Matt is a professional painter and freelance writer, sharing his knowledge, house-painting tips, and product reviews.
Graco Finish Pro 9.5 HVLP Sprayer
I bought the Graco 9.5 HVLP sprayer for smaller fine finishing projects. Having used airless sprayers my whole painting career, it took me a while to get comfortable with the spray gun and its settings, but this sprayer produces a very nice finish when adjusted right. HVLP spraying lets you fine-tune your air and fluid flow to get that automotive-like finish.
This five-stage turbine sprayer is powerful enough to spray thicker coatings, but thinning is needed to lay on a smooth coat without orange peel. The water-based enamel I used with this sprayer is very thick and had to be thinned with water to get a fine finish. No thinning is needed when spraying lacquer and similar coatings with a thin viscosity.
The Pro Comp Model
The Pro Comp model, the pricier version of the 9.5 sprayers, includes both the plastic cup that holds one quart and a remote pressure pot that holds two quarts. This metal pressure pot allows you to use the spray gun without the cup connected to it, allowing the gun to fit easier inside tight spaces while spraying. All of the other features between the two models are exactly the same.
I bought the pricier 9.5 sprayer for the pressurized remote pot, but after using this setup, carrying around the heavy pot with the shoulder strap was uncomfortable and annoying. I soon swapped out the remote pot for the gun-mounted cup. Unless you would benefit from using a remote pot, I would go with the less expensive 9.5 model, and again, all of the other features between the two sprayers are the same.
Graco Conversion Part Confusion
The Pro Comp model includes the remote pressure pot and the plastic cup you attach to the gun. My spray gun arrived equipped with a part that I soon discovered could only be used with the remote pot. Graco included a conversion part to allow the plastic cup to be connected to the gun, but removing the part already in the gun was very difficult.
After some frustration and fear of breaking the plastic below the part that would not unscrew, I was finally able to remove it with a small adjustable wrench and WD-40. This part should be a lot easier to unscrew from the gun. The manual I received also doesn't provide any information about these parts. With the conversion part screwed into the gun, I was able to connect the regular plastic cup to the gun.
Graco Edge 2 Plus HVLP Spray Gun Performance
Both versions of the Graco 9.5 HVLP sprayer include the Edge 2 Plus spray gun. Since this is the first HVLP gun I have ever owned and used, I don't have another HVLP gun to compare it to, but in terms of ergonomics, my airless spray guns are definitely lighter and more comfortable to work with. I spray painted hundreds of spindles on a three-story staircase using this sprayer and my hand was sore and blistered at the end of the day. This sprayer is best suited for small projects, not high production work. Use an airless sprayer for large projects.
Fluid and airflow settings: The back of the spray gun features one control for fluid flow and another for airflow. Finding the right balance between the two takes a little patience and testing, but when dialed in right, the gun is capable of producing a very nice spray pattern without splatter, or orange peel. Thinning your paint to the right viscosity is also critical to achieving a nice finish with this spray gun.
The airflow control knob on the Edge II Plus Gun is annoyingly too loose and occasionally moves out of place when bumped by your hand, or another object. Graco could easily fix this problem by adding tension to the control knob so it stays in place during use. I had to keep checking the air control to make sure it hadn't been knocked out of place.
Spray upside down at any angle: One of the key benefits of this spray gun is being able to spray paint at any angle, even upside down, without loss of paint flow. Similar to the handheld Graco sprayers, this HVLP gun uses the same plastic flex liner cups. These plastic cups are reusable and quite durable. I used the same flex liner cup for three separate spray painting projects without any problems, and that cup is still perfectly usable for the next project.
Spray fan adjustments: The gun includes a dial adjustment for the spray fan width and another adjustment for the spray angle (horizontal and vertical). Dialing down the spray fan size was very useful when spraying staircase spindles. I was able to adjust the spray fan to the width of the spindle to reduce over-spray and save paint. This also worked great for spraying cabinet frames.
Spraying Spindles and Cabinets with My New HVLP Sprayer
I spray painted hundreds of oak staircase spindles and a small set of basement bar cabinets, using my new HVLP sprayer. The cabinets were spray painted black and the spindles white. I painted the staircase railings black with a brush. While I was very pleased with the results of the spray quality, the staircase was too large for this small sprayer. If I could do it all over again, I would have used my Graco GX-19 sprayer and a 110 size FFLP spray tip.
I only recommend the Graco 9.5 sprayer for small projects. For a couple of sections of staircase spindles, a few doors, or a fireplace mantel, this sprayer is perfect. I had to refill the one-quart cup multiple times for the large staircase I sprayed. I was able to spray each coat onto the bar cabinets without having to stop in the middle to refill the cup.
The finish quality: I sprayed Pro Industrial water-based alkyd enamel with my new sprayer, using a gloss finish. The enamel was thinned with water before use to improve leveling for a smoother finish. Thick coatings must be thinned to spray it successfully through this gun, which is typical for most HVLP sprayers. I sprayed the thinned enamel using the included number four fluid nozzle and needle. The finish quality was excellent on both the spindles and cabinets, using water-based enamel. You have to dial in your air and fluid settings precisely.
Over-spray: HVLP spraying does produce less over-spray than airless spraying, but really not by much, at least with this sprayer. Floors and anything not being painted must absolutely be covered before spraying. Atomized paint particles seem to linger in the air longer than airless spraying. When spraying staircase spindles, I found that the small and circular spray fan adjustment seemed to produce more over-spray than the wider spray fan.
Spray gun clean-up: The clean-up takes longer than my airless sprayers. The orifices of the fluid nozzle and gun parts are very small and need to be carefully cleaned to avoid clogs and problems with your spray fan. You must remove and clean the cup, needle, and fluid nozzle. There is also a small filter inside the plastic cup that has to be cleaned after each use. Clean water should be sprayed through the gun at the end to remove any blockages. Disassembling the gun for cleaning is very easy, but having to clean multiple parts does take some time.
Is the Graco 9.5 HVLP Sprayer Worth the Money?
Based on my experience using it on two separate painting projects, the regular Graco 9.5 HVLP sprayer, not the more expensive Pro Comp model, is an awesome sprayer for fine finishing.
With proper thinning, this sprayer will give you an automotive-like finish, using water-based enamel. Fast-drying coatings are a little more tricky to spray. I only recommend the pricier Pro Comp model if you absolutely need a remote pot for the ability to spray inside tight spaces. I don't like the remote pot setup and regret buying that model. I only use mine with the plastic cup attached to the gun.
When I bought my sprayer, Graco had a promotion offering a second Edge 2 Plus gun for free. This is a pretty good deal considering the gun alone is normally around $500. I applied for my free gun through the Graco app and it arrived in the mail about a week later. I like having a second spray gun as a backup in case something goes wrong in the middle of a project. Overall, this is a good sprayer, and while not cheap, it does produce a very good finish with a little practice.
There are pros and cons of HVLP spraying. These sprayers are not good for production work and big projects. For more versatility, a professional airless sprayer is another great option that can also produce a fine finish when used correctly with the right spray tips and coatings. I use three different airless sprayers for my painting projects. The Graco 495 Ultra Max is a workhorse, but the far less expensive Graco GX-19, or Titan 440 Impact, are great airless sprayers for spraying multiple types of coatings. I own all three of them.
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.