How to Spray Latex Paint Using an HVLP Sprayer

An HVLP (high volume low pressure) spray gun is a tool that allows for quick even coverage of a surface with a coat of paint.
HVLP guns use less air than other sprayers with less overspray, equating directly to less wastage of paint and thus lowered applications cost. Costs are lowered as well due to the atomizing nature of an HVLP gun. The paint is atomized upon release, misting over a surface covering completely with a thinner layer of paint. Latex paint is a water based paint generally used for both interior and exterior house painting. As such the projects calling for latex paint tend to be large ones. The speed and decreased coasts of HVLP spraying are especially useful when dealing with these large scaled projects.

Step 1

Prepare the area for spraying. Cover adjacent areas with a drop cloth to prevent spotting from overspray. Clean the surface that you’re spraying with an appropriate cleanser and allow the surface to dry before painting.

Step 2

Connect the HVLP sprayer to the air compressor. Test the sprayer to make sure that the connections are airtight.

Step 3

Thin the latex paint in a bucket. Pour the paint into the bucket and then add thinner, stirring the mixture thoroughly. Add about 20 percent thinner to the paint. You can use water as a thinner. You need to achieve the right consistency as too thin and you’ll have a separation of the colorant from the binders, ruining the coverage of your painted surface. Mix the paint too thick and the sprayer won’t properly atomize the paint, leading to paint issues such as orange peel or a rough surface.

Step 4

Test the thinning of the paint with a viscosity cup. Dip the cup into the paint, submerging it completely. Lift the cup directly upwards from the paint, holding the cup over the paint so that paint streams from the cup back into the bucket. Time how long it takes until the paint stream develops its first break. Check the cup manufacturer’s manual for the length of time properly thinned paint should take. If your time is too long then add more paint to your mixture, too short then add more paint thinner.

Step 5

Fill the gravity feed paint reservoir of the spray gun with the thinned latex paint. Set the air pressure between 15 to 20 PSI, and then point the gun directly at the spray surface at a 90 degree angle and a distance of six to eight inches. The further away you go the more coverage you’ll get but with a thinner paint layer.

Step 6

Open the material feed to begin the paint dropping from the reservoir. Trigger the sprayer, moving the fan of paint across the surface in even strokes for coverage. Keep your movement steady to prevent paint buildup in a single area. Coat the surface liberally so that you get a solid layer of paint. Allow the paint to dry completely. Drying time may vary according to local conditions such as humidity and temperature.

Things You Will Need

  • Drop cloth
  • Cleaner
  • HVLP spray gun
  • Air compressor
  • Latex paint
  • Paint thinner
  • Viscosity cup
  • Stopwatch


  • Dispose of unused latex paint by removing the lid and drying it solid before throwing it out in your household trash. Latex paint does not require hazardous waste disposal.

About the Author

Larry Simmons is a freelance writer and expert in the fusion of computer technology and business. He has a B.S. in economics, an M.S. in information systems, an M.S. in communications technology, as well as significant work towards an M.B.A. in finance. He's published several hundred articles with Demand Studios.