Airless Paint Sprayer vs HLVP – Which is the Better Choice?

There are some distinct differences between an airless vs a HLVP paint sprayer. Lets start by defining what the acronym HLVP means. It stands for high volume low-pressure, which basically means that some of the back spray is controlled by using a turbine to limit output. The typical turbine versions come with an internal electric motor that produces a measure of filtered air for spraying out of the gun. One other thing to note is that the air coming out of the turbine motor is generally warm which can help to speed up the drying time of the paint or stain, getting several coats done with less standby time.

HLVP sprayer in actionYou can purchase high volume low-pressure sprayers for many types of projects, but where they really standout performance wise is when painting trim, molding, and possibly some panel type doors. The cleanup tends to be fairly easy with this type of tool. The main downside is the actual time it will take to complete some of the bigger projects. You’ll have to refill the paint in the small attachable container a million times (not literally a million, but it will be a lot) versus just using a good airless paint sprayer model which operates off of a 5 gallon bucket (see example below).

Other cons to using a high volume turbine sprayer is that most (especially the less expensive ones ) don’t work well with latex paints. So essentially, they are ideal for small projects like fine finishes on cabinets. It’s not recommended for trying to spray drywall as it just doesn’t adhere well and you’ll be filling up the canister continuously.

 See Example of an HLVP Sprayer

Airless Paint Sprayer in actionFor bigger paint projects such as painting walls, drywall, stucco, banisters, bigger doors, are much better served using an airless paint sprayer. The important part of spraying with an airless is to mask up the area to avoid over-spray (see our article on some of the recommended painter clothes for more information of getting setup for a job).

The prep and cleaning stage is the most important steps of owning this type of tool. However, the efficiency and amount of productivity that you accomplish is much greater than with any other type of system.

 See Example of an Airless Paint Sprayer