Graco TrueCoat Plus Paint Sprayer Review

December 22, 2011 | by Ethan (email) |

A few months back, Fred shared how we installed painted pegboard in our new workshop to give it a dramatic flare. Before we put up the pegboard, we painted it (and its mounting strips) semigloss black with this Graco TrueCoat Plus Paint Sprayer. In Fred’s original article we promised a review of the paint sprayer. Well, this review is long overdue, but today I’m finally sharing our experience with the Graco TrueCoat Plus, which was provided to us for review by Graco.

Graco TrueCoat Plus Review

Graco offers a number of professional and consumer grade sprayers. The TrueCoat Plus model is a small, portable, handheld sprayer designed for the do-it-yourselfer. It’s available as a corded or cordless model, and it costs $250 at Lowe’s. We tested the corded model.

When I evaluate any painting tool, I always look for the following traits.

  • Setup & ease of use
  • Ease of cleanup
  • Painting performance

Below I take a look at how the Graco stacks up against each of these factors.

Setup Review

Graco touts that the TrueCoat Plus is “ready to paint in seconds”. I’d mostly agree with the assertion, but only after learning the basics of the setup process, which entails:

  • Unscrewing the paint cup from the sprayer and inserting an optional disposable liner
  • Installing a Fine Finish Optimizer (required only when spraying a clear coat or stain)
  • Filling the paint cup and reattaching it to the base

  • Flipping the control lever up and pulling the trigger for 5 seconds

Flushing (When Required)

Flushing can add to setup time, and is required in the following circumstances:

  • Before the very first use
  • After storing the sprayer for an extended period of time (to remove storage solution)
  • Between color changes
  • When cleaning out persistent clogs

Flushing involves removing a few parts from the base of the tool, running water or mineral spirits through the sprayer, and then reassembling the unit. A simple flush takes about five minutes.

Clean-up Review

The TrueCoat Plus cleans up relatively quickly as compared to paint sticks, and even as compared to competing sprayers.

The process is very similar to flushing the sprayer:

  • Disassemble the fill cup, intake tube, and clean up as much paint as possible
  • Reassemble the parts and run water through the sprayer, rotating the nozzle between the spray and unclog setting.
  • Remove the nozzle (reverse threaded) altogether and give it a thorough cleaning.
  • If required, re-rinse the cup and fill tube.

I found the cup liners broke after refilling the cup a few times because they go right over the threads for screwing the cup in place. It’s almost not worth using them. Also, I learned to spray the water / mineral spirits longer than the recommended 15 seconds, otherwise the unit doesn’t really clean up entirely.

I’d estimate clean-up takes 15-20 minutes after you know what you’re doing (and not staring at the directions like I was). That means the TrueCoat Plus is worth breaking out even for smaller jobs.

Long-term Storage Process

Storing the sprayer for an extended period of time involves a few extra steps, because water left in the sprayer will corrode the pump. Graco includes one bottle of “Pump Armor”, and that needs to go through the sprayer after cleaning.

I’m disappointed that I’ll need to keep a supply of Pump Armor concentrate handy for this sprayer; however, the TrueCoat Plus cleans up nicely. The real proof is that I’d definitely use it again for our next spray job.

Painting Performance

I was really impressed with how fast I was able to work; it took mere minutes to paint everything. Unfortunately, I went through a lot of paint, and that meant stopping to refill the paint cup repeatedly. Obviously a bigger paint cup would mean the sprayer is heavier when full, and Graco opted for increased portability.

It’s also important to know that I couldn’t angle the sprayer too far because the intake tube needs to sit in a pool of the paint or stain. Several competitors have designed a tube that flexes to address this problem, but the TrueCoat Plus does not have that feature.

The TrueCoat Plus is an airless sprayer, and that means the pump atomizes the coating rather than mixing the paint with compressed air. Airless sprayers enjoy a few perks over air sprayers, including a more uniform coating and better fill for crevices (or, in our case, pegboard holes). They also don’t need any thinner additives, which is a major plus for an on-the-go type of sprayer.

I found the the TrueCoat Plus has good power and range. I was able to position the sprayer about five feet away from the work surface, and had no problems with overspray.

