The Best Automotive Paint Guns for Beginners: Efficiently Customize Your Ride
Get the look you want out of your car with these top-rated automotive paint guns
The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.
BY Corrina Murdoch / LAST UPDATED ON July 27, 2021
When you’re ready to take your car’s appearance to the next level, an automotive paint gun is a necessary item in order to get started. These handy devices let you control the flow of paint, enabling you to choose between fine and broad sprays. While all paint guns will ultimately get the paint onto your automobile’s body, they won’t all do it the same way. Some use highly pressurized systems, while others apply a high-volume, low-pressure method using the force of gravity to move the paint. The latter is best for beginners, while more advanced users may prefer a quicker pace and higher pressure. It’s all about the amount of detail you want on the vehicle. Are you just putting on some stripes or is it a whole design? Regardless of your plans, there’s a paint gun available. To help you pick the best automotive paint gun for beginners, we’ve compiled a list of the top selections.
- Includes a large canister for bigger projects
- Paint gun has an effective air-pressure system and good nozzle control
- This set is higher on the price spectrum
- Threading on the nozzles can be tricky
- Easy to maintain
- Canister gets a tight seal on the gun
- Lightweight, easy to maneuver, and affordably priced
- Subject to impact damage
- Nylon can be vulnerable to extreme temperatures
- Lightweight with an easy-to-manage nozzle
- Structure is sturdy
- Creates a broad spray that works quickly
- Handle is comfortable to grip
- Since it isn’t gravity fed, this spray gun uses more power
- Only suitable for use with thin (high-viscosity) materials
Why Trust Us
Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of Automotive Paint Guns for Beginners
- Versatile applications. You can use a paint gun for everything from small touch-ups to large coats. Handy for managing small scratches and chips, it works just as well to apply a whole base coat.
- Cost-effectiveness. Instead of taking your car into the shop to get painted, you can spend a fraction of the cost on the tools and do it yourself. It lets you customize the look of your vehicle as much as you want.
- Precision. Automobiles require this type of application to ensure smoothness and even drying. Quality spray guns add a lot of value by letting you create unique designs, using stencils, while avoiding wasting paint.
- Efficiency. A good paint gun adds efficiency in more than one way. The first aspect is energy efficiency. By speeding up the process of painting, it uses less paint and less power. It also saves you time during the work.
Types of Automotive Paint Guns for Beginners
Short for high volume, low pressure, this type is probably the most common on the market. It stands out in terms of efficient fluid transfer. Basically, these systems are created to limit the waste of paint. It saves time and saves you from having to refill the canister. That said, since the pressure is lower, these guns work somewhat slower than LVLP spray guns. However, this pace is suitable for beginners, making it a desirable option when you’re just starting out.
Standing for low volume, low pressure, these guns are designed to spray with more intensity than their HVLP counterparts. They work quickly, making them ideal for larger projects like complete paint jobs. While the spray is more significant, the paint should still dry evenly and at a good rate. In fact, given the strength and power of LVLP spray guns, the finish can actually be of superior quality. However, they tend to be more difficult to use and better for more experienced users.
This China-based manufacturer crafts a wide range of supplies that mainly focus on the automotive industry. It retails products internationally and is well-recognized throughout the United States. A popular offering is the Neiko 31215A HVLP Air Spray Gun.
After opening its doors in 1974 as a home decoration supply store in California, the business expanded significantly. It now has a wide range of supplies, including paint gear for industrial purposes. One of its top selections is the TCP Global Professional Spray Gun.
Automotive Paint Gun for Beginners Pricing
- Under $75: Most selections in this price spectrum tend to be HVLP and are fairly basic. There are a lot of beginner options in this range.
- $75 and up: In this range, you’re more likely to find options that come in sets. You can find both HVLP and LVLP systems, though more of the latter.
Any spray gun used for paint will require a power source of some sort. The vast majority use an AC outlet and a 6-foot-long cord. Check to see how many horsepower units it offers. You can also check on the wattage. The higher power the system is, the more pressure you can get. It’s especially important to find a spray gun with a lot of power when it isn’t gravity-fed.
To get the spraying effect, you need some form of pressurized air. It could come in the form of a replaceable cartridge, though this is less common. Most options include a component to actively pressurize the air while you work. These are better, since you don’t have to worry about cartridge compatibility or running out mid-project.
The canister holds onto the paint. It’s the part that requires the most maintenance and should be made out of a high-grade material. Common selections are aluminum alloy and nylon. Either option is resistant to wear and tear and won’t get damaged when you wash it out. These materials won’t rust either, which is especially important for getting a good seal.
Controlling the direction of the spray, the nozzle dictates how the paint comes out of the gun. There are small nozzles that measure little more than a millimeter. Wider options are better for precision projects, since the small nozzle forces less of a wide spray. Conversely, smaller options create a broader result and add efficiency during bigger tasks.
- Maintenance. When you choose your paint gun, consider the effort it will take to clean it out after the job is done. You need to remove any leftover paint and ensure that it’s dry. Though this is easy on some models, others are more nuanced. While the product will usually have recommended guidelines for use, it helps to find an option with less demanding upkeep.
- Ease of Control. The size of the canister and its placement on the gun will help determine how easily you’ll handle it. Another factor is the weight balance of the overall structure and the grip. For a beginner, it helps to choose something that’s easier to maneuver as a starting point.
- Compatible Paint. Some guns work exclusively with paints of a certain viscosity. Other systems are compatible only with specific types of paint, such as oil or water-based. It’s important to think about what kind of paint you plan to use before you get the paint gun. This way, you can get the use you need from it.
- Purpose. Finally, think about what you’re going to use it for. Are you planning to repaint the entire vehicle? Is this to coat it against rust and corrosion? Maybe it’s more about touch-ups and you want to fix a scratch on the body. Depending on what it will be used for, you can find something with the best capacity, weight, and controls to make light work of the project.
Best Automotive Paint Guns for Beginners Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- Practice before you use it on the actual vehicle. All spray guns handle differently, so getting used to the application helps.
- Use the spray gun to apply protective coatings for the vehicle to prevent the need for further maintenance down the line.
- Before you paint, be sure to thoroughly clean and buff the vehicle so that the coat goes on properly.
- Be sure to check the type of paint the system is equipped to handle. Some work better with high-viscosity content, so make sure you use the right paint.
- Clean it out right after use. Once you finish the paint job, empty the remaining fluid and clean and dry the spray gun.
- Have an extension cord close at hand to avoid interruptions. Even corded options have limited reach.
- Get used to the cause and effect of each knob. It will give you more experience with the gun and will also let you work more quickly when it comes time.
Q: What's the best automotive paint gun for beginners?
It depends on how you plan to use the gun. Touch-ups require a smaller canister and less pressure but better precision. Larger jobs need more power supply, though they can have a broader stream. A popular choice is the DeVilbiss Paint Spray Gun Kit.
Q: How do you set up an automotive paint gun?
It’s pretty straightforward to set up a spray gun. Most models come with a comprehensive user guide. If you’re worried about proper use, opt for a full kit instead of just the gun. It’s about making sure there’s enough power, air pressure, and paint in the canister.
Q: How much is the best automotive paint gun?
The best automotive paint guns for professional use are heavier-duty than those meant for beginners. There’s a higher capacity and overall wattage for the system. A good example is the Paint Zoom Pro Electric Spray Gun Kit.
Now that you’re acquainted with the details of automotive paint guns for beginners, you can make your pick. It could be the DeVilbiss Paint Spray Gun Kit or the value of the Campbell Hausfeld General-Purpose HVLP Spray Gun.