HVLP Vs LVLP

Level Up Your DIY!

When looking for a paint sprayer, you could be deciding between and an LVLP Vs HVLP paint sprayer.

Which one is best for your DIY projects?  Why choose an LVLP vs an HVLP?  Are they the same thing?  Which will give you the best results for your buck?  Will you need an air compressor?

Let’s find out… 

LVLP vs HVLP
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What Does LVLP Mean?  What is a Low Volume Spray Gun?

LVLP Mean low volume low pressure.  They work with lower pressure at the nozzle than an HVLP (High Volume High Pressure Gun).  How low?  Well around or less than 10 PSI.  You can buy a cheaper air compressor and save some money if you’re on a budget. 

Make sure the compressor still meets your new LVLP spray guns air requirements of about 26-29 PSI (which comes through the gun and gauge). 

What we really love about LVLP spray guns is that you don’t need much experience to use them. 

lvlp vs hvlp

LVLP Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Smooth Finish
  • Less Overspray
  • Can buy a budget Compressor

Cons

  • Slow Pace
  • Only sprays very thin materials
  • Smaller Fan Width

What does HVLP Mean? 

HVLP stands for High Volume Low Pressure.  An HVLP spray gun atomizes paint at a higher volume than LVLP because it uses a lot more air to get the paint to the tip and spray it on your surface. 

They also use around 10 or more PSI to lay paint down on your surface.  Unless you purchase an HVLP spray gun system with a turbine, you will need an air compressor. 

What is Better HVLP or LVLP?

Actually, there’s not a straight forward answer to that question.

You should ask yourself what types of painting projects you’re going to be working on most of the time.  Then take a look at the materials you will be spraying and the results you want to achieve.

LVLP will be better for clearcoats, single stage enamels and painting vehicle with its super soft, finely atomized spray.  Also great for details because it paints slower than an HVLP.

An HVLP is great for thinned paints like latex and an HVLP paints faster than an LVLP.  Good for furniture, cabinets and walls and spraying a ton of materials.

Our chart below shows you the differences, advantages and drawbacks to each type of paint sprayer so you can take your projects and the guns capabilities into consideration.

HVLP

LVLP

Sprays Thinned Latex Best for Really Thin Materials (no latex)
Adjustable Fan Patterns Smaller Fan Width
Efficient Paint Transfer Better Paint Transfer than HVLP
Operate around 10 PSI Typically Operate at less than 10 PSI
Lightweight Crushes Clearcoat Jobs
Needs Quality Compressor/ Turbine Can use Small, Cheaper Compressor

What is an LVLP Spray Gun Used For? 

The best material to spray with your LVLP spray gun is clearcoat.  Woodworkers also love LVLP with its smaller fan width because you can get really precise results.  It’s also easy to use, since you only need a small compressor. 

What Can You Spray with an LVLP?

  • Clearcoats
  • Thin Stains
  • Lacquers
  • Varnish
  • NO LATEX EVEN WHEN THINNED

What is an HVLP Spray Gun used For? 

Your HVLP can be used to spray most thinner materials such as latex paint, lacquers, and stains.  Thicker material like oil paints, primers etc will need higher PSI’s at the nozzle to lay down a consistent finish.   

Invest in an Airless paint sprayer which generates up to 2000 PSI to lay down unthinned latex. 

Pros

  • Smooth Finish
  • Less Overspray
  • Less Prep Time
  • Fast Clean up

Cons

  • Slow Pace
  • Only sprays thinned latex
  • Small Jobs Only
  • Need Compressor

HVLP vs LVLP for Latex 

LVLP doesn’t produce enough pressure to spray thinned latex.  For spraying latex, stick to HVLP or an Airless Paint Sprayer, if you don’t want to thin your paint.  You’ll have to step up to a quality air compressor with an HVLP.

Editor’s Choice HVLP Premium Paint Sprayer

If you need great results fast, the Fuji Mini Mite 4 will crush your DIY projects.

The HVLP spray system contains a powerful 4 stage turbine, which means you don’t need an air compressor to spray paint.  The Mini Mite 4 comes with the same turbine as on the Q4 models, which means less paint thinning than any other 3 stage model. 

The Mini Mite gets up to approximately 8.5 PSI. 

Equipped with the Fuji T-70 Spray Gun, you have a pattern control knob to adjust fan size from small to large. 

Comes with 1.3mm standard air cap set for general fine finishing and a 1 quart cup.  Noise levels on this model are less then the Fuji Semi Pro.  Music to our ears.  

The hose on this model may be a bit large for fine finishing work, but the results make up for it. 

Spraying with an HVLP Vs LVLP Gun 

Spraying with an LVLP gun results in the least amount of overspray of any type of spray gun on the market, even modern HVLP guns.  If you’re looking for the least amount of paint waste, choose an LVLP.  The spray is super soft and forgiving for beginners.   

Spraying with an LVLP is slower than using an HVLP, so add a bit of time to your project estimate if you’re used to painting with HVLP sprayers. 

Best Jobs for LVLP Sprayers

  • Base Coats
  • Enamel
  • Clear Coats

HVLP Vs LVLP Paint Viscosity 

Because they are low volume and low pressure, you will only use thin material in your LVLP spray gun. Think thin stains, lacquers and clear coats.  Spraying even thinned latex is going to be a no go with these models. 

