I picked up a Harbor Freight HVLP the other day. On sale for $69.99
plus I had a 15% off coupon, bottom line was about $60. Instructions
are useless, but the identical unit from Rockler ($120) has
downloadable instructions that are slightly more helpful. HF unit
comes with a viscosity cup and three needle sizes, and since I was
going to spray a water-based paint, I was glad to see that they supply
a fairly large needle.
My project was to paint two wicker sofas with an acrylic indoor/
outdoor paint. I used Benjamin Moore and when I opened the can, it
was about as thick as pudding. I thinned the hell out of it, until
the viscosity cup emptied in about 20 seconds. I have read that you
should not thin more than 10-20% so I'm not sure how much water I
added, but I suspect it was more than 20%. After all, how much you
thin depends on the original viscosity and my paint was like jello. I
added a dash of Floetrol (maybe three or four ounces) to the quart of
paint, filled the cup, screwed it onto the sprayer, fired it up, and
went to work. I adjusted nothing, flow control on the sprayer was set
at about 50%. It worked GREAT. Cleanup was a breeze. Flawless job,
painted both sofas in about 5 minutes. For the price, it certainly
seems to be a great little sprayer. So, to anyone who wants to know
if it can spray water-based paint, I had absolutely no problem doing
it on this particular project.
. I adjusted nothing, flow control on the sprayer was set
Great post, Kevin. Those little sprayers are a pretty good bargain,
and bang for the buck at $60.... I don't know how you could do better.
Remember that the viscosity cups (more accurately, the "Ford" cups)
are designed as guidelines for the materials. Pretty good ones, but
guidelines nonetheless. You did the correct thing by getting it to
the viscosity that gave the right finish for that sprayer.
Some of those near-gel paints give almost any sprayer fits, and even
through my airless I thin a touch. I remember when one of the paint
manufacturers actually had an ad that showed the paint so thick that
the pitchman in the ad was able to life out the paint with the
stirrer. It was like a soft Jello. WTF?
Talk about flow problems. Talk about spreading problems with common
Just as a thought, I don't use Floetrol unless it is cold. It seems
to help then, but not needed for moderate weather. BM makes a fine
product, and thinning should be all you need as almost all finishes
these days are made to spray as well as roll or brush. Just thin
until you start having feed problems, then go back to the last
satisfactory spray test.
When you thin, make sure you write down how much material you put in
the paint. With the heavily colored acrylics, you will not match them
unless you thin the same exact amount when you touch up or repair.
You will think the the original and the touch up paints were two
different colors. Plus, it will save you time later if you really get
going with the HVLP and you decide to keep on spraying. All you need
to do to get the perfect viscosity is to buy the same paint line
(watch the actual base) from your supplier and you
will be set no matter what color you get.
I'll bet it would work great. I have corresponded with guys off and
on over the last 2-3 years since those systems were available at HF,
and they have gleefully used them for everything.
If you are talking about an oil based stain, I think it would probably
work just fine due to the high viscosity and low amount of solids.
Depending on the brand, you may not need to thin. I would shoot some
on a sample first, but there are finishers that shoot dye or oil wood
and don't want to touch it (like me). Next step - finish coat.
That's why I like dyes; I mix them, spray them, and the finish coat
can be going in within the hour.
However, as a delivery system, there are many more finishers in the
other camp that will use a cheaper HVLP system to apply the stain to
the material, then quickly rub it around with a rag to even it out.
You can cut your staining time down to less than half and the mess
factor by the same amount using this to apply the material. Since you
can see exactly how much is coming out of the gun, you can tailor the
amount going on the work very easily.
I wouldn't hesitate giving it a whirl.
As you see, others covered that base.
I think the things I like most about this unit is that it is compact,
with just one turbine it isn't too noisy, and you can spray build
finishes all day long with it and get great results since the aircap
is so small.
But the top thing is probably the fact they give you a usable sized
line to the gun. There are some out there that have a six foot line
on them, and you literally carry the unit in one hand and spray with
the other on a project of any size.
Can't go wrong for that price.
Ayup. With a 'to-be-wiped' stain, spraying is nice. I was looking for
a minimal, yet adequate, set-up without breaking the bank. I have used
conversion HVLP guns for a long time, none work well at low-output
levels. The turbines I have played with at woodworking shows, can
almost get down to air-brush levels, but they are too rich for my
Good for you, Kevin! You will never, ever, regret doing that.
However, if don't and find yourself saying " I don't understand.... I
did this exactly the way I did before.... I think... crap...." you
won't be a happy guy.
Post away with any questions on low pressure spraying. Many here are
doing it, and have been for a while. Lots of good info in the
I've had great luck with mine over the past couple of years. For some
paints, I use about 30% thinner. Just enough to get the viscosity I
want. If you use it enough you won't have to use the ford cup
anymore. I can tell viscosity by stirring and watching how fast the
paint runs off a stir stick.
Good write up Kevin. Harbor Freight sells some pretty good guns, both HVLP
and conventional. They do sell some junk as well, but if you know what
you're looking at, there can be some legitimate good bargains to be found
there. It is always helpful when someone dares to go out on a limb and buy
one without the benefit of prior input, and then posts an informative post
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.