How to Find the Right Spray Paint Nozzles
Spray paint nozzle tips eventually wear out over time, especially the more you use them. Caring for a tip will increase its longevity. You will notice that a tip is wearing out when the spray changes from a tight fan to a loose circle.
Selecting the correct tip and size for the job at hand is essential for ease of use and to end up with a quality finish. Many spray guns will have interchangeable tips, though it is wise to follow manufacturer recommendations for sizes to use with your specific paint gun.
This article will go over how to find the right nozzle for a paint sprayer by briefly describing the two sprayer types, how to decipher the numbers on the tips, and considerations to keep in mind when looking to buy new spray paint nozzles.
2 Types of Spray Paint Nozzles:
- Airless sprayer nozzle: These are for larger projects, such as fence painting, since the nozzle creates minuscule droplets that will provide an even coat of paint. These work with oil-based paints and smooth latex paints, not with paint that has any type of texture.
- HVLP sprayer nozzle: This nozzle is for a high-volume, low-pressure sprayer that supplies the pressure through the air cap, making the spray softer and easier to control. These are good for more detailed projects, like painting trim, and they work best with thinner paints.
Using a specialized nozzle can help you paint a variety of objects, such as cabinets, doors, fences, chairs, and decks, to name a few. The only thing to remember is that you won’t want to use the same size of nozzle for every project.
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Deciphering the tip numbers
Each tip will have a plastic handle that is color-coded (most companies will have a color-coded compatibility guide for reference). The three numbers on the tip will tell you fan width and orifice size. For example, with the number 415, the four represents the fan size and the 15 tells you how big the opening is (measured in thousands, so it would be .015 inches). Orifice size is related to how many gallons per minute (GPM) of paint will pass through the tip.
Common nozzle sizes and what they are best used for:
- .009 to .013: Shellacs, stains, lacquers, and water sealer.
- .011 to .013: Stains and thin water sealers.
- .013 to .015: Enamels and varnishes.
- .013 to .017: Interior latex paints and oil-based coatings.
- .015 to .019: Exterior latex paints and latex primers.
- .017 to .019: Oil primers.
- .021 to .025: Heavy latex.
- Pick a tip that will work with your pump; the manual will tell you the maximum orifice size that can be used.
- Consider the thickness of the paint — thin paint will require a smaller opening, while thicker paint needs a larger tip. Keep in mind that you may want to go down one orifice size when using high-quality latex paints.
- Make sure the nozzles you plan to purchase are compatible with your type of sprayer.
- A tip with a small fan width will provide more control and reduce waste, while a wide fan width will get the job accomplished in a shorter amount of time. Keep in mind the amount of paint you will lose to overspray; a smaller fan width would be ideal if painting something narrow.
How to make your tips last longer:
- Use quality paint.
- Decrease gritty material by straining with cheesecloth or nylon strainer bags.
- Clean the tip after each use with a nylon brush (do not use metal brushes).
If you use the wrong tip with the wrong paint, you may have to deal with a clogged nozzle or the nozzle could even become damaged.
Some nozzles are universal and can be used with different models, but you do need to know is what is recommended for your particular sprayer. Using the right tip for the job will increase your chances of ending up with a professional-appearing finish.
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