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Guide to Choosing Airless Spray Tips

Airless Sprayer Tip Quick Reference Guide

When you first start spraying, it's not only a daunting task to find all the equipment you'll need, you then have to approach the 100's of available tips/nozzle and try and navigate your way to the best one for the job.

    The good news is, it's not that complicated and once you know what the 3 digit index numbers mean, you'll be able to understand what you should be looking for in a tip.

    Understanding the 3 Digit Index Number

    Airless Spray Tip Index NumbersThe 3 digits found on the little metal tags attached to tips indicate the spray width (when the gun is held approx 12" from the wall) and the size of the actual hole in the tip (called the 'orifice size' and measured in thousandths of an inch), which controls the flow of paint.

    In summary:
    • First digit - The spray width (x2 for width in inches) (known as 'fan width')
    • Second two digits - The hole size (known as 'orifice size')

    So by varying these numbers, you can always find a tip perfect for both the type of paint you're spraying and the object you're spraying.


    STEP 1

    Choosing the Orifice Size

    The orifice measurement is generally dictated by the paint manufacturer and for most common brands, can be found in the paints data sheet online.

    Finding Airless Paint Sprayer Tip Sizes

    By quickly browsing through the data sheet (which can normally be found with a quick Google search), it *should* be easy enough to find the 'Application' section, although it can sometimes be hidden away in text. As a rule of thumb it will have guidelines for brush, roller & spraying, but on this occasion we're only interested in the Airless Spray application (highlighted in red above).

    Note: When it comes to airless sprayers, pressure should not really be of any concern to you. Most airless sprayers from reputable brands such as Graco, Wagner, Titan & Q-Tech, regardless of size or cost, will be able to operate in the region of 3000psi (200 bar).
    So from looking at the above data sheet we can see two measurements, 0.38mm (15 thou). For airless spray tips, it's the 'thou' measurement we want. It stands for thousandths of an inch and is represented as:
    • 0.015"
    • 0.017"
    • 0.019" 

    ...and so forth. Remember the two digit orifice size we discussed earlier? Well this is what these numbers represent. Strip off the 0's and you've got the last 2 digits of the tip index number you need.

    Making Sense of It All

    For the Dulux Weathershield example above, Dulux have recommended we use a '15 thou' tip, which converts to 0.015", which means any tip with an index ending in 15 is suitable for this paint. Easy huh?

    STEP 2

    Choosing the Fan (Spray) Width

    Unlike the orifice size, this parts down to you and the job at hand. The fan size is the rough width of spray when holding the gun around 12" from the object you're spraying. Choosing the ideal spray width is simply a bit of common sense and some forward planning.

    There's no guidelines for this one, but with a bit of experiences and a couple of hours spent spraying you'll soon find what works best for certain applications. We recommend starting small and working your way up to the larger sizes and these can be harder to control.

    By doubling the first digit of a tip index you can get the spray width in inches. So if you were looking for a 10" spray fan, choose a tip beginning with 5 (Simply double the first digit: 2 x 5 = 10"). Easy stuff.

    • For skirting boards and smaller application, a 4” – 6” spray fan is recommended.
    • For large interior/exterior walls a 10” spray fan is standard, however you can go up to 18” if you feel you're good enough to move that fast.