HVLP Spray Painting Basics Explained

Person in a shop spray painting a frame
  • 1-10 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 100-500

HVLP spray painting at its most basic is a spray gun with a source of air that forces paint out in a nice, even, thin spray. Fortunately, there is more to HVLP spray painting than that. HVLP is short for high volume low pressure. It is a spray painting system commonly used in several industries, for example, the automotive, marine, and the furniture finishing business. Once you understand the basics of this system you will be able to paint using this method with half the problems in half the time.

High Volume Low Pressure

HVLP spray guns use a larger amount of air than a conventional spray gun. HVLP spray guns also use that larger volume of air at a lower pressure. This breaks up the paint in a process call atomizing. The result is the high pressure distributes the paint in lower volumes. When air is forced to mix with paint, the droplets formed are so tiny that a mist is produced. This reduces overspray, paint consumption, and air pollution.


As mentioned earlier, HVLP spray painting is used in a variety of professional industries. That doesn’t mean the average person can’t utilize the HVLP system easily. You can use the system on anything from painting automotive projects to painting the interior and exterior of your house. You can use the HVLP system to paint your car or boat. Just make sure you buy the correct type of paint to use on your project. Whatever you decide to paint, using the HVLP system will guarantee beautiful and quick results every time.


gauge on an air compressor

There are several tools you need when HVLP spray painting. Of course you need a HVLP spray paint gun. There are many brands available ranging from $100 to $500. You need a source of air. This can come from the gun itself, an air tank, or an air compressor. Make sure you have a good quality air filter. This ensures dust and particles stay out of your paint. An easy to use nozzle is necessary to trigger the air and paint flow. Last, your paint gun needs a good quality regulator. Regulators control the air pressure flowing through the nozzle.

Basic Directions

Mix the appropriate paint with paint thinner according to the directions included with your HVLP spray painter. Fill your sprayer’s canister with the paint and attach to the gun. Plug in your compressor and set the psi according to your directions. A good rule is to start at 50 psi. Test your sprayer on a piece of scrap wood. Adjust your psi and regulator until you get a fine, even mist. Get to work painting your project.

Good for the Environment

There are many new environmental laws now which require you to use an HVLP spray gun. It is your responsibility to find out what laws or regulations are in your area. HVLP spray guns use less paint to cover the same size area as a conventional spray gun, resulting in less paint chemicals being sprayed into the environment. Fewer chemicals equal cleaner air.