What Is A HVLP Spray Gun? What Does It Stand For & Its Uses

The innovation of HVLP spray guns has made painting easier, quicker, and cheaper for professionals and DIYers alike. They are beloved by cabinet makers and furniture builders, and they’re perfect for a lot of detail painting around a home.

If you want to learn more about this type of technology and wish to get to grips with the HVLP spray guns setup and uses, this guide is for you.

HVLP spray guns use compressed air mixed with the paint and results in a continuous fine spray. The acronym HVLP means high-volume, low-pressure.

This means that the spray gun will need a high volume of air (HV) to aerosolize the paint that’s contained in the spray gun’s basin. It then gets sprayed at a lower pressure leaving you with a lot less overspray, and it reduces the amount of air pollution from the paint.

There are two types of HVLP spray guns on the market:

  • Dedicated System
    This type is the most common out of the two as they’re typically more portable and less expensive. They use a turbine to atomize the finish. They may not be as versatile as a conversion system, but you can get many DIY tasks done.
  • Conversion System
    If you're a professional painter, you will most likely pick a conversion system over a dedicated system. They move high-pressure air from a compressor to a lower pressure to provide a more controlled spray.

Main Uses of an HVLP Paint Sprayer

Detail painting

One of the most common uses for HVLP paint sprayers is for small detail painting. Either touch-up or completely repaint doors, trims, baseboards, and more. The majority of HVLP spray guns can be used vertically or horizontally, and the low pressure of paint that's being released will leave you with great coverage and less mess to clean up once your painting is complete.

blue wooden door

Painting furniture

As furniture painting requires a high level of precision, using an HVLP sprayer will be a perfect choice as the paint is propelled at low pressure for more precision. You can hold the gun closer to furnishings to spread even layers of paints without the worry of drips from occurring. By using an HVLP sprayer, you’ll get a smooth and professional-looking finish on a range of your furniture at home.

Auto refinishing

HVLP sprayers are used when spray painting automotive vehicles as they tend to get the job done with a lot less paint. This is primarily because they have less overspray, so there is less time wasted on removing unwanted paint from the rest of the vehicle. It also makes it a lot safer and better for the sprayer’s health as fewer microscopic paint droplets are being released into the air.

Marine finishing

Many professionals use HVLP spray guns to coat marine vessels as they can be used on metal and wooden surfaces. With the right paint and spraying techniques, you can get great protection with rust and corrosion-resistant finishes. If you’re doing this yourself, it’s important to keep the distance between the surface and the gun to a minimum (about 3-4”) to stop unnecessary overspray.

Main Parts & Components Of A HVLP Spray Unit

  • Spray Gun
    The spray gun is where you’ll find the paint reservoir, nozzle, fluid control function, and trigger. You can often adjust the amount of fluid from the reservoir to the spray gun by turning the control clockwise at the back of the spray gun.
  • Hose
    The hose connects the spray gun to the turbine motor so that the air can run through the hose and up to the spray gun. Some HVLP sprayers have rubber hoses, and others have plastic. We recommend getting a unit with a rubber hose with quick connections.
  • Turbine Motor
    The turbine motor generates the volume of air that an HVLP spray gun needs to spray. It draws the right amount of air (based on the pressure you choose) into the unit.
  • Paint Reservoir
    You will need to add your desired paint into the paint reservoir. These are typically made of plastic for smaller, cheaper units. Larger, more expensive HVLP sprayers tend to have metal paint reservoirs.
  • Trigger
    You can begin adding pressure within the motor by pressing on the trigger of the spray gun. This signals to the unit that you require paint and begins the painting process.
  • Spray Nozzle
    The spray nozzle expels the coating from the sprayer, and it's found on the head of the spray gun. Many spray guns come equipped with interchangeable nozzles so that you can choose the best one according to your surface and project.
  • Air Flow Adjustment Nozzle
    This nozzle is typically found where the hose meets the spray gun. By turning this clockwise, you decrease the airflow from the hose.

