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HVLP Spray Gun Compressor Requirements You Must Know


Is there such a thing as a perfect paint job? That’s the big question for people who like to do their painting and for professionals. Whether you’re painting the walls of your house, the garden fence, or HVLP spraying a car, it’s essential to consider this question.

If you haven’t already switched from using a brush or roller and paint can, the first important step is to buy an air spray gun. If you’re unfamiliar with paint, it’s a technique that gives you a more controlled and even finish than using a brush or roller.

However, simply buying any spray paint kit and expecting great results won’t work. You need the right equipment to avoid mistakes and the unwanted “orange peel” effect on your painting project. This means getting a spray paint compressor that matches the requirements of your spray gun setup.

Our guide will explain everything you need to know about the HVLP spray gun compressor requirements and the technical key measurements you should consider. Once you understand, we will also recommend some of the best spray gun kits and compressor kits available on the SGS website. With the right tools, you’ll be able to create a masterpiece with any painting project you take on in the future.

What is a spray paint compressor?

Quincy QT-54 Splash Lubricated Reciprocating Air Compressor

When we talk about a spray paint compressor, we’re not talking about a special type of compressor only for spray painting. Instead, it’s an air compressor that is suitable for use with a gun.

Air compressors use a power source to store air under pressure in a tank. This compressed air can be used for different things, including spray painting. Different air compressors have different pressure limits, and that’s why it’s important to choose the right one.

Most professional spray paint guns use a delivery system called “high volume low pressure” (HVLP). So, finding a spray paint compressor that can provide the right amount of constant air pressure and volume is important. This will ensure a consistent flow of paint and give you a perfect finish.

What is HVLP?

HVLP spray guns work by using a lot of air at low pressure to break up paint into tiny droplets. Their air consumption is much less air pressure than traditional methods, usually around a quarter or even less. This means the paint doesn’t come out too fast and is less likely to bounce back at you, which makes your painting more efficient.

An HVLP spray gun can also create a softer spray, which helps reduce the waste of paint. However, they need a larger amount of air, so you’ll need a bigger compressor for them. We’ll talk more about that later.

What do you need in an air compressor for spray painting?

There are three important things to consider when it comes to air compressors for spray painting. The first is the pressure, measured in pounds per square inch (PSI). While HVLP paint guns work with low pressure, you still need to ensure the compressor can consistently provide enough PSI.

The second important thing is the volume of air, measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM). This indicates how many cubic feet of air your compressor can produce in one minute at a specific pressure. Choosing a compressor with a CFM rating higher than your gun’s requirement is crucial.

If the CFM is too low, you’ll experience a dreaded pressure drop and low volume, which can lead to uneven paint coverage. HVLP paint guns require a high volume of air, so a bigger compressor is needed.

Lastly, tank size matters because HVLP sprayers need a constant air flow, unlike other pneumatic tools that can work with intermittent air supply. So, your compressor should have a tank that can hold enough air to keep up with the gun without interruptions.

Which compressor should I use with my HVLP spray gun to get all the benefits?

Ingersoll Rand 80 Gallon Two-Stage Air Compressor

HVLP paint guns need a lot of air, so you’ll need a bigger compressor than you would use for simple home projects. To spray a wide range of finishing products effectively, you’ll need a compressor with at least 2.5 to 3 horsepower (HP) and a tank size of 75 liters (20 gallons). A compressor of this size will atomize the product well and provide constant air pressure to the gun. You can adjust how much pressure you like and the thickness of the paint as needed.

Remember to filter the air to remove water, oil, and dirt from entering the gun. If you have a regular compressor, you’ll also need a regulator to set the reserve air pressure correctly. You need to read the pressure range of the air compressor prior to making the final purchase.

Most compressors have different CFM ratings, and the higher the CFM, the more paint can be applied. Airless sprayers require a different setup altogether. Instead of using compressed air, they use a hydraulic pump to force the paint out at high pressure.

This allows for a faster and more even application of paint, making it ideal for large projects or textured surfaces. However, airless sprayers do require more maintenance and can be more expensive than traditional paint guns.

Using an HVLP spray gun is environmentally friendly. While it’s still important to wear masks as a safety precaution, using an HVLP gun reduces the amount of overspray, which can harm your health. Low-pressure LVLP spray guns require less PSI to operate efficiently.

Is the air regulator high-flow and of good quality?

Air regulators for sprayers play an important role in adjusting airflow and pressure to achieve consistent and reliable results. However, some regulators may restrict airflow and cause a drop in pressure. There are two main types of paint gun filter regulators: gun-mounted and wall-mounted.

Typically, larger wall-mounted regulators are better at maintaining steady air pressure for the gun, minimizing pressure drops. Your spray gun’s pressure regulator should provide sufficient airflow for the gun to work efficiently, with a capacity greater than your gun requires.

To check if the regulator is too restrictive, compare the readings on the gauge when the gun is in use and when it’s not in use. The difference between the two readings should be 5 PSI or less.