Overall Impression

Overall, I enjoyed how quickly I was able to paint everything, and the finish looks great. The TrueCoat Plus can handle several different spray materials, and I really like that you don’t have to add any thinner. It was cumbersome to refill the paint cup so often and to remember not to tilt the sprayer too much. For those reasons, the TrueCoat Plus has limited applications, such as painting trim, fixtures and shutters. It could work to paint or stain a fence or deck, but I’d hate to refill the paint cup so many times. Setup and clean up is easy, which makes the TrueCoat Plus a real time-saver for small projects.

What’s Included with the Sprayer?

  • TrueCoat Plus Airless Sprayer (Part #258863)
  • Narrow (311) and Wide (517) Pattern Reversible Tips
  • 32 oz (.95L) Round Cup with Cover and 3 Cup Liners
  • Shoulder Strap
  • 4 oz (.12L) bottle Pump Armor
  • Storage/Carrying Case

Fred owns a Wagner Airless Paint Sprayer. Read his review to see how it compares to the Graco.

17 Responses
  1. Any idea what the pump armor actually is? It would be a lot more appealing if it was something cheap that could be found at the hardware store.

    • Joe says:

      antifreeze?? which should have rust inhibitors in it.

      from their datasheet.

      Ethylene glycol 45-60
      Water 40-49
      Proprietary additives Balance

      • You’re right! It’s premixed antifreeze. Although some automotive mixtures have a diethylene glycol in small percentages as well.

        • Joe says:

          yeah… some guys just talk about storing it with mineral spirits in it to remove the corrosive nature of the water.

      • Fred says:

        This is useful info. So, on my Wagner with the hopper on the ground, I kept running into rust issues with the valve at the base of the hopper. Sounds like what I needed was a final rinse with something other than water. Wish I would’ve known. I got so sick of the problems with it, I ended up recycling it.

  2. Paul&Aundrea says:

    About to start helping family paint their new construction home. I know this specific sprayer isn’t what we should consider buying since we will be painting the entire house but should we consider buying a larger sprayer or renting from our local Home Improvement store? If we should consider buying, any past reviews you can point me to?

    • Fellow commenter here but I can weigh in on your question. Be sure to compare the rental cost vs the time you estimate it will take you to paint the house. Double your time estimate as well and compare that to the rental cost. You most likely would be able to sell the tool on craigslist or equivalent when you are finished and recoup a significant portion of your initial cost. I’ve done that with plenty of specialty tools.

      Secondly, I think today is the first I’ve seen you comment here. Welcome to OPC! There is usually good discussion on almost every article. I hope you registered for Project Rewards. You can get points on every article you comment on as well as just being logged in. It’s a free way to get free tools!

      • Paul&Aundrea says:

        Thanks for the comments and suggestions. I hadn’t even thought about reselling it! I just found OPC last week and already joined Project Rewards. I’m all about free tools!

    • Ethan says:

      I know Fred has had a good experience with a Wagner, and it sounds like a good option to consider. Check out his Wagner review here. And if you follow Jeff’s suggestion, it should be an inexpensive investment.

  3. TheFonz says:

    i’m assuming the spray gun fan tip is removable (the one you turn for unclogging and cleaning)? if it is, then most likely its the same tips used for the industrial line of Graco sprayers and that would make it an awesome feature since you can purchase different size fan tips at Sherwin Williams and i believe Home Depot or anywhere they sell Graco Products.

    • Ethan says:

      You’re right that the tip is removable, and they include an alternate for a wider pattern. Are the industrial sprayers reverse threaded too? Let me know if you find out more.

  4. HANDYMAN51 says:

    This looks handy for a crafter working with wood, like bird houses or bird feeders, before assembly.

  5. Blythe says:

    Hola! I’ve been following your web site for some time now and finally got the courage to
    go ahead and give you a shout out from Kingwood Tx!
    Just wanted to tell you keep up the fantastic work!

  6. Jason says:

    I’ve bought and returned 3 graco truecoat plys sprayers. Customer service was terrible and could not give me any information on why they sell a paint sprayer that does not work or breaks as soon as the warrenty is up. I just opened the third sprayer after buying and returning the last one and it was broken right out of the package. Dont buy this product. It is terrible. I feel like money has been stolen from,me because of how terrible this truesprayer plus is.

  7. Brandon Taylor says:

    I rebuild bicycles, use car paint applications or epoxy for rebuilds. Looking for something easier to break out that my current compressor / gun. Will this work? I wouldn’t have to mix down the paint anymore with this?. If not any recommendations for new hardware ?

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