Hvlp paint sprayers are considered by most woodworkers and pro painters as the best system for clear coats and thinned paints.

Below you will find the proper way to apply and complete a top notch hvlp spraying project.

Prior to starting your hvlp job, be sure to read and follow all instruction manuals and safety procedures.

If you have lost the manual for your sprayer, in most cases, a free download is available from the manufactures web site.

Also, follow all paint and paint product manufacturing guidelines and safety instructions prior to applying your coatings.


Thinning may be requird, as per sprayer and spray material recommendations. A max of 30% dilution for lacquer (less for other clear coats) and 10% in the case of paint is standard.

Some coatings may not be appropriate for your machine, be sure to check with the paint store and equipment manufacturer, before proceeding.

Along with applying the proper products, be sure to use the recomended solvents for the material you are going to spray.

Most painting products need straining, do so before plugging up your HVLP. A good rule of thumb for having the best spraying viscosity, is to dip a stirr stick into a can of the material you're using, then remove the stick.

Let the liquid run from the stick, until it starts to drip. When there is a one second time space between drips, your product should be ready to apply. If needed, add more thinner until the drips are timed correctly. Do not add to much thinner.

With the switch on your hvlp turned off, plug in your machine. Keep the hvlp as far away from your intended project as possible. At the same time, make sure the sprayer is close enough for you to work freely.

By keeping the machine from being covererd in product, the turbine filters will have an easyer time breathing.

Clip the hose to the cup gun. If you're using a pot sprayer, attach the pots fluid hose directly to the gun, along with the air hose.

Once everything is snug and your pot or cup has a thinned coating in it, you're ready to spray.

Read your hvlp's instruction manual, for information in regards to changing the gun needle and cap size. Good sizes to start out with are usually a .050 needle (give or take a little) and # 0 air cap.

Some hvlp's don't require a change of cap size. Using a scrap piece of board to spray on, turn the ring holding the air cap so that the needle is just under the cap itself.

Tightening (larger fan) and loosening (smaller fan) the ring will adjust fan size. Turning the top gun nob, (clockwise) adds air to your material flow.

Counter clockwise, of course decreases the air flow. Changing the fan shape, is achieved by turning the air cap itself. With the air cap at an angle it sprays a circle fan.

Also, keep in mind, when the cap sits horizontal the fan is vertical and visa versa. Fluid flow is lessened by turning the fluid nob, which is located just below the top air nob clockwise.

If more material is needed, turn the nob in the opposite direction.

An HVLP is a very delicate tool, that can with the smallest amount of debris, cause you the operator many hours of frustration.

Due to each piece of equipment being different, try and follow your machines cleaning instructions to a T.

As mentioned above, manuals can be downloaded from most HVLP manufactures web sites.

When moving the gun horizontally, you need to turn the air cap in a horizontal position. Start moving the gun across your test material, then pull the trigger.

Keep the gun six to eight inchs away from the spraying surface. Drop down and overlap the next pass by half of the first. Keep the distance of your gun from the project, as consistant as possible. Hvlp paint sprayers, can also be set for vertical spraying.

The key to an excellent spray job, is understanding the surface being sprayed, equipment used and coating material applied.

Expanding on that. Ask yourself, what type of wood surface are you coating. Is it pine, oak, maple etc. Should each kind of surface be sprayed differently.

Was the coating material properly strained and thinned. Is my spray equipment of good quality and well cleaned. Are the knob adjustments correct and made from experience using my sprayer.

Do I keep the gun absolutely perpendicular to my surface and at the same distance from the project when applying products. Do I improperly arc the gun towards, then away from my project in a c shape.

What is the best speed when swiping my gun across the surface. Am I overlapping as per product instructions. Most importantly is practise, practise, practise.

Keep testing by finding the best coating viscosity, learning the equipment, loosening/tightening the air or fluid knobs, and adjusting cap/ring positioning.


Sprayed surfase looks bumpy or orange peeled

Lack of air could be the culprit. Adjust your guns air knob or change the air cap to see if this helps.

Product used to dilute your selected coating, may not be appropriate for the material you are using. Check with the store where you bought your coating and thinner.

Material needs more thining, depending on manufactures instructions.

Running or sagging material.

This is a good reason for using a practice sheet of material, prior to using hvlp paint sprayers.

Thinning with an excess amount of solvent or thinner is the number one reason for this problem. Add more un-thined coating to the thinned material, then try again.

Another cause for runs and sags is having your gun to close to your project, when operating hvlp paint sprayers. Hold the gun at least eight to ten inches from the surface being sprayed.

Excess overlapping of wet material, may be causing the problem. Be sure you have an understanding of how much overlapping is needed to complete your project properly. Practice is the key.

Reducing the flow of fluid can also solve this problem.

Defects in sprayed materials.

Some thinners can dry too quickly or slowly, (blushing) depending on the enviroment that hvlp paint sprayers are being used in. You may need to buy a chemical from your paint store that will slow down, or speed up your spray coatings drying time.

Bumps and holes can be avoided by applying lighter successive coats. Three or four thinner coats are far better than one thick application.

If all else fails, try a more diluted coating, with a smaller air cap, when dealing with bumps and holes.

Not knowing what primer to use or how to properly operate hvlp paint sprayers, along with moisture can cause blistering. Watch for these problems when spraying.

Finally be sure your material is not contaminated or the project you're doing improperly prepped. A little sanding and surface cleaning can save a lot of headache.

Dried finish has missed areas.

Check that the air and fluid line, from the beginning of the hvlp paint sprayers hose, to the tip of the gun to insure nothing is plugged or damaged.

Practice overlapping until there are no runs sags or missed areas. The amount of distance that one moves the gun, for each pass might be less or more than you may think.

Practicing on a throw-away surface, like thick cardboard, then moving up to disposable pieces of wood, is the only cure for this problem.


In closing, having quality, well working, clean equipment and using only that which is recommended for the job at hand, ends up being very crucial when doing a superior hvlp spray job.

Check to see that nozzles, filters, and hoses are not blocked, loose, or have nicks and holes.

Be sure moving parts are not damaged or stuck. Know the material being sprayed and practice with the tools you will be using.

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