HVLP Vs Airless Spraying- Which is Best?

A common question asked when selecting spraying as your method of paint application is which is preferred, HVLP Vs Airless Spraying?

Both are forms of paint spraying but offer differing positives and disadvantages. There is no one paint spray fit all devices unfortunately and both machines have their uses. Both forms of the spraying machines can be bought at commercial and domestic grade.

We run through the main differences that HVLP Vs Airless Spraying offer so that you consider what you need for your next spraying projects.

HVLP Paint Spraying

HVLP Spray Machine

HVLP is the abbreviation for High Volume Low Pressure. This explains how the spray system works. A high volume of material (normally paint) is moved by a low pressure of air flowing from the machine. Air is added to the paint in an HVLP spray machine.

Paint is usually inserted into a pot on an HVLP machine, whilst the air comes directly from the machine or an external compressor. When the air meets the paint at the top of the gun, the paint becomes atomized and leaves the gun as tiny droplets in spray form.

The way that the HVLP gun delivers paint out of the tip enables the accurate distribution of the paint.

It is used to paint furniture, car parts, even some tanning retailers use this method to apply a fake tan.

The Advantages of HVLP Spraying

  • HVLP is great for spraying the finer detail. Window frames, doors, furniture, smaller items.
  • The high volume of paint coming out and the low pressure that it is applied with mean a greater amount landing of the surface and less overspray. Less Overspray is always preferred as it saves on paint, is more environmentally friendly and creates less waste.
  • A great finish, probably the best outside of a factory environment.
  • HVLP machines won’t break the bank. Starter models are affordable.
  • They are portable and don’t take up much room.
  • Easy to maintain

The not so good of HVLP Paint Spraying

Large areas would take a huge amount of time with an HVLP spray machine because of the low pressure involved. The HVLP machine is designed as a fine finishing piece of equipment.

Thicker coatings also struggle when using an HVLP machine because it struggles to atomize the paint, these either need to be thinned down or applied by other means, airless for instance.

Models of HVLP Spraying Units

Airless Paint Spraying

Airless Spraying is a method of paint spray application that sprays huge amounts of paint in very little time and this advantageous when there are large areas to spray.

Airless painting works on a pressurized paint system and the pressure can reach limits of 2000 psi. When you compare this to an HVLP spray gun which achieves a measly 10 psi maximum, you can see we are dealing with a beast of a machine.

An airless machine achieves atomization of the paint by using large amounts of paint to be forced up the hose to a small tip on a spray gun. It doesn’t use air it uses the paint itself.

It is advised that Airless Spraying is used by trained professional painting contractors as overspray from Airless can become a problem and experience of substrates and environmental conditions is an important factor.

Airless Paint Spraying

Advantages of Airless

  • Highly productive machine. It can deliver a lot of paint in a short space of time. Ideal for spraying large spaces like warehouses, internal and external of home walls.
  • It can apply thick materials like fire-resistant paint and even plaster.
  • Can apply over 7 litres of paint in a minute

Not so good of Airless

They can be expensive to purchase. Professional models can easily ask for over $1000.

When using Airless spray guns, it can be harder to control the paint and therefore less accurate in their spray zone. The finish isn’t as smooth as HVLP applied paint

Overspray and paint drift can occur if the conditions are windy.

There is a serious risk of injury with high pressure.

We go into much greater detail on Airless in our guide to airless spraying


As we have seen both HVLP and Airless Spraying offer superb finishes. We recommend that you use the best spray gun suited for each job. If you are looking for a small area with a bit of finesse then an HVLP paint spraying unit is the preferred choice. If large areas require spraying with a water-based emulsion or thicker paint then Airless Paint Spraying is the route to go. We hope that this article answered your questions on HVLP Vs Airless spraying.