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Air VS Airless Paint Sprayer: 9+ Factors Compared To Be Reasonable [2023 Updated]

air vs airless paint sprayer

When it comes to a painting project like a house or car, a paint sprayer is always preferable and works efficiently. Painting a large area with a paint sprayer is very favorable and consumes less time.

The paint sprayer undoubtedly brings out an excellent finish in the painting. But paint sprayers also have types. When it comes to choosing a paint sprayer, airless paint sprayer or air paint sprayer – which is the best is also a different question. 

There are several differences between the two versions of paint sprayers that make them two different levels of paint sprayer. This article, will compare both paint sprayers in every aspect and see which one can be considered the best! 

What Is An Air Paint Sprayer?

Let’s start by making it clear that HVLP and air paint sprayers have similar features and workings. To deliver air to spray the paint, this sprayer makes use of a special compressor. Additionally, this paint spray gun has a lot of air capacity, enabling it to propel both aerosolized paints and paint with low air pressure.

As a result, your target area can easily be painted with a large quantity of paint while producing little spray and reducing air pollution or material waste. Using an air paint sprayer, you may paint efficiently like a professional to protect your door, table, automobile, etc.. Using the air paint sprayer is pretty simple.

What Is An Airless Paint Sprayer?

The mechanism of an airless paint sprayer is different from the other version, an air paint sprayer. The atomizer of an airless paint sprayer is produced by a high-pressure fluid supply. This paint sprayer is recognized for its transfer and speed efficiency for medium to high-viscosity paint. Airless spray atomization is accomplished by forcing material through a hole with hydraulic force.

The fluid is broken down into tiny particles when it is released because of the friction that occurs between the atmosphere and the liquid stream. You can also alter the flow rate by adjusting the tip’s size and pressure. It should be noted that the more significant stress can be applied, the higher the material’s viscosity. For better painting effects, you have the option to adjust the tension.

Comparison: Air Vs. Airless Paint Sprayer

Air Paint Sprayer Airless Paint Sprayer 
Means of Atomization It uses jets of compressed air from air cupIn order to create high fluid velocity through a small hole it uses high pressure 
Atomization FinishingIt ensures high quality finishing It is usually coarser 
Fluid Pressure It is usually 12 to 18 psiIt is usually 500 to 4500 psi
Compressed Air Required for spray gun Required for airless pump
Fluid Delivery It ensures low to medium delivery and slower application speedIt ensures high delivery and fastest application speed 
OversprayLess overspray More overspray 
Materials/Fluids No restriction Uniform particle size is important

10 Differences Between Airless And Air Paint Sprayers

With a great finishing touch, both paint sprayers produce a successful painting. These two have many similarities; however, both efficient paint sprayers differ from each other in terms of providing various functions. The key differences between air paint sprayers and airless paint sprayers are described below:

1. Easy To Use

It is simpler to use an air paint sprayer than an airless paint sprayer. A tiny amount of paint is discharged at high pressure by an airless paint sprayer, whereas a little amount is released at low pressure by an air paint sprayer. Airless sprayers discharge a lot of colors, which makes it difficult to evenly apply paint and avoid paint runs.

It makes making patterned paintings difficult. Additionally, painting difficult-to-reach parts of the workpiece with a high-pressure airless sprayer is difficult.

The questionable distinction of the airless paint sprayer is that it spits up paint when the trigger is released.

An air paint sprayer, on the other hand, is simpler to use. It is capable of removing paint at external pressure. It is capable of giving control even in the area where the color gets off.

Additionally, this device makes it simple for you to evenly apply the paint to the surface and can even paint in sections of the character’s body that are difficult to reach. Hence, in terms of ease of use, an air paint sprayer is best.

2. Scale Of Operation

Large-scale jobs like painting houses, bungalows, many cars, opulent kitchen cabinets, and more are ideal for airless paint sprayers. This is due to the efficiency of airless paint sprayers, which can apply more paint in a given amount of time.

You are able to do this to completely encircle a vast area. An air paint sprayer, on the other hand, is appropriate for small-scale tasks like painting furniture, metal sheets, wooden frames, tables, and tiny kitchen cupboards.

This is because small-scale operations require smaller amounts of more specialized paint application. Low-rate delivery of paint particles is provided. Therefore, we can say that an airless paint sprayer is better for large-scale projects, while for small-scale painting projects air paint sprayer is preferable.

