Is a Spray Gun or Spray Can Right for Your Job?

If you’re looking for painting solution for your next project, then you can’t beat spray paint. Spray paint gives smooth and consistent results that are rarely achieved using other painting methods. There are two options when it comes to spray paint—spray guns and spray cans. At Spray Finishes we’re experts in spray paint. We wanted to explain how paint spray guns and spray cans work and when to use them.

How do Paint Spray Guns Work?

There are four basic types of spray guns, which all operate in a slightly different way to convert fluid paint into thousands of tiny, atomized droplets.

  1. Pressure guns use air pressure to push the paint out. These are rarely used anymore as more efficient methods have been introduced.
  2. Siphon-feed guns creates a suction that moves air across the paint and pulls it out of the nozzle.
  3. Gravity-feed guns mount the paint reservoir on top and uses the force of gravity to allow the paint to flow down into the air stream.
  4. High-volume low-pressure (HVLP) guns use very low air pressure to allow a large amount of paint to flow out with minimal overspray.

What are the Parts of a Paint Spray Gun?

These are parts of paint spray guns:

  • The Reservoir is the cup or can that holds the paint. Some models can hold about a pint of paint, whereas others can hold a quart.
  • The Air Cap is the part that does the real work. It has precision-drilled holes that are carefully placed to produce the best atomized pattern, or fan, on the surface to be painted.
  • The Fluid Tip sits inside the air cap and holds the Fluid Needle, which is attached to the gun’s trigger. When the trigger is squeezed, the air valve opens, and the fluid needle retracts into the gun, allowing paint to flow towards the air cap. At the same time, the trigger starts the flow of air to simultaneously atomize the paint.

What are the Challenges of Using a Paint Spray Gun?

Spray guns are not for novices or first-timers. It takes time, training, and skill to get professional-grade results from a spray gun. In fact, trying to use one without proper training can lead to poor results and lots of unnecessary overspray.

If you want to best paint results possible, then hire experts like the technicians at Spray Finishes who know how to use spray guns to achieve consistently high-quality results.

How do Spray Cans Work?

Everyone knows what a can of spray paint is. Spray cans are cheap, lightweight, and can be used on almost any surface. Cans of spray paint are great for small jobs like touching up outdoor furniture or finishing woodworking projects. It’s no wonder that it’s been a staple of American households for decades.

The technology used to create spray paint cans is simple but ingenious. Paint is stored in a container along with pressurized air or gas. Within each paint can there’s a small metal ball, called a pea, which mixes the paint and the propellant together when the can is shaken (and makes that oddly-satisfying “clacking” sound). When the push button on top is pressed, the paint rushes into a small tube called the dip tube and is dispensed through the nozzle in a fine, even mist that’s easily applied to a variety of surfaces.

What are the Challenges of Using Spray Cans?

Spray paint cans are generally quicker, cleaner, and easier to use than a roller or paintbrush, but there are a few difficulties to consider:

  • Spray cans are not ideal for large jobs like walls or ceilings.
  • Spray cans only come in a limited amount of colors.
  • Spray cans should only be used outside or in very well-ventilated areas.
  • Specific safety tips must be followed when working with spray cans.
  • Spray paint is typically oil based, so clean up can be difficult.


If you’ve got a painting project that requires a professional touch, then contact Spray Finishes, a division of Stone services. They’ve been in the electrostatic spray painting business since 1938. They specialize in painting residential and commercial properties and have a 10,000 square foot shop for large off-site jobs. Contact Spray Finishes today for estimate on your next painting project.

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