Dialing in HVLP

Some guys struggle with the HVLP. I think if more guys felt more comfortable about how they work, more guys would use them. For the purpose of this article I will be using the ICI Sanding Sealer only because I happen to be shooting it this week.

On the HVLP (top photo) you see two dials, one is the air flow (how much air goes through the gun) and the other is material flow aka fluid knob (how much paint goes through). The arrow on the upper knob (air flow) is set at about the 7 o’clock mark. Max air flow is at 12 o’clock. The knob only works from the 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock mark but you can turn it either way. So if we turn the knob to the right to 5 o’clock, it is the same as turning the knob to the left at 7 o’clock. Hope that makes sense.

The second photo shows how thin the material is. You know how when you pour a thick paint in a bucket the paint sort of accumulates on the surface before it levels out? We can’t have that happen with an HVLP. The paint when poured into itself should dissipate immediately into itself. I have my sanding sealer a bit on the thin side but not by much and only because I was shooting a light dusting coat of tinted sealer.

Once the paint is mixed up and in the cup, turn the fluid knob all the way in and then back it out 2 full turns. Start by shooting with the air flow at the 6 o’clock which should be ‘OFF’. Then while squeezing the trigger, start by turning the air flow to the 9 o’clock mark. It should produce paint at least air through the gun at this point. If not, turn the fluid knob another full turn out. If still nothing, your material may be too thick. You can at this point open the air control knob all the way to 12 o’clock to confirm. If still no material, the gun is blocked up or material is too heavy.

If all goes well, you should be able to shoot materials through the gun with the material flow open slightly and air flow set at 7 or 8 o’clock. I NEVER shoot anything at 12 o’clock, that’s when I eat lunch, no seriously 12 o’clock is over kill and does nothing but cloud up the room.

Assuming you have paint through the gun, turn the air off again and very slightly turn air pressure up a hair or until the paint is coming out like a fine spray. If you cut off the air flow the gun should spit the paint out. Dial-in where the minimum air is needed to shoot a fine spray from the tip of the gun. The knob is very sensitive, use very small increments for adjustment.

Once you get the hang of that, you can adjust the fluid knob more to move materials quicker.

See also: HVLP Maintenance and HVLP Transfer Efficiency


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One Response to “Dialing in HVLP”

  1. Xiz Says:

    Thank you for this post. Very little information is out about these great little sprayers. I recently bought a Kobalt (Lowe’s) unit for $54. It came with instructions which were terse to say the least.

    I’ve been mining the internet and it isn’t much better. I’ve figured some out by tinkering. This was a really helpful post. I’m just getting started learning the ins and outs of painting. Most of my expertise is drywall and finish carpentry. Lots and lots of people want painting work done and there is a shortage of painters around here. People don’t like to cut-in.

    I have discovered how to do it with my HVLP, so the brush has almost no use left in my tool inventory. It’s faster, less fatiguing, and uses less paint. Oh, it’s also easier to clean – my gun is less complicated than yours.

    Please keep posting about this great tool.

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