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Can You Spray Auto Paint With An Airless Sprayer?

Airless paint sprayer for cars are one of the most useful tools you can have in your arsenal, especially if you’re an avid DIY-er who likes taking on big paint projects at home.

They are simple and easy to use, and can paint a whole room in a couple of hours, as opposed to doing it with a roller or brush. On top of that, they can be used for a wide array of paint jobs, which has led a lot of people to wonder if you can paint a car with it.

Additionally, a lot of people have also asked !

Can You Spray Auto Paint With An Airless Sprayer?

Yes, it is possible to spray auto paint with an airless sprayer, however, painting a car with an airless sprayer may require a lot of effort.

This is because a lot of these sprayers may not be able to produce a finely atomized mist, which can result in a coarse finish on your car.

However, this can be corrected by thinning the paint with more reducers and applying more coats.

So while it is possible, painting a car using an airless sprayer can prove to be a pretty tough task. And to make things easier for you, we’ve made a quick guide to painting your car using a paint sprayer!

Read on to learn more.


Can You Spray Auto Paint With An Airless Sprayer

Can You Use An Airless Sprayer To Paint A Car?

As we mentioned earlier, it is completely possible to paint your car using an airless sprayer, but it won’t be an easy task. To obtain the glass-smooth finish that you’ll commonly see on most modern cars, the sprayer needs to produce a finely atomized mist of paint, which isn’t something a lot of airless sprayers can do.

That being said, it is possible to thin the auto paint further with a reducer so that the sprayer can achieve the right mist, but this will also require you to put more coats.

On top of that, most car enthusiasts will tell you that the “painting” aspect is the easiest part and what is more important when it comes to achieving a clean finish is to properly prep the car and apply the right base coats and primer.

So if you’re comfortable using an airless sprayer and don’t mind having to apply more coats, then you should have no problem using it to paint your car, just be ready to do a whole lot of work!

Can You Spray Auto Paint With An Airless Sprayer

What Kind Of Sprayer Can Be Used To Paint A Car?

So if airless sprayers aren’t the best tools for painting a car, what is?

Well, the answer to that would depend on who you ask, but a lot of people would recommend using an electric HVLP sprayer for painting your car.

HVLP stands for high volume, low pressure, meaning the sprayer uses high pressure air from a compressor and converts it to a lower pressure, which results in a spray with lower volume of paint.

This will reduce the chances of overspray which also reduces the cost of painting and the time it will take. Additionally, these tools create a finely atomized mist which is ideal for spraying auto-paint onto cars, as long as it is prepared properly.

On top of that, there are HVLP paint sprayer for car out there on the market that are specifically designed and made for painting cars.

This will ensure that you have just the right pressure and mist to apply clean and smooth finishes on your car that will last you a long time.

But remember, painting is considered the easiest part of these DIY projects, and what is more important is that you prepare your car for a paint job properly, making sure to remove any rust dents, and trim and also making sure to sand and prime the body before you start painting.

By doing this, you will have a much easier time later on getting that nice, smooth finish that you see on most modern cars.

Why would you want to spray auto paint with an airless sprayer?

Now, this is an interesting question. I think the first thing is because you can be very accurate with it. If you’ve ever sprayed with a gun, there’s not much control over where your paint goes.

You aim and shoot – even if it’s just to get a uniform amount of spray-on, let’s say, the grill of an automobile. With airless sprayers, you have far more control over how you’re applying that material onto whatever object or surface that you’re spraying.

So accuracy is something any professional detailer would probably look for in rushing with an airless system. Now accuracy isn’t always necessarily better than putting too much product on an area, but certainly with most, if it’s done right, it’s much more efficient than putting it on with a can.

Now, I’m not saying that you’d necessarily want to use an airless sprayer all the time. You don’t necessarily need to, depending on what type of paint or product you’re using, how often you use your equipment and your budget.

So there are other options besides just using an airless sprayer for everything, but certainly when material needs to be applied in a lot of areas where mainly paint might be involved; this method gives you much better coverage potential than even the biggest aerosol can does because it won’t get anywhere near as thick underneath the nozzle where it doesn’t get good coverage.

What are the benefits of using this type of equipment?

The benefits are that you can get better coverage without using a lot of material because the material isn’t coming out of the nozzle in many, many tiny streams.

It’s coming out all at once and not breaking up into finer particles until it hits whatever surface you’re spraying, so product usage is much more efficient when using an airless sprayer or paint system.

This type of technology isn’t anything new; but typically has only been used on water-based products, like paints, for example.

Now you can buy equipment – although they aren’t necessarily cheap, there are some good ones out there – that will allow you to spray oil-based products with the same kind of accuracy that I’m talking about right now.

