How To Operate An HVLP Paint Sprayer

How to Operate an HVLP Paint Sprayer

For most people, painting is a chore that they would rather not do themselves. The biggest reason that we hate doing this job is that it takes so long and it takes so much energy to get it right. Endlessly using a paint roller and a brush to cover a wall can be exhausting, and then you have to wait for it to dry so that you can do it all over again.

Even painting smaller items like furniture can be a challenge using traditional methods. Fortunately, there is a better way.

Today we’re going to show you how to operate an HVLP paint sprayer. These machines make painting so much easier, allowing you to get the job done faster and enjoy your finished product sooner.

If you’ve been dreading your next painting project, then you’ll want to see how a high-volume low pressure (HVLP) sprayer can work for you. 

What You’ll Need for This Tutorial

When looking at different professional paint sprayers, you’ll notice that there are a few different kinds. HVLP models, however, are usually the best of the bunch because they offer better results. Also, they have a lower curve to master them, which means that you can be up and running much sooner than with other sprayers.

That being said, all you need to get started is a can of paint and the sprayer itself. However, there are two primary methods of extracting the paint, so it’s imperative that we cover both options. 

Hose and Bucket

This is our preferred method of operation because it allows you work longer without interruption. Because the hose draws from the paint bucket directly, you can spray with impunity, and you don’t have to worry about running out. However, cleaning the hose can be a challenge, so there is a bit of a trade-off. 

Paint Can

Alternatively, you can find a model that comes with its own can that attaches to the front. These units are lighter and easier to use overall, but they will run out of paint much faster. Also, it can be tricky to attach the can without spilling any paint, so you may create more of a mess in the process. 

Other items you’ll need:

  • Paint Mask
  • Drop Cloth
  • Painter’s Tape
  • check-square-o
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    Overalls (or dirty clothes)

All of these materials are designed to keep the paint off of surfaces that you don’t want to be covered. A mask is essential because the droplets are going to be in the air, and you don’t want to breathe them in by accident.

Also, be aware that you will get paint particles all over your clothes and any part of your body that’s exposed, so plan on covering up as much as possible (especially your hair). 

Step by Step Instructions

Since this tutorial is focused on using the paint sprayer itself, we’ll gloss over the procedure of preparing your surfaces. Just make sure to use painter’s tape to hold up any drop cloths or plastic sheeting that you may have. Also, clear the area of any furniture or other items that you don’t want to be sprayed by accident.

Finally, it’s a good idea to clean the surface first and let it dry. This will ensure that dirt and dust particles don’t affect how the paint adheres to it so that you get a smoother finish. 

When Using a Hose and Bucket

Step One: Fill the Cup and Attach it to the Sprayer

Make sure to follow the instructions and don’t overfill it, as that can cause spills. Also, too much paint may prevent the sprayer from working properly. 

All other steps in this process should be the same.

Step Two: Adjust the Settings

Most HVLP paint sprayers allow you to customize the shape of the spray (i.e., wide or narrow), as well as the amount of pressure you get. If you’re not familiar with these machines, then you may want to practice a little before applying your first coat. It’s always a great idea to get an idea of what you can do before starting your project so that you don’t make any mistakes along the way.

Step Three: Make Sure the Nozzle is Open

Many models will keep the nozzle closed so that paint doesn’t leak out. Be sure that it’s open before you start spraying as failure to do so can damage the machine.

Step Four: Do a Test Spray

Even if you’re familiar with the various adjustments, it’s still necessary to make sure that the paint is coming out exactly how you want it. If the results are different than what you’d prefer, then now is the time to make adjustments.

Step Five: Keep the Sprayer Level

If you tilt it, then it could affect how the paint layers onto the surface. This can create uneven amounts of paint, which will then have to be leveled out afterward.

Step Six: Start With the Edges

It’s best to work your way from the outside in, as this will allow you to make multiple passes without coating the surface with too much paint.

When operating the sprayer, be sure to move slowly and methodically. Don’t rush anything or it could lead to uneven and splotchy results.

Step Seven: Turn the Machine Off When You’re Not Spraying

Even if you’re just setting the sprayer down for a second, you should always turn it off first. This will prevent any accidents from happening.

Step Eight: Cleaning the Sprayer

It’s imperative that you clean everything as soon as possible. This will ensure that the paint doesn’t solidify, which will make it much harder to clean. If you’re using oil-based paint, then you have to make sure to use the proper cleaning solvent, since water won’t work. Acrylic and latex paints can be removed with just water, though. 


As you can see, the process of using an HVLP paint sprayer is straightforward and easy to master. The most critical steps to practice are adjusting the controls and creating a smooth, even coat. Just remember that practice makes perfect, and you can always add more layers of paint to smooth out any rough patches.

Thanks for joining us today, and we hope that your next project goes smoothly.

About the Author Paul Hawkins

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