Review: Wagner Flexio 590 Paint Sprayer

In this article I will be reviewing the Wagner Flexio 590 paint sprayer. I recently invested in one of these after learning just how much of a pain painting with rollers and a brush can be. Its a decent piece of equipment once you learn how to set it up and use it properly, but it wont make the fun filled task of painting really any easier but will help you put down paint much faster!

Wagner Flexio 590 Sprayer - Box

Whats funny about this review and I wound up picking up a paint sprayer after painting nearly every room in the house over the past two years with brushes and rollers. What prompted me to buy it was primarily to help finishing the rails on the deck and also one more room in the house, my man cave. I also know that my parents have wanted to repaint their deck and paint their stockade fence. I know that if this paint sprayer helps shave off time on any of these projects, it would return on its $150 investment. And that it does, with just a couple concerns.

Wagner Flexio 590 Paint Sprayer Materials & Quality

Wagner Flexio 590 Sprayer -  Box Contents

When I first handled the sprayer, I was initially worried about the high amount of plastic parts. I’ve learned my lesson buying cheap tools, and one of the first indicators of a cheap tool is the utilization of plastic for moving parts. Plastics wear down over time and become loose and also snap when you move them the wrong way. However I figured out the reasoning for plastic in this sprayer when it came time for cleanup, which I’ll get to later.
The Flexio 590 comes packaged with a general coverage spray nozzle with adjustments for spray power and paint flow. It also comes with the ISpray fine detail nozzle for touch up and and delicate work. Each of these nozzles has it’s own paint container in a larger and smaller size.  The entire set up is packaged in a plastic snap closure case and includes a manual, a paint thickness gauge (just a plastic stick with notches on it), a pipe cleaner brush, and a poster to test spray patterns.

Wagner Flexio 590 Sprayer -  ISpray Fine Detail Nozzle

Each nozzle can be disassembled in similar manners. The general purpose sprayer, which has a setting to increase or decrease the spray pattern’s cone width just has some additional pieces. Both sprayers can be adjusted to spray in a horizontal or vertical stripe which is especially useful for corners, or in this case, deck rail spindles.

Wagner Flexio 590 Paint Sprayer In Use

The sprayer works as expected: it sprays paint. There is a bit of a learning curve to dial in the proper settings for air pressure and paint flow. The rule of thumb is, the thicker the paint, the higher the settings. Since I’ve only used this using exterior latex paint, I’ve had the settings cranked: 9 for pressure, and the flow dial maxed out and dial backed a hair. I wish the paint flow adjustment knob, which is only a plastic knob with a spring backing it had some sort of unit of measure. On the Flexio 590, it’s just a +/- with some bars that increase in thickness. If they numbered the knob, it would make painting much more consistent.Wagner Flexio 590 Sprayer - After Painting

The general purpose sprayer puts down paint very easily. On my decking, one steady pass over bare pressure treated wood placed a nice thick layer. However, if you linger too long on an area, it’s very easy to make the paint run and sag. I learned a technique when it came to spray painting motorcycle parts that laying down a “dust” layer of paint prior to painting for coverage helps prevent running. I did this with the Flexio 590 as well, laying a quick and light pass, which dries very quickly, and then painting for coverage. This minimizes the sagging somewhat, but since the sprayer puts out so much paint, it won’t make it fool proof. As with all painting, slow, steady, and straight is the best technique.

The fine detail spray nozzle is quite a bit more forgiving; however, it does take more time to cover the same amount. Don’t think you can use it to paint everything, you’ll be doing it for days. To get even coverage, you’ll have to move the sprayer very slowly, but you get excellent control.

The general purpose spray head has unavoidable over-spray, as it was meant for painting solid surfaces. You better take the extra time to either mask or block any areas you don’t want covered in paint (read: your blue house, your dark wood stained decking, or your shiny Weber grill!). Since the deck is elevated, what I did was use a plastic tarp to cover the surface of the deck and let it drape over the outer corner about a foot. I then used a canvas tarp which I draped over the inside of the deck railings, allowing me to paint from the outside of the deck inwards using a ladder. The canvas tarp helps catch the paint, as I found that plastic tarps would just let it bounce off and away.

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But while the fine detail nozzle gives you more control, but I would still recommend blocking off anything you don’t want painted. If you’re outdoors, remember to factor wind as a variable!

Wagner Flexio 590 Paint Sprayer Observations

One of the biggest problems with this sprayer is keeping it from spitting and drooling. Yes, it’s like a baby.

