Airless Paint Sprayers - Factor or Fiction?

Many people enter the task of paintingWorker with Air Brush – whether it is staining doors, painting them, applying a coat to skirting boards, or taking on an entire house – with enthusiasm and energy.

However, and everyone one has been there, that enthusiasm quickly drains away when the scale of the task becomes apparent. Rollers and brushes often leave spray or drops behind, if not on the floor and household items, then in the hair and all over any exposed skin.

Paint sprayers, on the other hand, offer a much quicker and mess-free method of applying paint. No matter the size of the job, paint sprayers offer a massive upgrade over traditional rollers and brushes. What would be better? A paint sprayer! Now which kind?

Let's compare! - Power Vs Finesse

HVLP sprayers – commonly known as compressed air sprayers, use a compressor or turbine (similar to a vacuum cleaner) to pump air through the system and, in turn, atomise the paint or stain you want to use.

Airless paint sprayers work in a slightly different way. They use piston to pressurise the paint, which then forces its way through the nozzle and onto the desired surface. Airless paint sprayers tend to be more powerful than their HVLP counterparts, but more powerful does not necessarily mean ‘better’.

For example, these two different methods of delivering paint offer up very different results when it comes to indoor and finesse painting jobs. Because HVLP sprayers operate at much lower pressures – for example, you could spray your skin with a HVLP and, aside from a paint-coated arm, would be unaffected by it, they are great for jobs like indoor walls and doors. Their low-pressure output makes it easy to apply an even, gentle coat of paint in a short amount of time.

Airless sprayers, on the other hand, deliver massive (and often dangerous) pressure levels. Compared to the benign HVLP sprayer, an airless unit can produce enough pressure to break glass, bend metal and even break skin. This is partly because most airless units come with little or no pressure adjustability settings, making them hard to wield and control if the user is not an expert. In contrast, most HVLP systems come with a wide array of pressure settings, allowing for adjustment to paint delicate surfaces or at a power you are happy with.

This makes it hard to undertake any detailed or finesse work with airless sprayers, often leaving uneven paint patters on the surface,

  • HVLP (High-Volume, Low Pressure) sprayers use a turbine or compressor to atomise the paint for spraying
  • Airless systems use a piston to pressurise the paint, which is then forced through the nozzle
  • Airless systems are more powerful than HVLP, but this is not always a benefit
  • Most HVLP setups have the ability to change the pressure, making it easy to change it around for jobs on delicate surfaces
  • Most Airless systems do not have changeable pressure, and their power is such that they can bend metal or break skin
  • An Airless system – due to its power, makes it hard to create a smooth, consistent finish on, say, a wall or door
  • HVLP setups, because they use a turbine,


In this area, HVLP systems win hands-down. A standard HVLP kit generally costs between £50 to £80, with a replacement gun costing around £15.

At the same time, a bog-standard replacement gun for an airless set up can cost £25-plus, with good guns costing upwards of £80. An airless kit, in its entirety, could cost anywhere from £260 to more than £1,000.

In one sense, the prices of the two different systems represent their targeted clientele.

Airless kits deliver massive amounts of pressure, but do not care so much about the smaller details. This makes it perfect for industrial jobs. For painting the outside of a factory or storage container, an airless system is great and delivers just what you need – a quick, no-nonsense coating. When painting a piece of furniture or interior walls, however, its robust nature lets them system down.

A HPLV system, on the other hand, delivers a lower-pressure, easier to handle solution for indoor walls, doors and other surfaces. Whether you want to stain or paint, a HPLV system is easy to handle and operate. Not only is HPLV much cheaper, it also provides a wider range of applications due to the variable pressure settings. In real terms, this makes it better for a wider range of jobs than ab airless system.

  • HVLP systems are much cheaper than airless, generally costing between £50-£80, whilst airless can cost from £260 to more than £1,000
  • Airless systems, because of their build, are good for large-scale industrial work, but not so good for interior painting and seem to be priced as such
  • HVLP, meanwhile, is priced more reasonably and this reflects their use by DIY enthusiasts using them for interior walls, doors and other home painting
  • In terms of return on investment, HPLV offers more because of its changeable pressure settings. This makes HPLV systems better at tackling a wide range of jobs – something most airless systems cannot do

For most people looking to paint their interior walls or stain doors, a HPLV system will be much better for their needs. Not only is it much cheaper than the rival airless system, it also enables the user to undertake a much wider range of jobs, only making it an even better investment than an airless system.