Paint gun buying guide

Paint gun buying guide

Pauline, Self-taught DIYer, Leeds

Guide written by:

Pauline, Self-taught DIYer, Leeds

125 guides

Ideal for painting any surface with a perfect finish, paint guns are available in low or high-pressure and with electric or compressed air. They should be chosen according to the type of work: an anti-fog (HLVP) for professionals or inexpensive models for occasional painting projects! Here's a comparison of paint guns.

Important features

  • Electric
  • Compressed air
  • High pressure
  • Low pressure
  • Anti-fog feature
  • Container and tank
  • Painting station
  • Flow and pressure
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Low pressure electric paint gun

The low pressure electric paint gun is an entry-level hand-held paint gun: ready to tackle any small job. It 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 spray gun is electric and suitable for spraying small and medium surfaces. If the job consists of small renovations or you're fascinated by the visual arts, this is the one you need to buy! This is the one with an ant-fog feature!

High pressure paint gun 

The high-pressure electric paint gun is also referred to as an Airless Paint Sprayer. There are different power ranges and pressures available, and even several nozzles - depending on the viscosity of the paint. There are also various tank capacities and some models even feature a flexible supply hose to better tackle those tricky pot corners!

Pneumatic paint spray gun

Pneumatic paint guns, also known as air compressor spray guns are used by the pros and enthusiasts! Connected to an independent compressor, this paint gun is linked to a container. When this is 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 air compressor and is limited in use - impossible to horizontally paint up a wall, for example. It is much more suitable for low-height vertical or horizontal work. The second model, the suction gun, has the container attachment underneath it and is suitable for all other large-scale operations. The air compressor is unfortunately not supplied with the gun. There are of course various degrees of quality when it comes to spray guns! Usually used for heavy-duty work, they are often used for car bodywork.

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Paint guns

The paint sprayer is used to apply paint on any given surface. It must be diluted to ensure it's water-based (5 to 10%). To avoid mistakes, let’s summarize the relevant vocabulary right away.

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

The paint gun also allows you to apply other products. You can spray wood paints and products such as stains or varnish. Be careful though, it's always important to pay attention to the viscosity index.

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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, depending on the 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 coating 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 a surface. It is therefore important to choose a spray gun according to what paint is needed for application.

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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 possible, opt for the HVLP electric spray gun which considerably reduces this fog effect. No matter what the job is, consider using a protective mask to protect your airways!

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Masking tape

These three elements are interconnected and have a direct impact on the paint that you will apply and how it will be applied. Often adjustable, their role is to adapt your sprayer to the product you apply - paint, varnish, stains etc.

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

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 on large areas. The risk: go through a lot of paint for an unsatisfactory result.


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

Top of the range

High power, designed for medium and large surfaces, high volume containers, speedy application and  easy cleaning. This is the product for enthusiastic DIYers or professionals.

Is the container size too small for you? Everything planned out in advance! Some spray guns have interchangeable containers.

In order to choose the right paint gun, let's take a closer 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 make it possible to make a vertical, horizontal or concentrated circular jet (specific small areas).

  • Free-standing or attached container? Watch out for maneuverability!

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

  • Hose length: not to overlook if repainting the gables!

  • Area covered in 1 minute.

  • Anti-fog system or easy dilution.

  • If air-assisted, the container's position and the quality of the nozzle (or needle) 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 and watch out for dripping!

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Guide written by:

Pauline, Self-taught DIYer, Leeds, 125 guides

Pauline, Self-taught DIYer, Leeds

With a handyman-father, I grew up with the soft sound of the sander and hammer on weekends. I am both manual and cerebral (yes, it is possible), I learned the basics of DIY and the customization of furniture because I was passionate. The salvage mentality is a true way of life that allowed me to know how to use all the tools and products needed to give something a second life, from sander to varnish. I have two favorite activities: the transformation of old furniture and decoration tips. I am always ready to lend a helping hand to revamp a table or to restore a mirror that was intended for the trash that will become a friend’s centerpiece. I’m convinced that it’s possible to reinvent an interior by small, regular modifications, I constantly research low-cost, test ideas.

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