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.
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.
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.
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, 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.