HVLP vs LVLP Spray Gun For Automotive And Woodworking

Have you ever experienced a hard time choosing the right spray gun? Certainly, you are not the only one struggling with this problem. Even sometimes, highly experienced DIYers and professionals have difficulty choosing the right type of spray gun. However, understanding the main differences between HVLP vs LVLP will make the decision easier for you.

An HVLP or LVLP sprayer are great choices for homeowners and professionals. Though they look the same, they produce different results and applications. Their design helps prevent physical discomfort or fatigue when working long hours.

Are you now wondering whether an HVLP spray gun is better than an LVLP spray gun?

Well, we want to share our experience regarding HVLP vs LVLP with you in the following guide. It will help you to choose between the HVLP vs LVLP spray guns for your pro finishing project.

Differences Between HVLP vs LVLP Spray Gun

HVLP Spray Painting 

HVLP sprayers deliver high air volume (10-30 CFM) at low pressure (10 PSI or more). In this system, atomization occurs by air volume not because of air pressure, which reduces the forward velocity and results in a softer spray.

The softer spray allows the material to stick to the part more and not bounce off into the air, thus causing less air pollution and paint waste. Moreover, The market offers two HVLP options.

One is Turbine-powered, while the other is Pneumatic spray guns. Therefore, beginners and inexperienced DIYers will efficiently operate HVLP spray guns because of their user-friendly design and easy work mechanism.

HVLP Turbines

The most popular power-painting tool among professionals is HVLP turbines. The HVLP units come in handheld models that feature an integrated turbine powerhouse. You can also buy floor-standing machines with an external power unit.

Plus, The medium-scale applications of HVLP turbines include waterproofing decks, painting fences, upgrading furniture, doors and trims.

Pneumatic Guns

An external compressor is required for pneumatic HVLP guns to atomize and propel your coating medium. The paint density, air volume, and pressure can be adjusted, making them versatile than turbines. Because of this reason, they’re preferred by contractors.

However, these sprayers are more costly than HVLP turbines. Also, pneumatic units require considerable setup time and need some experience to operate.

LVLP Spray Painting 

Low volume Low-pressure sprayers have the combination of the best features of HVLP and conventional air sprayers.

They are only available as compressor-driven units. These sprayers create better atomization to produce quality finishes.

LVLP spray gun compressor requirements

LVLP spray guns requires very little air pressure for operation, so a small air compressor can be used. Air consumption for this spray gun ranges from 3.5CFM to 3.9CFM at 30 psi. The optimal working pressure ranges from 25 to 45 psi.

Comparison Factors Of LVLP vs HVLP Spray Gun

1. Transfer Efficiency

Depending on the model of the spray gun, paint transfer efficiency also differs depending on HVLP or LVLP sprayers.

The transfer efficiency rate of an HVLP paint sprayer ranges from 60 to 65 percent. However, some manufacturers state that their products are capable of delivering up to 75 percent.

The performance of HVLP is better than other painting methods, such as brushes and rollers, but in terms of efficiency, LVLP still beats HVLP.

On the other hand, LVLP is a cost-efficient option for painters, and it offers transfer efficiency of up to 70 to 80%. So, there is less paint spreading all over the place when using LVLP.

Plus, It is more eco-friendly to use LVLPs than HVLPs since they generate less waste, save more money, and are less expensive.

2. Project Scale Size ( hVLP vs lVLP vs Airless )

HVLP sprayers (pneumatic or turbine) are excellent for small to medium projects— exterior or interior walls, decking, furniture, and cabinet spraying.

If you wish to perform larger painting projects, then you should prefer an Airless sprayer. Airless machines provide better coverage than either LVLP or HVLP sprayers, but with only about 50% transfer efficiency.

However, LVLP sprayers have a smaller fan pattern than HVLP turbines, usually between 8 and 10 inches, so they tend to take more time to complete medium-sized projects.

LVLP units are popular for fine-finishing work because of their low overspray, thin coverage, and quality finish. Many car spraying professionals prefer LVLP systems for this reason.

What is an HVLP spray gun and an LVLP spray gun?

3. Compatibility With Compressor

HVLP turbines do not require a compressor. On the other hand, If you decide to buy a Pneumatic HVLP gun, then you need the correct compressor; otherwise, your paint will be nothing but a drip.

The output of a compressor is typically measured in PSI and CFM. The pressure required by an HVLP pneumatic spray gun is around 15 to 35 PSI, so most home compressors can provide it.

CFM is another essential factor that you cannot ignore. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s specifications for the gun you intend to use. HVLP guns require more than 10-25 CFM than other guns, so users must size their air compressor accordingly.

To learn more about the technical issue, please read the basics about compressor requirements.

LVLP spray guns require a lower PSI to operate correctly (10 PSI), so you can use almost any air compressor, and it will work fine.

