Published on September 7th, 2012 | by Grant Barnard


What Spray Tip Size To Use

This article will tell you how to pick what spray tip size for your airless sprayer. If you don’t know whether to Spray Or To Brush and Roll Click Here. Grants Painting is an Indianapolis Painter that serves the entire Indianapolis metro area and operates this free how to blog.

Rules of thumb

  • The first thing to keep in mind is that the less pressure that you have to use – the less over spray you will get. So you will want to use the least amount of pressure as possible to get the results you want. Smaller tips require less pressure to atomize the paint.
  • Use only reversible tips and always use the filters that go in the sprayer and use the one
  • There are some products that help to reduce the viscosity of  the paint and help it spray better. These products should be used very conservatively.

Tip Size Number System 

The tip size number system works the same with most manufactures. You see numbers like 213 515 717. The first number in the set of three numbers is the spray pattern size. It is half of the spray pattern height. So if it is a 5 then the pattern will be 10 inches tall when sprayed at the correct distance from the surface. The second two numbers  in the set of three is the orifice size. A 13 or 15 or 17 is actually .013 in or .015 inches. The orifice size will be a factor in controlling the amount of paint coming out of the gun

What The Tip Size Chart Doesn’t Tell You

The tip size chart is very useful in deciding a tip size. You should gather that the orifice size lets much more paint through when size goes up just one number. The amount of paint that comes through is very much dependent of the power of the pump and the viscosity of the paint. So you must know that there is a HUGE difference between a 211 and a 213 or a 413 and a 415. The thing to consider is really the speed that the paint is being applied to the surface. A 211 will apply the paint about the same as a 413 or 513, it’s just the fan pattern will be double the size. And a 211 will put out paint much slower and with a nicer finish than a 213.

The Correct Spray Tip Size For Spraying Trim or Gutterwork

Spraying trim and gutter-work can be very difficult. Spraying either a shiny surface or anything metal with the correct tip is imperative. These are two surfaces that will show any drips or heavy spots like a sore thumb. So use a very small tip like a 211, 213, 311, or 313. Since gutter-work or trim will have many 4 in or 6 in areas the 2.. or 3.. sized tips work the best. To prevent runs, sags, or other defects restrict the flow with a small orifice size  like the 11 or 13.  Beginners should stick with the 11 sized tips on surfaces that will not be back-rolled.  Use of a filter will need to be used or the smaller tip will clog so much it wont be worth it to use a sprayer. Use at least a 100 mesh in the gun and sprayer when spraying with a small orifice size tip.

The Correct Spray Tip Size For Spraying Interior Walls

Spraying interior walls should only be done if all items can be masked. It is best done in a basement or garage. Generally a 513 or 515 will do a nice job. Larger sized can be used especially if it is being back-rolled or is on a rough surface that doesn’t need to be back-rolled. Use the tip size that can be controlled by the operator. Getting the paint on faster is no help if you have to scrub over-spray off of everything.

The Correct Spray Tip Size For Spraying Siding And Exterior Walls

Siding will always need to be back-rolled. As long as everything is covered well you can use a larger tip size like 515 to 617. Near windows, screens or near surfaces that will catch over-spray downgrade to a smaller tip like a 513 or 413. You can even switch to the smaller 211 tip that you used on the gutters.

The Correct Spray Tip Size For Spraying  Cement Block

Spraying cement block is very easy. Simply use the largest tip that you can spray effectively. Remember that you still should stick to the size below the  maximum rated tip size.

Caring For Your Spray Tips – Spray Tip Maintenance.

Always keep the spray tips very clean. It can be very hard to do this especially if you are switching between tips. We use a small can of denatured alcohol to drop the tips when not in use. This will keep the spray tips clean and give the best finish. However this will also wear down the paint that marks the size of the tip so make sure either the numbers are on raised lettering so they still can be read after the white numbers are gone.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

About the Author

Grant Barnard started painting in 2000 and started Grants Painting in 2008. Originally doing business in northern Indiana, the business was moved to Indianapolis and Greenwood shortly after. Today the Grants Painting has blossomed into a reputable painting contracting company with an ever growing extensive website including our How To DIY Articles. Grants Painting covers all aspects of coatings and specialized in epoxy flooring, interior painting, exterior painting and cabinet painting.

