Home / Auto Body / Painting / 2 Paint Spray Gun Pressure Settings Every Expert Should Know

2 Paint Spray Gun Pressure Settings Every Expert Should Know


Have you ever stood in front of a blank canvas, armed with a paint spray gun, ready to unleash your creativity onto the surface? If so, you know the secret to achieving a masterpiece lies in your artistic prowess and the often-overlooked realm of paint spray gun air pressure settings.

Like a conductor guiding an orchestra, understanding and mastering the pressure settings of your paint spray gun can unlock a world of precision, control, and flawless finishes.

So, let’s dive into this captivating realm where artistry meets engineering and discover the power that lies within the nuanced world of paint spray gun pressure settings.

HVLP Sprayer Air Pressure Setting for Base Coat Clear Coat (High Volume Low Pressure)

When it comes to achieving flawless base coat and clear coat finishes, mastering the air pressure settings of your spray gun is crucial. For base coat applications, setting your gun at a pressure range of 26-29 PSI (pounds per square inch) is generally recommended.

Simply pull the trigger and observe your gun’s dial or digital readout to measure this pressure, ensuring it falls within the desired range. However, when it comes to spraying clear coat, some painters prefer slightly higher pressure settings for improved atomization and better flow out.

Increasing the pressure by 2-3 PSI is often advised, resulting in a sweet spot of around 28-29 PSI. This adjustment can help achieve a smoother and more even finish for your clear coat application.

It’s worth noting that most HVLP spray guns consume around 10-14 SCFM (standard cubic feet per minute) of air volume at 40 PSI. This information is essential to ensure you have an adequate air supply for your paint gun, preventing any disruptions or compromised performance during your painting process.

LVLP Sprayer (Low Volume Low Pressure) Air Pressure Setting

LVLP spray guns operate with a lower volume of air and lower pressure, making them suitable for certain painting applications. When using an LVLP spray gun for base coat applications, it is commonly recommended to set the air pressure at around 10-15 PSI when the trigger is pulled.

However, personal preferences can vary, and some painters opt to adjust the pressure slightly higher. For example, setting the pressure at approximately 17 PSI can provide satisfactory results for base coat spraying. When it comes to applying the clear coat using an LVLP gun, higher pressures ranging from 20-25 PSI are often favored to ensure proper atomization air pressure when spray painting.

In terms of air consumption, LVLP spray guns typically utilize around 5-7 SCFM of air volume at 40 PSI. This information is valuable when choosing an air compressor to ensure it can provide an adequate air supply for your LVLP gun.

Control Knobs of Spray Guns And How They Affect The Spray Pattern

Whenever your spray gun starts spitting, or you notice that the fan pattern is a bit inconsistent, it is most likely because the pressure it is receiving is not high enough. However, you can still achieve a consistent spray pattern by adjusting the control knobs of your spray gun.

Fluid control knob

The fluid control knob allows you to adjust the amount of fluid delivered from the gun. By turning the knob clockwise, you can increase the amount of fluid being delivered, while turning it counterclockwise will decrease it. This is useful when you want to achieve a specific texture or coverage.

Furthermore, try spraying a very small amount of paint onto a flat or vertical surface so you can test the spray pattern. You want to do this procedure when you are trying to apply less viscous coatings to ensure an even and smooth application.

Fan control knob

The fan control knob allows you to adjust the shape and width of the fan. This is especially helpful when you need to cover a larger surface area or when you want to focus on a smaller, more precise area. If you decide to increase the fan width, you will need to open up the fluid delivery as well.

With each pull of the trigger, you can modify how far the fluid needle will advance away from the fluid tip by turning the fluid control knob. By fully opening this control, you are allowing the entire volume of fluid to flow through the nozzle opening.

With these two control knobs, you have the flexibility to customize your spray pattern to meet your specific needs and achieve professional-looking results.

What Size Air Compressor Do You Need To Set Up Shop?

When embarking on a painting project, it’s essential to consider the size and specifications of the air compressor required for your workshop. While shopping for an air compressor, it’s important to be cautious of inflated ratings often found on packaging or stickers.

Pay attention to the “under load” rating to ensure you have reliable air compressors, representing the compressor’s actual horsepower (HP). Disregard the numbers displayed on the packaging, as they can be misleading. It’s the underload rating that truly indicates the compressor’s power and performance.

By carefully considering the underload rating and selecting a compressor that meets the demands of your specific painting needs, you can set up a well-equipped shop capable of providing consistent and reliable compressed air for your spray gun. This ensures smooth painting operations and helps achieve professional-quality finishes with ease.

