Automotive Spray Gun

There are many ways to customize your automobile, and a fresh coat of paint is among the most popular. But without the right equipment, you can end up with less than stellar results. That’s where an automotive spray gun comes in handy. 

What is an Automotive Spray Gun?

An automotive spray gun is a specialized tool used in the automotive industry for applying paint and coatings to vehicles. It is a handheld device that atomizes paint or other finishing materials and sprays them onto the surface of the car in a controlled and even manner. This process allows for a smooth and consistent application of paint, resulting in a professional finish. Spray guns were invented in 1888 by Dr. Allen DeVilbiss, a name that should sound familiar!

When choosing a car paint spray gun, you have two main options:

  • HVLP (High Volume, Low Pressure) is the most commonly used automotive spray gun. HVLP spray guns emit a high volume of air at a low pressure, resulting in a softer spray that adheres to the surface more effectively and produces little overspray.
  • LVLP (Low Volume, Low Pressure) automotive spray guns use less air volume at a lower pressure. Paint can be applied more quickly, making an LVLP car paint spray gun an ideal choice for larger vehicles and high production applications.

The type of paint gun you choose will depend on factors such as application and frequency of use.

Parts of a Spray Gun

The automotive spray gun consists of several key components:

  1. Nozzle: The nozzle is the front end of the spray gun where the paint exits. It determines the spray pattern and the size of the paint particles being released.
  2. Air Cap: The air cap surrounds the nozzle and is responsible for shaping the spray pattern by controlling the airflow around the nozzle.
  3. Paint Cup: Many spray guns have a paint cup attached to the bottom or top, which holds the paint or coating material that will be sprayed.
  4. Trigger: The trigger is located on the handle of the spray gun and is used to control the flow of paint. Pulling the trigger releases the paint, while releasing it stops the flow.
  5. Air Compressor Connection: Automotive spray guns require an air compressor to provide the necessary air pressure to atomize the paint and propel it onto the car's surface.

How to Use a Car Paint Spray Gun 

Using an automotive spray gun requires skill, as you need to adjust the air pressure, paint flow, and spray pattern to achieve the desired results. Learning how to hold the spray gun at the proper angle and distance, choosing the correct ratio of paint and thinners, and getting the paint to adhere to your surface without sagging, wrinkling, or running isn’t something you’ll master immediately. It’s best to practice using an old used car panel (you can probably find one at a junkyard) or other object in your shop.

In addition to the spray gun and paint, you’ll need other tools to complete the work, including wet and dry sandpaper, an electric sander, masking tape and newspapers, safety glasses, a face mask, and paint thinners. Accessories such as gun tips and nozzles in multiple sizes, extra cups, and air hoses all come in handy, as well.

Using the automotive spray gun involves the following steps:

  1. Connect your car paint spray gun to a paint supply, such as a paint cup attached to the gun or a remote paint container. The paint is mixed with a solvent or thinner to achieve the right consistency for spraying.
  2. Attach the spray gun to an air compressor. This compressed air is used to atomize the paint and propel it out of the nozzle. As it flows through the automotive spray gun and into the air cap, the compressed air creates a low-pressure area that draws the liquid paint from the paint cup and mixes it with the surrounding air inside the air cap. 
  3. The nozzle and air cap work together to control the spray pattern and the size of the paint particles. The shape of the air cap and the size of the nozzle determine whether the spray pattern will be round, oval, or fan-shaped. Adjust these components to customize the spray pattern for the surface you are painting.
  4. Squeeze the trigger to control the flow of paint. When the trigger is pulled, the paint, now mixed with compressed air, is released in a fine mist. As the paint mixture exits the nozzle, the high-speed compressed air causes the liquid paint to break up into tiny droplets that form a mist.
  5. Move the spray gun evenly and smoothly over the surface of the car at an appropriate distance. Carefully control the trigger and the gun's movement to ensure an even coat of atomized paint is applied to the vehicle's body.
  6. You may need to apply multiple coats to achieve the desired paint thickness and coverage. Between each coat, give the paint time to dry or flash before applying the next layer. This may take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.

Plan on allowing plenty of time to finish your paint job. Repainting a vehicle isn’t something that can be rushed; it may take several days to complete your project…but when the job is complete, you’ll have a vehicle with a high-quality finish that would be difficult to achieve with traditional brushing or rolling methods.