Learn To Spray Paint Cars - Step By Step Guide

How Do Airless Paint Sprayers Work – The Dirty Details

We discuss how do airless paint sprayers work. What components make up an airless paint sprayer along with answering your basic questions about sprayer usage.

I used to face many glitches with my old sprayer until one day I tried an airless paint sprayer. I immediately got rid of my compressor with its expenses and portability issues. Banking on the airless sprayer’s internal pistons, I was able to apply paint twice as fast and even more flawlessly. The cost-effectiveness and increased productivity are what every painter wants. It’s all within your reach, but first, let’s learn how do airless paint sprayers work.

How do airless paint sprayers work?

Airless paint sprayers don’t have a compressor. Instead, they pump out the paint with the use of a motorized pump. Airless paint sprayer motors can be electric or gas-powered. These sprayers generate pressure from pump action. The paint comes out through a hose and a small hole in the gun tip at a pressure of about 3,000 psi. This high pressure created by the pumps breaks up the paint into small fine droplets like mist. The result is a smooth finish for your surfaces.

Why choose an airless paint sprayer?

Airless sprayers may be highly suitable for large scale jobs where speed is of the essence. You can apply more material in a short time by spraying directly from the paint can. It works for both thin and thick paint types, including stain, varnish, and latex.

Even with all these merits, you have to watch out for drawbacks in the model of device you go with. If the paint particles don’t get atomized well, they may fail to stick to the surface. Your paint could end up wasted in the air and on places where you didn’t want it. Cleaning up the spray gun can also be a challenging process, as I have found. Despite these cons, I wouldn’t trade my airless paint sprayer for anything else.

What airless paint sprayer do I need?

The type of airless paint sprayer to choose depends on the scope of your work and the versatility and power you need. Options include:

  • DIY sprayers: They are smaller and highly portable. They are designed for small projects and perform better than a brush and a roller.
  • Semiprofessional: These paint sprayers are slightly larger and perform better than DIY sprayers.
  • Professional: They are large and suitable for commercial paint projects. Features include powerful engines and large hose lengths and tip sizes.

What specifications to look for in a sprayer?

Maximum spray tip size

Larger tips are suitable when working with heavy-coated paint jobs. For thinner paints, go with smaller tip sizes.

Maximum hose length

If you are painting a fence, a roof, or a similar larger project, you will need a sprayer with a longer hose. However, if it’s a small DIY project in the house, you can save money by going with a small hose sprayer.

Annual Usage

For heavy use, buy a unit with sturdily constructed parts. The sprayer must have readily available replacement parts to prevent downtime if something goes wrong.

Size and weight

Find an airless paint sprayer that you can pack and move around with ease during your operations.

What are the components of an airless paint sprayer?

Every model comes with a gun, tip, hose, and pump. Those are the standards parts. The hose is often wider at the point where it goes into the paint and narrower where it links up to the nozzle. The gun is what you have to modulate the flow of paint. When you squeeze the trigger, the valve pops, and paint flows out of through the tip. You can also control the amount of paint coming up by working with different shapes and sizes of gun tips.

The pump

The pump is the most crucial part of your airless paint sprayer. It is what pressurizes and moves the paint. These pumps typically consist of heavy-duty corrosion-free metal so they can build up the necessary pressure required to atomize the paint.

Your airless spray painter could have a piston or diaphragm pumps. Piston pumps are good when you need your paint a little thicker to minimize wastage in the air. The piston pump is powered hydraulically from the motor. It draws in paint when it moves up and pushes the paint out via the hose to the nozzle when it moves downwards. The up and down motion creates a high pressure that atomizes the paint.

Diaphragm pumps are less costly compared to piston pumps. They work just like piston pumps, by moving up and down. However, in this case, when the pump moves, the diaphragm expands and contracts, helping to build up the pressure needed to push out the paint in fine molecules.


Check valves play an essential role in ensuring that paint flows one way out of through the hose to the nozzle and not backward.


Another critical component of your airless paint sprayer is the motor. It powers the movement of the pump, and it is what helps your paint to move. Most models of airless paint sprayers use electric motors. The motors can either be Alternating Current (AC), Direct Current (DC), or Universal.

