We have been running the Graco 9.5, our first HVLP, pretty hard in the shop and field for over three years. We also run HVLP systems by Apollo and Titan.
The 9.5 is the one we mobilize the most for miscellaneous cabinetry on projects requiring oil primer and oil based enamel paint. It is also entirely competent in latex primers and paints.
It continues to be a solid tool all the way around – turbine, gun and accessories. As a 5 stage turbine, it has enough power to generate good patterns in all types of product, and the Graco Edge gun is always stout.
The 9.5 and Edge gun combo is also very user friendly, which is why it is the HVLP that we use in our paint training program, Prep to Finish.
Because we use different HVLP systems in different ways, in order to play to their strengths, here are some reflections on why you should consider HVLP at all.
Psychology of HVLP
Painters have to understand that HVLP is a totally different spraying experience compared to airless. It is like the difference between downhill skiing and cross country skiing. Both are fun and productive exercises, and both involve skis, but that is where the similarities end.
Specifically, since most painters come from an airless spraying background, HVLP initially seems like a very foreign language on the equipment side. There is no pump, the gun and tip systems are completely different, and most of all, it seems like you are spraying in slow motion.
[Be sure to read our Tips for Overcoming Fear of HVLP Finishing]
How Efficiency Works
The reason it seems slow is because painters are used to running airless at very high pressures where you don’t have to be particularly close to the target and you can move the spray gun, well, just about as fast as you can move. This is all happening, at times, with pressure from a pump in the 2000 psi range. This, as much as anything, creates a room full of mist. Therein lies the problem. If you fill the room with airborne mist, it will settle onto surfaces that you have painted, so that as they dry, there is a dry dust laying into an otherwise heavy and leveling finish. When it dries, it doesn’t feel smooth. Also, when the airborne mist settles as dust on surfaces you haven’t sprayed yet, you have a little base of grit under that heavy finish you are about to lay down and level, and it doesn’t feel smooth when dry. Yes, fine finish tips on airless are great in theory, but not this great.
With an HVLP system, you are running one half of one percent of the pressure you might run on an airless. In other words, 2000 psi airless vs. about 9 psi with HVLP. So, yes, you need to slowdown a little bit because you are not blowing as much material, but the material that you are spraying is fine and flawless, and you are not contaminating your own work as you go.
You might be able to get around a room faster with an airless, but I bet the time you don’t have to spend flushing a pump and 25 (or 50) feet of hose with thinner (and disposing of it, etc) by using HVLP offsets it. The only thing you have to clean is the cup and gun.
In production, you are using less material. And in cleanup, you are using way less thinner ($12/gal?). You are not getting blowback inside cabinet boxes and you don’t have to take 15 minutes to “de-oilify” your eyes and face before heading home to shower as quickly as possible.
It’s not just about finish, it’s about quality of life. Your working life. You can get to a better finish, more cost effectively, just as quickly with an HVLP once you get the hang of it. Let your airless spray latex on drywall, and treat yourself to a dedicated HVLP – like the Graco Edge gun – for finer, cleaner work.
If you have made the leap to HVLP technology, please leave a comment below. We have also been exploring another new HVLP system for the past couple of years.
Click Here if you are interested in our Prep to Finish HVLP training workshop series.