A Review of All The Paint Sprayers We’ve Used

August 17, 2020

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We’ve done a lot of painting over the past 12 years. A. Lot. And with every project we tried to find ways of making it as painless as possible, while making sure the finish was done right. This took us into the realm of paint sprayers, which is quite the rabbit hole to head down.

We’ve used 7 different paint sprayers, all available in many hardware stores. So let’s talk about the strengths, the weaknesses, and value you get from each! We’ll also share another option that we have, but haven’t broken out yet. None of these reviews are sponsored – all opinions are our own.

Our Top Pick Overall – Graco Magnum Project Painter Plus
As far as sprayers for the DIYer go, Graco is a little pricier, but worth it if you plan on using it a lot. The Magnum Project Painter Plus is at a more obtainable price point, but uses the same airless tech that all of the Graco sprayers use.

– Price (as far as Graco goes)
– Airless tech gives a finer spray without thinning
– Long lead hose for maneuverability
– Can be sprayed at any angle
– Lots of nozzle options so you can use the same sprayer for all paints, primers and stains
– Lots of nozzle rods and attachments for more flexibility
– Fairly simple clean up

– If air does get in the hose (you run out of paint, for example), it can be a pain to get the spray going properly again
– Price (if you’re trying to go as budget as possible)
– Lots of potential for wasted paint if not careful when cleaning

Best Budget Option – Wagner Flexio 590
We used this sprayer for years in our first two homes, and it works really well. The paint does need thinned a smidge (we’d recommend Floetrol for this) and this sprayer is also more prone to spitting, so have a brush or small roller on hand to catch any big drips that may come out.

– Price
– Easy to use

– Can’t be held at any angle – must be kept mostly upright
– More prone to spitting
– Cleanup is more intricate – entire spray unit has to be taken apart and all the individual pieces scrubbed – takes maybe 30 minutes.

Favorite New-Comer – Graco Ultra Cordless
This little guy is our new favorite for quick, small paint jobs. It’s battery-operated, using the same batteries as the DeWalt 20V Max tools (which just so happens to be what all my tools are). Pricey, but really quality.

– Easy to use
– Handheld, battery operated
– Same airless tech as other Graco’s – really even spray
– Incredible flow rate for a handheld unit
– Cleanup
– Can be sprayed at any angle

– Price
– Unit as a whole is larger, so not great for tight spaces

Other Sprayers in Order of Preference

Graco Magnum X5
The step up from the Project Painter Plus, this sprayer just has a little more to it. A longer hose, higher PSI (3000 vs 2800), and an increased flow rate. Really great for bigger jobs.

   – Higher PSI and flow rate for larger jobs

   – Pricier. Only worth it if you will use it on big jobs a lot

Wagner Flexio 570
This is a fine sprayer. A little less power than the 590. All things considered we’d suggest just going for the 590 but this one will also do fine.

   – Cheapest of the ones we’ve tried

   – Least powerful
– Most prone to spitting

Wagner Flexio 890
The 890 gives a finer spray than the 590, but comes with a lot more bulk. It is nice that it has a case that everything fits into, but using it overall was a bit too clunky for it to be our go-to.

   – Better spray pattern and consistency than Flexio 590, but only just

   – Tethered to a base station with a not-very-long hose
– Can’t spray at any angle – must be kept mostly upright

One Worth Looking Into – Critter Siphon Gun
We bought this one and started using it on a cabinet project but realized quickly it’s perhaps best suited for small furniture. It connects to any air compressor via a standard compressor hose, and you simple fill the jar with paint and get after it. And the price is hard to beat, assuming you have a compressor already.

Things that excite us about this one:
   – Compact size
– Easy to store
– Simple cleanup
– Great for small furniture-painting jobs

Why it might not be for everyone:
   – Separate compressor and hose required
– Small paint reservoir – would have to refill often on large jobs

Sprayers reviewed in this post:
Graco Magnum Project Painter Plus
Graco Magnum X5
Graco Ultra Cordless
Wagner Flexio 590
Wagner Flexio 570
Wagner Flexio 890
Critter Siphon Gun

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What do you think?

  1. Steff says:

    We bought the Graco magnum ppp per your recommendation as well and LOVE it. We painted all our walls, all of our doors, bathroom cabinets in 3 bathrooms, and cabinets in the kitchen with it and the finish was flawless with zero drips! It was a little tricky to figure out how to use initially, but once we got the hang of it, it was smooth sailing. Worth every penny even if we never used it again at this point! We even used Sherwin Williams Extreme Bond Primer (which is the thickest primer I’ve ever seen), and it sprayed beautifully without thinning.

  2. Carol says:

    We’ve used the little critter on furniture and our wood interior doors (removes n taken outside) Gives a nice smooth finish. Spray outdoors only because of overspray that goes airborne. Can be finicky until you get nozzle adjusted n paint to water ratio right but a great low cost sprayer as you said if you already own a compressor.

  3. Vicki says:

    Thank you for this. How much Floetrol would you use per one gallon of paint?

  4. Ilkay says:

    Can you spray oil based paints as well?

  5. Antal Laczko says:

    As a professional painter, I would have one advice: every paint has to be thinned.
    Reasons behind it: workability, curing, open edge and finish.
    If you want a proper finish you will thin the paint + add some conditioner, that helps the machine as well – less spitting.
    With paint there is one rule, less is best.

  6. Sarah says:

    I bought the Graco Magnum on your recommendation and I LOVE IT. Bonus: I bought it refurbished off Ebay for $165! I’ve used it to paint my entire kitchen and it works great, plus it’s SO FUN. I second the request for a post with paint spraying tips — for instance, how you handle the occasional drip/splatter, how long you wait between the 1st and 2nd coat, if you ever sand between coats, how to make sure you the paint doesn’t go on too thick and “sag,” etc.

  7. Maggie says:

    Love your post on sprayers! One project I’m hoping to tackle is our kitchen cabinets. Our local Home Depot has Graco sprayer rentals, do you have any experience renting equipment? Worth it or no? I can’t see us using a sprayer very much and thought it could be a way to get great results without investing by purchasing. Thank you!

  8. Tinne says:

    Could you share any overall paint spraying tips? I bought the project plus after seeing you guys use it and am about to start on a big project tomorrow!

  9. Nicol Jones says:

    Have the critter. Just bought the project pro + to, among other things, paint cabinets in our kitchen. First pass with primer was so/so. Any tips on getting the small grooves w/o overspraying? Lots of drips over here.

    • Julia says:

      One of the main reasons why we wouldn’t recommend the critter for large projects is it’s spray volume is pretty low which means it’s going to take a lot longer. I’d recommend thinner coats–don’t stop the sprayer!

    • Darin says:

      We have the Graco pp+ and painted all cabinets and doors in the home. The trick we found to get paint in the grooves is to use a foam brush first. Spray shortly after and the results are excellent with out runs with doors on a flat surface. Use a good alkyd self levelling paint with good adhesion primer. Results were durable and excellent. Happy Painting.

  10. Courtney O says:

    I was so excited for the Critter Siphon Gun and hated it! I did not find it easy to clean at all, and if this is easiest, then it makes me think spray guns are just not for me. But it might also be my projects are smaller, so the time and energy wasnt worth it. Thanks for the handy info though – always great to see a side by side comparison!

  11. Cici Haus says:

    I’ve been thinking about getting a new sprayer. I have the Wagner Flexio 590 – it’s on the heavy side when filled with paint, filling the jar makes a mess and it’s a pain to clean and put back together every time. Holding it up above your head to paint the ceiling is exhausting. Thanks for this info!

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