Shopping for a Spraygun Upgrade

A finisher looks to step up from low-end spray equipment, and gets advice on gun types. May 17, 2005

I have never used an HVLP gun of any kind. I am considering purchasing either the Accuspray 19c low cfm conversion gun with the 2.5 gallon pressure pot, or the Accuspray 230k series turbine. Or possibly some other manufacturer's options. The reason behind the low cfm gun is the size of the current air compressor, and the lack of funds at the moment to do the upgrade. The only concern I have regarding the 230k is this: how often does one have to spend time refilling the cup? Most jobs have approximately 10 interior doors, 500 Lft. base, 800 Lft. casing. My current setup is working, but the overspray is killing me - CH airless sprayer. The material being used is Hydrocote - pre-cat lacquer.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor D:
What size compressor will you be using? The downside of the turbine spray system is the size of the air hose. It is thick and cumbersome.

A gravity gun makes spraying the insides of cabinets the most difficult challenge and sometimes that means you have to settle for an interior cabinet finish that is low-rate (orange peel or dry spray issues are not the fun part of finishing).

A turbine gun is not as difficult to move around inside a cabinet as a gravity gun, but that huge hose is still something to contend with. If you are at least using a remote pot with the turbine gun, then this helps interior cabinet spraying so much.

A conversion gun hooked up to a remote pot is an easier way still to spray the insides of cabinets. Asturo makes conversion guns that need a little over 7 cfm to power them. But Asturo guns are not always 100%. You have to check them out of the box and make sure that the air cap(s) are delivering an even spray pattern across its width. The American distributor is ready to service the gun. Get the air cap used for gravity feed and couple that with the regular gun body and you will be able to get your widest fan. Still, expect some overspray but much less than you are used to getting.

As for spraying the inside of cabinets, an air-assisted airless gets you the best results and you only need a small compressor to use these guns. The fan from an AAA gun is even across its width versus compressed air guns, which have fans that taper off toward the edges. The overspray from AAA guns is minimal. The downside is that you often need to change the fluid set if you want to change your fan size. These guns are not nearly as adjustable as regular guns, though the new Kremlin Airmix is now designed with more adjustability than it ever had. The names to look at in AAA technology are Kremlin, Graco, C.A. Technologies and Asturo.

From the original questioner:
I actually have two compressors. Porter Cable twin tube - 2.5 hp 4.3 gallon rated at 5.4 scfm @ 40psi, 4.0 scfm @ 90psi, also says 7.79 cfm (not sure what the difference is). Craftsmen - 6hp 30gallon rated 8.6 scfm @ 40psi, 6.4 scfm @ 90psi. Based on what you've said, it sounds like the conversion gun with the remote pot is a bit more user friendly. I will take a look around at the Asturo guns. I haven't done any cabinet jobs yet. Seems most people in my area purchase them pre-finished. Trim and interior doors have been the mainstay for me.

From contributor W:
Try the Hawk HVLP from Spectra paint. They make a 2qt cup and gun set for about $169. It uses about the same air as the Asturo and is a good starter gun. The Asturo is a fine gun; I own one. But at $400 plus the hoses and pot, it will put a dent in the wallet. Get your feet wet first. You might have luck with a piston airless and a fine finish tip. It lays down a great finish and you can pick them up cheap/used. The airless takes a lot of practice to get right, though. The HVLP is a lot more forgiving for a novice. You need to read Andy Charron's book called "Spray Finishing."

From contributor E:
You will not get less overspray with a turbine than with an airless. The AAA really has a low amount of overspray, but it is pricey. It is cheaper in the long run, though, in my opinion. I agree if you have an airless, you should get a fine tip and try that first.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the info. I think that I will do a bit more searching before I run out and buy something that might not improve the situation a whole lot. I flat out have to do something fairly soon, though, and if it means forking out some bucks to improve the overspray situation, I am all for it. I am going to see what the availability is for a finer type of tip than what I currently am using (411-413).

