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Home > Projects & DIY Toolkit > Buying Guides > Powered Paint Applicators

Powered Paint Applicators

Nothing beats a power painter for making quick work of a paint job. At the press of a trigger, the paint comes to you - no more dipping and dripping.

Sprayers are available in various sizes and power ratings for homeowner's and contractor's specific needs, including applying stains as well as paint.


The basic components of a sprayer include a hose, gun or roller, spray tip and power supply. Tips are available in various sizes and types for different spray patterns and the type of covering being applied.

There are two main types of powered paint applicators, airless and airspray.

Airless units are the most common for the do-it yourselfer. Paint or other covering material is pushed under high pressure through an applicator tip, eliminating the need to reach to a bucket or tray to reload. Since the pressure is provided by a pump rather than air, overspray and waste are reduced. Airless sprayers are great for painting walls or other large areas. In fact, they're great for large or small jobs. The paint capacity ranges from one quart in a self-contained handheld sprayer to a basically infinite capacity for units that pump straight from the paint container. In addition to handheld, units are available for use with a shoulder strap/backpack or mounted on wheels for portability.

Airless painters come in three types, based on the type of pump they use. Choose your type based on the size of the project and the type of material you'll be applying.

The basic homeowner/do-it-yourselfer models use a simple diaphragm pump. The painter primes and delivers material to the applicator.

A piston pump enables the user to spray conventional coverings but can also deliver thicker liquids such as block fillers.

At the high-end of the power painter spectrum, double stroke piston units deliver material on both the up and down piston strokes for maximum power. Consistent pressure delivery at slower speeds provides good coverage and prolongs the life of the machine itself. Depending on the model, more than one user can paint at the same time by adding additional hoses. These models are usually the machine of choice for professionals.

Power Rollers are another option for applying paint with little effort. The paint is pumped through the roller, so there's no overspray or dripping. Power rollers offer fingertip control of the paint supply. Once you get the hang of it, you can cover a room quickly. Extensions allow the user to cover higher walls and ceilings.

Airspray units, or HVLP (high volume low pressure) combine a large quantity of air with the desired covering material. The low pressure allows smooth coverage with very little overspray. They're best used for smaller areas where a glossy smooth finish is desired, such as shutters and cabinets. Other airspray models use an air compressor

Before you Purchase

First determine the kind of jobs you'll be doing with the paint machine.

  •   • What are you painting? Large even spaces such as walls require less power than irregular areas like lattice or fencing. Various spray tips adjust and direct the paint just where it's needed. Multiple speeds let you turn down the volume for smaller, tighter areas.
  •   • What type of liquid are you going to be spraying? Painters with higher psi (pounds per square inch), GPM (gallons per minute) and HP (horsepower) are able to spray thicker materials. Spray tips are designed to accommodate each type of covering. The basic classifications of thickness are:
    •     • Thin - Clear stains and sealers.
    •     • Thicker - Thinned latex, oil-based paints or stains plus some un-thinned latex or oil based paints.
    •     • Thickest - Elastomerics or block fillers.
  •   • How much material will you be spraying? From a one-quart handheld sprayer to a one-gallon backpack unit to a five-gallon piston pump model on wheels, you'll find one that fits your project.
  •   • Where will you be? Indoors or outdoors, if you're working from a ladder make sure the length of the hose or cord is sufficient. Smaller painters are available in corded or cordless models. Check the battery run time on a cordless unit to make sure it's enough for the job. If you don't have access to electrical power, use a generator.

Power Painting Pointers

Make the most of your painter and your project. Remember the following:

  •   • Thoroughly prepare the area to be painted or stained.
  •   • Power spray painters require a steady hand. Hold the applicator parallel to wall when using. Don't flex your wrist.
  •   • Sprayers offer excellent coverage, but expect more wasted paint than with a brush or roller. .
  •   • Sprayed paint will dry quickly, more so than when applied by brush.
  •   • Clean the paint sprayer after each use. There will be a lot of parts to clean, but cleanup is no more difficult than conventional brushes and rollers.

Tools, products, materials, techniques, building codes and local regulations change; therefore, Lowe's assumes no liability for omissions, errors or the outcome of any project. The reader must always exercise reasonable caution, follow current codes and regulations that may apply, and is urged to consult with a licensed professional if in doubt about any procedures. Please visit our terms of use.

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