There are many steps to any complete classic car restoration, but perhaps the most time consuming and expensive is completing the body and paint work. Likewise, there is no greater aspect of the restoration where you can save a few dollars and have the pride of knowing “you did that”—not to mention knowing it’s done right. Some enthusiasts jump right into body work while others prefer to leave it to professionals, but ultimately it’s your decision to make.
Even if you leave the bulk of your body and paint to the pros, there is still money to be saved by painting some of the smaller parts yourself; and you are better off painting with automotive-quality paints rather than grabbing that rattle can off the shelf.
Of course, the temptation is always strong to grab the lowest-cost spray gun you can find, but at the cost of painting materials, a low-quality gun is likely not the best choice to deliver your investment in materials to the surface. On the other side of the coin, others may gravitate to the most expensive spray gun on the market, but keep in mind those too may be overkill if you’re not planning to paint dozens of cars.
Ultimately, choosing the right spray gun for your needs can be confusing as the list of brands seems endless and each of them professes some aspect of theirs to be the best. To help us make sense of it all, we’ve brought in automotive painting professional Terry Wright to help us understand the options that are available and what to consider when buying your next spray gun.
Wright explains what a compliant spray gun is and how most modern equipment must meet transfer efficiency rates of 65%+, but there are still some hobby spray guns that are not regulated. The first step is understanding your city or state’s regulations regarding spraying paint in your shop. Terry Goes on to take a detailed look at various spray guns from top-of-the-line to disposable primer guns and each of their pros and cons.