  • Garry Robinson

    What size tip would you use to redo the stain on log cabins? I am staining with sickens cetol and have several cabins to do. I want to use a Wagner procoat airless sprayer with remote pump and suction 25′ of 1/4″ hose. The suction is capable of using either 1gal. Or 5gal. paint cans as the supply. Do you concur with my selection of paint sprayer, all other paint sprayers from Wagner require constant refilling and subsequent spillage. Thank you.

    • Grant Barnard


      You may want to look at the the product data for the exact Sikkens Cetol product. There are a few different ones and you need to be using the proper ones. I can almost guarantee that it will say not to spray it at all with an airless sprayer. You see at high pressure the very hot solvents will eat through rubbers and plastics like the hose and pump packings. An HVLP system (cup on gun OR pressure post system) does not pressurize the liquid an more than it takes to push it through lines. Airless sprayers pressurize the material much more in order to atomize without air. If your hell bent on spraying it.. You need either a pressure pot HVLP system $$$$ OR you need an “Air Assisted” airless system that uses a separate air supply to the gun that atomizes what the low pressure system does not. Take a look at this model Now you can buy the gun serperate and then buy a small pump(graco 290 or 390) and use a pancake compressor as your air source but its a bit more cumbersome. Plus if you have a bigger air compressor you will surly need a regulator.

      However. You may be using the thinner less hot stains(semi transPARENT) that are not film forming and usually $20 a gallon and not $70. If that the case I would still suggest a graco 390 but the very small Titan spray pumps will do well with thinner viscosity.

      Good Luck

  • I have been staining all year. The only time I have problems with my sprayer is when I am using a solid. The tip clogged all day on me today, ruined my day actually. Is it the tip? I find myself flipping it back and forth all day. I used a 515, it was thick solid stain. Should I go with something bigger, and do you think it will solve this problem. I have the cheapest model Gracco, but it has worked all Summer for me, fine

    • Grant Barnard

      Scott. Nice website and great work.

      It could be the stain or build up in the line coming loose. Part of the problem is that your sprayer probably does not have a filter in it. I believe that all Graco pumps, my STX does, have a pump filter. Its the thing that unscrews and has the black plastic post in it. We run the blue one on semi transparent and the black one on thicker solids and paints. However we also have a gun filter so you might want to stick with just the blue one. A new line would help you out greatly. You can try running some very hot soapy water through to clean some of the deposits out. You may even want to run alcohol through it.

      Also, after cleaning your pump with a bit of dish soap, take off the suction hose each time and run hose water through it. You can actually do this before you clean out the pump but then you get your shoes wet and still have the rest of the clean up to do…

      What kind of stain are you using? It could be just junk at the bottom of the pails but if its consistently clogging a 515 tip right off the bat then its more than likely junk in your lines.

      You see the problem is that quality stains are designed to kinda “melt” into the previous coats. Its doing that in your lines.

      Im interested to see what you are using as a cleaner. You can email me at Good luck with that sprayer.

  • Terry Williams

    Hi. I am painting the interior walls of a warehouse. It is 90 x 100 with 15ft ceilings. 3 walls are cinderblock, 1 is drywall (where the office and bathrooms are.) It is all currently painted in an off-white flat latex paint. I want to repaint in the same color, hopefully one coat. What tip would be best for both the drywall and cinderblock? I am looking at the airless sprayer from harbor freight. I am quite handy at most things, but am still a novice at airless spraying. Also, how many square feet of coverage can I expect from a 5 gallon bucket of paint. I am looking at the krylon commercial from zorotools, evidently it is made by sherwin williams. The description for this paint says 1700-2000 square feet of coverage. Any advice is greatly appreciated!

    • Grant Barnard

      Terry. Sorry for the long delay in response.
      You could use the standard 515, or if you are not back rolling you will want a 513. The 513 will suit a beginner a little better.

  • sabas

    I have a titan 440 impact, which is the recommended tip size water based laquer?

    • Sabas.
      Well it depends on how good the spray guy is. I’d try maybe a 311 or even a smaller orifice than an 11. Im not sure about the titan tips but graco makes smaller orifice of 11 with a few fan sizes.

