sprayers obviously pose more danger because of the high pressure and high temperature as they operate. Overspray is another issue. Before you paint with an airless paint sprayer, you’re required to cover all the things surrounding the item you’re working on. Direct contact should also be avoided. The worst case scenario is amputation while using one. A mask and a safety glass are required as well. On the other hand, HVLP paint sprayers don’t require extra care like airless sprayers.


Both of them have pros and cons but when it comes to choosing, remember to select the one that suits the job. If the paint job requires detailed painting, like in fittings and furniture, you should use HVLP paint sprayers because they have less overspray. Choose this type if you’ll work indoors as well. But if your project is a big one and will most likely involve flat surfaces such as oil tanks and walls, better get an airless paint sprayer. Choose this type for your outdoor jobs too.

If you want to get the best of both worlds, there is a small number of sprayers that incorporate the technology of HVLP while using an airless system. They are ideal for multipurpose projects, giving you the advantages of both an HVLP paint sprayer and an airless paint sprayer.