What Is the Difference Between HVLP and Airless Paint Sprayers?


There’s a reason why horror movies sometimes use black and white to give the audience a dreadful feeling. It’s because a lack of color shows lifelessness and even melancholy. Artists sometimes use a simple black and white pattern to evoke strong emotions, ranging from nostalgia, to romance, to dullness.

But if one were to bring life to a work of art, one needs color. Put a touch of red on a rose in the middle of a black and white backdrop, and all you’ll ever look at is the rose. You’ll try to look for its meaning, what it’s all about. Art is all about using these colors – and the lack of it – to express various emotions. After all, we are visual creatures…we try to find meaning behind everything we see.

And being the visual creatures we are, we can’t help but surround ourselves with different shades and palettes. Colors are everywhere – especially at home, where we have the freedom to decorate as we see fit, using the colors that we love observing.

It’s no surprise that when it comes to choosing appliances and furniture, we also take into consideration how it looks – we don’t want anything that will contrast with our home’s color scheme.

While we’re not here to discuss beautiful furniture, we will talk about a specific machine that allows you to make something more colorful. We all want to take creative liberties once in a while, and what better way to exhibit our God-given talents than by giving our home a make-over? It’s certainly one of the most practical applications of art and color – other than simply pleasing your eyes!

Today we’re going to talk about paint sprayers.

And while on this site you’ll find plenty of helpful guides about the best models and the best ways to find what is most suitable for you, here we’re going to teach you something more specific: what is the difference between HLVP and Airless Paint Sprayers?

The answer really is quite simple, but we’ll give you an in-depth explanation later on. Basically, if you don’t want to read the rest of the article, an HVLP paint sprayer is a high-tech machine that lets you spray on the tiny details and focus on one target. The airless paint sprayer on the other hand is all about covering a general area quickly. If you know what you’re planning to paint on, then it should be clear that the airless one is a good substitute for a roller, while an HVLP model is more of a paintbrush substitute.

The decision on whether to go for one or the other depends on what you’re planning to paint. If you want to bring a touch of color to your furniture, use the HVLP. If you’re planning to paint the walls, go for airless.

It is interesting to note that HVLP paint sprayers are generally slower compared to their airless counterparts. This is because the HVLP is designed to be precise and accurate. When you’re trying to paint one small detail, you wouldn’t want too much paint all over the place. Such is the performance of an airless model, which is better off used where precision isn’t much of a concern.

How Do They Work?

So now we’ve given you a brief summary of what they do, now let’s take an even closer look. HVLP stands for “high volume, low pressure”. That simply means that air pumped from an air compressor (or a turbine) atomizes the paint. With an airlress sprayer, a piston is used to pressurize the material. This sprays out of an orifice that is smaller than the one on an HVLP nozzle. This high pressure and tight squeeze forces the paint into particles.

Take note that airless units have a product transfer rate of only 59 percent. HVLP’s can achieve up to 90 percent. However, airless units are more powerful, so it balances it out.

Where Should They Be Used?

This is simple enough as we’ve already discussed it above. But generally, airless sprayers are designed for big, flat surfaces such as walls, garbage bins, and siding. Anything you can’t easily cover using a paintbrush. The HVLP however, is for fine finishes. Handrails, cabinets, doors – these are what the HVLP paint sprayers would call “their expertise”.

HVLP’s are also handy for touchup work. Airless are for the exterior and interior walls of your home.

What are the Precautions?

As with any machine, there are precautions to using these tools.

Airless sprayers are considered more dangerous because of their high pressure and high temperature operation. This means if you’re not careful, it can inject a person’s skin with paint, causing harmful chemicals to course through their blood stream in a matter of seconds. In this case, you must call for medical assistance right away.

HVLP paint sprayers can have their dangers as well, but they are not as urgent as the threat that a misused airless paint sprayer can pose.

When using either of these, it is important to avoid direct contact and cover all nearby things that are not to be painted, before using the paint sprayers. Also make sure to read the instructions carefully before using these machines.

Lastly, you will want to use a mask and safety glass while using any type of paint sprayer.

How much will they cost?

Now that you’ve come this far, we’re sure you’re interested in buying your very own paint sprayer. Whether you’re getting the HVLP or the airless paint sprayer, it is essential to know your budget, and the price of the model you’re planning to buy. For your reference, here we have a list of the top 10 best paint sprayers – click on this link.

HVLP paint sprayers are usually more expensive than airless. That’s because these sophisticated models are fine-tuned to deliver a precise performance.

However, remember that HVLP paint sprayers will also use less paint because of its functionality – meaning your costs will be relatively less anyway. Because of this, HVLP works wonders with expensive paint.

Airless is good for covering large areas quickly. They are also less expensive, but expect to use more paint – we’re sure you’re ready to spend money anyway, since you’re planning to paint something big. The price shouldn’t surprise you.


Some people say that you should get HVLP – some say go airless. We would tell you that these two machines complement each other. If you paint things for a living, you will want both of these in your arsenal. But if you’re a simple homeowner, we’d suggest getting only what you really need: HVLP for the finer objects, airless for going big. Just like how black fits white perfectly, and just how colors bring life to the world, these paint sprayers work well together to bring dazzling art. For practical purposes, you’ll only need one – but never forget that these two can turn your home into a masterpiece, if they are made to work together.

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