Explore the differences and similarities between Airless Texture and Paint Sprayers
"What is the difference between a Graco Airless Paint Sprayer and a Graco Airless Texture Sprayer?” I can't tell you how many times I've heard this question, even from professionals who have been in the business for years. Granted, it's not easy to know by just looking at them. In fact, even looking at performance specifications of similar sized units, they still look the same. Same PSI, same material flow, and even same spray tip support! It can be very confusing, unless you know what the true differences are.
This also holds true when comparing Graco Airless Texture Sprayers to other sprayers advertised as “Airless Texture” sprayers in the marketplace. Are they the same? Do they have the proper design and features to get the job done? Are they missing critical features that are required to get the job done?
In this article, we will explore the physical differences and what this can mean to overall productivity/profitability on a job, as well as why a Graco Airless Texture Sprayer might be the best sprayer for you, even if you don’t spray texture!
In a nutshell, Graco Airless Texture Sprayers are designed to apply heavy, high viscosity materials. Typical Airless Paint Sprayers do great with medium to low viscosity materials, but are not as good with the higher viscosity materials, where every PSI counts. An Airless Texture Sprayer can do both! This is because nearly every part that touches the liquid being sprayed is oversized when compared to a specification-equivalent Airless Paint Sprayer. From the pump, all the way to the gun, parts are designed with large openings designed to minimize backpressure and maximize flow. This would be similar to putting a large diameter exhaust system on your vehicle to maximize horsepower.
When comparing Paint and Texture sprayers, the first thing that visually stands out is the location of the pump foot-valve (figure a). The pump foot valve is the opening at the bottom of the pump where the material enters, and where the check ball system is located. There are basically two different styles of airless pumps, paint pumps and texture pumps. On a paint pump, this foot valve is elevated from the ground and utilizes a siphon tube. Think of the siphon as a straw, from which the pump uses to suck the material from a bucket. In contrast, a texture pump has a longer pump body, no siphon tube, and the foot valve is located near the ground. This eliminates the need to suck through a “straw”. This becomes very important when trying to suck heavy materials into the pump. Think how hard it is to suck a thick milk shake through a straw, and you start to get the idea of what a paint pump would be faced with. A texture pump would be equivalent to putting your face right into the milk shake: no straw needed. Not good table manners, but definitely effective!
Aside from the visible pump differences, there are also internal pump differences, while not obvious, play a critical role in good pump performance with high viscosity materials. Most of these differences are in the foot valve design. Without getting too technical, let’s just say that these components have been painstakingly optimized to most effectively pump high and low viscosity materials. At Graco, we call this MaxFlo Technology.
MaxFlo is a technology exclusive to Graco, and it is standard on all of our Airless Texture Sprayers. To put MaxFlo into real-world perspective, when comparing pump inlet flow data (with high viscosity material) between a texture pump and a paint pump, MaxFlo delivers 4X more material to the pump than a specification-similar paint pump. This is critical to getting the required performance for heavy-bodied material. If you can’t load the pump, you can’t efficiently spray the material, so the game is already over.
No matter what you are spraying, hose selection is always important. Whether you are talking hose diameter, hose length, pressure rating, or other variables, it is critical to proper functioning of the spray system to have the correctly sized hose for the job. Generally speaking, bigger is always better! The bigger the hose means less backpressure, which in turn means more pressure available at the gun. Knowing this, texture sprayers come equipped with larger diameter hose than a comparable paint sprayer. This results in 2X the flow area to move material, less pressure drop, and more available pressure at the gun. Once again, maximizing flow is key.
Pump and hose design is not the only thing that goes into creating maximized flow. The design of the gun is critical to peak performance. Why maximize flow through all the other components, only to have it choked down at the gun? This is why all Graco texture sprayers have special guns designed and optimized for maximum flow. This includes removing obstacles such as filters and oversizing passageways to increase flow and reduce material pack-out. To put it in perspective, texture guns have up to 5.5X larger internal passageways than paint guns. This is another way Graco increases flow and reduces backpressure.
