What Is an Airless Spray Gun – Types and Advantages

Paint sprayers are slowly becoming a permanent device for painting houses, furniture and other commodities. The moment people realized the work they had been doing using brushes and rollers, can be done with less effort and time, they started switching to paint sprayers. 

At first, paint spray guns were pretty expensive. Later on, when many companies started manufacturing them, using cheaper and better materials, they started becoming inexpensive and now the prices at very much controlled. Now, anyone can actually get the best professional airless paint sprayer for their home use. 

As the technologies have improved and are improving day after day, paint spray guns are getting better. There are two types of paint spray guns– paint spray guns with air compressors and airless spray guns. What is an airless spray gun? What are the benefits? Find out in this article.

Most people know about spray guns with air compressors. They are the first types of paint sprayers. Airless paint sprayers are comparatively new. The first paint sprayer was invented back in 1907. And the first airless paint sprayer came 50 years after that. The first portable airless paint sprayer was brought to the market by Graco, a company in business in this sector for a very long time. 

But you’re not here for a history lesson. You are here with a different question– what is an airless spray gun? This article will thoroughly discuss the ins and out of an airless spray gun. We hope that you won’t be left with any questions if you read every word of it. 

What Is an Airless Spray Gun

To understand the concept of an airless spray gun, first, you have to understand how a spray gun with an air compressor works. In a paint sprayer with an air compressor, a spray of paint depends on the airflow to the gun from the compressor. 

There’s zero to no flow of air on an airless spray gun or airless paint sprayer. So, there’s no need for an air compressor. Airless sprayers actually use the pressure stream from paints to spray the paint on a surface. 

You might wonder if there’s no flow of air, the pressure would be less than that of an air compressor. Surprisingly, inside an airless spray gun, the pressure can go up as high as 3000 PSI. 

Types of Airless Spray Gun

Types of Airless Spray Gun

In today’s market, you can find thousands of variants of airless spray guns. But there are three basic types of airless spray guns that exist. These three types are subjected to manufacturers’ different tweaks, but these are the basics. They are–

  • Gas-powered airless spray gun
  • Electricity powered airless spray gun
  • Air Powered airless spray gun

Most people prefer electric airless spray guns. Many traditional users believe that gas-powered ones have more power than the other two. But to be honest, the only difference among these three types is how you choose to power them. If every other aspect is the same apart from the powering option, all three types will deliver the same results every time. 

How Can It Be an Airless Spray Gun if It is Air-Powered?

Now, this might seem a little confusing to anyone who is new to this world. How exactly is an air-powered spray gun airless? The question is legitimate. It is called an airless spray gun, but it is air-powered. So, what exactly does airless stand for?

Paint sprayers with air compressors flow the air to the paint and push them towards the nozzle. The pressure for spraying the paint actually comes from the compressor. So, the paint that is sprayed contains air.

But in airless paint sprayers, the factor of being air powered actually means that the sprayer gun mechanism is powered by air which then creates pressure onto the paint directly and sprays only paint having no air. 

The paint is forced towards the tip, which contains a fan that breaks the paint into sprayable droplets. Thus, the paint is sprayed, having no air pressure at all. 

Now that we know almost all the basics of airless paint sprayers, let’s find out the advantages that an airless spray gun offers.

Advantages of Airless Spray Guns

Advantages of Airless Spray Guns

Portable and Can Easily be Carried Everywhere

The significant difference between airless spray guns and traditional spray guns is that there is no need to constantly carry a heavy air compressor everywhere you are going to work. Paint sprayers with air compressors actually work on electricity. 

Electricity powers the air compressor– the compressor generates optimum pressure of air– the air flows through the gun– which carries the paint and sprays it from the gun nozzle. The only mechanism of the gun trigger is to open the tip and shut the tip. 

On the other hand, if the airless spray gun is electricity-powered, that’s all. The whole mechanism works via electricity. Not like a paint sprayer with an air compressor that draws its power from another machine that is plugged into electricity. 

Cleaner and Smoother Finish

I have already explained why an airless spray gun is called an airless spray gun in the first place. It’s because it only sprays paint, not air, along with paint like a spray gun with the air compressor. There is a minor problem in this process of spraying paint with air.

The paint sprayed with air has a lower density of paint. It tends to cover more area, but the density of paint is actually low. That’s why paint requires several layers of coating. And it’s highly like that the finish will not be smooth and clean. Thus, you would need a primer in the end to fill the gaps.

Of course, using a primer should be a mandatory practice after any type of paintwork. But the work of primer should only be the final tough, not providing a smooth and clean finish. 

People do use primer after any paint job. But if you put two identical surfaces side by side, use an airless paint sprayer and paint sprayer with an air compressor on the two surfaces. After the paint dries out, the cleanliness and the smoothness of the airless spray gun surface will definitely be noticeable compared to the other one. 

Criticism of Airless Spray Guns

Even the best of the best products can have flaws and are not above criticism. The whole mechanism, which makes it unique from the traditional paint sprayer with an air compressor, is what experts have criticized. 

Airless spray guns are also called pneumatic pressure spray guns. The moto inside powers up and creates a low-pressure area that forces the paint to flow. This forced flow creates tiny atoms of paint, and they are sprayed through the tip in the form of an aerosol. 

The paint is actually exposed to air earlier than paint sprayers with air compressors in this whole mechanism. Paint sprayers with air compressors actually use the airflow to create slight pressure on the paint to pass them through the tip. 

Anyhow, the early exposure of paint to air creates a high chance of having more bubbles in the paint. Therefore, getting very low-quality paintwork. The difference probably is invisible to naked eyes. 

On the other hand, some professionals have said that earlier exposure to air actually reduces the chance of having bubbles later on. According to them, this is the reason why pneumatic paint guns are more capable of delivering smoother finishes. 

So, criticism or not, there is a debate among experts regarding which type of spray gun is actually best. However, this should not be a debate for the experts to have. 

What Type of Paint Spray Gun is The Best?

We can answer this question by starting to compare the merits and demerits of both airless and air compressor-run paint spray guns. But the problem is the things that some people consider as merit is canceled out by some other users. 

This fact is actually true in the case of both types of spray guns. So, it’s tough to determine which one is better. The only distinction where airless spray gun wins is portability. Airless spray guns don’t have a huge compressor that people need to carry around everywhere they go.

It’s handheld, comparatively easier to control and can be taken absolutely anywhere. In this aspect, the airless spray gun is better.

Final Words

As I said, it’s really hard to create any distinction between both types of guns apart from portability which probably is not a big issue unless you’re a professional who has to go work on other people’s homes. If you are thinking about buying a paint spray gun, you can choose any type according to your preference. 

So, this was absolutely everything that you needed to know to find the answer to what is an airless spray gun. I hope you don’t have any more questions because we tried our best to critically analyze the merits and the demerits of the spraying gun. If you’re planning to buy one, make sure you compare well to figure out which one you want more according to your discretion and comfort. Our suggestion still stands on the basis of mobility.

About Lewis Traylor

Lewis Traylor is a certified Paint Sprayer Specialist who has been in the business for over 10 years. He has worked on both residential and commercial projects, and has a passion for making sure every job is done right. He takes pride in his work, and it shows in the quality of his finished product. He is always willing to go the extra mile to make sure his customers are happy with the end result.

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