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The topic of paint sprayer nozzles, aka spray gun tips, can occasionally cause feelings of dread. This is particularly true if you’re a spray gun operating newbie who doesn’t feel an affinity with numbers.

Measuring spray gun tip size depends on whether you’re talking about HVLP or airless spray gun tips. Hence, deciphering a paint sprayer tip chart can sometimes feel like you need a degree in advanced Math — just to get started.

In this handy guide, I will remove the mystery of tip numbers, so that in the future you can navigate a spray gun tip size chart with ease. And, look like a paint spraying pro in front of your home-improver friends.

Paint sprayer nozzles

What Does a Paint Sprayer Fluid Nozzle Do?

Paint sprayer tips are possibly the most integral part of the entire spray gun. And, when it comes to understanding which is best for your project, you need to get to grips with how they work — or at least the basic principles.

Coatings are driven to the fluid nozzle utilizing a pump or motor. When the paint reaches the tip, it’s atomized, which powers up the coating particles — firing them out of the sprayer and onto your target surface.

It’s this technology that sets a paint sprayer apart from a traditional brush or roller. A sprayer will provide a fine film of coating that’s consistent in coverage while avoiding irritating paint pools and drips.

Why Does Size Matter?

Although the wife may tell you otherwise, size does matter, and this also applies to spray nozzle orifice size.

For instance, if you were to select a wide spray paint nozzle for a small detailed project involving stain, you would end up with a lot of paint wastage. This would cost you more both financially and time-wise due to a bigger clean-up.

Fan pattern size is determined by a combination of nozzle size and the pressure output of your paint sprayer. Additionally, since pneumatic (compressor-powered), turbine and airless sprayers operate via slightly different principles, you won’t find a universal spray gun tips sizes chart.

A prime example of this is an HVLP nozzle size for latex paint. In the case of a pneumatic paint sprayer, it would be expressed as 1.8 mm. Yet, an HVLP unit from Wagner would suggest using its bespoke iSpray nozzle.

However, if you were to employ an airless sprayer from Graco, the recommendation would be shown as three numbers (519) with an orifice size of between 0.015 and 0.019 inches.

But what do all these numbers mean, and how do you know what is best for you? In the next two sections, all will become clear.

Sizing a paint sprayer nozzle

HVLP Fluid Nozzles

As HVLP (high-volume, low-pressure) paint guns fall into two categories, there is a slight variation to the HVLP spray gun tip size each requires. This means you would also need two different HVLP spray gun tip size charts.

Turbine Driven Models

A turbine-powered HVLP machine is usually driven by a fan system. This is either integrated into the body of the unit (in handheld devices) or a separate floor standing base.

While Fuji expresses its nozzle diameter in millimeters, the Wagner paint sprayer tips are given names instead (iSpray and Detail Finish). However, in essence, they will both handle the same types of coating on similar-sized tasks. So how does that work?

It comes down to what each manufacturer deems as important. For example, as the Wagner line-up is angled more toward the DIY user, the brand wants to simplify the process and remove the numbers. Hence, naming its nozzles — iSpray for large tasks and Detail for intricate work.

Another illustration of this is that, unlike its airless units, there is no Wagner spray tip chart for HVLP machines.

So, how do you know which spray gun includes a suitably sized paint sprayer nozzle appropriate for your choice of coating and job?

For a Wagner model, you would just need to determine the size of your project. However, for the brands that indicate nozzle size in millimeters, like Fuji and Earlex, check out the table below:

Nozzle DiameterUsage
0.5 - 1.0 mmIdeal for stains and other extremely low viscosity coatings.
1.1 - 1.3 mmSealers, clearcoats, and lacquers.
1.4 - 1.6 mmEnamels, low-density primers, base coats, and urethanes.
1.7 - 1.9 mmLatex, primers, and enamels.
2.0 - 2.3 mmHigher viscosity primers.
2.4 - 2.5 mmResins and gel coatings.

Pneumatic Models

Pneumatic HVLP tip sizes are not quite so much of an enigma — most manufacturers like Eastwood, display its automotive spray gun tip size diameter in millimeters.

