Inexpensive Paint Sprayers

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Forum topic by DonB posted 08-18-2014 08:31 PM 2163 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View DonB's profile


508 posts in 2662 days

08-18-2014 08:31 PM

Hope this is the correct place to ask these questions. On a tight budget. I’ve read articles about the performance of turbo paint sprayers such as Earlex(?), Rockler, Harbor Freight, etc… (1) If you were in the market, which one would serve you best, and (2) If you have one of these under $150 sprayers does it perform to your expectations?

-- DonB

12 replies so far

View endgrainy's profile


251 posts in 1858 days

#1 posted 08-19-2014 01:06 AM

The current issue of Fine Woodworking (Oct 2014) has a nice review of 14 HVLP turbines. They rated the Earlex 5500 as best value, rated the Rockler poorly, and didn’t review the Harbor Freight.

I purchased the Earlex 5500 a few months ago and used it for the first time last week to finish a dresser ( I have no comparison to other systems (it’s my first time spraying finish), but I thought it worked very well.

For $300, I was impressed. Easy to set up and clean. Learning curve pretty reasonable.

Edit: I missed your price point, I now assume you’re asking about the Earlex 3500 model. Sorry, no experience there. Not sure if the 5500 translates.

-- Follow me on Instagram @endgrainy

View GrandpaLen's profile


1650 posts in 2242 days

#2 posted 08-19-2014 01:33 AM

About a year ago I had a commission client that ordered a 3 piece set, 2 chests and a Bistro styled Bar. There were a total of 36 drawers (I hate MDF but that’s what the customer insisted on). The drawers were finished with Lowe’s Valspar tint-able primer and paint with a coat of waterborne poly. Time constraints didn’t allow time for all those coats to be brushed on. I had never used an HVLP Sprayer System before and wasn’t real fond of the compressor powered spray paint clouds filling my shop. I had seen several reviews and debates here on LJ’s Site so it really wasn’t much of a quandary as to the unit I bought.
I caught the Earlex 5500 on sale with a 1.5 mm needle free and free shipping, $299.00 + $21.00 tax = $320.00 for the whole package. I was expecting a greater learning curve than what I experienced. I was spraying latex primer within an hour from opening the box, with great results.

I would recommend this unit to anyone who wants to get started with an HVLP System for a low start up cost.

Best Regards. – 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 ajosephg's profile


1880 posts in 3531 days

#3 posted 08-19-2014 02:15 AM

I bought a a low end Rockler (<$150.00) and it works ok for me. I classify my use as casual and infrequent.

-- Joe

View SuperCubber's profile


1023 posts in 2254 days

#4 posted 08-19-2014 02:48 AM

I use the Wagner Control Spray Max ($120). Once you get the air pressure tweaked to your liking, it sprays beautifully and cleans up easily (at least with water-based dyes and finishes). I’m just a hobbyist and only use it a handful of times a year.

-- Joe | Spartanburg, SC | "To give anything less than your best is to sacrafice the gift." - Steve Prefontaine

View runswithscissors's profile


2728 posts in 1995 days

#5 posted 08-19-2014 06:02 AM

I have used HF’s turbo sprayer (around $100, give or take) for both latex and water based acrylic. Works well with both of these. No complaints.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View DonB's profile


508 posts in 2662 days

#6 posted 08-19-2014 10:05 AM

Thank you gentlemen. I appreciate the time you guys took to make the comments and your take on the individual sprayers. I have to stay below $150 so it limits my choices for the interim period. I believe the HF and Rockler sprayers are the same animal, at least the manual’s schematics lead you to believe they are.

GrandpaLen: I can relate to the comments on MDF. Almost need a HazMat suit if you’re routing that stuff.

-- DonB

View Earlextech's profile


1160 posts in 2660 days

#7 posted 08-19-2014 01:13 PM

Take a look at the Earlex 2901 at Lowes, $119. Then call us to order the 1.5mm needle set, $24.99.

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

View Mike's profile


406 posts in 2657 days

#8 posted 08-19-2014 03:50 PM

Look into Graco. I would stay away from Wagner in my experience. Also, make sure that it can spray paint and polyurethane. You’ll run into the need in the future even if you don’t think you will. Boy do the sprayers save on the volume of finish you use.

-- look Ma! I still got all eleven of my fingers! - -

View DonB's profile


508 posts in 2662 days

#9 posted 08-19-2014 06:37 PM

Thanks Mr Earlex (Sam). I read the comments and just might be swayed.

Mike: My wife used to work at a place that sold Wagners and they had more coming back than going out.
GrandpaLen: Your grandfather sounds like my kind of teacher. Do him proud.
Again, thank you gentlemen for your comments.

-- DonB

View Sarit's profile


549 posts in 3109 days

#10 posted 08-19-2014 06:47 PM

If you have a large enough compressor you can also use those compressor driven HVLP sprayers. I use an HF one that’s routinely on sale for $20.

View SuperCubber's profile


1023 posts in 2254 days

#11 posted 08-19-2014 09:50 PM

Obviously whatever choice you make doesn’t impact me, but everyone immediately knocks Wagner because of the old crappy power painters. The Control Spray Max is totally different. Don’t take my word for it, 4.5 stars on Amazon.

-- Joe | Spartanburg, SC | "To give anything less than your best is to sacrafice the gift." - Steve Prefontaine

View dhazelton's profile


2756 posts in 2266 days

#12 posted 08-19-2014 10:51 PM

I have an older Wagner HVLP turbine sprayer. Have only used it to paint outdoor wicker and metal furniture and a tractor and have had zero issues with it. I used oil based Rustoleum all times.

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