This Old House editor Chris Ermides, host of our Tool Lab video series, looks at a new generation of painting tools.
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When speed of application is paramount, pro painters go for an airless paint sprayer. These sprayers work by pumping coatings through a tiny opening in the gun’s tip. The pressures are so high—up to 3,000 psi—that the paint explodes from the tip into a fine mist. Such pressures also allow these sprayers to work with coatings of any type, from thin stains to pudding-thick latexes, without any need to adjust their consistency. And because the droplets they generate are so tiny, airless sprayers are also able to lay down a flawless finish on broad surfaces like cabinets and doors. By contrast, the high-volume, low-pressure (HVLP) sprayers often marketed to DIYers atomize paint using low-pressure air streams. The bigger, slower-moving droplets they create are less likely to drift off as overspray—a plus for small jobs and detail work—but these sprayers’ lower output makes them impractical for covering large expanses.
With the development of nimble, handheld airless sprayers, self-contained pump-and-tank combo units, and high-efficiency paint guns, this method of applying a finish isn’t just for pros anymore. Here’s the latest on airless units for homeowners.
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Tool Lab is a series that features unbiased reviews and objective tests of new and noteworthy tools. In addition to reviews and testing, we’ll also be producing user guides, buying guides, and tips and tricks for getting the most out of tools. Tool Lab is geared towards those with pro-level experience or interest—those who are new to the trades, have been working in the trades, as well as advanced DIYers who want to know what pros know and want to perform at their level. Be sure to catch new reviews and content each week on ThisOldHouse.com/Tool-Lab or on YouTube.
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Airless Paint Sprayers | Tool Lab | This Old House