So if you were to use something like a primer, or let’s say you wanted to put some clearcoat on, potentially with an airbrush system. That is certainly doable and not very expensive if you convert your equipment to work with oil-based products.

So performance-wise, you have much better control over the product being applied onto whatever object or surface you’re spraying.

You don’t have to worry about clogging either because the paint isn’t coming out in smaller droplets necessary when using an aerosol can where it might be breaking up – especially with water-based materials – into many tiny droplets as it exits the tip of the fuel can underneath.

It’ll come out all at once, usually with a larger droplet that’s much easier to control.

How do I properly use an airless sprayer for painting my car?

So there are a lot of different products. Many other brands have their own best practices for cleaning and maintaining their equipment, just like your typical air compressor or spray gun that you would use with an aerosol can. So it’s kind of similar to those types of things.

Still, some precautions should be taken before using it with oil-based products. The only difference is that this unit sprays paint instead of water or some lubricant on metal surfaces – whatever your needs might be.

With water-based materials, typically, you’re not going to have any problems if you clean your equipment properly after every use. The whole drying process isn’t as critical because water doesn’t leave any residue that can cause corrosion or rust.

But with oil-based products, you want to make sure that this equipment is thoroughly dried out before letting any humidity get into it.

Moisture can cause corrosion because these types of materials have water in them, so they’re much more sensitive than using a water-based product.

We don’t want standing water or moisture getting into the equipment that will be used for spraying paint because then we have instant problems and potentially ruining your materials.

So cleaning is still necessary because you want to keep all parts lubricated, so they will not rust or corrode prematurely.

You also wish to – since you’ve been using oil-based products – everything will need a thorough cleaning every time you use it, so before you go from one product to another, you want to make sure that the equipment is completely dried out.

Depending on which unit you have, some products may allow water or even alcohol to pass through it without any problems if they effectively filter these materials. Some of them use membranes – similar to what you’d see in a fish tank filter – if they do not have an internal pump system inside of them.

So I’m talking about airless sprayers where instead of having an internal pump like most standard ones would have, they rely on the fact that the pressure from the material being pushed out is enough force to drive the paint up into the hose and then out onto whatever surface you’re spraying.

What should I be aware of before spraying auto paint with an airless sprayer?

So there are a couple of different things. The pressure setting is the most critical thing you need to be aware of when using any device with oil-based products because – unlike water-based materials where you may have a much lower PSI rating – these types of paints and lubricants can damage an airless sprayer if it’s not set to the proper PSI for that particular material.

If it’s too low, then obviously, you’re going to end up wasting a lot of paint by having to make multiple applications over the surface to get it thick enough.

When spraying automotive finishes, an airless sprayer will not produce wet-looking results even at extremely high-pressure settings, so don’t try turning it up to the maximum PSI.

You’re not going to get that mirror-like finish you want by doing that, and if your unit doesn’t have a variable pressure control, then it’s just going to take too much paint and cause the parts to run together and create an awful mess.

And on the other side of things, if you turn right down to dial underneath where you need it – or dial it up, so there isn’t any pressure at all – you’ll lose out on applying enough material to get what we would consider a decent looking finish.

Even with water-based paints such as lacquers and urethanes, we still use airless sprayers because they provide better results than brushing or rolling these materials.

But the downside is that you still have to make sure your equipment is set correctly. If it’s set too low, then you’re going to end up with runs and unevenness, as well as a lack of coverage over the whole surface area.

What pressure level should I be running my airless sprayer at for spraying automotive finishes?

This depends entirely on the thickness of the material being applied but generally speaking; you’ll want to run this unit between about 2000 PSI and 4000 PSI – so there’s enough force shooting out onto that surface for it to look wet almost immediately after it comes out of the nozzle.

You don’t want to drop down much lower than 2000 PSI because then you’re starting to waste paint, and you don’t want to go much higher than 4000 PSI because then the color is going to be satin or semi-gloss looking, and this isn’t what you want.

It’s essential that when setting up your unit, you have someplace convenient where you can attach it to a breaker box – as most people would have in their garage or shop area – so that you can turn it on and off needed.

If left on, even at a low-pressure threshold, the motor inside of this machine will start to overheat and wear down more rapidly, which means it won’t last nearly as long as if you shut it off between uses.

If the material being sprayed is fragile, such as lacquer thinner, you can run this unit anywhere between 1000 PSI and 2000 PSI.

Otherwise, the best places to begin are around 2000 PSI for water-based urethane finishes, 2500 PSI for single-stage acrylic lacquers, and 3000 PSI for basecoat/clearcoat materials which usually have a much thicker consistency.

When should I not use an airless sprayer for painting my car?

The only time when you wouldn’t want to use an airless sprayer for automotive finishes is when dealing with solvent-based paints such as lacquers, enamels, and nitrocellulose products.