Understanding How Paint Sprayers Create Pressure

Paint sprayers come in different types, each with unique technology to generate the pressure for effective paint application. To simplify the concept, let’s explore the three main categories:

#1 Turbine Paint Guns:

Turbine sprayers are HVLP (high-volume, low-pressure) systems that operate without an external compressor. These units feature an integrated or stand-alone fan and motor system. These sprayers generate the required airflow and pressure by utilizing small compression fans, known as stages.

Plus, the number of stages directly affects the pressure output, with two-stage turbines being common. Turbine spray guns typically deliver pressures ranging from five to 10 PSI, making them suitable for various home-improvement coatings, minimizing bounce-back and overspray.

#2 Pneumatic Paint Sprayers:

Pneumatic paint sprayers, also known as conventional sprayers, rely on an external air compressor for operation. There are two types: HVLP and LVLP (low-volume, low-pressure). HVLP systems operate at around 10 PSI, while LVLP systems have fewer pressure outputs, as low as 3.5 PSI.

The compressor pressurizes ambient air and feeds it into a tank, building pressure. From there, the air is regulated and directed to the spray gun, where the final output is adjusted at the fluid nozzle. Pneumatic sprayers are versatile and find applications across a range of projects.

#3 Airless Systems:

Airless paint sprayers are the most powerful machines, capable of generating pressures exceeding 3000 PSI. These systems utilize a hydraulic pump powered by a motor. The pump aerosolizes the fluid internally, allowing the coating itself to hold the pressure. The pressurized paint is then forced through the spray nozzle, resulting in high-pressure atomization.

Airless sprayers quickly handle high-density coatings, making them popular for contractors in residential, commercial, and industrial settings. Airless applications’ pressure ranges vary, such as 800-1100 PSI for lacquer coatings, 1200-1800 PSI for low-viscosity stains, and over 2000 PSI for latex paints.

Understanding the technology behind different spray gun types and their respective pressure ranges enables you to select the most suitable option for your specific painting needs. Whether you’re a DIYer tackling home projects or a professional contractor handling large-scale jobs, the right spray gun can significantly enhance your painting experience and achieve optimal results.

Is Bigger Always Better? Understanding Paint Sprayer Pressure

When it comes to painting sprayers, bigger is not always better when selecting the appropriate air pressure. In fact, you don’t need a massive machine for many projects. Low-pressure options like LVLP and HVLP units offer distinct advantages, particularly automotive restoration and home interior touch-ups.

These sprayers provide finer control and are ideal for achieving precise, smooth finishes. One significant benefit is the reduction in overspray, which simplifies cleanup and saves you money by ensuring more of the coating ends on your intended surface.

However, bringing in heavy-duty airless sprayers may be necessary if you’re working on a large-scale project or using thicker paints like primers. These powerful machines boast impressive gallons per minute (GPM) output and can support multi-gun usage, enabling multiple spray painters to work simultaneously without any noticeable loss in pressure output.

Importance of An Air Pressure Regulator To Control Air Flow

Now that we’ve discussed the available machines and their suitability for different projects, let’s delve into the significance of pressure control when it comes to spray painting gun settings. Choosing a model with variable pressure settings is essential whether you opt for any conventional spray gun.

Adjusting the correct air pressure allows you to use the sprayer with thin coatings such as stains and varnishes. Lowering the PSI prevents you from damaging delicate surfaces or causing unwanted drips and runs.

On the other hand, sprayers with adjustable settings also enable you to increase the pressure when working with dense latex paints. This ensures efficient spray paint flow and proper atomization, delivering consistent results on larger surfaces or when applying thicker coatings.

By prioritizing a paint sprayer with pressure control capabilities, you gain versatility and the flexibility to adapt to various painting scenarios. Whether you’re working with delicate finishes or tackling more demanding applications, the ability to fine-tune the pressure settings ensures optimal performance and professional-quality results.


Do you need a lengthy air hose for my paint shop?

The longer the air hose, the more air inlet pressure you tend to lose, which can affect the performance of your spray gun. It is recommended to use a shorter air hose to minimize pressure loss and maintain consistent fluid delivery.

What pressure should a spray gun nozzle be?

The pressure at the spray gun nozzle is typically the same as the PSI setting on your paint gun. The fluid nozzle does not have a separate pressure specification. The pressure setting on your paint gun controls the pressure at the air nozzle, which affects the atomization and spray pattern of the paint.

What does 10 psi at the air cap mean?

A specification like “10 psi at the air cap” refers to the air pressure measurement at the point where the air exits the spray gun’s air cap or air nozzle. This measurement indicates the pressure when air is delivered to atomize the paint or coating. Adjusting your spray gun’s pressure to the specified level is essential to achieve the desired atomization and spray pattern.

Last Updated on: July 5, 2023

This div height required for enabling the sticky sidebar