What is Air Assisted Spraying?

Written by on November 30, 2013 in Industry News, Uncategorized with 10 Comments

capspray gunThis is a question that seems to be a bit misunderstood in the paint industry. Most painters come from an airless spraying background, which is geared for production and not so much for the delicacy of finer finishes and transfer efficiency.

Airless, in my opinion, is great for spraying large, wide open surfaces, and that is about it. Airless machines, even with fine finish tips, are not so effective in lower pressure ranges.

They are great for production, but plagued by overspray.

Can you do it all with airless?

air assisted

Efficient clear spraying with air assisted

When airless spraying, painters go fast, because they have to. In my years of airless spraying experience, I’ve observed that its hard to make an airless/primer/paint combo happy in any less than than the 3-4000 psi range.

You have to be moving and spreading alot of paint. Not so helpful on cabinets, mantels, trim packs or doors, but many painters will blow their way through it, sanding out curtains here and there as they go.

Not to mention the large quantities of airborne mist that settle into other wet surfaces as they dry. Based on this, many contractors inaccurately conclude that air assisted is slower than airless.

What is the difference between airless and air assisted spraying?

There is a huge difference. At the practical level, I think some contractors resist aaa because of the cost of the equipment. You can get a good airless for under $1000. A good aaa rig may cost over $2000. Some contractors claim that aaa is slower than airless, not realizing that if you turn off the compressor on an aaa and turn up the fluid pressure, you are essentially running a 4000 psi airless machine. The air assist simply gives you the ability to run products efficiently in lower pressure ranges, which is desirable for fine finishes. And having a 5 gallon supply capacity gives aaa a production advantage over hvlp on larger scale tasks, but with similar transfer efficiency and finish quality.

We use these aaa systems:


AAA guns deliver HVLP efficiency with airless style production.

We rarely use airless sprayers anymore, mostly just for production spraying of drywall primer, which are abrasive miles that we prefer not to put on the pistons of our aaa rigs. We use air assisted for cabinet spraying, production prefinishing of interior and exterior trim packages in our shop, and onsite architectural trim detail finishing. The control, precision and efficiency of an air assisted airless system cannot be matched by an airless with a fine finish tip.

Share your aaa opinions in the comment section and leave questions if you are researching aaa.

Click Here if you are interested in our Prep to Finish AAA training workshops.



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  1. What is Air Assisted Spraying? | Blogging Paint... | November 30, 2013
  1. Oisin McHale says:

    Hi Scott,

    It’s been a few years since you wrote this article. So what would be your most recent recommendation for a new rig? Cost really isn’t a big issue as we will be getting plenty of use from it.

    Thanks Scott.

  2. ciaran says:

    wow Scott what a minefield, coincidently I live in a village named Burt in Ireland. I have been a decorator for 18 years and just about to venture into a new business spraying kitchen cupboards and furniture and the like. I am new to spraying but not new to materials and a quality finish. please please pretty please just tell me what to get, in your opinion if it was you, whatever manufacturer or type and please elaborate completely on the model.
    Much Regards

  3. Oisin Butler says:

    Hey guys, what would would be a good all rounder rig in your opinion? Is air assisted really that much better? I have need of a new machine. It will be used for more intricate work and I guess something that runs on a lower pressure might make more sense. It’s used for painting cornicing mostly. I have a blog here and if you go to the end of the page you’ll see a youtube clip of the type of work I do. Any suggestions would be great thanks! http://oisinbutler.ie/paint-cornice-get-great-finish/

  4. Matt says:

    I used airless on trim packages for many years and had no problems laying sagless glass surfaces. But air assisted is the best option by far. I transfer more paint and use less at the same time. I could always use less than 3000 psi with regular airless with no problems. But air assisted uses uses less than 2000 (1600-1800 typically) and is much better. Air assisted is king.

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