Below is an HVLP tip size chart and the recommended applications.

Nozzle DiameterUsage
2.0 to 2.3 mmSuitable for high viscosity coatings — like high-build primers.
1.7 & 1.8 mmThe smallest sizes recommended for use with the majority of primers. Although these also work well with latex coatings.
1.5 & 1.6 mmA good all-around nozzle size for lacquer, single-stage coatings, and base coats.
1.4 mmVersatile size orifice for thick clear coats and nearly all base coats.

(If you’re unsure which size would be best for your mid-density paint, this is a great place to start).
1.2 & 1.3 mmThis narrow opening is well suited to fine finishing work using low-density waterborne paints, single stages, base coats, or clearcoats.
0.5 & 1.0 mmIdeal for detailed finishing and touch-up jobs — due to the small size of pattern delivered. They also work well with thin stains and varnishes.
HVLP Fluid Nozzles

Airless Fluid Tips

For airless paint sprayer nozzles, the goalposts move again. The higher pressure output permits the use of a narrower diameter tip when compared to HVLP devices. So, if you take a look at the Graco spray tip size chart or recommended sizes for titan airless paint sprayer tips, you will notice they are smaller.

Airless spray painting techniques are ideal for more sizable tasks. Typically, airless spray tip charts use the imperial system and denote the sizes in inches. However, manufacturers such as Graco also use a three-figure locution.

However, these three figures aren’t chosen at random. They are a short code that provides essential information. The second two digits (15) in the trio denote orifice size in inches. The initial number (5), when doubled, identifies the width of the pattern when the nozzle is kept at a distance of 12 inches away from the surface.

For example, a 517 spray tip will deliver a pattern width of 10 inches and has a 0.017-inch orifice size.

To simplify your spray painting life a little, I’ve compiled this airless spray gun nozzle size chart.

Nozzle DiameterUsage
0.025 to 0.035Block filler and elastomeric coatings.
0.021 to 0.025Smooth elastomeric or heavy latex paints.
0.015 to 0.019 Regular latex mediums.
0.013 to 0.015All-around universal nozzle for many oil-based coatings.
0.009 to 0.013 Stains, varnishes, and lacquers.

Airless Reversible Nozzles

On the topic of airless sprayers, there is also such a thing as a reversible nozzle. This advancement in technology makes it much easier to remove job-inhibiting clogs from the tip.

Instead of removing the entire nozzle from the spray gun, you flip the tip through 180 degrees to the clean position. Next, you pull the trigger and give it a quick blast, which will remove the blockage. The final step is to turn it back to the original position and continue spraying.

Multi Spray Gun Use

Just a quick note on multi-gun usage. I’m talking about one unit that supports a team of operators.

If you’re only using one shooter on this type of machine, you’ll be able to use a larger diameter fluid nozzle. However, for any subsequent guns, the operating pressure will decrease. Hence, the tip diameter recommendation will reduce to maintain performance.

Airless Fluid paint sprayer Tips

How To Find the Right Paint Sprayer Nozzle

Now you’ve mastered the fundamental knowledge of spray tips, you’re ready to start hitting “add to cart.” To make double sure you find the right paint sprayer nozzle, follow these steps:

Step 1 – Pick Your Paint Sprayer

Decide which type of paint sprayer is best for your task. Here’s a quick roundup:

Typically, HVLP machines deliver less overspray than other types of spray gun. They’re also ideal when using less dense mediums on small and midsize projects, due to the lower pressure output.

An airless sprayer could be a better fit if you have a vast spraying area that you need to cover quickly or if you’re using a high-density coating.

Step 2 – Choose Your Coating and Decide Nozzle Diameter

As you have read, the tip size is directly correlated to the density of the coating. Whether you plan to use an HVLP or airless machine, you’ll need a larger-size orifice for dense mediums and vice versa. Check the relevant table above to find your chosen coating and corresponding nozzle size.

