Aerosol vs HVLP varnish

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Forum topic by drpdrp posted 03-07-2014 07:58 AM 1202 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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150 posts in 1465 days

03-07-2014 07:58 AM


7 replies so far

View GrandpaLen's profile


1643 posts in 1691 days

#1 posted 03-07-2014 02:25 PM

Not sure what it is that you would like to discuss here, but I’ll share a few thoughts on the pros and cons of one vs. the other.

- If you are occasionally spraying a finish, an aerosol will keep your costs down compared to buying an HVLP unit for occasional use.

- If you are spraying a finish (paint, stain or varnish/poly) on each project you complete then you may want to consider a reasonably priced HVLP unit. For the initial investment of around $300 to $350 the Earlex 5500 would be a good unit. I use it for all my finishing and find it very user friendly and a very short learning curve.

- HVLP vs. Aerosol, as far as the available choices of finishes, I believe you’ll find many more to use in your HVLP sprayer then you will in the Aerosol selections available. You will also be able to regulate how thick or thin your finish is applied. With an aerosol can, what you spray is what you get.

I think you will find that an HVLP sprayer, as opposed to aerosol rattle cans, as an upgrade to your finishing would compare to using a table saw for a lot of cutting as opposed to a hand saw.

...just a few of my own thoughts on the subject.

Best Regards. – Grandpa Len.
Work Safely and have Fun.

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2390 posts in 2341 days

#2 posted 03-07-2014 02:40 PM

It depends on what you are putting a finish on. I make small boxes (11” x 8” x2”) and use rattle cans for them. When I make larger cedar trunks I use my HVLP system.

-- "You may have your PHD but I have my GED and my DD 214"

View drpdrp's profile


150 posts in 1465 days

#3 posted 03-07-2014 02:45 PM

I am not at all happy with the results I am getting with brushes (foam or bristle) for clearcoat. Last round I tried rubbing it on with cloth and that was no good either. It was just my birthday so I’ve got a little bit of shop budget and was thinking this might need to be my next purchase… But if the rattle cans aren’t “the worst thing ever” I might run through one or two and see how I feel. Most of my frustration is the clearcoat not the staining….

Thank you guys for the input!

View PurpLev's profile


8523 posts in 3067 days

#4 posted 03-07-2014 03:02 PM

I am not at all happy with the results I am getting with brushes…

Just like anything in woodworking, brushing/rubbing finish as well as HVLP and Spraying finish also has a learning curve that you’ll need to go through in order to get satisfying results. don’t expect spraying to be the ‘cure all’ magic pill of finishing. it actually can be more frustrating at times since you have to not only worry about the finish, but also about your sprayer and it’s parts being clean, and adjusted according to what you are spraying.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View bigblockyeti's profile


3570 posts in 1139 days

#5 posted 03-07-2014 03:24 PM

HVLP is cheaper if you’re doing a lot of work (after amortizing your initial investment), but more labor intensive regarding setup and cleanup. Aerosol requires minimum setup, point and shoot. Little if anything is left to clean when you’re done. The cost of aerosol can get high if you’re using a lot of varnish, plus you get zero spray adjustability with a can.

View pintodeluxe's profile


4824 posts in 2232 days

#6 posted 03-07-2014 05:39 PM

I would argue that if you already have a compressor, cost is a wash. Quality is obviously better with a gravity feed HVLP gun, because the pressure is constant. The nozzles on aerosol cans do not atomize the finish well enough for a quality finish. If you rub out a project with wool and wax, that may not matter to you.

Even my smallest projects are sprayed with a gravity feed gun. It takes 10 minutes to clean the gun, and only 2-3oz of thinner (I reuse thinner to soak nozzles and needles).

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View drpdrp's profile


150 posts in 1465 days

#7 posted 03-08-2014 04:31 AM

I do have a compressor, but for the 10 bucks or so to try a can of spray I am going to give it a whirl and see how it feels. Thanks guys- I will keep you posted!

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