  • Dear

    Kindly advise for gypsum wall painting
    ie. tip size ,which type of machine ( MARK V )is enough ?

  • justin

    Hello. Some advice would be greatly appreciated. I have roughly 150′ of fence x2 sides so technically 300′ to stain. I cant justify paying any amount of money for an airless when i already own a 2.5 hp 10 gal compressor. I started a few weeks ago by shopping for a decent but inexpensive gun but the cup sizes arw far too small. So more recently i have been shopping for a pressure pot to minimize refilling. This is my first time researching sprayers amd first time staining the fence we put in last fall. My qusetion is this a good way to go about this project? I REALLY want to avoid brushing if possible. Also what is a good inexpensive pot/gun combo? And what tip size/stain type would be most effective? Id like to stay relatively inexpensive as i will only use this to stain this once and may never use it again. Any advice would be much appreciated as I have read many mixed reviews and contradictory advice here on the Internet. Thank you in advance

    • Justin. You need an airless sprayer. Much cheaper than an hvlp system with a pressure pot. You absolutely cannot get away without brushing it in a bit. They sell large brushes for ten bucks that can go on the end of a broom stick.
      With an airless sprayer and a helper with the brush… Should take you about 4-6 hours.
      Cup sizes are for bras and spraying cars…
      Good Luck.

  • sirajuddin

    Hi, I want to stain my newly built fence approx. 500 sqft. and some furniture to paint. I have wagner 7.2 gph extreme wide power painter and I also have 20 gallon air tank with 4.5 cfm at 40 psi I just bought a California sp.333000 lvlp spray gun with 4
    tips 0.08, 1.3, 1.7 & 2.0 and waiting for delivery in couple of days.
    For wagner I have 3 tips 1 round and 2 flat I don’t know the numbers and don’t know where to look for numbers on those tips. Tried to look and could not find. I have this wagner sprayer for about 10 years.
    I am novice to spray painting and need your advice.

    • Sirajuddin
      The wagner or any hvlp system will wear out your arm and patience as many times as you’ll have to fill it. If your using more than 4 gallons then you’ll need an airless sprayer. However you should use a fan and not the round spray pattern, work in sections and have someone following you with a large deck brush on a broom stick to rub in your messups. That way it goes much faster and gives much better results.

  • Jim

    titan 200 just got 3 hr usage titan 515 tip plugs clean can see through even w just water it is best way to clean entire system to assure no residue is in lines guns etc or is this my problem???

    • Jim. I use dish soap and hot water.
      1. If your machine does not allow for a filter then be sure to use a gun that you can use a filter in.
      2. Always pump from clean paint. That means its has not been left open or had any cut pot paint dumped back into it.
      3. A 515 tip is hard to clog. You should not have issues at 3hrs.
      4. When all else fails, run your paint through panty hose or a dress sock. Preferably clean or new!

  • Dale Henderson

    What tip should I be using for a “paint/primer” latex on trim? I have a 217 & and a 223 tip already. The 223 is at the max of my machine, so I hope 217 would work. Also, will 50 mesh filter be ok for the thick material?

    • Dale. 217 seems too big for trim. We usually use a 213 at most even with very thick paint. And for trim you should be using a green fine finish tip too. We run the black or blue filters depending on what size tip and the “grittiness” of the product.

  • Eric S

    Just bought the HF airless sprayer. Never used one before. Also am buying a house that needs every room painted and maybe ceilings too. A lot of trim in this house but it looks fine. Any advice on how to approach this project? House is 2800 sq ft. I don’t know what kind of paint is already on walls nor do I know if that matters. The majority of it is wall papered which will get removed. From what I’ve read the HF sprayer should be fine for at least one big project. I think I read it comes with a 517 tip, you suggest a 513 or 413 for beginners? Thanks in advance, nice website, very helpful.

    • Eric, NEVER use a ..17 orifice size tip inside. Thats for like a 100′ by 10″ cider block wall outside. For trim and tight spaces you may want to even step it down a bit more in orifice size. Part of the reason behind this is that the pump will perform much better at its lower end of capabilities.

Back to Top ↑