Matt is a professional painter who owns and operates his own painting business, specializing in interior and exterior house painting.
Graco vs Titan Airless Sprayers
Titan and Graco are two of the biggest manufacturers of paint sprayers in the United States, with low cost models designed for occasional DIY projects and pricier models built for contractors who spray weekly.
The question of whether one is better than the other is similar to the Honda vs Toyota debate. Both companies make and sell quality products, but like anything else on the market, there are differences between the models sold by both brands, some of which might be a positive or a negative for your needs.
I own a Graco 495 Ultra Max, GX-19 Finish Pro, and my latest addition to my sprayer collection, the popular Titan 440 Impact (formerly the 440i). All three models are contractor airless sprayers I purchased brand new for my painting business. My Graco 495 is my oldest sprayer; I've used it now for over 10 years.
In this article, I go over some of the differences I've learned using my Titan and Graco sprayers side by side.
Airless Sprayer Set-Up
Priming and setting up airless sprayers is pretty much the same for most brands, but some take longer to set up. Comparing the set up speed of my Graco GX-19 with my other two sprayers, the hopper (paint holder) and the shorter 25-foot spray hose is faster to set up.
My little Titan 440 Impact is the second fastest, priming and siphoning paint up to the spray gun faster than my Graco 495. Both of these sprayers have a 50-foot spray hose too.
The electronic dial on the Impact is programmed with a priming/cleaning setting that works the pump smoothly at a set speed without having to crank up the dial and work the motor too hard. Being a smaller sprayer, the pump primes and cleans up fast. I like this feature.
I also like the longer length of the primer hose on the Impact. I can easily separate the primer hose from the siphon hose and drop it into a separate bucket without having to worry about it falling out.
Cleaning the Spray Gun and Filters
The winner here is Graco, at least with the two sprayers I own. Performance wise, the Contractor and RX-80 spray guns by both companies are great, but the filters in the gun and manifold of my Graco sprayers are a lot faster to disassemble and clean than Titan. For more cleaning tips, check out my article "Tips for Cleaning Graco Airless Paint Sprayer Parts".
Spray Gun Filter Cleaning
Both of my Graco airless spray guns twist open easily, tool-free, and the filter slides out for cleaning. Taking apart my Titan RX-80 gun requires the built-in wrench on the trigger guard to break open the gun for access to the filter.
Comparing filters though, the non-threaded Titan gun filter doesn't get encrusted with paint as much as my Graco filters, even after spraying enamel for two days without cleaning the sprayer in between. Swooshing my Titan gun filter around in clean water is enough to wash off the paint.
The Graco gun filters are designed differently and require the use of their bristled cleaning tool to remove paint buildup from the inside of the hollow filter. These filters tend to collect more paint in my experience, but they're very durable if you take care of them. The provided cleaning tool paired with some ammonia water works great for removing paint buildup.
Manifold Filter Cleaning
Two of my sprayers have manifold filters that require cleaning after every use. I really like the design of the vertical manifold filter on Graco airless sprayers. The filter twists open and lifts out of the sprayer easily from the top with no mess.
The horizontal design of the manifold filter on my Titan 440 (skid model) is very messy when removed. Water inside spills out onto the floor when you unscrew it. I have to place a container underneath the sprayer to catch the water that gushes out. In comparison, the competing sprayer of the 440, the Graco 395, has the vertical filter that detaches without any mess.
The hollow casing that houses the spring and manifold filter on the 440 collects a lot of paint that must be removed and cleaned with running water. I use a toothbrush to remove the collected paint. I've also noticed corrosion forming on a part of the spring. Not good. Graco wins for the ease of cleaning the manifold.
Graco vs Titan Sprayer Performance
My 495 Ultra Max, my oldest Graco airless sprayer, has stood the test of time, spraying everything from deck stain and interior enamel to thicker exterior paints and primer. The sprayer still works as good as the day I brought it home from the paint store. I've sprayed cabinets, fences, decks, and interior walls with excellent performance every time.
In fairness, I haven't used my Titan 440 and GX19 as much as my 495, but all three sprayers have performed fine each time I've used them. These are contractor sprayers meant for more frequent use. The Titan 440 is a fairly small rig, but it's far from weak, and it's rated with a usage max of 50 gallons of paint per week. It's also capable of spraying multiple coatings like big sprayers that cost more money.
The pumps and parts in the contractor models of both companies are durable and designed to allow replacement of the pump and motor on the job site.
What About the Pricing?
You can drive down to your local big box store and buy a cheap Titan ControlMax, or a Graco Magnum, for under $300, but how often do you plan on spraying? Sure, those sprayers might work fine for infrequent use and small painting projects, but they won't hold up from repeated use.
Should You Buy A Cheap Airless Paint Sprayer?
With paint sprayers, you absolutely get what you pay for. Those cheap sprayers have low quality parts that usually can't be used safely with flammable coatings without a potential fire hazard. Spraying BIN primer is a no-no.
The low price tag often comes with a low GPM spec (gallons per minute) too, which means bigger projects will take a lot longer to finish than using a model with a more powerful pump that sends paint to the spray gun at a faster rate. You're also limited to smaller tip sizes and a lower pressure output.
Titan vs Graco Pricing
Titan sprayers are typically priced lower than Graco. The contractor models, starting with the popular Titan 440 Impact that I own, is priced between $900 and $1,000. The Graco 395, a competing model of the 440, is priced slightly higher at around $1,200 and offers most of the same specs, including 0.54 GPM and maximum pressure of 3,300 PSI.
The pricing goes up from there for bigger models with bigger and more powerful pumps. The Graco 495 Ultra Max is an awesome, versatile rig, but it's overkill if you're not spraying a lot, or only spraying one type of coating. I love my 495, but I really like the smaller size of my GX19 with a hopper and my 440. I can fit both of them in the cab of my truck.
If you want an airless sprayer designed more for fine finish spraying (cabinets, furniture, book casing), but one capable of spraying walls and ceilings too, the Graco GX19 costs the least out of the three I own and works great for spraying different coatings, including enamel and pre-catalyzed lacquer.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Matt G.