I've decided to start learning to paint body panels for fun. At this point my budget leaves me at the mercy of inexpensive tools, and I'm trying to understand what the actual limitations are with those tools. Certainly a cheap spray gun, or rattle can, can result in a far poorer finish, but I'm curious if it must or if it can be made up for with a little elbow grease.

If base coat just needs complete coverage, and can be sanded before clearcoat application, do the better sprayers provide any benefits that won't be replicated by simply spending a little extra time with some sandpaper?

Similarly, if the final coat of clearcoat will likely need wet-sanded, rubbed out, and polished/buffed to remove orange peel anyway (I doubt an amateur like me could avoid it even with good tools), what affect does a better sprayer have since imperfections are already being taken care of by the sanding process?

I understand that better sprayers provide more consistent flow and pressure, better atomization, and other benefits over cheap sprayers or even spray cans. However, I'm wondering if that necessarily affects the final quality of the paint job, or if a better sprayer just reduces finishing time.

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    IMO it comes down to convenience. Yes, you can learn how to use low quality tools to do a good job, if you spend enough time learning, and even more time sanding down your mistakes (which is a mind-numbingly boring way of spending hours,, not your optimistic "a little extra time". One thing your comparison missed out is that spray-can paints are necessarily thinner than sprayer paints, and thinner paint is more likely to create runs, orange-peel, etc, and needs more coats - and therefore more sanding time even if you don't mess up. – alephzero Apr 26 at 0:19

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