Looking at traditional paint guns, they typically have very small diameter passageways and utilize filters. This is due to smaller tip orifice sizes used with paint, which can clog without filtering. While this is a great setup for lower viscosity materials, it is not ideal for heavier bodied materials with high viscosity.
Fortunately, both paint and texture guns are able to utilize the same spray tips. All Graco Airless Texture Sprayers come equipped with RAC X SwitchTips, which are designed to have the longest lasting fan pattern in the market. They also have the widest range of tip sizes, including WideRAC, which can spray up to a 24 inch spray fan.
One of the greatest things about an Airless Texture Sprayer is the capability to not only to spray texture materials, but to also spray paint. In fact, with all the performance built into them, they spray paint like it’s nothing. That is why these are considered 2-in-1 units. Spray texture or paint. It’s just that simple. This is an important consideration when you are looking at new equipment, especially if you are primarily a Painting Contractor or Remodeling Contractor. A Texture, Waterproofing or Fireproofing Contractor may automatically gravitate toward a texture sprayer out of pure necessity, but a Painter typically does not.
This is unfortunate because having added capability can open doors and lead to making more profit. Why hire out jobs or rent other equipment when a small up-front cost can move you into a 2-in-1 unit with more profit-making capability? Adding Level 5 and decorative texture finishes like knockdown, orange peel, and splatter to your capabilities, can help move the profitability needle and also allow you to be more competitive. For the Remodeling Contractor, it’s a no-brainer.
Another application that you can potentially increase revenue with is liquid applied air and moisture barriers. This is a growing trend that can also be tapped into to expand your business with a Graco Airless Texture Sprayer.
When it comes to trying to maximize productivity, there are some key accessories that enhance the capabilities of Airless Texture Sprayer. One of the accessories is the Air Atomizer Kit. This is a device that attaches to the end of the spray gun, and allows you to spray a decorative texture pattern like: knockdown, splatter and orange peel. Utilizing a user-supplier air compressor, the kit comes complete with multiple nozzles so you can get the exact the finish you are looking for. This is an ideal tool when you need to apply acrylic texture in a smooth airless finish color coat with a common spray tip, and need to follow with a splatter or orange peel finish with the same material and the Air Atomizer Kit. This is very common in hotel renovation.
Another valuable accessory is the 25 Gallon Hopper. This is a covered hopper that allows you to hold 25 gallons of material at a time. It is a great accessory for uninterrupted spraying and maximum productivity. Mix everything in the morning and spray all day!
Using the Hopper is easy, set the pump inlet into the rubber hopper inlet, and you are ready to go. The no-tools connection makes it very easy to separate the sprayer from the hopper, even when there is material in the hopper, thanks to the hopper inlets self-sealing design. Take the machine with you at night, and leave the material and hopper behind!
So what is the difference between an airless Texture Sprayer and an Airless Paint Sprayer? In a nutshell, the answer is Maximized Productivity, derived from:
- The ability to spray more materials. From drywall mud, to primers and paints, you can spray it all!
- More available pressure for longer hose runs, more atomization pressure and ability to utilize larger tips
- More reliability & less downtime due to less pack-out and clogging
- Less strain on the entire system for longer life
With an Airless Texture Sprayer, you can expect to be “on the wall” more, have less downtime and less work stoppage. In fact, the larger the pump, the more forgiving it will be with material debris, having even larger passageways and components.
Even if you are already running a small Airless Texture Sprayer today, moving to the next model up may give you even more productivity. This was apparent to me when a large commercial contractor in Las Vegas switched from a Mark V sprayer, to a larger Mark X. I was talking to the foreman, and he told me that their productivity had increased 4X over their Mark V. Looking at flow specifications alone, this seems too high. When I asked how it could possibly be 4X, the foreman said, “The bigger pump is more forgiving. We have less downtime, and this allows my two-man crew to keep working”. This is a powerful testimony to choosing the best equipment for the job.