From contributor B:
Whatever outfit you get, there's one thing to take into consideration. If you are spraying waterbase lacquer as you indicated, you must flush out your lines and clean your gun each day. Sometimes sooner, depending on how much time is in between spraying jobs. Now solvent base lacquers are not as critical, but you said you are doing waterbase, so it must be necessary in your case.

From the original questioner:
Doing the cleanup is probably the one thing I am actually pretty good at. I've always been a bit of a freak for making sure things stay clean. Thanks to all for the input.

From contributor W:
Try Finish Systems for those tips. They have the best selection, good prices and super fast shipping. One of their techs can help you find the right tip if you explain what you are trying to spray. We get our Graco AAA and airless tips from them.

From contributor M:
If you use a 211 tip on the airless, it will help you out on the overspray for the trim. It is a perfect tip for trim work, but that tip is a bit small for doors. You can try it by holding your gun further away from the surface.

Switching to HVLP can help cut down on the overspray, but only if you use a low cfm setup, as the transfer rates (amount of paint transferred to the surface) on the high cfm guns are lower, which will defeat your purpose. Also, the high cfm guns will not fit your compressor. The best guns (very high atomization rates) need about 15 cfm to work right. The super low cfm HVLP setups with turbines put out about 2-4 cfm, have high transfer rates, but they put out very little product. It will take you forever to do a set of doors. They are really made for cabinetry pieces.

Here's a list of gravity feed guns which should help you out:

Iwata w-100. About $200. Iwata is probably the best at air brushing, and has started to make inroads into gravity feed, and this 7.4 cfm @ 28psi is probably the best for atomization of the lower cfm guns.

Devillbiss JGA. about $200. This gun is an industry standard and would be easier to service than the Iwata as they are much better known. Although this gun will do better at higher cfm, it runs well down to 7cfm @ 40 psi. Many guys swear by this gun.

Titan/vapor. $100 for a set of 3 guns. I add this one on because, for a knockoff gun, it's pretty good. It will give you a gun at 1.7 tip for heavier materials, a 1.4 tip gun, and a small touchup gun. It's the best of the cheaper guns and lets you try this setup out with only a moderate investment. It also requires the least of the cfm, 7cfm @ 40psi, and can be run at as little as 15 psi. You won't get the fantastic atomization of the high priced guns, but your transfer rates will be high, and it should beat an airless for atomization.

From the original questioner:
I will take a look at those guns you mentioned and also try the 211 tip. Looks like I might need to use a combo, possibly between the airless with a fine tip and gravity/pressure gun for doing the doors. Am I thinking in the right direction?

From contributor J:
If you decide to get a conventional HVLP gun, look at Astro. You can buy the gravity HVLP for about $80.00 at Spray Gun World. They sell different tips for about $30.00. I bought one of these with the 1.7mm tip and got an additional 1.4mm tip. I can't believe how well these guns spray. I spray lacquer on my cabinets and in the summer I use the same gun for spraying paint for auto bodywork. I went back and bought a mini HVLP and it has really helped me inside of cabinets. These guns don't use a lot of air either. Your larger compressor would have no problem with these. I like this gun so well I'm going to get the same thing in a siphon feed next. If you check the auto paint forums, you will see these guns being praised. They are remarkable for the money.

From contributor M:

The Astro is a great gun and it runs at 10 CFM @ 41-44 PSI, which is almost in your range, but whether you will get the proper atomization is still a question. Many of the compressors don't run at anything near their rating (less), and many of the spray guns don't run well at anything near their low cfm requirements (need more). A bit of a crap shoot, which is why I included the Titan - it's a cheap way to try things out, although the Astro is not expensive.

I recently purchased a Fuji 4 stage turbine for site work. I believe it has the power to transfer enough product so it doesn't slow me way down. The gun is improved over the last model, it's very portable, and the cost at $650 is very reasonable.