Airless Paint Sprayers - differences

This really is a GQ and I’m not seeking opinions… I’ve been searching Google groups and reading reviews for a few days now, as what I’m about to do is make (to me) a major investment – I’m going to purchase an airless paint sprayer. No, not one of those crappy little Wagners that I’ve tried to use in the past, but a real, true Graco model.

The reviews have been great for all of the models of Graco sprayers that I’d be interested in, but I’m still left confused by Graco’s own web site. I live and work and understand bonafide, meaningful equipment terms – mean time between failures, mean time to repair, and so on, but the Graco website only talks in things that are totally foreign to me. For the dx, xr5, xr7, and xr9, they’re described as light-, medium-, and heavy-duty. Digging a little futher, they talk about usages per year, from “2 to 3 painting projects per year” to “several painting projects per month” with no justification as to how they arrive at these figures. So, questions that hopefully an expert will be able to resolve:

(1) The spray quality ought to be identical, right, because they use virtually the same gun and it looks like the same tips?
(2) Any friggin’ clue how to translate some silly “number of projects” to either “gallons of paint” or “run time” or MTBF? I’m probably in the “2 to 3 painting projects per year” but I also don’t want to buy a cheap P.O.S. (an expensive cheap P.O.S. at that).
(3) Any idea how their failure modes are different between these models? I’d rather stock up on spare parts now while they still make the things. At this price range – which isn’t even pro – I want this thing to last for years and years and years (hence my “what’s the difference” approach).
(4) In the end, what am I getting for the extra $100 per step-up level that I wouldn’t be getting if I got the inexpensive sprayer of this lineup?

Thanks for any insight…

I have looked at the sites, and I am sorry but I have not yet seen anything that explains how thesse products get the paint on to the surface without using “air.”

Sorry. I see no mention of using nitrogen, or carbon dixoide or whatever. How, exactly are these products propelling paint on to a surface without using some sort of “atmospheric propellant?”

I’m just confused, not trying to be a smart aleck.

As a professional remodeler who has used these for years, based on your stated needs, get the little Graco that has the four legs. Thats all you need.

The prices go up a lot for the wheeled models that have a hook for a 5 gal bucket. Easier for us to drag them around on the job.

How the tip sizes work: say a 517, first number 5 is the width of the fan of paint sprayed, double it, so a 5 is a 10 inch fan, second two numbers (17 in this example) is orifice size, in thousanths/inch

most common tip sizes we use in the field:

415-walls, doors etc,
517-walls ceilings, most common, use this more than anything probably.
313, use this a lot for cabinet doors, etc smaller stuff.

Feel free to ask any questions.

I should add, make sure the pump will support the orifice size of the tip you choose.

I would recommend going to a local paint store, rather than a big box, because the locals deal with pros, and should be way more helpful. If they seem hesitant, just tell em you met a painting contractor that recommended them.

I haven’t bought a new Graco in many years, as with proper cleaning they last forever (I have a big one and a little one) and the specs may have changed a bit, but
these posts should get you on the right track.

They’re airless in that you are not pressurizing a tank attatched to the gun to drive out the paint. Not that many of us use a convetional anymore anyways, having switched to HVLP, but that’s what is meany by “airless.” Whether using a piston or a diaphragm, the airless propells the paint out of the gun without resorting to an air chamber.

The guns have changed some in the past two decades, but change is slow, as the market is fairly small. Backwards compatability has been met, too, for the most part. I can still get parts and guns and tips for a Graco and a Titan that I have that I bought used almost 15 or more years ago.

Get the model level that supports the type of painting you will do. A model good enough for latex may not be able to handle lacquor or epoxies. But, few DIYers get into those anyways.

I would suggest avoiding any brand/model that does not support the standard RAC5 (old, but still available) or RAC10 (new-ish) tips, as those are fairly well established as across the brands standards.

Agreed on the HVLP NCB, but you can’t beat the big old Graco for blasting an empty house in a day. :slight_smile:

I have an old cambell hausfield hvlp I use a lot for insides of cabinets and small closets, which are a PITA to brush/roll.

Yeah, I should have explained that HVLP (High Volume Low Pressure) has replaced conventional pressurised cup guns, but not airlesses, for most of us.

An HVLP allows for much finer control of paint/finish applications with virtually no overspray. Better for the environment, better finishes, more control, etc… But NOTHING replaces an airless. I use my Graco for lacs and oils and epoxies, and my Titan for latex.

I have a Graco (actually a Croix with Graco’s name in place of Croix) CX12 HVLP system.
I went to the (real) paint store and asked what I’d need to use it with exterior house paint. He told me that HVLP systems can’t do that?

Was he right?

Okay, I’ve tentatively decided on the xr5, it’s the smallest (“fits my needs”) model that uses a piston pump rather than a diaphragm pump (the dx uses the latter). I get the feeling that a piston pump is a bit more robust for this type of application, since it seems all of the higher-end models use them, and the Wagners that are so despised used diaphragm pumps.

But how do the “bigger” models fit the needs of more professional people? I see the same spray gun used, and slightly higher pressures that may help for thicker things like epoxies that I don’t plan on ever using. Is it not just an up-time thing? Is there something else that the “bigger” models give you?

Thanks for the help so far.

A related question if I may?

Years back a friend and I were spraying some louvered doors with one of the dreaded Wagner hand held units. I don’t remember the brand of latex paint, but the piston kept getting gummed up and the unit needed to be disassembled and cleaned/ungummed many times during this simple project. It seemed that the piston was causing the paint to solidify in the cylinder.

We had added Flood’s Flotrol and thinned the paint to the correct viscosity, using the viscosity cup supplied with the Wagner. It was a real PITA, and if this is still common I can understand why the handheld Wagners are despised.

Is this a problem with the “professional” airless units? Any idea why we had this problem?

Ralph, an HVLP would take forever to paint your exterior. But, you could still do it. I wouldn’t. But it’s not impossible. You could also paint your house with a 1" sash brush, but I wouldn’t reccommend it. That’s probably where the paint store guy is coming from. You could brush and roll it in about 1/10th the time.

Bal. No, it’s just power. More power needed for certain paints, for longer hose runs, etc…

Gary, yes, most of us thin our paints, with the proper solvent for that paint, when setting up the rigs. Experience is was determines the proper viscosity for each individual application. After a while, you just get a feel. Gum ups do still happen. Reversable tips take care of most of those, but sometimes we get down time. There are pro quality Wagner rigs, but they are just like the Gracos, Titans, etc… NOT those electric cup gun things.