HVLP or LVLP Spray Guns for Automotive Refinishing – What’s Best for You?

Which spray gun is right for your specific application, a HVLP, or a LVLP?

First let’s talk about the three types of spray guns that are mainly manufactured for automotive, and woodwork refinishing.

The first one is a conventional style siphon feed spray gun (with the paint cup at the bottom of the gun). This type of gun is an older design for automotive use, but is still used for some industrial applications today.

30 years ago, siphon spray guns were very popular in automotive body repair shops. Some people still use them today, but in general, it’s a dinosaur model for most automotive refinishing applications. Conventional spray guns are inefficient, have a bad transfer rate (only 35%), waste a lot of paint material, and create a lot of overspray.


The second and third type of spray gun, the type you want is the gravity feed HVLP, or LVLP spray gun. The Atom X calls theirs the MP-LVLP because it’s more of a hybrid low-volume low-pressure and medium-pressure spray gun which makes it very unique compared to other spray guns on the market.

The HVLP gravity feed spray gun is the most efficient and popular type of spray gun today. It does not need compressed air to feed material to the fluid nozzle, and therefore it uses less cap pressure (about 10psi at the cap) to spray and atomize the paint material.

As shown below, the Atom X27 HVLP paint cup is located at the top of the spray gun and the paint feeds into the gun body through the force of gravity.

It looks like this:

High-Volume Low-Pressure (HVLP) spray gun.

What is HVLP?

HVLP spray guns deliver the paint material to the car at pressures of approximately 10 psi at the air cap. Because of environmental concerns, the HVLP gun is now required in most areas, and in body shops across the U.S.

When using High-Volume Low-Pressure spray guns, there is considerably less overspray, so they offer the added advantage of material savings.

To be used for surface coating application, all spray guns must have at least 65% transfer efficiency, which means that at least 65% of the material being sprayed is applied to the panel that is being painted.

This is one area where ATOM X shines. Through hours of research and testing, transfer rate of the ATOM X can reach up to 76%. Of course this will depend on the material being sprayed and your spray gun settings.

Watch the video as Tony explains HVLP spray guns in detail.

Low-Volume Low-Pressure Spray Gun (Atom X MP-LVLP).

What is LVLP?:

Low-Volume Low-Pressure, means exactly that. It uses less air volume pressure to function. This type of spray gun is not only recommended for users who have a smaller air compressor with less volume, but it’s an ideal type of spray gun for spraying clearcoats. This spray gun is perfect for DIY’ers and Professionals.

Watch the video below where Tony explains LVLP spray guns.

Air Cap/ Tip Selection Tips: A 1.3 and 1.4 tip is the perfect size for all around automotive and woodwork refinish work.

It’s really user preference.

Tony uses a 1.4 for most of his basecoat and clearcoat painting. When it comes to spraying thicker primers and filler/primers, ideally you’d want to use a bigger tip size for the thicker material to flow out better.

If you use the 1.3 or 1.4 when spraying primers, you’ll notice that the spray gun will strain when spraying. This is because the thicker viscosity of the primer. You need a bigger orifice for better material flow. You’ll also notice very dry spraying and sand like texture on your panel. The 1.8, or 2.0 tip kits are best for primer/filler spraying.

Although there is a way to successfully use a 1.3, or 1.4 when spraying primers, as Tony says, just thin out your primer 10-20%. The down side is that you’ll need to spray more coats to get a fill, and you won’t be spraying and laying on the material as recommended.

If you can and have the budget to, it would be wise to just pick up a tip kit for your specific spray gun that will allow you to spray thicker primer materials the proper way.

The great thing about Atom X spray guns is the affordable cost of extra tip kits. Most high end spray gun companies charge you an arm and a leg for fluid tips, and air caps. You could end up paying as much as $300.00 for a complete tip kit from SATA.

Atom’s tip kits are a complete and can be swapped out in 30 seconds flat. You get the fluid tip, air cap, nozzle, and needle in one package, and pricing varies from $50-$80 depending on where you shop. See sample Atom Tip Kit Here.

Here is one more video where Tony breaks down both HVLP and LVLP spray guns. Enjoy and please comment below!

HVLP or LVLP Spray Gun Talk:

Hope you enjoyed this article and videos!

Shop ATOM X Spray Guns Here!

Learn more about DIY auto body here and how to get amazing professional finishes from your home or shop without $900.00 spray guns, or a professional spray booth!

-The ZooLaa Genie

Other Helpful Links:

Automotive Spray Guns – SATA, Iwata, CP, DeVilbiss, Warwick, or Atom X – Best Bang for Buck?

HVLP Spray Guns – The Things To Consider When Purchasing A Spray Paint Gun

Spray Paint Guns – HVLP Spray Guns & Siphon Style Guns – Beginner or Advanced Learning!

LVLP Spray Gun – What kind of painting is it used for? Pros and Cons!

HVLP Spray Gun – What is it used for? Pros and Cons With Auto Painting

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