What Is An HVLP Spray Gun? (Everything You Need To Know)

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 HVLP spray gun systems 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 stands for high-volume, low-pressure [1].

This means that the HVLP spray gun systems 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 high volume low pressure (lower air 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. These paint sprayers 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 with HVLP paint sprayers

One of the most common uses for HVLP paint sprayers is for small detail painting. HVLP paint sprayers used for either touch-up or completely repaint doors, trims, baseboards, and more.

The majority of HVLP spray guns or HVLP spraying can be used vertically or horizontally, and the high volume low pressure of HVLP paint that's being released will leave you with great coverage and less mess to clean up once your painting is complete.

Blue Painted Front Door

Painting furniture

As furniture painting requires a high level of precision, using an HVLP sprayer will be a perfect choice as the HVLP paint spraying system is propelled at lower pressure for more precision.

You can hold the HVLP 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 paint sprayers, 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 Paint Sprayer

  • Spray Gun
    The standard 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 standard spray gun by turning the control clockwise at the back of the standard 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 standard 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 for more controlled spray. It draws the right amount of air (based on the lower pressure or high pressure air you choose) into the unit.
  • Paint Reservoir
    You will need to add your desired paint into the paint reservoir of the paint sprayers. 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 lower pressure or high pressure air 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 conventional 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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The Good and Bad 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 lower 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 thin 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.
Refilling Paint Sprayer

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 HVLP vs LVLP spray guns. LVLP (Low Volume, Low Pressure) air 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 [2]. 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

When it comes to HVLP vs airless sprayers there are some key things to keep in mind. Firstly, 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.

When using 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.

Common  Questions About HVLP Spray Guns

Can you use latex paint in an HVLP sprayer?

Yes, you can use latex paint in an HVLP Paint sprayer, but it may need to be thinned first to ensure proper atomization and spray pattern.

How much air pressure does an HVLP paint gun need?

HVLP paint guns typically require an air pressure of 10 PSI to 20 PSI. The exact pressure needed may vary depending on the specific gun and the type of paint being used.

Should HVLP guns be cleaned between coats?

 Yes, HVLP guns should be cleaned between coats if you are using different type of paints. However, if you are continuing to use the same water-based paints, then there is no need to clean your HVLP spray gun between coats.

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.


1. https://www.corrosionpedia.com/definition/2180/high-volume-low-pressure-hvlp

2. https://www.sames.com/sao/en/faq-which-compressor-hvlp-spray-gun.html