Earlex 5500 - Throw your brush away.

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Review by Luke posted 02-20-2013 09:13 PM 8147 views 5 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Earlex 5500 - Throw your brush away. Earlex 5500 - Throw your brush away. No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

The day the previous post came out I had finished my fourth big job with this Earlex. My wife bought it for me for fathers day a few years ago, I got the kit that came with the extra needle (1.5mm). Before this I used a $14 HF HVLP sprayer with a very small compressor, I had to wait in between sprays for the compressor to cycle. I’ve sprayed Shellac, WB Poly, Latex, NGR Dye and a few other things with this sprayer. I just completed wainscoting in my daughters room and sprayed it with the 5500. I sprayed my neighbors entertainment center, mine as well, I build a desk in our loft that is 16 feet long, sprayed the latex paint, as well as shellac and WB poly for the desk top.

I’m not a professional, strictly a hobbyest, and home fixer-upper.

I gotta say, the Earlex is amazing. I’ve had my shares of frustration with it, but in the end, if I look on the web, or read some tips, the issues can almost always be resolved.

When spraying clear finishes, Shellac, Poly, Lacquer etc, this thing is a champ! I love it. When spraying my 16×2.5’ desk top, I couldn’t imagine finishing it any other way. I am the type that HATES the finishing process, its usually when I run into the most issues. Some complain that spraying takes too much time to mask off, I’d rather mask than brush any day.

As far as the performance, I’ve had it for 3 years this June (2013) I’ve sprayed Sherwin Williams, Vista, and Behr, General finishes, Minwax and Zinseer, and I think this thing is worth its weight in gold!

The Pros:
Easy to use, plug it in, make sure the filter is clean, turn it on, fill it up, dial the amount of material, and spray away, its that easy. Accompanied with a good spray book or DVD this thing will open your eyes.

Clean up is usually a straight forward process, and doesn’t take much time.

Portability, pick it up and use it where you need it.

The Cons:
In a previous review, one had mentioned the handle is a bit small, I agree, but I do find I get more fatigue holding a brush then then holding the sprayer.

I’ve read in several reviews that people have complained of the teflon coating coming off inside the cup, I have that problem inside of my cup, after the first time I sprayed Shellac it started to come off.

The plastic clip that holds the hose on the handle shortly broke after purchase so the hose storage is a bit cumbersome.

Honestly thats really it for cons. If the cup didn’t chip, I’d’ve given it 5 stars.

I do have some thoughts, I wouldn’t call them “CONS” I’m not a fan of the intake being at the bottom of the unit, usually there is plastic where I spray and on more than one occasion, its sucked plastic and I’ve had to rush to turn off the unit. Also I do try to keep my spray area clean, but dust in the air and the like settles on the floor, so sucking air in from the floor seems a bit illogical to me, I’m sure there was a reason for it…

It would be nicer to have the hose just be able to be stored in the unit instead of having the top 2’ of hose clipped, being that the clip is plastic, that creates a hassle, and I usually just store the hose separate now.

The hose pops out if you don’t really put it in the spray gun, I don’t call that a con, because it happening two times to me before I realized I just needed to use more pressure to keep the hose in isn’t a big deal.

All in all, no one product is perfect, but I will say that this thing is worth the money. One tip that I can say yielded great results in spraying Latex was to do what Earlex Tech said, buy a paint mixer drill bit, I did notice that the paint would spray much easier. My dad had some wainscoting done that was sprayed by a pro with an airless system, and I think mine is smoother to the touch than his, not saying that its a better product, but it can yield GREAT RESULTS.

View Luke's profile


290 posts in 3496 days

16 comments so far

View gtbuzz's profile


427 posts in 3250 days

#1 posted 02-20-2013 11:50 PM

Thanks for the great review! I’ve been looking at this unit for quite some time now and the recent positive reviews may have sealed the deal for me. In your review, you mentioned coupling this with a good book or DVD; any recommendations?