Step 3 – Select Fan Width — According to the Size of Your Project

You’ve also learned that your nozzle is responsible for the diameter of your fan width. So, the next logical question is, what size is your project? Remember, your aim is to achieve total coverage in as few passes as possible and to avoid coating the surrounding area. Use this as a guide:

    • Detailed or small projects — opt for a narrow fan width (between 4 to 8 inches).
    • Expansive tasks — choose a wide fan width (ranging from 8 to 12 inches).

If you’ve opted for HVLP, you can skip this step.

Step 4 – Check Your Sprayer Is Compatible With Your Tip Selection

The final point — make sure your paint sprayer works with your chosen nozzle size. Dig out your owner’s manual and refer to the manufacturer’s information to confirm.

You will also find that many pneumatic, HVLP and airless spray guns will support a variety of different-sized tips. Don’t be deterred if your chosen machine doesn’t arrive with the perfect nozzle. Providing it’s compatible with other sizes — you can purchase these separately.

different-sized sprayer tips

Fluid Nozzle Wear and Tear

As with most things in life, the more you use something, the more likely it is to wear — meaning the need for replacement parts is inevitable. Spray gun tips are no different — especially airless since they’re subjected to high pressures on a regular basis.

However, most tips will stand up to between 80 and 155 gallons of usage before they need to be switched. This is dependent on which coating you’re using — some mediums cause more tip corrosion than others.

How To Notice Wear

There are a few tell-tale signs to suggest your spray tip has seen better days.

    • Decrease in fan size — without adjusting any settings or altering the distance at which you spray.
    • Higher coating consumption — a worn tip will be less efficient, using more paint.
    • Uneven pattern/coverage — you’ll notice pooling or patchy areas.
    • Project pace will slow down — as the orifice diameter is becoming smaller, it will take you longer to complete your job.

Tip Guards

Although it won’t prevent everyday pressure wear on spray paint nozzle tips, a tip guard is a handy feature to look out for. These small heroes take giant steps in protecting paint spraying tips from accidental job-site knocks and bumps.

Most big brands (Graco and Wagner, for example) manufacture nozzle guards to fit a range of airless devices. However, if your manufacturer doesn’t, you can purchase a generic replacement.

How To Make Your Paint sprayer Nozzle Last Longer

How To Make Your Nozzle Last Longer

While you can’t prevent nozzle wear altogether, there is a way that you can extend the lifetime of your component.

It comes down to a thorough scrubbing with a soft cleaning brush after every use. A cleaning set that includes a multitude of different brushes will assist you in completing this task rapidly.

airless sprayer tip sizes

Conclusion


Now we’ve reached the end of this topic, hopefully, you’re well equipped with the knowledge to make an educated decision when it comes to the business end of your sprayer.

You know what size tips to use on a spray gun, as well as the difference between HVLP tips and airless sprayer tip sizes. Furthermore, you’re armed with not one but three sprayer tip size charts.

Parting words? Congratulations, I now pronounce you an expert in the world of paint sprayer nozzles! Feel free to share the news with your paint spraying fraternity.

Paint Sprayer Nozzles FAQs

Q: Are Paint Sprayer Tips Universal?

Some fluid nozzles are interchangeable between brands. However, I would suggest checking before you do so — as it may invalidate any warranty.

Q: What Is a 515 Spray Tip Used For?

A 515 nozzle is an ideal primer spray gun tip size. It will deliver a 10-inch spraying pattern which will assist you in covering mid to large-size projects rapidly.

Q: Do I Need To Thin My Paint For An Airless Sprayer?

One of the great things about airless sprayers is that they can handle viscous coatings without pre-dilution. That said, check your owner’s manual for information on your particular sprayer to see if your choice of coating requires thinning.

Q: How Long Do Spray Tips Last?

The majority of airless spray nozzles will last for at least between 80 and 155 gallons. However, when it comes to replacing them, you’ll find plenty of Titan, Wagner, or Graco spray tips for sale online or at your local hardware shop.

Q: What Is the Best Spray Tip for Trim?

The best HVLP spray gun tip size for clear coat, stains, and varnish that’s typically used on doors and trim is between 1.0 to 1.2 mm. The narrow fan pattern is ideal for intricate work, while the orifice size is adept at handling low viscosity coatings.