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Wagner FLEXiO 970 Review

Editor Rating: 4.1/5

Great Product

Wagner FLEXiO 970

Reviewed by: Timothy Henderson

Last modified: Nov 10, 2020 @ 5:14 am

  • Design
  • Functionality
  • Price

Review Summary:

If you’re looking for a sprayer that breaks from the norm, the Wagner FLEXiO 970 could be the ideal machine.

This compact HVLP (high-volume, low-pressure) unit features a feed-spray system that draws paint directly from an original can, yet the gun itself is powered by a turbine, not a hydraulic pump. A rather unique concept in the electric-painting world.

Targeting the keen DIYer, the FLEXiO 970 is best suited to small to medium interior and exterior projects. Its iSpray nozzle produces a stippled finish, much as a roller does. So it’s most useful for painting walls or fences, not jobs where a smooth, glossy sheen is required.

Delivering 8.8 gallons per hour, even when using unthinned latex paints, the FLEXiO 970 should permit the rapid completion of larger projects. As an added plus, the 22-foot hose and 14.5-foot power cord mean the machine is ideal for use over two storeys.

A proprietary X-Boost control allows you to adjust the turbine pressure, dependent on your spraying medium and the demands of your base material. Furthermore, a flow-control feature and a choice of three spray patterns enable customizable paint delivery. Wagner’s bespoke Lock-N-Go construction means easy dismantling and rapid cleaning.

The 970 model is part of Wagner’s FLEXiO series, a range of products that aim to be the most powerful sprayers available to DIYers. This particular machine fits into a rather unique, if slightly strange, intermediate niche. It’s a step up from the pure handheld turbines, such as the FLEXiO 2000, and below the more commercial-scale external turbines, such as the FLEXiO 5000.

There is a variant on the 970, the Wagner Flexio 990 — but it’s only available for the UK market. The key difference is that the British version comes complete with a detail finish nozzle, providing finer atomization than the standard iSpray head.

Pros:

N
Compact for a direct-feed system.
N
Extensive operational freedom with lengthy cord and hose.
N
X-Boost turbine.
N
Effortless cleaning.
N
Spray-width adjustment.
N
Handles unthinned latex paints well.
N
Ideal for walls and fences.
N
Respected manufacturer.
N
Novel clamping pump.
N
Choice of spray patterns.

Cons:

N
Neither a pure turbine nor an external hydraulic pump unit.
N
Delivers a stippled finish.
N
Tough on the wallet for a handheld sprayer.
N
Restricted applications.

Features and Benefits of the Wagner FLEXiO 970


While unquestionably a novel machine in the spraying world, does the FLEXiO 970 have the power, versatility, and ease of use for the ardent DIYer needs?

Time to get down to the details.

External Compact Fluid Pump


Sprayers with an external pump aren’t uncommon. These impressive units not only provide airless hydraulic spraying but also allow you to draw paint or stain directly from an original can. There’s no wasted time or mess filling a container.

However, the FLEXiO 970 is more of a hybrid machine. It combines a pump to suck up the paint and a turbine (using air) to deliver the medium. The drawing mechanism clamps on to a one or five-liter container.

To slightly misquote Jeff Goldblum in the movie, Jurassic Park (1993), Wagner was so preoccupied with whether it could, that it didn’t stop to think if it should.

Which leaves me wondering — why Wagner, WHY?

The only benefit I can see is that it makes for a more compact siphon sprayer. As the pump is purely responsible for drawing up paint, it doesn’t require the power or size of an airless machine that also drives the paint’s delivery.

Admittedly, Wagner units are incredibly reliable, but utilizing two driving mechanisms (pump and turbine) increases the likelihood of issues. Furthermore, while the smaller pump does save space, the turbine raises the size of the gun and, most crucially, its weight, which could increase fatigue.

iSpray Nozzle Head


Like the majority of the FLEXiO range, the 970 includes Wagner’s iSpray nozzle. Although in this instance it’s the first incarnation, not the upgraded version as seen in models such as the FLEXiO 2000.

This versatile head enables the gun to deliver a multitude of mediums — from stains and sealers through to latex and chalk-based paints — without thinning. Unlike some units, there’s no need to switch nozzles to suit your spraying liquid.

However, and as stressed by the manufacturer, this means a stippled finish to your paintwork. While having a slightly textured coat on walls or fences isn’t an issue, the FLEXiO 970 won’t suit projects such as staining cabinets or glossing doors, where a smooth sheen is optimum.

To be fair, you can purchase replacement nozzles to address this problem (try the control nozzle for larger work and the detail nozzle for intricate jobs) but these aren’t included with the 970 model. That said, the UK-version, the Wagner 990 paint sprayer, comes complete with the fine atomizing detail tip.

Extensive Operational Freedom


In my eyes, one of the greatest benefits of this pump/turbine combo machine is the lengthy power cord and hose, which measure 14.5 feet and 22 feet respectively.

This means you’re not continually moving the paint can and pump around as your job progresses. It also permits you to work on two-storey projects.

The downside is the 37-odd feet of cabling and hose — which are not only a safety and tangling hazard but it’s also a pain in the a** to pack away. As the FLEXiO 970 lacks a stand or cart seen on true hydraulic airless machines, there’s no storage feature for these snakey behemoths.

X-Boost Turbine and Flow Control


A welcome feature of the FLEXiO 970 is Wagner’s proprietary X-Boost, allowing you to adjust the air pressure created by the turbine. The HI setting permits rapid coverage and enables you to use seriously viscous liquids. Meanwhile, the LO option is better suited to thinner mediums, although at the cost of a slightly rougher finish.

Additionally, you can alter the amount of paint or stain delivered by the gun through ten different stages. Choose the thickness of the coat that your spraying medium or base material demands.

