Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/5/22 11:27 a.m.

I just received a small grant for the theater and I want to invest in a good airless sprayer.  I have a couple Wagner-type handheld sprayers like this:

Paint Sprayer Reviews

They are fair for larger things, but the refilling and overspray are annoying.

I want to invest in a good "bucket" sprayer like this:

Graco Pro 210ES Cart Airless Paint Sprayer Electric Stationary Airless  Paint Sprayer in the Airless Paint Sprayers department at

Budget is around $500.  New preferred, but if there is a bulletproof used model, I'll consider it.  I want to paint quickly with control and minimal clouds of latex floating around.  Anyone recommend a good one?


SV reX
SV reX MegaDork
10/5/22 12:25 p.m.

I have used ones like the 2nd picture for years. No complaints. (That looks like the Lowes brand unit which I use). 

The trick is the cleanup. You have to allot sufficient time for a full breakdown and cleaning every single time you break it out. In other words, if you don't have a full hour to dedicate to cleanup, don't get out the sprayer.

For scenic painting, it might be best to combine both. The bucket sprayer for the bulk, and the airless for switching to accent colors.

The one trick I have found that helps with cleaning is that I switched the feed hose to the shortest one I can tolerate for the given job. Those hoses can hold a LOT of paint, which wastes material and makes cleanup much harder.

Have you considered HVLP?

SV reX
SV reX MegaDork
10/5/22 12:33 p.m.

Actually, "bulk" to me doesn't mean largest areas.  "Bulk" to me means the largest amount of slow detail work that takes a lot of time to do by hand (and requires uniform finishes). 

For me, that's trim work. (YMMV in theatre)

So, my basic plan for most jobs is:

1- Spray everything in primer

2- Spray ceilings in finish coat

3- Spray all trim work

4- Roll walls


That may seem slightly backwards- most people would finish the walls first, THEN do trim. But trim takes a lot of time, and I have found spraying is about time management, not actual bulk volume.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/5/22 1:55 p.m.

In reply to SV reX :

I was hoping you had experience with these, thank you.  As far as cleaning, I'm actually pretty experienced with it.  I used to work for an equipment rental company, so I cleaned a few a week.  Break down, scrub, bucket of water with some pump conditioner, and run about 4 gallons through it.  Strangely, I think the only time I used one was when I was about 10 helping grandpa paint his barn.

What I'm painting next is a trapezoidal raised platform - 12' wide at the front, 28' wide at the back, 8' deep, and since the underside is visible it all gets flat black... which isn't terrible if I have 6 volunteers and a lot of rollers and brushes for a day, but it's all residential-type framing.  2x8 joists, 6x6 posts, cross bracing... it's just a lot of real estate.  I'm thinking 1 hour with one of those bucket sprayers and 1 hour to clean it up will make much nicer work.  I just don't want to fill the whole theater with the typical "fog" I get with the hand held sprayer.

Will many of the commercially-available versions give me a similar quality spray?  This is one situation where I think I'll avoid HF unless one of you has a glowing review.  This needs to perform well for the next 10 years with available parts.

STM317 PowerDork
10/5/22 2:27 p.m.

I bought an airless sprayer from HF for my pole barn (the Krause and Becker model that they don't seem to carry anymore).

Airless Paint Sprayer Kit


I zip tied it on top of a 5 gallon bucket that I filled with rocks for stability and it was the perfect height for the feed hose to work with a 5 gallon bucket. I sprayed unthinned oil based primer followed by unthinned latex through my HF sprayer and it handled it really well. Now that I know better, I'd thin down anything with a latex-like consistency before I sprayed and run a lower pressure. The pressure and tip will have a big impact on how much overspray you generate. But if you're spraying anywhere you don't want overspray, you'll need to devote time and budget to masking things off. Potentially a lot of each.

jgrewe HalfDork
10/5/22 4:49 p.m.

I found a reconditioned Graco on ebay that was sold with a warranty. I needed to replace the machine I had kept when I sold my rental store. I had tried Graco, Titan and Marksman at the store over the years. My favorite was Marksman. They were built by the family that started Simpson pressure washers. When Simpson was sold they shut down the airless business. The Marksman 029 could spray peanut butter if you wanted to. The Graco was right up there in capability though.

The Graco I bought is a Magnum X7 and it has been great so far. One thing to know is Graco has different guns for what I would call their Pro-sumer machines and the commercial stuff. Filters and tips don't interchange so just be sure you can get a supply of what you need.

93gsxturbo UltraDork
10/5/22 5:25 p.m.

I have a Graco, a mid level one.  So far ran about 40 gallons of paint and primer through it with excellent success.  True fact about the cleanup, if you can't afford the time to clean up, you are not gonna want to get it out.  I am also sort of mental and will scrub it down to showroom condition after each use.

A few things I have learned, proper or not they work for me.