View Matt Przybylski's profile

Matt Przybylski

580 posts in 3187 days

#2 posted 02-21-2013 12:20 AM

Good review. So other than mixing the latex with the paint mixer you didn’t thin it or anything else? And I’m assuming you sprayed the latex with the 2.0 (or even the 2.5?) needle?

-- Matt, Arizona,

View Luke's profile


290 posts in 3496 days

#3 posted 02-21-2013 02:16 AM

gtbuzz: Jeff Jewitt has a book called “Spray Finishing Made Simple” It has a companion DVD as well. That really helped me out with spraying. I have also studied “Taunton’s complete guide to finishing”

Matt: I thinned 10% with distilled water, and 10% with floetol = 3 oz of water, 3 oz of floetol for every liter (33 oz)

I actually used the 1.5 mm needle with latex. If you sift through the threads here Earlextech has helped many a sprayer figure things out. Somewhere I believe he said the smaller needle helps to “chop up” the thicker latex. The paint mixer also helps to break down the latex and mix the additive and water into it. Last project I did that, and I brushed primer on, at first I was worried there was a bit of orange peel, but as the paint leveled out, the primers brush strokes are what ended up showing through. Trick is to not put too much on, and not put too little on… (again refering back to Jeff Jewitts book)

View doordude's profile


1085 posts in 3792 days

#4 posted 02-21-2013 06:36 AM

good review write up

View Brandon's profile


4291 posts in 3760 days

#5 posted 02-21-2013 03:06 PM

I love this unit! And yes, the companion DVD is very valuable.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View JesseTutt's profile


854 posts in 2920 days

#6 posted 02-21-2013 04:10 PM

Companion DVD? When I bought mine the only DVD I got was a 5 minute sales presentation that was the same as what was posted on You Tube. Have they come out with a technical DVD?

-- Jesse, Saint Louis, Missouri

View Luke's profile


290 posts in 3496 days

#7 posted 02-21-2013 05:36 PM

Mine also came with just a sales DVD to my recollection, but the companion DVD to Jeff Jewitt’s book was very helpful.

View Brandon's profile


4291 posts in 3760 days

#8 posted 02-21-2013 07:36 PM

The DVD that came with mine is about an hour long and gives good instruction for using and cleaning. Perhaps you can ask Earlex to send you a copy if you already own their spray system.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View Matt Przybylski's profile

Matt Przybylski

580 posts in 3187 days

#9 posted 02-21-2013 09:55 PM

Yeah mine didn’t come with that DVD either but I’d love to watch it. What is it titled? Maybe it can be found on youtube or another online source…

-- Matt, Arizona,

View Hawaiilad's profile


3374 posts in 3830 days

#10 posted 02-21-2013 10:28 PM

Can you please tell me of a retailer that sells these sprayers.

-- Larry in Hawaii,

View Jorge G.'s profile

Jorge G.

1537 posts in 3284 days

#11 posted 02-21-2013 10:36 PM

Woodcraft, Lee Valley, Highland, Rockland, pick your poison… :-)

-- To surrender a dream leaves life as it is — and not as it could be.

View crashn's profile


528 posts in 3274 days

#12 posted 02-22-2013 02:48 AM

yeah, i have been lusting for one of these bad. Maybe this summer, to cold to spray around here anyways (in my unheated shop)

-- Crashn - the only thing I make more of than sawdust is mistakes

View chip73's profile


61 posts in 3022 days

#13 posted 02-22-2013 03:37 PM

Had my for a year and gtbuzz gives a very accurate review. I love mine. I have seen these being sold for less than $3oo – can’t go wrong.

-- Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.

View waho6o9's profile


8920 posts in 3386 days

#14 posted 02-22-2013 03:44 PM

View Mellie's profile


2 posts in 2687 days

#15 posted 04-05-2013 01:22 PM

I’ve been reviewing paint spray systems for quite some time now. The 5500 looks like a great DYI machine for home use. I was made aware of the fact in one of the reviews that if you use oils, lacquers, etc. the Teflon coating in the cup will come off. They make liners to use for this purpose.

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