I've been holding out on buying a spray gun for painting because it always felt like an overwhelming purchase. Where would I keep all the required stuff - air compressors, tubes, funnels, including the gun and who knows what else? And why would I spend hundreds of dollars on the gun alone when I can just brush on paint or buy a can of aerosol spray paint? Then I was faced with painting a sea of doors in our new house and I thought I'd look into it a little more. Turns out I was way over-thinking it!

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The highest rated spray gun on Amazon is this little guy called the Critter Spray Gun. It looked simple enough to operate and it cost less than $50. A total steal. So I bought it and now I love it.

The great thing about the Critter is you need an air compressor to spray at only 90 PSI, so you don't have to invest in a crazy heavy-duty and huge compressor. I have this one and I like it a lot. It's bigger than I need to operate the critter gun, but I needed it for nailing in the floors and trim too so I went with something more on the heavy-duty side. You could buy one of those tiny portable compressors though and it would work great!

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(More after the jump...)
But the BEST part about the Critter spray gun is that it uses 16 oz Mason jars to hold the paint. This makes clean up a breeze compared to most of the spray guns out there but also makes it really easy to prep a big spray job. Rather than filling the same jar over and over again, I filled six jars with paint (diluted a little with distilled water like the guy at Benjamin Moore suggested I do) and could just quickly change out the jars when needed.

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When the Critter's attached to an air compressor, there's a steel straw on the pencil-looking thing that creates a vacuum and pulls the paint up and out. And then the air compressor blows air out of the gun looking part and sprays the atomized paint coming out of the pencil-looking part. It is so simple. And truly, it works really well. 

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I sprayed these doors black for my mudroom in about an hour (front and back). It would have taken me a full day to hand brush these and it would have looked pretty junky with all those louvers. 

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I'll be sharing the doors and some of the mudroom tomorrow. I'm so happy with how the doors turned out! I've been pulling out pieces of furniture to spray too, since it's so easy to change paint colors with the gun. To clean the Critter, you just rinse it out with water if you're using a water-based paint like a latex or an alkyd paint like Benjamin Moore's Advance line, which is my favorite for painting doors and furniture. If you're spraying an oil-based paint, you can just put some paint thinner in a clean Mason jar, hold your fingers over the spray hole and the vacuum hole at the top of the lid and just shake. Since the pencil part is basically just a straw, this tool cleans up really well. It might even be easier than cleaning up a paint brush (not exaggerating)!

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The finish after even just one coat is smooth and thick (it's like brushing on two or three coats of paint - that's why it uses so much paint). 

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Just like with spray cans and brushing, if you apply too much paint, you'll get drips. So far the only drip I had was with this little plant stand (so many angles with all the moulding!), but admittedly I was getting a little sloppy after spraying all those doors. :) If you use slow sweeping strokes and avoid the temptation to do a second pass over while the first coat is still wet, you won't have any drips. And you will have a beautiful factory-finish on your furniture and doors.

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I'm nominating the Critter for my best purchase of the year! Definitely a life-changing addition to my tool box.

In case you're considering one for yourself, here's the line up you'll probably want:

Critter Spray Gun (which comes with one Mason jar)
1/4" air hose
1/4" coupler set (which attaches the hose to the gun and to the air compressor)
Air compressor that pushes at least 90 PSI (I have this big one but you could get away with using a smaller, more portable one)
Extra Mason jars (these are SO worth having and using!)
Extra cork gaskets (apparently they fall apart over multiple uses)

PS If you decide to use the Benjamin Moore Advance paint that I love for spraying furniture and doors, you'll probably want to dilute the paint with about five ounces of distilled water for every gallon of paint. It's not much more liquid, but it really helps.