  • I keep the pump head under a loose thick plastic bag when I run it.  Could also use a cardboard box.  Keeps overspray off the pump head.  No issues with overheating.
  • I use a crappy extension cord, ususally one I plan on throwing away soon, and then ziptied the cord up shorter so it stays clean.
  • You can disassemble everything else and soak it in hot soapy water for a bit during cleanup, that helps loosen everything up.  
  • When I am painting over the course of several days or colors I will keep the gun wrapped up with a grocery bag and it will be fine overnight and spray out just ducky 24 hours later.  Paint wont dry in the hose.
  • I wont bother cleaning between prime and paint or colors as long as the colors are pretty close and you have 5 gallons of paint to work with.  My technique below:
    • Clean off/out the infeed hose best you can and put the infeed hose in a clean bucket of water and run the pump on prime with the bleeder hose running into a separate trash bucket until it runs clear.
    • Put the infeed hose in your new paint and run the pump on prime until the new paint color shows up in the bleeder hose.
    • Switch the pump from prime to paint
    • Pull the nozzle out of the gun and pump the paint into your trash bucket until the new color comes out of the gun.
    • Put the nozzle back in, paint something that isnt super visible for the first 10 minutes or so like the inside of a closet, the area behind the cabinets that are being installed, or a bunch of stuff below knee level that wont be super visible if the color is a little different. 
  • All in all its a great tool and has been a major timesaver.
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/5/22 5:30 p.m.

The newer Gracos looks like the pickup screen attaches with a 3/4" hose fitting, so they advertise that you can clean them by hooking to a garden hose.  That's pretty handy.

Jgrewe... do you mean they don't interchange tips between the pro and consumer models, or they don't interchange with other brands?  I suppose that's a whole new learning curve... finding something that will be around and parts will be available/interchangeable in the future.

jgrewe HalfDork
10/5/22 5:43 p.m.

In reply to Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) :

They have different guns between the Graco lines. I found the X7 has the cheaper guns when I tried to buy filters at my local Sherwin Williams. They only carry the commercial grade stuff. I had to go to Home Depot to find filters and tips that fit.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/5/22 8:16 p.m.

Is it possible that the commercial grade units have vaguely universal parts?  Kinda like pressure washers where the homeowner model is all proprietary stuff, but bigger gas units have more universal connections?  I'm just thinking if I need to paint something today and realize I need an filter or a tip, I don't want to have to contact the manufacturer and wait 4-6 weeks for shipping.  I want to go to the local pro paint store and grab them off the shelf.

jgrewe HalfDork
10/5/22 9:26 p.m.

Guns are specific to the manufacturer. There may be a gun manufacturer that a few pump makers will use, its been 15 years since I sold the rental store. They all will attach to the same hose but after that its proprietary design. There are a few different filter styles that look similar but will not interchange, same for tips.

The wear items on the guns are the valve, tip and tip seal. I did a quick search and it look like there is a ton of stuff available on the big river site. The commercial parts are designed to run a few hundred gallons through before they start to act up, the home depot version is probably closer to 50. Paint is very abrasive at 3000psi!

The gun I had on the old Marksman was designed for the rental industry. The tips were designed to last a job or two and we sold them new ones to match their job with the rental. The tips were in the $6 range back then when the commercial tips were around $20. You can save a lot of paint having a fresh tip.

I was lucky that I had an old commercial gun that Sherwin Williams had parts for when I didn't know where to get parts for the gun that came with the X7. Just find a supplier for what you have before you need parts. I have a tackle box of bits and pieces so I don't lose a day chasing parts.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/6/22 8:55 p.m.

Thanks for all the advices, folks.

I think after doing some digging, I will likely go with the Graco Magnum X7.  At least Graco has been around forever, so hopefully parts will be an easy thing, and the theater has an account with Sherman Williams which carries Graco stuff.

On sale right now for $399, too.  Bonus.

SV reX... I have a set of HVLP guns (detail and big size) which I use for glazing and staining in situations where I need a translucent effect.  I used them with some black latex paint thinned about 5:1 with water to make a set look like it had smoke damage from a fire.  I also did a patio deck for a set and thinned some rusty brown about 15:1 to make it appear like wood stain.  If I had the budgets for decent paint like Rosco which is a vinyl-acrylic that can be thinned significantly, it would be an option for larger stuff.  As it is, I'm usually buying 5-gallon buckets of Speedwall or Behr i300 to save on costs.  For comparison, I can buy 5 gallons of speedwall for less than a quart of Rosco.  $63 for 5 gallons of speedwall, or $64 for a quart of Rosco.  (which could be pretty easily thinned 4:1, so more a more accurate comparison would be $64 per gallon)  If I tried thinning speedwall enough to put through an HVLP, it would probably suck. 

tremm Reader
10/7/22 5:28 p.m.

I've used the portable Graco Truecoat 360 (@$100), and a Magnum x5 ($125-150 used, plus new filter)

The TC is a toy. The Magnum is a machine you can do work with.

I would buy another Magnum. I would not buy another TC, unless I was painting farm fencing or something. It had pattern surging/pulsing problems. It may be acceptable for some people. Idk why you'd buy it over a used Magnum though. There's a supposed better handheld.. the Truecoat Pro(?) that you may be able to swap tips on. And a battery version of it. If you need a portable handheld.

I'd recommend getting a cart-mounted version, over a floor-sitter. I think the cart is more convenient to put a paint bucket under.

There are like 4 tip styles. IIRC, the fflp were the recommendation for fine finish/most jobs you do around the house, that you care about looking good. You've got to make sure that the tip is compatible with the guard, and that the guard is compatible with the gun. Googling 'graco 310 fflp tip gun' should get you the info.

I'd buy used again. I guess since you'll be using it more than me/spending someone else's money, maybe it's worth spending the extra $250 on new?

Like everyone else said, clean thoroughly. Watch yt videos on how to use with various paint thicknesses and tip widths/orifice sizes. I've only used latex. Idk how much harder it is to clean oil.

Takes maybe like 15 minutes/3x setting up to get used to it. Not rocket science. Probably hard to do perfectly, but not hard to do kinda acceptably alright.

Good tool.

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