Brian and I had always heard that inexpensive, handheld paint sprayers didn’t work and weren’t worth the trouble. We have borrowed a contractors airless paint sprayer a couple of times to paint the entire inside of our house and more recently when we painted the outside, so we know what they can do and how well they work.
However, I’ve always got a LOT of small painting projects in the pipeline that are too small for the hassle of a big sprayer. Which means I inevitably put them off because of the time involved in brushing on paint. Or because I’d prefer to not have brush marks.
Or that I’m too lazy. But we don’t need to go there.
I liked using a can of spray paint (make that a couple of cans…) to paint the curved base of our dining room table last year- it went on easy and covered nice and smooth. But at $5+ bucks a can, one project can easily get to $15 just for the paint, which is not the most frugal thing. Not to mention all the little cans that go in the trash.
When it came time to paint our new dining room chairs (or past time, since we’ve had them since last October!) I started with a can of spray paint. When I realized it was going to take two cans for each chair (that would be close to $40 for four chairs, plus a cramped finger unless I also bought a spray can trigger, which always breaks after about one can’s use…), I started researching electric handheld sprayers.
Which was very interesting. There are a LOT of naysayers out there. “Don’t waste your money,” and “clogs and spits paint,” and even “tricked into buying!” The funniest was, “This is a great sprayer…for me to POOP on!” Goodness- who writes these kind of things?
When I zeroed in on this Wagner HVLP Control Sprayer:
What I found even more interesting were all the people who said things like, “worked great for me,” or “very pleasantly surprised,” and “great gun for the price and saved me a ton of time.”
Oooo, they’re talkin’ my language here. When I read the most recent reviews – “Great product- don’t be fooled by the bad reviews” and “Be patient and don’t listen to the naysayers,” it seemed people either loved it or hated it (there are very few in-between reviews), and the reasons for the hating seemed to be in the way it was used (or not used). I decided I would take a chance and try out the gun to see for myself which camp I would fall into.
I’m so glad I did, even though Brian was firmly on the side of “you’re going to be disappointed.” And the reason I went for it is because I knew what painting with a big, expensive sprayer was like- there’s always a lot of overspray (I could barely see Brian when he was painting the interior), drips are an issue, and clean-up is a hassle. I would expect these things with any sized sprayer.
In other words, my expectations were low. I just wanted something for small jobs, like chairs, bi-fold doors, and cabinet doors.
There was actually some good information in the reviews about how to get the sprayer to work the best, and I followed some of the advice.
- We bought the Wagner paint conditioner called “Paint Easy” to thin the latex paint we were using.
- I didn’t hesitate to use it with latex paint because so many reviewers had used it with good results- even though water-based latex is not mentioned in the materials that come with the sprayer.
- I followed all the directions meticulously, thinning the paint as directed on the conditioner bottle.
- I used a large piece of cardboard to start spraying on, so that if the paint spit some at the beginning, it would be on the cardboard (though it really didn’t much).
- I practiced first on the cardboard, getting the feel of the trigger and how the paint came out.
- I set the chairs in an old three-sided shed, making a “spray booth” of sorts.
- I applied thin coats in order to avoid drips.
You can see here that it does spray with “droplets” of paint (not sure what to call them…). The first coats do not look smooth at all, and I was a bit worried.
This picture of the bench Brian made out of a couple of our broken chairs shows better how the coats look as they are applied. You can even see at the top where I had to brush a drip when I got overzealous with the spray gun. The first coats should be so thin you can still see the original finish- by the third coat, it will be covered.
I did need to wait overnight (I couldn’t fit all the chairs at once in the shed), so I took one of the reviewers suggestions to just let the sprayer sit without moving, letting the bit of paint dry on the nozzle to create an air-tight environment for the paint in the sprayer. In the morning (I actually did this every time I needed to leave it for a few hours) I took a thumbtack and gently pricked off the dried paint on the nozzle – it pulled right off – and started spraying on the cardboard. It took about 30 seconds to start again, but then sprayed like normal!
I then only cleaned it when I was done with all the projects I had planned. I did take my time cleaning- following all the directions and making sure I got all the paint off where ever I could. It cleaned up really well.
I was pleasantly surprised that after the coats were applied and the paint dried, the finish on the furniture appeared smooth! Much, MUCH better than a brush. They aren’t quite as smooth as the finish from a can of spray paint – but you can only tell if you rub your hands over them (and it’s still pretty subtle).
My verdict? I LOVE it! It’s exactly what I need to help me paint chairs, my kitchen cabinet doors, our closet bi-fold doors (think about how easy the louvers are going to be!!), and our large room doors. I’ll have to remove them and take them out to my “spray booth” but I will save HOURS of work, so I’m totally OK with that. *smile*
Have you had experience with one of these sprayers? Which camp do you fall into?