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Paint gun buying guide

Guide written by:
Pauline, Self-taught handyman, Leeds

Pauline, Self-taught handyman, Leeds

80 guides

Ideal for painting any surface with perfect finishing, the paint gun is available in low or high pressure and electric or compressed air. It is to be selected according to your work: an anti-fog (HLVP) for professionals or the inexpensive models for the occasional job! Here's a comparison of paint guns.

Important features

  • Electric
  • Compressed air
  • High pressure
  • Low pressure
  • Anti-fog feature
  • Cup and tank
  • Painting Station
  • Flow and Pressure

What are the different types of paint guns?

Low pressure electric paint gun

The low pressure electric gun is the simplest of the paint guns: ready to tackle any small job.

Doesn't cost a lot but it reaps some big rewards!

Low pressure paint station

Known as a low pressure paint station, spray station or HVLP, this paint gun is electric and suitable for small and medium surfaces.

To further develop, if the job consists of small renovations or you'e fascinated by the visual arts, this is the one you need to buy! This is the one with the ant-fog feature!

High pressure paint gun 

The high pressure electric gun is also referred to as Airless. Now we're playing with the big dogs!

There are different power ranges and  available pressures, even several nozzles - according to the projected paint's viscosity - various tank capacities and some models even featre a flexible supply hose to better tackle those tricky pot corners! 

Pure joy in the form of color for your walls or surfaces! 

Pneumatic paint spray gun

Pneumatic guns, also known as compressed air guns are used to paint like the pros and enthusiasts!

Connected to an independent compressor, this paint gun is linked to a cup. When  located above, it's referred to as a gravity gun, while when it is attached below, it's called a suction gun. The first option is linked to a low-pressure compressor and is limited in use - impossible to horizontally paint up high for example. It is much more suitable for low-height vertical or horizontal work. The second example, the suction gun, has the cup bucket attachment underneath it and is suitable for all other applications.

The compressor is unfortunately not supplied with the gun. There are of course various degrees of quality when it comes to paint guns! Usually implying very detailed work, it is often used for autobody work.

Paint gun: what paints can you apply?

The paint gun is used to apply paint on any given surface. It must be diluted to render it liquiduified (5 to 10%).

To avoid mistakes, let’s summarize the relevant vocabulary right away.

  • Aqueous paint (vinyl or acrylic): This type is diluted with water.
  • Solvent-based paints (glycerophthalic or polyurethane): This paint is diluted with a solvent - which is specified on the painting.

The paint gun also allows you to apply other products.

You can spray lacquers or wood paints and products such as glazes (thinners) or varnishes. Be careful though, it's always important to pay attention to the viscosity index.

Electric and compressed air paint gun

How an electric paint gun functions

The electric paint gun contains a motor which actuates a piston, thereby projecting the paint onto the surface at a certain pressure, to de determined by the specific model.

The pressure is relative to the flow, which is determined by the model's power. The spray control technology limits the spray and applies a very thin, smooth layer of paint.

How a pneumatic paint gun functions

The pneumatic paint gun works with compressed air supplied by a compressor. The air is sent directly to the gun, which, depending on the pressure received, is gravity or suction-fed. The selected paint is then projected towards the selected surface. It is therfore important to choose a paint gun according to what paint is in need of application.

Paint gun: what is the spray effect?

As the name suggests, it is the fog that is created when applying paint.

Generally, fog residue seeps to all the unprotected surfaces.

To prevent this: good protection (tarpaulins, masking tape) and if if possible, opt for the HVLP electric gun which considerably reduces the fog effect.

No matter what the job, consider using a protective mask to protect your airways!

Paint gun: flow, pressure and power

These three elements are interconnected and have a direct impact on the possible paint that you will apply and how it will be applied.

Often adjustable, their role is to adapt your gun to the product you apply - paint, varnish, glosses etc.

Already configured on electric paint guns, the flow and pressure on pneumatic paint guns must be compatible with the compressor's characteristics otherwise, both their use and their results will be greatly diminished.

Paint gun: what gun at what price?

The brand, power, options, capacity, hose length and additional accessories are all details that can make or break a decision.

Basic level

Low capacity, limited flow control, fragile assembly, no options or features to facilitate the application of different paints. The risk: go through a lot of paint for an unsatisfactory result.


Equippped with a flow regulator, a variety of nozzles, quality materials, cup between 600 and 1000 ml, with paint filters included. All things considered, these devices get the job done and are perfect for the occasional project.

Top of the line

High power, dedicated to medium and large surfacesgreater capacity cup, speedy application, ultra easy cleaning. This is the product for enthusiastic do-it-yourselfers or professionals.

Is the cup size is too small for you? Everything planned out in advance! Some guns have interchangeable cups.

Tips for choosing your paint gun

In order choose the right paint gun, let's take a close look! 

  • Adjustable flow? If it's too strong, watch out for dripping.

  • Length of warranty? Good to know if you are starting on a major renovation.

  • Adjustable spray nozzle? Orientable nozzles makes it possible to make a vertical, horizontal or concentrated circular jet (specific small zones).

  • Free-standing or attached cup? Watch out for the wrist and the maneuverability!

  • Tank or cup capacity . Since you have to put it with it, it's a big factor!

  • Length of pipe: not to overlook if repainting the house's gables!

  • Area covered in 1 minute.

  • Anti-fog system or easy dilution.

  • If compressed air, the cup's position and the quality of the nozzle (or needle). Which must be in an abrasive resistant alloy.

  • The frequency of use will determine the ideal budget.

  • The nozzles must be adapted to the type of product you will apply.

  • A removable pump is recommended for cleaning.

  • The flow rate is based on the quantity of product projected and the speed of execution - remember to take your time though, watch out for dripping!
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Guide written by:

Pauline, Self-taught handyman, Leeds 80 guides écrits

Pauline, Self-taught handyman, Leeds

I'm a dog trainer by profession, but every weekend I put the whistle down and pick up a tool. The trainer mindset is not so easy to set aside - whether with four-legged or two-legged friends, I love giving advice!

I've been a huge DIY enthusiast for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a house where the whir of the sander was the soundtrack to my weekends - not very relaxing, but always satisfying! DIY challenges our brains as well as our brawn. I've worked hard to teach myself the basics of DIY, decorating and customising furniture. That said, I love what I do. DIY is a way of life, and the tools you learn aren't just the ones you can hold in your hands.

I'm as passionate about animals as I am about DIY, and it's my goal to pass that passion on to others. I know that for some, understanding animal behaviour is as much of a puzzle as figuring out which tool is best for the job. That's why I offer guidance to pet owners specifically - because home is where the heart is for humans and animals alike!

So now that I've introduced myself, it's time to do some DIY - dog or cat sidekick optional!

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