Covers large areas quickly
Tedious cleanup process
Awkward to move around
The Graco brand is nearly 100 years old, and since inventing the first airless paint sprayer in 1958, it has become synonymous with paint sprayers. We tested one of the brand’s middle-of-the-pack offerings, the Magnum X7 Electric TrueAirless Sprayer while rebuilding the deck on our Colorado home. Find out how this tool helped us finish the cedar decking and the pros and cons of using it versus doing it by hand.
Setup: There’s a learning curve
The Graco Magnum X7 Electric TrueAirless Sprayer fits in a pretty small niche in the world of paint sprayers. Recommended for painters who will use the device fewer than 125 hours a year, it’s aimed at contractors who paint only infrequently or DIYers who paint enough to justify owning their own sprayer rather than renting one as needed.
Despite not being built for full-time painting contractors, the Magnum X7 Electric TrueAirless Sprayer can handle a variety of large painting tasks using either water- or oil-based paints and stains. The 125-hour recommendation is simply a guideline to help with product selection, not necessarily a reflection of the unit’s capabilities.
Starting up the Magnum X7 for the first time isn’t overly complicated, but it does take some time to acquaint yourself with the different controls, hoses, and switches if, like us, you’re using a paint sprayer for the first time. The included instructions are clear and fairly intuitive once you’ve read through them once or twice and familiarized yourself with the controls. We also found the company’s instructional videos helpful, and the website has a good archive of information as well.
Staining our deck took less than half the time it might’ve had we used brushes or rollers to get the job done.
First, you’re advised to flush the system using either water for water-based paints or mineral spirits for oil-based fluids. For this step and for spraying, you’re going to need two clean 5-gallon buckets. You can use smaller containers, but we found the volume of liquids needed to operate the sprayer made 5-gallon buckets most practical and least likely to spill during operation.
We were using oil-based semi-transparent stain for our deck (and for some garden planters), so we needed mineral spirits. Don’t underestimate how much mineral spirits you’ll need. To run the flushing for the recommended 30 to 60 seconds, you’re going to want a couple of gallons of mineral spirits, which cost us about $30 at the local home improvement store. That’s not an insignificant cost to consider if you’re planning to use the sprayer with oil-based paints or stains.
At this point, you can start priming the system with whatever paint or stain you’re using and switch to just one bucket containing your paint since you won’t need a separate bucket for the waste drain.
Performance: Works well
We found the unit easy to use once set up properly. Graco’s instructions recommend testing your spray on some scrap wood such as a large piece of plywood before spraying your actual project. We saw the 20-inch extension rod recommended in the Graco educational materials for spraying decks and appreciated the extra reach. Without it, we were forced to hunch or kneel when spraying, neither of which was convenient. The extension allowed us to spray while walking normally, and for $45 made the process go even quicker.
Again, there is definitely a learning curve to using the sprayer and getting good results. Our first few passes required attention with a brush afterward, mostly because we weren’t moving the wand fast enough. Even at its lowest pressure setting, the sprayer can cover a lot of ground quickly, and if you don’t keep it moving, you’ll end up with too much sprayed in an area and you’ll have to go back with a brush as we did, essentially negating the speed benefit of the sprayer. However, after just a few passes, we developed a feel for the flow rate and were able to make single clean passes on an area without having to go back and touch them up with brushes.
The included “515” spray tip is great for painting large surfaces with thick paint, but our semi-transparent deck stain applied to 5/4-inch deck boards called for a smaller spray tip which cost us an additional $20 at our local Sherwin-Williams store. The tips are remarkably easy to switch out, but be careful to ensure they’re fully seated before using. We didn’t quite get ours fully into the gun at first and ended up with a handful of stain.
It’s hard not to overspray—even with the tip’s SoftSpray Technology, which is meant to address just that—so it’s a good idea to use tarps or plastic and tape wherever you might be concerned about that. While we tried to be careful, some stain definitely ended up airborne and likely in our yard, especially when spraying the deck’s railing where we couldn’t do much in the way of putting up plastic. For this reason, we definitely recommend a mask if not a respirator, even when using the sprayer outside.
