A good value airless sprayer that really does the job. Much more cost effective than renting an airless sprayer for a week.
Cost: Under $200 on sale (nearly always), easy to operate, sprays well. Covers big areas in a short period of time. Many parts interchangeable with other name brand sprayers.
25′ hose is too short for house painting. Spray Gun filter hard to remove. Spray gun instructions show wrong model gun.
I bought this sprayer because I was going to paint my house. Also, it had good reviews on Harbor Freight plus the fact that renting an airless sprayer for a week was going to cost me more than I could buy it for at HF.
I had never used an airless sprayer but had experience using air pressure sprayers. I knew from experience that painting (actually, staining) an entire house was not a good idea using an air sprayer. We’re talking about delivering 14 gallons of stain to the surface of a medium sized house. Using the airless sprayer was the only way to go.
Opening the box, the spray gun is separately boxed with the spray tip, 2 fine mesh filters and a cleaning brush and a folded set of instructions. I always familiarize myself with my tools so I took the gun apart removing the spray guard and tip plus opened the filter compartment in the handle.
Opening the filter involved using a 7/8″ wrench to grip the nut just below the trigger guard. There are two nuts there, but the outer one closest to the hose fitting is really just a swivel joint so that the attached paint hose will not tangle or twist too badly while in use. I had a difficult time removing the mesh filter and the instructions were of no help at all. I had to reach in with a needle nose pliers and unscrew the filter tab then pull the filter and spring out. The inner end of the filter does not want to come out so the filter, spring and filter tab are the only pieces that came out.
Once satisfied that I knew how it all looked when new, I put it all back together. It was not clear where the Teflon washer went – above or below the trigger guard. Since it was supposed to be a seal, I figured it went against the handle above the trigger guard and the instructions and parts list did not show it. I was wrong (see below).
Airless Spray Tip Sizes
Tips come in various sizes and the numbers contain two pieces of information: how wide the fan patter will be and how big the orifice is. The first number (3,4,5, etc.) is half the number of inches that the fan spray will be while holding the gun 1 foot away from the surface to be painted. A 3xx tip will have a 6″ fan pattern, a 4xx will have an 8″ and a 5xx will have a 10″ pattern. Some research into which size spray tip to use for a thin stain told me that the 515 tip that comes with the sprayer is fine for thicker latex paints but an 11-13 size tip was better for the thinner stain. I decided that an 8″ spray pattern was a good choice so I ordered a Reversible Airless Spray Tip 413 silver for Wagner, Graco, and Titan – ProSource Brand #141263762807. It worked like a charm.
I needed to get the feel of this sprayer before I started painting, so I un-boxed it, attached the hose and gun. I unwound the hose so it was uncoiled and lay flat in the driveway. I primed it using water and sprayed patterns on the driveway. It was a good learning experience on getting it primed and ready to paint so I recommend that you do the same.
Priming was easy by putting the suction hose into a 5-gallon bucket of water and the primer tube into another smaller bucket. I turned the lever to prime and turned it on. In 10-20 seconds a spurting stream of water was coming out of the primer tube. I put the primer tube back into the bucket of water with the suction hose and moved the lever to spray, st the pressure to low spray and turned it on. It took a few seconds to pressurize the hose and gun, but most of it was air. Heeding the warnings of “injection hazard” I faced the spray gun toward the driveway and pulled the trigger. The trapped air came out and the water starting spraying in a fan pattern. When I released the trigger, the base of the gun was leaking. I had put the Teflon washer on the gun back incorrectly. I turned off and depressurized the entire sprayer then removed the gun from the hose. I opened the filter compartment and placed the Teflon washer under the trigger guard and re-tightened it and put the hose back on. Everything worked fine after that.
Once pressurized, the sprayer motor turns off and only goes on when you are using the sprayer. It has a whirring sound for a second or two then shuts down unless you continue to use paint.
The Painting Process
Once I was ready to spray the house, the spray gun delivered the oil stain to the siding evenly and effectively. I needed to back brush the stain into the rough cedar siding, so I would spray about 6 feet of board, usually 2-4 at a time, then back brush the stain into all the nooks and crannies of the wood. As I became more accustomed to the speed of delivery, I could cover 30′ of siding and back brush it in about 5 minutes. So I would spray with one hand and brush with the other. The only thing slowing down the process was my tired arms.
It’s important to keep a wet edge while painting or staining otherwise you get lap marks that will show for years to come. So try to complete a board from end to end while wet, then move up to the next board. When I needed to go to the highest peaks of the house, a ladder would not do because the stain would start to dry each time I descended the ladder, moved it, and ascended to paint the next 4-6 feet. Besides being exhausting when you’re up 25 feet, I was making lap marks.
So I rented a cherry picker (aerial bucket lift or aerial work platform – AWP). This was the best investment of the project because I did not have any more lap marks and I completed 80% of the house in 2 days. The lift review is a subject for another post.
Overnight, I simply put the suction hose into a gallon of mineral spirits (water for those using Latex paints) and flushed out the pump, spray gun and hose. I turned off the pump, moved the lever to “prime”, reduced the pressure to the “prime” setting, put the primer hose into the paint bucket and then started the pump for 10 seconds or so to save the paint from the pump. Then I removed the spray tip from the gun, aimed the gun into the paint bucket and pulled the trigger and held it while turning on the pump (so that it didn’t pressurize fully). The paint came out of the hose and gun in about 10 seconds. Then I move the gun and primer hose to a “dirty mineral spirits” bucket and ran more spirits through the gun in the same fashion. When it was deep enough, I put the suction hose into the dirty mineral spirits bucket too and let it run for 30 seconds as it’s second wash. I put the suction hose into the clean spirits and ran the pump until both the spray gun and primer hose were clear. This took about 20-30 minutes. I also cleans residue paint from the gun, hoses, and pump using stiff brushes to get into the crevices.
For longer term storage, I did the same, then took the filter out of the gun and cleaned it all up well. I took the hose off and emptied the mineral spirits from it. I left mineral spirits in the pump. If I decide that I won’t use it for several months, I’ll empty the mineral spirits out of the pump and put a few drops of household oil into the pump by turning it upside down and removing the suction and primer hoses, run the pump for 5 seconds and seal it all up for storage.
The instructions come with a warning about no returns accepted unless the unit is clean. Well forget it. You can never fully clean a paint sprayer, hose, gun, etc. without leaving some traces of paint. I would recommend trying it with water to see if it works as expected.
Unless you paint professionally, you won’t need a top brand airless sprayer. If you can spray paint your project in one day, rent a sprayer. If your project is large and you need more than several days, buy this Harbor Freight airless sprayer. It will give you time to learn how to use it well and will do the job leaving a nice smooth finish to your project. It was well worth the investment for my house painting project.