Spraying Latex Primer and Paint with HVLP

Basic advice for a first-timer on product selection, tip choice, and thinning. June 28, 2006

I'm a cabinetmaker and finish carpenter. Normally someone else does the finish coatings on what I build and install but occasionally I do it myself with a brush. I recently purchased HVLP unit (Graco 4900). So far, I've only used it for lacquer clearcoating and although I'm learning as I go, the results have been good. I have a paint grade job that I need to finish myself. As everything seems to be going WB I figured now is as good a time as any to learn. Unfortunately what I need to learn on this job is both mechanics and materials. The up side is that it's a freebie for a local non-profit organization that I'm involved with. Still, this doesn't absolve me from less than my normal pride of craftsmanship and resulting product. Do you have any thoughts, suggestions for products to use or beware of, or any other input regarding latex primer and paint shot with an HVLP 4 stage turbine? And, of course, I need to shoot it this weekend, provided I'm finished with the casework.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor A:
You may have to thin your paint to get it to atomize well - you're better off shooting a WB lacquer. If you don't mind the brush strokes then maybe on this first job you're better off using the gun to move the material to the trim and then backbrushing. Also consider going over latex or acrylic with a clear WB lacquer (call the manufacturer for compatibility and surface preparation).

From contributor B:
Use good quality paint and thin it out, about 20-40% water. It's not too hard to get good results, but it may take a time or two though. A colored WB lacquer would be the way to go if you can. If not, latex paint is second choice.

From contributor C:
We have great results using our HVLP with latex. I make it a point to use Floetrol conditioner along with thinning. Something to think about - we only use a dedicated gun for water base materials and other guns dedicated to our solvent based materials to save from the headache of possible contamination with our clears later.

From contributor D:
If you are using a latex primer and finish make sure that they are acrylic because it will atomize better in an hvlp and I would thin it until you get 1 drip/sec off the end of your mixing stick - that should give you a sprayable material. Then adjust your gun and spray.

From contributor E:
I have had very good results with WB tinted lacquers, and can usually spray them without changing the tip. I have never tried latex, but it is my understanding that you need a bigger tip. You'll want to try a couple practice panels before you shoot your project, with whatever you decide to use.

From the original questioner:
I take it that the WB tinted lacquer is a topcoat? What should I use as a primer, then?
Thank you all for your input. This website is an invaluable resource.

From contributor E:
If you use a WB topcoat, get the primer that goes with it. Currently I am painting a kitchen with M.L. Campbell's WB primer and topcoat. I am planning on at least trying out the Target finishes in the near future. I build cabinets professionally, and the finishing I still consider myself an amateur. So I stick within a brand for any given project. It just gives me better odds for success. I'm not sure what you'll have access to on a weekend though? You may have to go with latex depending on what you can get your hands on.

From contributor F:
Benjamin Moore Impervo waterbased sprays pretty well. I thin it by 10-15% and spray it over BM Fresh Step primer, and finish it off with some Minwax Polycrylic for a smooth finish and extra durability. Not as nice as WB lacquer, but pretty darn close and widely available. Use a 1.5mm tip on your gun.