Conventional sprayers are great tools to have around the house, but you might discover that you’re really in need of something just a little bit better and have the money to spend. The question becomes which kind of improved sprayer do you buy.
You have two basic choices, a high-volume low-pressure spray gun or one that is low-volume low-pressure. While both are upgrades to conventional spray guns, each has its selling points and drawbacks.
You’ll want to know what each has to offer, which is where we come in. We looked into the two and put together this article highlighting what you need to know to make a smarter purchase. We hope you find value in it.
In This Article We'll Discuss
What are the Differences and Similarities of HVLP vs. LVLP?
Conventional spray guns waste a lot of paint because the high pressure used to force the paint through the nozzle creates a lot of overspray. Low-pressure sprayers reduce that by reducing the amount of pressure behind the paint.
That is the most important similarity between the two. The primary difference is the volume of paint each sprayer pushes through the nozzle. As you can imagine, a high-volume sprayer sprays more paint, while a low-volume sprayer uses less.
The difference in volume should also help you understand the differences in how the two work, which should help you start figuring out which one is right for you.
High-volume sprayers are generally speaking in wider use, which means they are likely to be a beginner’s introduction to paint sprayers. That also means that instruction and support is more readily available.
They also require use of an air compressor to help achieve their volume, spray slower, and tend to have difficulty with thicker paints.
Low-volume sprayers don’t require as large an air compressor, which makes them overall cheaper to buy and use. They spray faster and are good with thinner paints and water-based paints.
Because they are spraying smaller amounts of paint, it also usually takes longer to complete a project using one.
What are HVLP Paint Sprayers Better for?
It might sound a little weird to start illustrating the strengths of an HVLP sprayer by pointing out one of its drawbacks, the need to use compressed air. But, that compressed air is where its strengths come from.
Because it uses compressed air, HVLP sprayers lay on more paint and quicker. That means they are faster to use while offering the benefit of reduced waste over traditional paint sprayers.
HVLP sprayers operate at a psi of more than 10, while LVLP sprayers operate at less than 10. That should tell you a bit about the relative strength in spraying between the two.
One underappreciated strength of HVLP sprayers is that they are more commonly used and more accessible to beginners in DIY work. That means learning support is more readily available.
As to the work itself, these sprayers accomplish their speed by pairing compressed air with larger holes, so they work better with thicker paints like latex. You’ll still need to thin them out a bit, just not nearly as much as with an LVLP.
What are LVLP Paint Sprayers Better for?
If HVLP sprayers are great for doing great work quickly, LVLP sprayers are excellent if you want to take a little bit of time to perfect the details of great work. That makes them the choice of professionals.
From a practical standpoint, they are generally cheaper to purchase and use because they don’t need a big compressed air tank. They are also a bit more nimble to use as a result.
Because they push a little less paint than their more high-volume cousins, it might take a little longer to get a big job done but that will allow you to concentrate on getting everything absolutely perfect with a minimum of overspray.
They are also a newer design to come to market, which means it’s a bit more perfected.
Is HVLP or LVLP Better?
The question isn’t whether HVLP or LVLP is better, but which one is right for you and right for the work you have to do.
Let’s start with user experience level.
HVLP sprayers are excellent general-purpose paint sprayers that have been around for quite a long time. That means they have better marketplace instruction support. If you’re new to paint sprayers, they are better suited to you.
Professionals prefer LVLP because while they take a little longer to apply paint, they also do the best job of minimizing overspray. That makes them perfect for detailed work that people tend to work in to.
From a practical standpoint, HVLP sprayers have larger holes to push a higher volume of paint, which makes them better for thicker paints like latex. LVLP sprayers are better for thinner lacquers and water-based paints.
Is HVLP or LVLP Better for Latex?
Spraying latex is quite challenging for a paint sprayer, especially a low-pressure one. Those kinds of sprayers aren’t designed for use with heavy paint in mind and have difficulty atomizing it for even application without either jamming it or spraying a large blob of glop.
What you can do is use either specialized equipment to make it work and thin the paint. Keep in mind that in both regards, using an HVLP sprayer will lead to better results.
An HVLP sprayer uses compressed air to push paint through larger holes. It is better suited to atomizing thicker paints like latex. Thinning latex to use with an LVLP sprayer might require so much water that it is practically impossible to apply enough of it to stick.
Is HVLP or LVLP Better for Woodworking?
Both HVLP and LVLP sprayers have their strong points when it comes to woodworking. The particulars of your woodworking project will determine which kind of sprayer you’ll want to use.
In general, HVLP sprayers use more paint and are faster. If you’re just coloring a piece of wood with basic paint, they are probably your go-to choice. For inexperienced users, they are easier to use, too.
LVLP sprayers, on the other hand, are best with thinner paints and lacquers because the holes in the sprayer are smaller. They also allow more control and attention to detail, which is why experienced users prefer them.
A paint sprayer is a great tool to have around the house if you’re a hobbyist or want to just put down a layer of color in a real hurry. If you’re looking to redo the side of a house, a conventional paint sprayer was great, but those also waste a lot of paint.
That leaves two pretty decent low-pressure alternatives, high-volume and low-volume paint sprayers. Each is suited to a different level of experience and each has strengths in the types of paints used. Knowing those will help you choose right.
We hope you learned a lot from this article. If you did, we’d love to hear about it in a comment below. Or share it on your social media networks. No doubt others you know will have questions about which one to buy.