3. Material Viscosity

The viscosity of a substance is defined as viscosity. The viscosity increases with increasing liquid viscosity. Airless paint sprayers can handle more viscid substances and fluids with medium to high viscosities. On the other hand, the air paint sprayer works well with fluids with low to medium viscosity.

On the other hand, airless paint sprayers use higher pressure from the hydraulic system to initiate the movement of paint, whereas air paint sprayers use lower pressure from the air jets for painting. The use of high pressure makes the airless paint sprayer ideal for thick paint.

Because the airless sprayer can provide enough force to attach the color to the substrate, you can apply paint without first thinning it. However, if the paint has a high viscosity, you must thin the paint before using an air paint sprayer to improve the application. Therefore, airless paint sprayers are suitable for viscous colors, while air paint sprayers are best for less dense paints.

4. Finish

The air paint sprayer produces a more refined and elegant finish. For intricate painting work, it is employed. Paint combined with air and disintegrating into atomized droplets is what gives the delicate touch.

On the other hand, inadequate paint-air mixing in air paint sprayers can result in the formation of paint bubbles. This results in finishes that are air-trapped and rough.

Conversely, paint applied using an airless sprayer flows quickly and did not mingle with the air. This results in a rougher pattern and a high paint impact with the substrate. Additionally, the sprayer contributes to painting spitting, which results in dripping and the development of lines on painted edges. So, it is clear that both sprayers have drawbacks. Unlike airless paint sprayers, air paint sprayers still provide a better finish.

5. Clean-Up

Clean-up is a significant part of painting projects, which you will need to maintain well before and during painting.

So, in order to properly maintain cleanliness, you should remove all the objects around the painting place, and the immovable material should be covered with polythene or something else.

But, it has been observed that the airless paint sprayer makes the painting area messier than the air paint sprayer.

The reason is the high paint discharge pressure, and low paint transfer capacity of airless sprayers make the painting area messy.

During painting, a large part of the paint from the airless sprayer will come off around the painting area, which you will not be able to stop. Although both the paint sprayers have easy cleaning activities, when comparing the two, an air paint sprayer is better in terms of clean-up.

6. Transfer Rate

The transfer rate is called transfer efficiency. So when it comes to transferring, an air paint sprayer has a transfer rate of around 90%, while an airless sprayer has a transfer rate of approximately 50%. And the higher the paint transfer rate, the lesser the paint wastage, and vice versa.

So, in this case, the air paint sprayer is ahead of the airless version. That’s why air paint sprayers are considered the best in terms of transfer rate. Apart from better painting effects, this machine also saves your paint from getting wasted.

7. Performance

Performance, i.e., how well your paint sprayer can handle the painting job. So in terms of performance, various finish properties ensure a better version of the air paint sprayer. In contrast, an airless sprayer also performs better when it comes to painting large surfaces. It saves time. If you want to paint your house in a short amount of time, an airless sprayer is the best.

Air sprayers also outperform airless sprayers when it comes to small projects. So, both the sprayers perform better, no doubt about it. However, it depends on the painting project which sprayer will be more efficient. So, in general, an air sprayer is better for small projects, while an airless paint sprayer is a perfect solution for larger projects.

8. Operating Pressure

The paint must be jetted and transferred with pressure to the substrate. An airless sprayer can, in this instance, operate at a higher pressure than an air paint sprayer.

This is because an airless sprayer employs a fully hydraulic press mechanism, whereas an air sprayer uses both machines and compressed air pressure to transport paint. 

While airless sprayers can function at up to 4000 psi pressures, air paint sprayers operate at a pressure range of 15 to 70 psi. The fact that airless sprayers frequently handle larger tasks than air paint sprayers is another factor contributing to this distinction. So, this pressure difference between the two sprayers determines that the airless sprayer is better.

9. Safety Measures

Safety is also a significant aspect in the case of the sprayer, although it is secondary. 

We can simply infer from the description above that the airless sprayer necessitates additional safety precautions than the air sprayer.

It is a result of the airless sprayer’s high discharge pressure, high overspray, and low transfer rate. 

So, more paint residue is released into the workstation by the airless sprayer.

That is why when using the airless sprayer, you need to wear more excellent protective gear and work in well-ventilated areas. In respect of safety, an air sprayer is better. 