While it’s true that they can be used with a paint booth or even a dedicated room in your home with the proper ventilation set up, these types of materials need to be applied by brush or roller because of their chemical make-up, which can easily clog up the unit and damage internal components if not removed regularly.

Can I paint a car with an electric sprayer?

Yes and no. It depends entirely on what you mean by “electric sprayer” and the types of materials that we’re talking about here.

If you want to paint a car with an airless electric sprayer – meaning one which is plugged into an electrical socket such as those used in your home or garage – then this isn’t going to work because they don’t have the same power as a gas-powered unit.

If, however, you’re referring to something like an HVLP (High Volume Low Pressure) sprayer where low pressure was developed for better atomization and transfer efficiency over longer distances, then this might qualify but again, it depends on how thick or thin you want you’re to come out and whether or not you’re going to be shooting it at a long distance.

We hope this has helped clarify any confusion concerning airless sprayers and their pricing, and the type of materials they are most effective at applying. If you have any other questions, please let us know!

Can you paint a car with a hose sprayer?

A professional-grade paint sprayer can be used to apply automotive finishes if they are fragile liquids. The thicker the liquid – the more difficult it will be to use a sprayer to paint your car or truck.

Some consumer-grade models perform well with water-based finishes, lacquers, and urethanes but not oil-based paints or enamels.

The best thing for amateur or DIY users would be using HVLP type paint sprayers that utilize air pressure instead of an airless pump system.

For people who want to apply high solids materials such as epoxy primer surfacers, please see our other article on this topic. For more information on the types of materials that can be applied using a professional-grade paint sprayer, please see our other article on the subject over here.

Can I use a Wagner to paint a car?

Yes, you can use a paint sprayer such as the Wagner to apply automotive finishes.

Do not expect professional results unless you spend $500-$3000 for a professional-grade paint sprayer and buy separate material tanks and hoses.

What should I look for when buying an airless sprayer?

Price: If you need to do some touch-ups here and there around your house or property where you’re not spraying anything more than water-based products, then we recommend purchasing one of the small consumer-grade handheld electric models such as those made by Wagner.

You can usually find them for under $100, which is about as much as they are worth, so don’t pay any more than that unless you plan on using them regularly.

Can you paint a car with an HVLP sprayer?

Yes, you can use an HVLP paint sprayer to apply automotive finishes when they are skinny. The thicker the material, the more difficult it will be to use a sprayer to paint your car or truck.

For people who want to apply high solids materials such as epoxy primer surfacers, please see our other article on this topic. For more information on the types of materials that can be applied using an HVLP type paint sprayer, please see our other article on this topic over here.

What Are The Steps To Painting A Car Yourself?

Step 1: Prep The Car & Your Painting Area

First you’re going to have to find a nice wide space that you can paint your car in, preferably an area with electricity, one that is clean, and one with good ventilation.

Once you have the right spot, you have to start prepping the car for the project. This includes removing dents, rust, and trim and making sure the body is in proper shape for repainting.

Step 2: Sanding & Priming

The next step is to sand & prime the car.

To start, you will have to sand the body in a circular motion to get a smooth surface that the paint can adhere to. You can either sand all the way down to the metal, to the first coat of primer, or just until the surface is smooth enough for your paint.

From there, you will have to thoroughly clean the body using a rag and denatured alcohol to remove any oil and other residue that has been left on the body.

After that, you will have to tape up the surfaces you don’t want painted such as the windows, mirrors, and door handles.

Once that is completed, you can start priming. If you choose to sand it down to the bare metal, it’s recommended to use a corrosion-resistant and self-etching primer.

After applying the primer, sand it once again then wipe the surface down with a rag and thinner. Also, make sure to allow the primer to cure properly before proceeding to the next steps.

Step 3: Painting

Now that all the prep is done, you can now start painting.

Using your paint sprayer, simply paint the surface using a side-to-side sweeping motion, always making sure to keep the sprayer at least 6 inches away from the surface you’re painting.

It will typically take up to 3 or 4 coats to get a nice finish and you have to make sure that the first coats are properly dry before adding the next one. Different brands have different drying times, so make sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions.

Before applying the last coat, make sure to sand and wipe the surfaces again before applying lacquer using the same technique as you did when painting. From there, all you have to do is remove the tape, buff the car, and clean your workspace and you’re good to go!


So there you have it, a quick and easy guide to painting your car using an airless sprayer! It can be done, but it is a pretty tough task. But after all, painting your car by yourself is always going to be a project that requires a lot of time and effort.

Just make sure to follow the steps properly, use the right paint, the right equipment, and to choose the right workspace and you’ll be starting on your first DIY paint job in no time!

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