Spray Equipment for Latex Paint
I am working on a job where the specified finish is Olde Century WB acrylic latex paint. I've sprayed latex paint before with my guns with a 2.2mm tip and it worked marginally, at best. I always seem to get it done, but it's touchy and takes some time. Is there something that would work better for spraying latex paint and not cost too much (maybe less than $500)? I could justify it on time savings and a better finish.
Try thinning the paint some and spray with the biggest needle and tip you can. Have you thought about rolling the paint on? Or, ML Campbell makes a water based product called Polystar that is available in about 8 million colors, and I think they will even mix to match. It works great, lays flat, smooth as lacquer when done right and it doesn't look thick like paint.
If sticking with the latex, airless will be your best bet. You'll have to decide if you want to make a longer-term investment or purchase a setup for this job only. Most airless setups will work the same in putting down a finish. What you mainly pay for is volume output and longevity. The airless rigs that painting contractors use have large motors, larger pistons, and can be rebuilt after 500 - 1000 gallons.
For example, a Wagner Paintcrew will give you a good finish, but cannot be rebuilt and is garbage after 100 gallons. They run about $180 (plus $25 for the tip you'd need). Or for $100 more, Menards has some homeowner models that will last longer and give you better performance. But for $500, you can get a used pro-quality machine on EBay. It is important to get the right tip and filter for the gun. I would suggest a 210 and/or 311. (Not the 517 used for walls!) I have not used it, but there is a fine finish tip for lacquer, varnish, stains and all other fine finish coatings. Might work for latex as well. I would suggest you go to a local paint store like Sherwin Williams, ICI, or JC Licht for a rental unit to test it out. Should be about $50 to $75 for the day.
Latex paint with a topcoat of clear w.b. urethane or acrylic (for durability) makes a beautiful and easy finish. Just thin it down.
2.2 tip is what is giving you the marginal results. You are probably getting orange peel.
Thin the paint (30-40% until it gets to 18 seconds in a #4 ford cup, then use a 1.5 tip). Results should improve dramatically. Also, use Floetrol additive, 5-10%. You'll have to put on an extra coat of paint to make up for the thinner.
I think the Spraytech/Wagner ED655 would be a good pump for you. It's in your price range, with gun and hose, will work fine with acrylics, capable of 3000 psi and up to a .017 tip, but you'll probably only need to use .010-.013's.. I've worked with plenty of painting contractors that use these for doors and trim work. You'll get an excellent finish spraying acrylics with dual orifice fine finish tips. In my experience, the flat tips always produce a softer fan than the reversibles, which still seem to have the sharp edges you get with most airless tips. The Graco tips run about $30, but they will blow out pretty quick spraying acrylic. I usually buy a new one for every job, even if it's only a few gallons, but they are worth it.
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