Guns

HVLP sprayers aren't the kind of tools you use for five minutes then put down; they're in your hands for hours, so comfort and easy adjustments are critical. Mobility also is key for jobsite use, because you have to get down low to spray base and start your casing. The same is true for working on crown or in corners. All the units I tested functioned beautifully on site. had no problems working in low spots or high areas and was able to easily maneuver the guns into corners for spraying built-in parts.

Feel and Balance. I love the feel of the Graco gun: The handle settles nicely in my hand, the trigger is supple, and the balance is perfect, even when the cup is full of paint. I also really like the Campbell Hausfeld gun. Like the Graco, it's light, compact, and fits well in my hand. If I had to find a fault, it would be that the trigger is just a bit stiffer than the Graco model. The Apollo and SprayTech guns are nicely balanced and feel fine; however, the SprayTech has two sets of trigger pins, making operation too stiff. I find the Turbinaire gun to be too big and it feels heavier than the other guns. The Lemmer has stiff trigger action, and its highly polished handle is slippery. The Fuji feels comfortable in my hand, but the gun's handle heats up quickly, making it too hot to hold for more than 15 minutes.

Metallic vs. Plastic Gun Parts. Since taking apart and reassembling these guns during every use is part of their intended function, I look for heavy-duty metal parts because I know plastic or light-aluminum threads may get kinked or stripped and cause problems down the road. Graco's gun is a winner here: All of its metal parts are built to last. The SprayTech, Fuji, and Apollo guns also have metal parts that will stand up to everyday use. The Turbinaire gun has aluminum parts, but they feel light and I'm concerned about their longevity. The Lemmer has all-metal parts, except for the cap ring, which is plastic. Finally, the Campbell Hausfeld has plastic adjusting rings and other plastic parts, which I feel pose a potential threat of stripping over time or with constant use.

Fluid and Air Adjustments. All the fluid and air adjustments on the guns function as they're supposed to, but Graco's innovative airflow-control/pattern-adjustment knob is the best. It makes dialing in the air pressure, which affects paint atomization, as simple as possible. Turbinaire's air-pressure control is located on the turbine and not the gun like all the other units, so it's not as convenient.