Airless Sprayer Anatomy

An airless sprayer is made from several components which are made from many individual parts all working together to help make painting easier. An airless uses high pressure, rather than air, to atomize materials so they can be sprayed on to a surface. Here we will talk about the anatomy of an airless sprayer.

Pump / Fluid Section

The heart of an airless paint sprayer is the pump, also called the fluid section. It is what moves and pressurizes the material to be sprayed such as latex paint. Airless pumps are normally made of hardened, heavy-duty steel so they can create the high pressure needed to atomize paints and other "sprayable" materials. Some fluid sections such as Graco's Endurance Pumps have additional features like their Chromex Rod for longer wear. Current Graco Endurance Pumps also come equipped with V-Max packings for longer life. - Read more about airless sprayer pumps.


Probably the second most important component is the motor, the power that pumps the pump. Most airless paint sprayers use electric motors followed by gas engine driven sprayers. Graco's Contractor Series electric paint sprayers come with a lifetime motor warranty. Definitely something to consider when purchasing a new airless.

Drive Train

The motor would be useless if it is not connected to the pump. Like a transmission, and axels in a car, the drive train in an airless gets the power to where it needs to go. Graco's Contractor Series paint sprayers come with a lifetime drive train warranty. Also something to think about when purchasing a new sprayer.


Next we need to get the pressurized liquid out of the sprayer and to the gun & spray tip. This is no regular piece of hose! This is specially designed and manufactured to hold up to the very high pressure the pump has put the fluid under.


For an airless to work the system needs to stay pressurized so we need to hold back the fluid until we need it. We also need to be able to easily and safely turn on and off the flow at will.


The spray tip controls both the spray-fan size and the amount of fluid that is allowed to come out. Because of this, it is a good idea to have several different tip sizes in your painting kit.

  • Controls the amount of fluid being sprayed by using different orifice (opening) sizes.
  • Orifice shape determines the spray pattern size - height and width
  • Graco tips can be turned 180° to easily blowout clogs

Pressure Control

Since we can't control pressure with the gun, hose or tip, we need a pressure control. There are 2 main types of pressure controls; Electronic and Mechanical.


We need something to hold all these components together! There are three common chassis design configurations; Stand (also called a "skid"), Hi-Boy (sometimes called an "upright cart") and Lo-Boy (sometimes called an "low-profile cart"). There are a few other airless sprayer design types such as Convertibles and Roof-Rigs - these 2 are hydraulic sprayers.

Some other airless parts that are within or in addition to main components you should be familiar with:

Prime / Spray Valve

The switch valve that sets the airless sprayer mode to either Prime Mode or Spray Mode.


The piston part of the fluid section.

Intake Tube

The tube that paint or other material to be sprayed is drawn into.

Return Tube

The tube that returns paint to the bucket during priming of the pump.

Manifold Filter

The filter within the sprayer which is the first line of defense against large particles in the paint.

Gun Filter

The filter inside the handle of the gun - the 2nd line of defense against remaining debris in the paint.


The seals in the fluid section which make the pump work.

Like people, airless paint sprayers come in many shapes and sizes.

Some of these design names are:

  • Stand (Skid)
  • Hi-Boy
  • Low-Boy
  • Convertible
  • Roof-Rig