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Pros & Cons Of Using HVLP Units


  • Less overspray when applying paint to any surface
  • HVLP Paint Sprayers are the best in transfer efficiency
  • Stellar application accuracy- this makes it a great choice for beginners
  • More eco-friendly than conventional sprayers
  • Most HVLP units are portable and compact


  • Heavy or viscous finishes won’t process as smoothly. It can result in peeling
  • Conversion system HVLP units have high upfront costs, and they are not very portable
  • For larger surfaces, you’ll need to factor in more application time due to its low-pressure

5 Tips for Using HVLP Paint Sprayers

  1. 1
    Before you begin using your paint sprayer, you will need to prepare the surface you wish to paint. This may mean sanding down the surface or stripping pre-existing paint. Once it’s completed, clean the area and make sure it is clear of sand and dust.
  2. 2
    Before you connect the spray gun to the motor, you should fill the paint reservoir first. It will make it a lot easier for you to do this first. If you are using thicker consistencies, you may need to add a thinner into the paint as HVLP sprayers are primarily used with water-based enamel paints.
  3. 3
    Next, check the filters are clean in the motor and check that there’s no damage to the hose. If these look good, then connect the spray gun to the hose and the motor. Plug in the unit and adjust the nozzle to your preference.
  4. 4
    Spray the surface using a back and forth sweeping pattern. Avoid lingering in one place, so a build-up of paint doesn't occur. You can be about 4-8 inches away from the surface at a given time.
  5. 5
    Once you’ve completed your paint job, empty the paint reservoir and fill it with water or paint thinner to clean the spray gun. Do not leave the spray gun with paint in it, or else you risk clogging the gun. Spray the gun into a bucket until there isn't any more paint leaving the unit.
woman in white dress

Difference Between HVLP & LVLP Spray Guns

Now that you know the setup and uses of an HVLP spray gun, it’s time to look at its competitors on the market. LVLP (Low Volume, Low Pressure) spray guns use minimum air compression to operate. They typically work between 10-25 PSI and can work with as little as 5 CFM.

HVLP needs a good air compressor to function efficiently. Most units operate at about 20 CFM and at least 50PSI. If you're a professional, buying an LVLP spray gun may be an advantage for you over the HVLP as it means you can use them with almost any air compressor.

Difference Between HVLP & Airless Sprayers

Airless paint sprayers are perfect for large, flat surfaces like walls, tanks, garbage bins, and more. In comparison, HVLP is better known for fine finishes and more precision. You can finish a job a lot quicker with an airless paint sprayer, but you lose the attention to detail.

With an airless paint sprayer, you can achieve up to 1,700 psi at the nozzle, compared to 10 psi from an HVLP sprayer, so airless units are a lot more powerful. The easiest way to differentiate between the two is that airless sprayers are a great substitute for a roller, and HVLP sprayers substitute a brush.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

How do I choose an HVLP spray gun?

Narrow down your search by asking some professionals in your area about the best brands and units of HVLP sprayers. You can also read our honest reviews on some of the best-selling HVLP spray guns on the market here.

Can you use latex paint in an HVLP sprayer?

Any light latex or water-based paints will work perfectly with an HVLP paint sprayer. You can use heavier-bodied latex paint as long as you thin it out with water or a paint thinner beforehand.

How much air pressure does an HVLP paint gun need?

HVLP guns typically use a volume of air between 15-26 CFM. This is delivered with a low pressure of 10 PSI so that the paint can atomize correctly.

Should HVLP guns be cleaned between coats?

If you are continuing to use the same water-based paints, then there is no need to clean your HVLP gun between coats. If you're changing to a different type of paint, then you will need to clean out the gun with water or paint thinner before applying the new paint into the reservoir.

Are HVLP spray gun tips interchangeable?

The majority of HVLP guns feature interchangeable tips. Some models come with several tips to suit certain paint types and finishes.


HVLP spray guns can efficiently spray surfaces with precision, and they will leave you with a beautiful, professional finish. Best of all, you don't need to be a pro to use one. If you are looking for portability, affordability, and convenience, then an HVLP spray gun could be a great tool for you.

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