Matt is a professional painter and freelance writer, sharing his knowledge, house-painting tips, and product reviews.
Choosing the Right Graco Airless Sprayer Tips
The Graco RAC X tips, with the matching blue tip guard, are what I use for most of the spraying I do with my Graco 495 airless paint sprayer. These spray tips are more expensive than the RAC 5 tips and guards, but they last a lot longer, and the RAC X tip guard (blue) can also be used with the green FFLP (fine finish, low pressure) tips, which is what I primarily use for cabinet painting with my airless sprayer.
The green and blue tips are the only colors compatible with the blue tip guard. If you try to insert a black RAC 5 tip into a blue guard, it won't work. These spray tips are awesome for spraying latex paint for pretty much any interior and exterior painting project, using the right size.
Understanding Airless Spray Tip Numbers
The three digit numbers on airless spray tips are used to determine the width of its spray fan and orifice size, or hole size. The numbering is actually very simple. To determine the width of the spray fan, simply multiply the first number by two. So for example, a 210 FFLP tip has a fan width of four inches, and a 517 tip produces a fan width of ten inches.
The second and third digits, measured in thousandths of an inch, tell you the size of the orifice where paint spray leaves the tip. Thicker material needs a larger orifice to pass through without clogging, while thinner material like lacquer, or stain, is best sprayed through a smaller orifice.
Each paint manufacturer lists the recommended tip size on their paint can, but you don't have to follow these numbers exactly. Oil-based primer and thick exterior paint clogs easier, or won't spray properly, through a tip orifice that's too small. Oil-based primer won't spray through my gun evenly using an orifice smaller than .017.
Don't Use the Wrong Size Graco Rac X Tips
Using the appropriate spray tip for what you're spraying prevents wasted material and excessive over-spray. If you were to spray baseboard with a 721, you would be spraying more paint onto the wall than onto the baseboard, wasting huge amounts of paint.
The RAC X family includes the blue and green tips only. The two I'm referring to in this article are for fine finishing and latex paint. The orifice on the green tips is smaller than those on the blue tips because they're meant for fine finishing, not spraying out walls and ceilings.
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When spraying cabinets, doors, and trim, I like spraying paint through a smaller orifice to prevent sags (dripping paint), but if I'm spraying drywall that I'm back-rolling, I'll use a larger tip to throw more paint onto the surface faster. I'll share the sizes I use and where I use them.
Spindles and Cabinet Frames
The 108 and 110 FFLP tip (green) produces a very small two-inch spray fan, perfect for spraying the narrow framing on cabinets without blowing over-spray all over the place. This is my go-to size for spraying staircase and deck spindles. Using a larger size on spindles wastes a lot of paint from over-spray.
Cabinet Doors and Shelving
The green 210 works well for spraying latex paint into tight areas like shelving and window sash. This size also works great for shooting cabinet doors and regular doors too, but a green 310 is faster with its six-inch fan, and it produces less over-spray than a blue 311.
Trim and Doors
A blue 311 tip, or a green 310, are both fine for doors and trim, but the green 310 is what I use the most for that. The six-inch fan is wide enough to cover most base board and door frames perfectly. I use this size to spray paint cabinet doors and gutters too. Depending on the thickness of the paint you're using, you might need to use a larger orifice like a 312, or 313, to get the paint to pass through the gun without clogging.
Walls and Ceilings
The size I use the most when spraying walls and ceilings is a 515 and 517. This produces a ten inch fan to cover drywall fast enough without excessive over-spray. I work in a lot of occupied homes so I have to be careful about over-spray and paint fumes.
The size you choose really depends on whether the home is furnished, or not. In a newly constructed home that's empty, you could use a 615, or a 721, but 515 will give you more control over paint flow and over-spray.
Exterior Siding and Fences
I use a 515 any time I'm spray painting siding, or staining a fence with acrylic stain. The 515 is big enough to allow my latex paint to flow without clogs. This size is for production work. If it's windy outside, I'll turn the pressure down on my sprayer and use a smaller spray tip.
Rac X Tips vs. Rac 5
I used the RAC 5 tips (black) and the matching guards (orange) for many years before switching over to Graco's RAC X tips. I find these to be more economical because they don't wear as fast as the black ones do. After spraying so many gallons, especially exterior paint, the orifice on all spray tips enlarge, causing too much paint to shoot out.
If you're only spraying one or two times, the RAC 5 series is fine, but when you're spraying throughout the year, like I do, using better quality spray equipment saves money in the long run.
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.
© 2018 Matt G.