Keep in mind that even with a regulator, there may still be fluctuations in the air pressure, especially when using an air-adjustment valve-type restrictor. When you start spraying, there may be an initial burst of pressure from the air cap, which then stabilizes to the adjusted pressure. However, variations can occur due to changes in the system’s overall pressure.

Things you need to complete your paint project

Choose a gun that is suitable for the paint viscosity you will be using and the size of the project. HVLP sprayers allow minimal overspray while giving you great coverage. They do require a larger compressor to operate, unlike the LVLP spray guns.

LVLP guns can function with a lower CFM rating and are more suitable for smaller projects. Here is everything you need for your paint project:

#1 Safety gear

Before starting, put on a respirator or mask, goggles, and gloves.

#2 A suitable air compressor

Ensure you have the right compressor for your sprayer. A larger compressor is required to provide more air pressure for professional HVLP paint sprayers or for longer periods of spraying. HVLP Spraying requires an air source capable of operating at higher CFM ratings.

The more CFM you can get from an air compressor, the longer you will be able to spray without interruption. Make sure to check the CFM requirements of your HVLP sprayer and choose a compressor that can meet those requirements.

#3 Lengthy Hose

Connect the air hose between the paint sprayer and the compressor. The larger hose allows minimal paint wastage, which can help you save money on paint costs. It also provides flexibility and ease of movement while spraying, allowing you to reach difficult areas without the need to constantly move the compressor.

Make sure the hose is securely connected to both the gun and the compressor to avoid any air leaks or interruptions during your painting project.

#4 Spray gun attachments

Depending on your needs, you may need an air filter, a spray gun regulator, or quick disconnect fittings. Refer to the diagram above to see which ones you need.

Paint cups can also be attached to the sprayer for convenient paint storage. Remember to clean your HVLP sprayer thoroughly after each use to prevent clogging and maintain its performance.

#5 Propper Paint

Choose the appropriate type and color of paint for your project. Make sure to mix it thoroughly before pouring it into the paint cup. Your base coats will depend on the type of paint you are using. The fluid viscosity will play a role when it comes to setting up your sprayer.

Adjust the spraying pattern and pressure accordingly to achieve the desired results. After you have applied the main coat, you can use clear coats to provide a protective and glossy finish. Get as much paint as needed so you don’t run out in the middle of your project.

#6 Preparation Materials

To prepare the painting surface, you need to clean and remove any old paint or debris. Use sandpaper, a clay bar, or a wire brush to smooth out rough areas. To protect surrounding areas from overspray, use masking tape and plastic sheets to cover them up. Thinner materials will ensure clean and precise painting results.

Larger tips create less overspray, but at the same time, they may result in a less even and smooth finish. It is important to choose the right tip size for your specific project. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and main safety guidelines when using paint and painting equipment.

How to spray paint using an air compressor

Wondering how to use a paint sprayer with your new compressor? Here’s what you’ll need and the steps to follow:

  • Put on your safety gear to protect yourself.
  • Connect the sprayer to the air compressor using the air hose and the necessary attachments (as shown in the diagram).
  • Check that your compressor provides enough cubic feet per minute (CFM).
  • Mix your paint or primer with the recommended amount of solvent according to the instructions.
  • Test the spray pattern on a piece of cardboard to ensure the compression is consistent. Adjust the spraying pattern using the knob on the side of most HVLP spray guns if needed.
  • Apply an even coat of paint to your desired surface. If necessary, wait 12-24 hours for the first coat to dry, then apply a second one.


How many CFM do HVLP guns require?

The CFM requirement for HVLP paint guns can vary depending on the specific manufacturer. Generally, these guns typically require around 6 to 10 CFM at a specific PSI (usually between 20 to 30 PSI).

It’s important to check the manufacturer’s specifications for the specific HVLP gun you use to ensure you have an air compressor that can provide the required CFM.

What size compressor do I need to run a spray gun?

The size of the compressor needed to run an HVLP sprayer depends on the type of spray gun and the specific requirements of your painting project. For most spray guns, a compressor with a minimum of 2 to 3 horsepower (HP) and a tank capacity of 20 to 30 gallons is recommended.

However, it’s crucial to refer to the specifications provided by the spray gun manufacturer to determine the exact size of the compressor required for optimal performance.

Can I use an air compressor with an HVLP sprayer?

You can use an air compressor with HVLP (High Volume Low Pressure) spray guns. In fact, an air compressor is necessary to provide the air pressure required for the HVLP spray gun to atomize the paint properly.

It’s important to ensure the air compressor can deliver the necessary CFM and maintain the required pressure for consistent performance.

What is the maximum pressure for HVLP spray guns?

The maximum pressure for HVLP paint guns is typically around 10 PSI (pounds per square inch) or lower. HVLP guns are designed to operate at lower pressures to minimize overspray and achieve better transfer efficiency.

However, it’s important to check the specific manufacturer’s guidelines for the maximum pressure recommendation for your HVLP spray gun to ensure proper operation and the best results.

Last Updated on: July 5, 2023

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