Spray Width and Pattern Adjustment


The tailorability of the FLEXiO 970 is increased by the choice of spray patterns and widths.

A simple turn of the nozzle head allows you to switch between vertical and horizontal patterns, depending on your project’s need. For example, in jobs that require an up-and-down motion, use the horizontal setting. For work that demands a side-to-side movement, switch to the vertical pattern.

Furthermore, a small lever on the gun head permits you to change the paint’s plume width.

What do The Users Say?


Although a quirky machine, I believe the FLEXiO 970 may suit DIYers who are planning wall and fence spraying work and demand a compact, externally-pumped unit.

But does this machine cope as well in the field as it does on paper?

As my practical experience with this unit is limited, I delved into the Wagner FLEXiO 970 sprayer reviews provided by owners. That is, people using this machine on a regular basis.

Overall, the testimonials were positive. Users praised the FLEXiO 970’s rapid coverage, appreciated the lengthy hose and cable, and lauded the adjustable turbine and choice of spray patterns.

But it wasn’t all positive. The most common complaint was that, while ideal for painting walls, the final finish simply wasn’t smooth enough for oil-based projects or jobs that demand a clean sheen — although the UK version, the Wagner 990, includes a detail finish nozzle to address this issue.

However, as the FLEXiO 970 isn’t designed for intricate or finishing work, that’s not surprising. Plus, additional nozzles are available from the manufacturer to address this problem.

To see for yourself what DIYers are saying about this hybrid unit, check out the link below.

Alternatives to Wagner FLEXiO 970


A sprayer as unique as this machine is going to leave some DIYers a little less than impressed. If after reading this Wagner FLEXiO 970 review, you think it won’t meet your project’s requirements, no matter — I have some other ideas.

Below are three genuinely impressive alternatives that may better suit your spraying needs.

If you’re looking for a sprayer with a direct-draw feature but don’t want a turbine unit, this machine may suit.

The Himalaya is a pure airless tool, utilizing a hydraulic pump to both suck paint from an original container and power the medium delivery. With no handheld turbine, it’s less likely to cause arm fatigue and is lighter on the pocket than the FLEXiO 970 — although it lacks the compact nature of the Wagner model.

  • Longer hose than the 970 (25 feet as opposed to 22 feet).
  • Reversible tip to clear blockages, not a feature of the FLEXiO 970.
  • Like the 970, it offers a choice of spray patterns.
If you’re seeking a handheld and airless hydraulic machine, but have no requirement for an external suction pump, this unit may be the answer.

The Power Painter Plus draws directly from a gun-mounted, one-quart container. While this will require filling, as opposed to the fill-free FLEXiO 970, it offers a more compact spraying solution with no extraneous hoses or mechanisms.

  • Lower delivery rate, 6.6 gallons per hour in comparison with the FLEXiO 970’s 8.8 gallons.
  • Easier on the wallet than the 970 model.
  • Like the 970, this unit provides vertical and horizontal spray patterns.
Tempted by the handheld Wagner FLEXiO range, but have no need for the external pump of the 970 model? This pure turbine unit may be the answer.

Like the 970, the Wagner FLEXiO 2000 has an X-Boost feature, a choice of delivery patterns, and an adjustable spray width. However, with an improved iSpray nozzle, it can deliver a cleaner finish than the 970 making it more suited to staining and finishing.

  • Easier on the bank balance than the FLEXiO 970.
  • Utilizes a 1.5-quart cup instead of the 970’s direct-draw feature.
  • As with the FLEXiO 970, the 2000 offers 10 flow rates.

Conclusion


Featuring an external hydraulic pump and a handheld turbine gun, the FLEXiO 970 is undoubtedly an innovative machine.

But, that comes with seriously niche appeal.

Specifically, the 970 is perfect for DIYers who demand a direct-draw unit, want a compact sprayer, and are completing almost exclusively wall and fence projects (but only of a small to medium size).

See what I mean?

Admittedly, it has some impressive features, including the X-Boost turbine control, variable flow speed, choice of patterns, and adjustable spray width. But these benefits are included across the entire FLEXiO range.

For many DIYers, the external pump will be seen as an unnecessary luxury. Yet, if you’re a home-improver mainly dealing with interior and exterior walling, then I would suggest checking out the Wagner FLEXiO 970.

The FAQ

How Much Is the FLEXiO 970?
The Wagner 970 FLEXiO is a novel sprayer that features a turbine-powered gun combined with a hydraulic pump. You can check out its current price here.
What Are the Uses of the FLEXiO 970 Wagner?
Providing a stippled finish, the FLEXiO 970 is most suited to wall and fencing applications where a rougher coat is acceptable.
Why Can’t I Find a Wagner 990 Review?
Locating an online Wagner FLEXiO 990 review is a challenge. This is because this particular model is only available for the UK market.
Where Can I Find the 970 Wagner FLEXiO Manual?

The user guide for the FLEXiO 970 is available on the official Wagner website. You can access it directly by clicking here.

Can I Fit a Detail Nozzle to the FLEXiO 970?
Yes. For intricate work, you can replace the factory-fitted nozzle with a detail version — its part number is #529013.
Will the FLEXiO 970 Spray Elastomeric Paints?

No. None of the Wagner models can deal with such a thick medium. For this, you need a commercial unit such as the Earlex 5500.

Are Wagner FLEXiO 990 Parts Compatible With the FLEXiO 970?
As very similar units, many of the 990 FLEXiO components are interchangeable with the 970 version. However, always check with the manufacturer to clarify compatibility.
Is the Wagner FLEXiO 970 Airless?
No. While the FLEXiO 970 incorporates an airless hydraulic pump to draw paint directly from an original container, it also utilizes a turbine to atomize the liquid.

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