Even the cheapest air compressor will work for LVLP spray guns. But using a cheap and low-quality air compressor is not recommended since the air compressor is one of the most important factors contributing to the spray gun’s performance.

In contrast, LVLP guns require a CFM range of 5-18 due to the low pressure. Hence, the LVLP unit sprays faster, atomizes better, and uses less airflow to accomplish quality finishing.

4. Painting Mediums

HVLP creates a good finish, though it is not quite as impressive as LVLP. Metallic paints and thicker materials work best with HVLP paint system. However, most paint materials still need to be diluted to get a suitable viscosity.

You can spray a wide range of materials like enamel, acrylic, primer, paint, stain, and even Latex with turbine HVLP sprayers. 

While pneumatic HVLP guns are usually compatible with multi-coatings and can propel viscous fluids with proper thinning requirements, at this stage, selecting the spray tip is also an important consideration. The large diameters are better suited for paints with a thicker consistency, like Latex. 

On the other hand, LVLP sprayers are not recommended if you wish to paint thicker material. It works best for thin materials such as varnish, clear coats, thin stains, and lacquers.

The problem persists with standard latex paints, even when thinned considerably because LVLP sprayers can operate on smaller compressors and requires less air pressure. An LVLP system generally uses ten psi or less. Thus, LVLP guns are a perfect fit for home systems.

5. Value For Money

HVLP turbine sprayers are the best value option for beginners and casual DIYers in the marketplace because they don’t require an additional compressor. Unlike turbines, pneumatic spray guns require a compressor, which makes them more expensive.

In contrast, LVLP machines are a more cost-effective option than HVLP machines, which require high volumes.

HVLP vs LVLP for Latex Paints

LVLP has a fine-atomized spray that is great for clear coats, single stage enamels and painting vehicles. It also paints at a slower rate than an HVLP, which is great for detail painting. However, an HVLP is ideal for thinned paints like latex and also paints more quickly than an LVLP.

HVLP vs LVLP Bottom Line:

When comparing HVLP vs LVLP, there is no clear winner since it all depends on your spraying needs. You may find an HVLP unit most helpful if you’re an inexperienced user and aim to complete various minor home improvements tasks. Or, in any case, if you do not choose an HVLP turbine model, then you will need a compressor for spray painting. 

In contrast, an LVLP gun is also a great option when you want to apply a variety of coatings, especially on automobiles.

We hope you have gained a more precise understanding of the differences between HVLP and LVLP spray guns. It will now be easier for you to select the right spray gun for your specific needs.

FAQs about HVLP vs LVLP

Q: For what purpose is an LVLP spray gun used?

You should consider LVLP sprayers if you look for a compact unit that will deliver a fast finish with little overspray. You can use LVLP sprayers for a wide range of tasks, including painting automobiles. Plus, the LVLP gun is perfect for applying clear coats.

Also, this type of spray gun is suitable for high viscosity coatings and waterborne paints. However, if you are less experienced in this field, you might not get the best results – you will need a fair amount of knowledge of LVLP guns as you will be applying high-quality materials.

Q: HVLP or LVLP: Which is better?

HVLP and LVLP are high-end professional spray guns; choosing between them will depend on the following factors:

  • HVLP turbines, especially the handheld versions, are ideal for beginners and homeowners. It demands little-to-no experience. In addition, Pneumatic spray guns are best suited to professionals for small-to-medium painting projects.
  • HVLP’s are highly versatile and can handle both thin and thick mediums. Spray guns with HVLP technology produce a good finish with little paint waste, making them a cost-effective choice.
  • On the other hand, LVLP paint sprayers are highly rated by painting professionals. Since they only require a small compressor, many people find that these units are relatively portable. In addition, they provide a higher transfer efficiency rate.
  • The LVLP spray guns provide excellent atomization, which means they spray faster and give a superior finish for automobile painting projects. Keep in mind; you don’t have to be a pro to appreciate these sprayers. You can also try them yourself to see if LVLPs are an excellent choice for your next project.

Q: Can an LVLP gun be used to paint a car?

Yes, definitely. Painting cars is one of the many applications for LVLP sprayers. You can apply both clear coats and metallic with LVLP guns.

Q: Is the HVLP gun better than other guns?

Yes, HVLP guns generally have better efficiency at transferring material, making them perfect for small to midsized projects that requires a high-quality finish. HVLP systems enable experienced painters to work at about 60% efficiency, which means less paint waste and fewer cleanups because more paint sticks to the surface.

Q: Do gravity feed spray guns work better?

Gravity-feed spray guns use less air pressure and offer efficiency and versatility, making them an ideal choice for beginners and pros. The advantage of gravity-fed spray guns is that they are generally simpler to use and lightweight. Plus, you can use all the paint from the container with these guns.


Meet Your Hola Paints Author

Jennifer is an experienced professional working with paint sprayers, painting tools, and other supplies. She provides valuable painting tips for visitors according to her experience.