10. Cost 

If we are comparing air sprayers and airless sprayers, this comparison remains incomplete without comparing their cost.

Let’s finally discuss the purchase prices of both sprayers. Due to their lower capacity for paint transfer, airless sprayers are more expensive to use while applying paint. When painting, a lot of color spills out here and there, causing a lot of waste in the painting.

The airless sprayer also produces thick, pure paint that is not mixed with air. As a result, this paint is more suited for surfaces.

On the other hand, the air sprayer has a high transfer efficiency and directly hits the target surface.

There isn’t any paint wastage. The air sprayer is not appropriate for excessively sticky paints, as we previously mentioned. It would be best if you first thinned the paint before using the air sprayer.

Due to its functionality, pricey parts, and size, an airless paint sprayer has a higher cost when compared to other sprayers. An airless sprayer typically costs around $200. A high-quality airless sprayer will cost you between $200 and $1000. On the other hand, air sprayers can be purchased for $20 to $100.

When Should You Use A Paint Sprayer? 

  • It would be best if you used a paint sprayer when you need to paint large spaces, such as the siding of the house. This is because the side area can be adequately painted with a brush or paint roller.
  • It’s a good idea to consider using a sprayer to paint your furniture. A sprayer can reach corners of furniture where brushes and rollers would not be possible.
  • A paint sprayer is a perfect option for an empty house painting project.

What Should You Consider When Using A Paint Sprayer?

  • Paint sprayers are specially designed for large painting tasks, such as homes, kitchen cabinets, buildings, etc. Therefore, consider using a brush or roller instead of a sprayer when you need to paint small areas.
  • Sprayers use more paint than a roller or brush. Therefore, you must have some light color when you get your hands on the painting job.
  • Before starting the painting, you must make sure that the immovable objects are covered well.
  • Set your paint sprayer aside and clean it after you’re done.

How To Apply A Paint Sprayer To A Clear Finish?

The smoke released into the air while spraying is harmful to your health, so you have to make special arrangements to protect yourself. As long as you are engaged in painting work, be sure to wear a respirator and keep the area you are working in well ventilated. Here we have given some step-by-step instructions on how you have to apply a paint sprayer.

Step 1: Configure Your Spraying System

First, find a comfortable workspace, then cover your floor and desk with polythene or newspapers.

The most acceptable kind of workstation for spraying and painting your furniture is one that revolves, allowing you to coat every surface without shifting your position.

To ensure you can see your activities well, install one/two extra lights in your painting area. Plus, switch on the fan.

Step 2: Get The Spraying Equipment Ready

Fill the cup with paint on your sprayer, roughly 3 or 4 full of suitably thinned paint. If necessary, test the spray and adjust its composition.

If you’re using aerosol cans, figure out how many you’ll need for one application. Your multiple cans availability will let you change the cans with ease.

Step 3: Apply The First Coat 

If you wish best effects, apply the first coat of sanding sealer. Sanding sealer is a lacquer-based compound with a high concentration of ingredients that resemble soap and make sanding straightforward.

You can alternatively skip the sanding sealer and immediately apply a coat of the finish material if a flawless finish is not as crucial.

Step 4: Sandpaper Scuffing Prior To The Next Coat

Use quality sandpaper; before using sandpaper to scratch the surfaces, allow the finish to dry well. 

Step 5: Adding More Coats

Now, it’s time to apply a second coat. Apply a second coat of finish, as you did the first coat.

Wipe away the sand dust between coats with a wet cotton cloth. You can use this process over and over again to get the final quality you desire.

Step 6: Buff The Last Coat 

With a pad of excellent steel wool coated in paste wax, polish the last coat. Use a gentle as well as non-abrasive cloth for the purpose of buffing the wax.

You can use an air-powered buffer if you’re using a compressor and buff with a lambswool buffing pad. Rubbing and polishing the last layer is optional; however, it is essential for shine and a decent finish.


So, we can see that both air paint sprayers and airless paint sprayers are efficient sprayers; however, the machines differ in features and functionality. Which sprayer is best depends on the project. You may realize that an air paint sprayer is more effective in many cases, while an airless paint sprayer is more appropriate than an air sprayer in some cases. 

If you want a budget-friendly sprayer that’s easy to use and offers a better finish, you can buy an air paint sprayer. Conversely, switching to an airless paint sprayer for your larger projects would be a good decision.

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