What We Like
Covers large areas quickly
What We Don't Like
Tedious cleanup process
Since inventing the first airless version in 1958, the nearly 100-year-old Graco has become synonymous with paint sprayers. We tested one of the brand’s entry-level offerings, the Magnum Project Painter Plus Paint Sprayer, while rebuilding a deck and creating some garden planters. Find out how this tool helped us finish our projects and the pros and cons of using it.
Setup: Easier than it seems
The Graco Magnum Project Painter Plus Paint Sprayer is the company’s most affordable option for sprayers in this class capable of handling larger projects. Recommended for painters who will go through fewer than 50 gallons of paint per year, it’s aimed at DIYers who paint enough to justify owning their own sprayer rather than renting one as needed, but who aren’t doing it professionally and frequently.
Startup is more straightforward than the instructions make it seem. Just familiarize yourself with the various switches and parts, and you’ll be fine following the instructions to get set up.
Unlike some other models, this sprayer unit doesn’t come with a wheeled cart.
First, you’ll need to flush the system—with mineral spirits if using oil-based, with water if using water-based. We underestimated how much mineral spirits we needed. To complete the flushing sequence and subsequent cleanup (more on that later), you’re going to need two gallons of mineral spirits, which cost us about $30.
Once primed, Graco recommends testing your spray pattern and technique on a large piece of sheet wood before starting your actual project. If you don’t have much scrap wood for practicing, you can run water through the system and practice on any surface that can handle some spraying.
There is definitely a learning curve to using the sprayer and getting good results, but we found the company’s instructional videos helpful, and the website has a good archive of information.
Despite being an entry-level offering, the Magnum Project Painter Plus can handle large painting tasks using either water- or oil-based paints and stains and sports specs comparable to larger consumer sprayers at a fraction of the cost and form factor.
Graco’s educational materials recommend a 20-inch extension rod for spraying decks, so we purchased one for $45 and appreciated the extra reach, as it allowed us to spray while walking normally. Without it, we would have been forced to hunch over—less than convenient.
The Magnum Project Painter Plus can handle large painting tasks using either water- or oil-based paints and stains.
Again, it may take some time to master this sprayer. If your technique is off, you may need to go over your work with a brush to prevent unevenness or pooling of paint or stain. You’ll want to go faster than you think because the sprayer is designed to cover a large area quickly. With a little practice, you’ll get a feel for the flow of the sprayer; it can be adjusted easily with the pressure dial, though we mostly found that the lowest setting produced good results.
The Project Painter Plus includes a “515” spray tip, which is great for painting large surfaces with thicker paints, but you’ll want to check the matrix (or the back of your paint can) to determine the proper tip for your job. Our semi-transparent deck stain called for a smaller spray tip, which cost us an additional $20 at our local paint store.
The biggest challenge of using the sprayer after learning the basics was controlling overspray, especially when doing the railings and posts of our deck—nevermind the tip’s SoftSpray Technology, which is designed to help with just that. You’ll want to use plastic and tarps liberally to prevent getting paint or stain where you don’t want it.
Portability: No cart
Unlike some other models, this sprayer unit doesn’t come with a wheeled cart, so you’ll need to lift the entire unit plus paint-filled bucket and attached hose and gun to move it when needed. Needless to say, that’s quite a bit for one person to haul around, though it’s more awkward than heavy, with the unit itself only weighing 15 pounds.
For about $45, you can reduce your need to move the unit at all by buying a 50-foot hose to replace the included 25-foot hose. Fifty feet would’ve covered our 40-foot-wide deck and should minimize moving the sprayer even on larger houses. Graco sells longer hoses, but this sprayer is only rated to handle 50 feet, so you may want to consider a more powerful unit (see Competition section) if you have, say, a multi-story house to paint.
Cleanup: Not easy
There’s no doubt that the Project Painter Plus saved us hours versus brushing our deck with stain, but it’s worth noting that the cleanup (as well as the aforementioned setup) is significant. In fact, it’s probably equal to the time required to clean up brushes and rollers at least when using oil-based paints and stains.
The Project Painter Plus saved us hours versus brushing our deck with stain, but it’s worth noting that the cleanup is significant.
The cleanup requires running fresh mineral spirits through, so plan to have more than you need and have a plan for dealing with the waste. You can either reuse it by letting it settle and straining it, or contact your local waste facility to find out the proper way to dispose of it.
If you’re using water-based paints, it’s easier; simply hook up a standard garden hose up to the intake valve for flushing into a bucket or slop sink. Prior to storing the unit for more than a couple weeks, Graco recommends you fill the unit with the brand’s proprietary Pump Armor fluid ($10 per bottle).
At around $240, the Project Plus Painter delivers large project capacity for the cost of a few days’ rent for a pro sprayer, making it an attractive option for DIYers who have several projects a year to paint.
Graco Magnum Project Painter Plus vs. Graco Magnum X7 Electric TrueAirless Sprayer
The X7 is a step above the Project Painter in terms of power and its inclusion of a wheeled cart. You’ll pay an additional $150 or so to get it, so you’ll want to be sure you need those features. Having tested both, we can say that the wheeled cart isn’t enough of a game-changer to warrant the expense. However, the additional power of the X7 lets you use up to 100 feet of hose, so if you have a large, multi-story building to paint, you may value that option enough to spend a bit more.
Yes, buy it!
The Graco Magnum Project Painter Plus Paint Sprayer is a compact, time-saving tool that we didn’t know we needed until we used it. Because the cost is fairly low, you only need a few larger projects to justify the expense versus renting. If you mostly paint smaller projects such as furniture, there are smaller, cheaper sprayers to consider, however.
- Product Name Magnum Project Painter Plus Paint Sprayer
- Product Brand Graco
- MPN 257025
- Price $269.00
- Weight 15 lbs.
- Engine Size 0.375 horsepower
- Max. Tip Size 0.015 in.
- Max. Flow Rate 0.31 GPM (gallons per minute)
- Max. Hose Length 50 ft.
- Power 110v
- Warranty 1 year, limited
- What’s Included SG2 Spray Gun, TrueAirless 515 Spray Tip, Spray Tip Guard, 1/4 in. x 25 ft. DuraFlex Hose, Pump Armor Storage Fluid (8 oz.), Quick Start-Up Guide