Portability: Features a built-in wheeled cart
The built-in wheeled cart is useful and necessary especially with the included 25-foot hose, which runs out quickly when traversing across our 40-foot-wide deck. While you might consider buying a longer 50- or 100-foot hose to minimize the number of times you need to move the sprayer unit, we suffered through with the supplied hose and just had one person moving the unit as needed while the other sprayed. This setup is less than ideal, so we recommend spending roughly $45 for the 50-foot hose unless you’re confident you won’t need to move the unit much while painting.
If you’re not sure if you need a sprayer, it might be worth renting one for a day for less than $100 to find out if it’s the right fit.
The cart includes a hook for your 5-gallon bucket, which makes the process of moving the sprayer, hose, and bucket slightly less awkward. Despite the wheels being useful when on the deck itself, we ended up just lifting the whole thing up to move it when operating on the uneven ground around the base of the deck. Something to keep in mind if you’re going to be lugging it around the outside of your house, for example.
Despite some gripes with the time to set up and hassle of moving it around, we took solace in knowing that staining our deck took less than half the time it might’ve had we used brushes or rollers to get the job done.
Cleanup: A bit complicated if using oil-based paints and stains
One of the most important features (and drawbacks) of using a paint sprayer is the additional cleanup process, especially when using oil-based stains and paints. If using oil-based materials, you’ll again need to flush the system with mineral spirits, which creates not only an additional cost but also waste in the form of contaminated mineral spirits. The contaminated spirits can be left in a jug so the paint/stain sludge can settle out and spirits can be strained off and reused, assuming you have the space and patience. Otherwise, you’ll need to treat the waste as semi-hazardous and, depending on where you live, may need to pay to dispose of it at a waste facility.
That said, the process is much easier when using water-based paints. For both flushing before and after, you can simply hook a standard garden hose up to the intake valve and clear it into a waste bucket or even a utility sink. For this reason alone, we think this product would be much more practical for someone looking for a solution for mostly water-based paint projects.
The additional cost of the mineral spirits, the time and hassle of the cleanup, and the large amount of waste made it somewhat less palatable.
Additionally, if storing the unit idle for more than a couple weeks, Graco recommends you fill the unit with their proprietary Pump Armor fluid. At $10 per bottle, it’s not a huge additional expense (and one comes included with the unit), but it is another cost and another step beyond what you’d have to do with brushes and rollers.
While using the Magnum X7 still saved us a ton of time on our deck project using oil-based stains, the additional cost of the mineral spirits, the time and hassle of the cleanup, and a large amount of waste made it somewhat less palatable.
At around $400, this sprayer delivers contractor-grade performance for half the cost of more professional models, though there are smaller and cheaper units if you’re not sure you need something this pro.
Graco Magnum X7 Electric TrueAirless Sprayer vs. Graco Magnum Project Painter Plus
For a little more than half the cost of the X7, you can get the comparable Project Painter Plus, which has similar capabilities but drops the rolling stand. We tested both and found the Project Painter doesn’t accept as large of tips as the X7 and has slightly lower flow/power in terms of maximum gallons per minute. However, most DIYers won’t need either capacity.
The biggest limitation of the smaller Project Painter unit is the maximum hose length it can power: 50 feet versus 100 feet for the X7. If you are painting a multi-story house or just want to be able to move longer distances without moving your unit and paint buckets, the 50-foot limitation could be a drag.
Yes, if you know you need it.
The Graco Magnum X7 Electric TrueAirless Sprayer is a capable, time-saving sprayer that’s worth the money if you know you’ll use it more than once a year. If you’re not sure if you need a sprayer, it might be worth renting one for a day for less than $100 to find out if it’s the right fit.
- Product Name Magnum X7 Electric TrueAirless Sprayer
- Product Brand Graco
- MPN 262805
- Price $429.00
- Weight 27 lbs.
- Engine Size 0.625 horsepower
- Max. Tip Size 0.017 in.
- Max. Flow Rate 0.31 GPM (gallons per minute)
- Max. Hose Length 100 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