On Further Review: Graco Handheld Sprayers

Written by on December 11, 2019 in On Further Review... with 0 Comments

Painters Speak About Their Experiences with Graco Handheld Sprayers…

[Full Review / 2017: Year of the Comeback for Handheld Sprayers?]

Handheld sprayers are a mercurial topic for pro painters. For the most part, we either love them or we don’t. Within that, it can depend on what day it is.

There is something intriguing about tools, especially sprayers, that can make us money in the under $600 price range. I started using and abusing Graco handhelds when they were first introduced, which I believe was 2010.

Yup, it was. You can read about that very first generation of it here.

Throwback to 2010, when it was called ProShot…

Graco handheld sprayers

[Related: Cordless and Cool – A Simple History of the Graco Handheld Sprayer]

7 years later, I still had the itch. 61,000 people to date have watched me shake it down on YouTube at the JLC Live Show a couple of years ago…

This most recent generation of Graco handheld sprayers came out in 2017. Clearly, better than any of the previous models, it was rich with obvious and key improvements when we tested it for review.

Notable upgrades included Dewalt battery power and the ability to run the same tips and guards as the rest of the Graco airless models. And, of course, the flexliner makes cleaning it easier, which is where I think a lot of frustrated users get hung up.

After months of use and abuse we published our full review of the new handhelds. And published several live and archived videos with the tool.

Here we are a couple of years down the line and still running the unit we initially tested. It is sufficient to say that it is still going, and we still use it. There are little quirks and bugs here and there. We haven’t killed it yet. More than we can say for most handhelds we previously had relationships with.

So that is our nutshell update, but…

Painters Speak:

Here is a sampling of what our trigger happy colleagues are saying about their Graco handheld sprayers.

graco handheld sprayers

So, I kinda have to modify my love/hate theory. Some users seem just “ok” with it. I wonder if that is like when your wife says she is not mad, just disappointed. This batch of feedback is spattered with love and indifference.

Behind Closed Doors

In our gated online spray community, users pull fewer punches:

This thread reads like “she loves me, she loves me not…”

Really interesting and brutally honest feedback.

What makes one pro love it, another hate it and yet another keep it around as a tolerable necessity? I used to think that user issues were rooted in cleaning habits.

That could be, to an extent. But I also know many of these pros, and have shared cold beverages while geeking out at paint events. They know how to take care of sprayers, and they have good habits.

Is it the luck of the draw? Are some Graco handheld sprayers duds and others are winners? Out of fairness to Graco, they are a very conscientious manufacturer with thoughtful engineers and tight quality control.

I know that they don’t rush half baked goods to the market. And they listen to pro painters, which is why we are here. It would not surprise me if they were working on improving handhelds as we speak.

Handheld Psych

I think part of what makes the cordless sprayer such a divisive topic is that deep down inside, we all want to cut the cord on all sprayers. We don’t want a hose attached to our gun, or to be plugged into the wall.

Mobility and complete freedom of movement are so desirable. Even if it weighs a few pounds. We want 2000 psi in the palm of our hand…to walk around pointing and shooting at any paint worthy target that dares cross our path. When done shooting, we want to slide it into our holster and walk away.

Better to Burn Out Than to Fade Away

Neil Young probably never used a cordless sprayer, but clearly there is some Neil Young in the cordless sprayer. Having laid many of them to rest personally, I can tell you how they die.

graco handheld sprayers

It is never a game of “hmmm, I think my cordless sprayer is starting to go south…” Not at all. It is sudden death. Sometimes in the middle of an important money making task. So, that explains the anger and frustration you may sense from users who call it “junk” and “hate” it. That said, they can be rebuilt and brought back from the dead…likely once.

Hate is too strong a word for a tool if it made you any money. I’ve run the numbers on lots of tools, and you can too. How many times does a 2, 3 or $500 tool have make you money before it pays for itself? In the spray game, not that many. Especially when the sprayer costs under a grand.

[How Much Does a Tool Cost?]

A cordless sprayer is kind of like a work truck. It can run great and get you to jobs 100 times. But the one time you are standing there on the side of the road losing money, you might like to watch it burn.

Conclusion…For Now

We keep it reality based. The reality is that handheld sprayers don’t last as long as your skid or cart based pumps. It only makes sense. We are probably a few decades away from a handheld technology that works like a Star Trek phaser.

And that is probably a good thing, because at that point, painters won’t be needed on the scene anymore. It will be robots enjoying the tech. And they won’t have the passion that we do. They won’t sit around pounding on keyboards after hours with a beer. And homeowners will be all like: “Alexa, make the dining room red…”

For now, handheld sprayers may spike your blood pressure. Whether in the sheer excitement of making money with them, or the agony of sudden malfunction mid-task.

I think we can all agree that the handheld sprayer category is not the filet mignon of the sprayer world. But (at under $600) it can be a great juicy burger and fries.

Besides, what else are you going to spray one door with?

Scott Burt

Scott Burt is a contractor and freelance writer whose column "From the Field" has appeared in American Painting Contractor magazine (www.paintmag.com) since 2008. His writing and projects also appear in other print and digital venues. This site is an extension of Scott's publication work, and he encourages readers to leave comments and questions about articles published here. Hope to hear from you!

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