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How to Use LVLP 

LVLP paint guns are used mostly to lay down base and clear coats.  You’ll want to ensure you have a 1.3 or 1.4 mm tip and a small air compressor.  

You’ll use the same painting technique that you would use with any other sprayer. 

Sweeping arm motions with even speed instead of moving your wrist, start the spray just before your surface, and apply even smooth coats.  Remember, many thin coats is better than a thick coat that will run and dry unevenly.

How to Adjust HVLP Vs LVLP  LVLP vs HVLP

Most HVLP Guns allow you to adjust air pressure and fan width/patterns to achieve your desired results. 

LVLP paint sprayers should come with the same options for fluid, air and fan control as an HVLP spray gun.   

LVLP spray a tighter spray and are limited to a smaller fan width of approximately 10 inches. 

Good LVLP spray gun brands will offer adjustable fluid patterns making the fan pattern more precise along with air controls. 

HVLP vs LVLP for Automotive Painting 

LVLP does a great job at minimizing overspray helping you save money on your paint budget.  LVLP for automotive use shine when spraying single stage enamels.  LVLP for clearcoats is a dream come true. 

Check out the video below for a great run down of LVLP Benefits. 

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Best LVLP for Automotive Use

After testing a few guns, some budget, some average priced and premium guns, we settled on one gun that delivers superior performance with a quality build that will last and last.

Editor’s Choice: Premium LVLP Spray Gun

This LVLP spray gun from Iwata is top of the line.  If you want those premium results, you invest in this unit. 

Comes with a 1.4mm tip which is perfect for laying down a killer layer of base, clearcoat or enamel.  

This workhorse not only works hard for you, it has lasted some Owner’s up to 12 years.  Weighing it at around 1 lb, you’ll never suffer from wrist fatigue. 

You will have to purchase the 1 quart cup separately.

We’ve got nothing bad to report about this Iwata LVLP.

Editor’s Choice: Best Budget LVLP Spray Gun

You can get this great gun as either just the gun or as a gun kit with 3 tips (1.3, 1.5, 1.7mm).  We recommend this LVLP from SprayIt if you’re on a budget.

The quality of the gun and the finish of the paint really surprised us during testing.  For around 45$, you get a pretty good gun to get started on your DIY.

Pressure regulator glass face sometimes arrives cracked due to oddly shaped packing inside the case.

Please note that when you buy a cheaper gun, you get knobs etc that are made of aluminum and can easily be cross threaded.

Cleaning is easy, and the kit comes with two cleaning brushes that are essential in making sure every bit of the material is out of your sprayer.

From dirty to clean in about 5-10 minutes.

LVLP Spray Gun Compressor Requirements: Compressors for LVLP Spray Guns

Low volume low pressure guns are air sippers.  So you can get away with using a smaller compressor. 

You could even skimp on the quality of the compressor a bit because you don’t require a ton of air to spray paint.  

You should look for a compressor that generates a standard CFM of around 5-7 with an air volume of 40 PSI.  This will ensure you have enough air to lay down clear or base coats.

Check out this next awesome video.  It is 10 minutes long but WHOA, you are going to learn a ton about air requirements and HVLP vs LVLP spray guns.

HVLP and Compressors

Unless an HVLP gun has a built in turbine system, you will need to have a source of air to spray your paint.  You have to match your sprayers air requirements to your compressors ability to generate air.

If your compressor can’t keep up with your sprayer, you WILL be taking breaks from painting.

You might even be sacrificing the quality of your paint job if your air requirements aren’t a good fit.

Make sure to match your sprayers air needs with your compressors ability to deliver before purchasing.

LVLP Vs HVLP for Woodworking

Either one is a great choice, but you need to examine your project needs before purchasing.

What materials are you spraying?  If you are spraying paints and thicker material,  get an HVLP.

Will you need multiple tips?  Make sure your preferred sprayer has that option.  Some models, you can’t change tips, instead you adjust your fan width, pattern and air pressure.  This might not work for your projects.

Are you working in a small space? LVLP vs HVLP guns will generate less overspray.  LVLP using a smaller compressor means you can work in a tight space.

Going with HVLP in a tight space means more overspray and you’ll have to go with a turbine system to save on buying a compressor.

PRO TIP

We recommend anchoring your turbine system down before using and make sure the hose is flexible and long enough to complete your project.

Do you have a compressor already that can push out enough air for an HVLP? Some LVLP, like the Iwata recommended above, they need just as much air as an HVLP.

LVLP vs HVLP guns work best on small, intricate projects due to the smaller fan width and lower pressure paint release.  It means you can work a bit slower for more precise application and consistent finish.

HVLP’s are faster and best for larger, less intricate projects like shutters, walls and doors.

Conclusion

LVLP Vs HVLP doesn’t have to be a hard decision.

All of the information above can be used to help you make your paint sprayer decision so you get professional results on your next project.

LVLP not for you?  Check out our Best Paint Sprayer Reviews to find the perfect sprayer for your job.

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Quick FAQs

What is the difference between HVLP and LVLP?

HVLP sprays paint at high volume from the nozzle, while LVLP sprays at low volume.

What does LVLP stand for?

Low Volume Low Pressure

What is the best auto paint spray gun?

We recommend the DeVilbiss Finishline

What is the best LVLP spray gun?

We recommend the Iwata LVLP 1.4mm

What is the best HVLP spray gun?

We recommend the Fuji Mini Mite 4 Platinum


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