I bought a Magnum airless paint sprayer to paint the exterior of a house. I'll be using latex paint (probably Behr from Home Depot).

I'm wondering which quality of paint would work best in it. Behr paints are available in three quality tiers, and I know from experience that paying a little more for the second or third tier is worth it. The paint is much less runny, which makes it easier to work with when brushing and rolling.

But with the sprayer, I'm wondering if it would actually be better to have a cheaper, runnier paint. It seems like a thicker paint would have a harder time coming through the sprayer.

Thanks in advance for any tips on this.

  • 1
    I have not used an airless sprayer, but I do know that some people use a product called Floetrol as an additive to make spraying some paints easier. As you're researching paint and spraying, understand what these additives are best used for and if they can help you.
    – JPhi1618
    Mar 21, 2018 at 13:25
  • I have a budget brand airless paint sprayer and it has no trouble with really thick 'outdoor' latex paints. I don't think I've ever even turned it up to full power yet, so I doubt you'd need to deliberately choose a runnier paint.
    – brhans
    Mar 21, 2018 at 14:39
  • Are you sure it's really runnier...maybe...not..stirred..fully? "Runny" is not a factor on quality. My aircraft grade paint is quite runny even mixed for brush, and it outlasts Rustoleum by 6:1. Mar 21, 2018 at 17:32
  • Don't think it is the quality as much as the type. When I rented a sprayer the dealer warned me not to use oil based.
    – Marinaio
    Apr 2, 2018 at 20:59
  • Runniness and paint quality are unrelated characteristics. Any paint can be placed at any "runniness" (we call that viscosity) by adding diluent. In fact, correct use of a sprayer requires adjustment to correct viscosity. May 28, 2023 at 22:56

3 Answers 3


I use an airless sprayer and all I do is thin out my paint with either water for latex or paint thinner for oil base. I use Glidden paint and have sprayed them all, Oil base, Latex, Acrylic Enamel, and every sheen as well, and really the only difference I have seen is using oil base, I use the thinner because it helps the sprayer not work as hard. I have a Magnum sprayer also and been using it for over 3 years now. Make certain you tear the gun down and clean it thoroughly every time after spraying paint. You'll thank me for this if you keep it clean clean clean......and strain your paint.. that's a must. this will help the internal filter on your sprayer. those things get expensive if you have to keep replacing.


Could try a quart of each type of paint and see how well each one does on a wall painted a darker color. I've heard Olympic brand paint at Lowes does pretty well and Ace hardware's line of paint works pretty well. Walmart sells recycled paint online for 11/gal as well that I've had pretty good results with.


"Runniness" is called viscosity. Viscosity has nothing to do with quality of paint. You can lower viscosity (increase runniness) by adding diluent (which for "latex" paint is water). In fact, you are required to for spraying; you must adjust viscosity according to sprayer instructions. Viscosity is measured with a Zahn cup.

I don't know what paint manufacturers do to make their grades of paint different from each other. I suspect it's the UV resistance or toughness of the resin (the "glue" that holds the paint together; it does not evaporate and is not pigment). Bases than "Deep Base" contain large amounts of white pigment. It's essentially deep base + a whole bunch of white pigment already added, so the formulas for pastels and off-whites aren't insane. If better grades give more white pigment for better coverage, that would mean the paint formulas must also change. So ask your paint supplier about that, but I doubt it's the case. There certainly are different qualities of pigment but each grade requires having a different paint mixing machine with different pigments in its carousel, and big-box stores ain't got time for dat :) So you're just getting cheap pigments in any paint you buy there.

That's fine for black and white pigments (carbon black and white titanium) which are cheap, legal and durable. The trick is color pigments. Now you know why cars are mostly shades of gray and houses are mostly pastels. Color costs. Stable color costs a lot. I use top shelf marine paint and I was once surcharged $200 for red pigments over the cost of black. The color held, though!

You shouldn't be using "more coats of topcoat" to try to cover up varying color or texture shades of substrate. You should be using primer for that, until the surfaces are more or less equal, before you topcoat. Why? Primer is cheaper. (and does not have the UV protection or toughness of topcoat). And it results in better finish because all surfaces are more or less equal before paint begins.

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