It spits from the air pressure and paint flow mixture not being right. It does take some time to get this dialed in so you get a nice even mist. When it starts spitting, you’ll wind up with large globs of paint. These either hit your surface with a big splat or, worse, miss your surface and going flying off into the horizon. They can really fly.  This was my problem with spraying the deck railings.

Wagner Flexio 590 Sprayer - General Spray Nozzle

However, spitting is only caused by incorrect settings about 50%, since once you dial it in, it should be good. The other 50% of the time spitting is actually a symptom of the fact that the sprayer is drooling! I don’t yet know what causes this, but you can see what it looks like in this YouTube video here:

I had the same thing happen to me, and it usually occurs after I’ve left the sprayer sit too long while painting. And by too long, I mean if I stop to get a drink of water, answer a phone call, or what have you. When I leave, whether its the heat from the sprayer or the fact that I was doing it in the sun, causing paint to dry at the very tip of the sprayer head. Normally you can wipe this off with your hand, but sometimes it just keeps happening no matter what. When that happens, you must disassemble and clean it. There’s no other way to stop it. If you keep painting with this, what happens is the front end will continuously drool and dribble out paint, while the sprayer will split larger globs of it.

What I think MAY be the cause is improper reassembly after you’ve cleaned it, but I think there is poor design work in play which allows this. You see, there is a small plastic “O-ring” which seals the inner-most portion of the sprayer nozzle to the part that feeds paint from the reservoir. The part that feeds the paint looks like a black duckbill, and it fits into a funnel cone on the nozzle. If my engineering know-how is correct, the amount of paint that’s coming out of the sprayer is governed by how far the duckbill is allowed to move, filling a smaller cavity with paint. There’s a plastic O-ring which seals paint inside of this cavity I think. If that’s O-ring is not tightened enough by the outer black cap at the end of the nozzle assembly,  it may allow paint to leak around and keep flooding this little cavity, which then dribbles out.

Wagner, if you’re reading this, you need to redesign this engagement. Either make the plastic O-ring into some sort of gasket that has a larger surface to inhibit any pass-by, or change this sealing feature into a lockable connection via positive engagement.

Although you can quickly disassemble and clean out the front nozzle (I did while standing at the top of a 15 foot extension ladder) it is frustrating and definitely slows down your progress. So far, the only way I know how to prevent it is making sure the black twist-on cap is fully seated and stays seated. Because, even if you tighten it down ensuring the o-ring is snugly against the inner nozzle, the act of turning the vertical/ horizontal spray adjustment will want to loosen it. Again, this should have probably been designed so that the adjustment turns in the opposite direction of the cap’s threads.

Update 10/8/13

After several more paint jobs, I think the real culprit is the O-ring seal inside the sprayer head. I made sure that this seal was firmly pressed into the handle side of the sprayer head, not just seated in the nozzle side. There is a black lip that the O-ring seals against, which I cleaned thoroughly and firmly seated the O-ring on. This, along with a tip from Wagner who contacted me because of this review, was making sure to always engage the blower fans before and after spraying paint gently. That is, to say, not mashing the trigger on, but letting it ramp up just a tad more. Since then, I haven’t had much issue with spitting and dripping! You do have to periodically wipe off the sprayer tip, as it will build up a dried crust of paint.

Wagner Flexio 590 Paint Sprayer Final Impressions

Since I’m finally starting to get the hang of using this Wagner Flexio 590 paint sprayer, I don’t regret purchasing it. However, if I cant determine a way of consistently preventing the spiting, my mind may change. My next project is going to be repainting my.man cave from its stock salmon wall color (the previous owners decision! ) to a manly.moss green. I know that the over-spray and spitting will pose a problem once I’m indoors but I think ironing out these kinks outside should have helped

I hope this review and my observations have helped anyone thinking of buying the Flexio590. Ill leave you with a few parting tips:

  • Make sure you mask off anything you don’t want painted.
  • Learn how to disassemble and clean the sprayer nozzle before you start painting
  •   Don’t use paint+primer in one paint, its way too thick for spraying
  • If you start drooling, stop and clean
  • Keep a rag on hand to periodically wipe any dried paint at the.nozzle tip
  • Use the included detail nozzle when you can!

 

Comments

  1. rob pierce says

    Great artical. I own the Flexio 590 and it is an awsome tool; however; like it is mentioned inthe artical the key to having good tools is keeping the tool clean. It can not be said enough the importance of properly cleaning the 590 every time you stop working.

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