AC motors generate more power since you plug the machine into the wall outlet. DC motors, on the other hand, are battery-powered. They are convenient and portable, helping you to work even in places that have no power connection. Some other models have the universal motors that allow you to use AC or DC whenever you feel like it. If versatility is what you need, go for the universal types.

Drive Train

The drive train transmits power from the motor to the pump.


You wouldn’t be able to spray anything without a hose now, would you? The hose is the pathway for the pressurized paint to flow to the gun. The right hose should have the capability to put up with the high-pressure liquid coming from the pump.


The gun helps you get out of the paint and onto your surface when you need it. It also helps you to hold it back while keeping it still pressurized until you need it during the operation.


The spray tip or nozzle regulates the amount of paint coming out. I often work with different sized tips as part of my painting kits. That gives me more control and efficiency over the amount of fluid coming out and the spray pattern that results on the wall. Working with a variety of tips can also save your time if you get an incidence of tip clogging.

Pressure Control

The pressure control can be electrical or mechanical. It helps to regulate the pressure of the paint for a smooth painting experience.


The chassis is what holds all the airless paint sprayer components. The chassis design can be Stand, Hi-Boy, Roof-Rigs, or Convertibles for hydraulic sprayers.


The prime or spray valve turns the sprayer to PRIME mode or SPRAY mode to prepare to use or shut down your device.


The piston uses rods for up and down movements in the fluid section.

Intake Tube

The intake tube draws paint from the can into the pump where it is pressurized and sent out via the hose.

Return Tube

The return tube feeds paint back into the can during a priming operation.

Manifold Filter

The manifold filter sieves out large particles of paint and can help to prevent gun clogging.

Gun Filter

This section removes any remaining debris before the paint passes through to the gun.


These are the seals in the pump section that help with efficient pump functioning.

What are the types of sprayer designs?

Stand sprayer

These airless paint sprayers feature a stand as opposed to wheels. Portability involves manually carrying them from place to place.


These sprayers have the design of an upright cart and sit considerably high on the ground. It is easy to tilt these models and place high capacity paint can underneath it. These sprayers come complete with wheels and could, therefore, prove beneficial in large worksites

Low Boy

They sit low on the ground. Low Boy airless paint sprayers are convenient for small workspaces. They are also less costly, but you will have to put up with limited maneuverability.


These sprayers can convert from electric to gas, giving you the power and versatility you need for your worksite.

Roof rig

These are hydraulic sprayers specifically designed to provide the pressure and flow needed for roof coating jobs


Do you thin paint for airless sprayer

With compressor paint sprayers, diluting the paint helps to achieve better consistency. But the whole point of airless spray painters is that you do not go through all those procedures. The high pressure and atomization process does the work for you.

Does an airless sprayer use more paint?

One major drawback with airless sprayers, as mentioned earlier, is that if the paint comes out extra thin, most of it goes to waste. The tiny pressurized drops that come out may hang in mid-air or land somewhere else that is not your intended destination. You will end up using more paint than when working with a compressor sprayer.

Do Airless sprayers create overspray?

If the atomization happens at high pressure, chances are you will have an overspray. You can minimize that by spraying at a low-pressure setting. You must also hold the gun close to the surface to work around this caveat.

Can you run paint thinner through a paint sprayer?

You can run the thinner through the pump when cleaning the sprayer after use.

Can you leave paint in a sprayer overnight?

You can leave paint in the sprayer overnight provided it’s not pressurized. However, this might not be ideal in colder climates.

Summing Up How Do Airless Paint Sprayers Work

Airless paint sprayers are super-functional tools that solve the problems of compressor sprayers. They work by using high pressure generated from a hydraulic pump. The paint is pressurized so that you don’t have to thin it. The sprayer works faster, and it is possible to achieve a consistent finish with these machines. Depending on the scope of your work, you can choose the DIY, semi-professional or commercial types of airless paint sprayers.

Best Selling Paint Sprayers

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Best Paint Sprayer

Leave a Comment