Airbrush Needle Buying Guide

7 Likes Comments Comment
Like if this guide is helpful
Airbrush Needle Buying Guide

Many painters believe the airbrush was a recent innovation designed to enhance painting precision and speed. However, the concept of funnelling paint to reach a designated surface area dates back to the Neolithic Era, when man ground up charcoal or berry pigments and used saliva to bind the mixture together. Air for the lungs was the propulsion source, the mouth was used as the nozzle, and the tongue directed the mixture onto the canvas, which at the time comprised the rocky walls inside of a cave. Numerous inventors created handheld airbrushes during the 19th century, but it was not until the advent of electricity that airbrushing became a common artistic method.

Airbrushing has not only expanded artistic expression, it has also become one of the more popular hobbies. Because of its popularity, the demand for airbrushes and airbrush parts has skyrocketed. While aspiring artists can find airbrush needles in art shops and home improvement outlets, their best buying option is online at eBay. Before shopping for airbrush needles online, consumers should receive an overview of airbrush needles, as well as learn when it is time to replace airbrush needles, how to match airbrush needles with the right type of airbrush, and the varied needle sizes.

Overview of Airbrush Needles

Every airbrush produced operates on the same principle of air meeting paint at a calibrated point within the airbrush, which painters refer to as atomisation. The calibrated point is where a tapered needle projects the combination of air and paint forward onto a painting surface. Fine line paint spraying requires small diameter needles that taper to a nozzle. Large commercial airbrushes, such as those utilised by home exterior painters, possess much larger needles that are able to disperse paint over a wider surface area. The smaller the airbrush needle, the more susceptible it is to damage and possibly the need for replacement. Smaller airbrush needles tend to bend more than larger needles, especially if an airbrush falls on a hard surface. An airbrush nozzle secures the needle at the front of the airbrush.

Determine When It Is Time to Buy a New Airbrush Needle

Manufacturers construct airbrush needles with corrosion-resistant metals, such as steel and anodised aluminium. A thick piece of treat metal can withstand punishment, such as dents and scratches. However, airbrush needles, even the larger ones, are not thick enough to withstand impacts that cause bending. The bending of an airbrush needle can lead to the needle breaking in two or causing paint to clog inside of the needle, and eventually rendering the needle inoperable. While there are ways to correct bending issues, airbrush needles are so delicate that some bends are not discernible to the naked eye. Painters need to recognise the signs of a bent needle and know when it is time to buy a new airbrush needle.

Air Pressure

Painters can detect a bent air needle by monitoring the air pressure. Bent needles do not allow enough air pressure through the hose, which results in a paint effect referred to as stipple. Conversely, a bent airbrush needle can produce too much pressure, which painters notice whenever paint misdirects or over-sprays. Over-spraying produces a multi-colour halo around the intended area of paint projection.

Paint Thickness

Since it is difficult to notice a bend in an airbrush needle, another way to detect spraying problems is when paint clogs within a needle. Regardless of paint viscosity, paint should move unencumbered through any size of airbrush needle. Bent needles can cause clogs, as well as splatters, if the paint is too thick and not mixing properly with the air. Some painters thin the paint, but the best solution is to replace a bent airbrush needle with a new model. Thinning paint can create problems, such as different coloured paints blending into each other.

Magnifying Glass

Some painters want proof of a bent needle, not just a few warning signs. They purchase magnifying glasses that allow them to detect exactly where a bend occurs on an airbrush needle. Remove the needle from the nozzle and place the magnifying glass at the tip end of the needle. Take two coins to hold the needle in place and slowly move the magnifying glass back and forth just above the needle.

Hard Impact

Airbrush needles are inexpensive to replace and because of this, many painters simply replace any needle that receives a hard impact. The impact can be an airbrush falling off of a table onto the ground, or a heavy object falling onto the needle. Airbrush needles may not break when they bear the brunt of a hard impact, but they most likely bend as a result of the impact.

Matching the Needle With the Correct Type of Airbrush

Airbrush needles come in varied sizes, and selecting the right size involves two factors: the type of airbrush and the scope of the airbrushing project. Manufacturers produce airbrushes as either single or double action. Choosing which action to use depends on how much area the airbrush needs to cover. Single-action airbrushes involve pushing down a device that resembles the trigger on aerosol cans. This type of airbrush does not provide precision control, and hence, works better with larger needles that painters primarily use for base coating. Double-action airbrushes provide users with more control by pushing down one trigger to control airflow, and pulling the trigger back to control the amount of paint sprayed on a canvas or wall. Since double-action airbrushes work best on projects that include fine lines, painters should use smaller needles for double-action airbrushes.

Airbrush Needles Sizes

The most important aspect of buying airbrush needles involves selecting the right size needle and nozzle. Both the needle and nozzle come as a similarly-sized set. Most airbrush needle manufacturers express needle size by diameter in millimetres. In addition, manufacturers can include terms, such as medium, fine, and ultra fine to describe the needle detail. The following chart depicts the various airbrush needle sizes, followed by brief explanations.

Needle Size


0.4 mm to 0.5 mm

Largest size to consider

For general purpose airbrushes

Most popular type of needle

Only suitable for base coating models

0.3 mm to 0.35 mm

High-end of detailing range of needles

Suitable for some freehand that does not require fine lines

0.2 mm to 0.25 mm

Base coating takes longer than larger needles

Fine spray patterns

Perfect for more advanced artists

0.15 mm and smaller

The best spray pattern details

Not recommended for base coating

Most expensive type of airbrushing needles

Most painters can get by using a 0.3 mm airbrush needle, since the needle provides for wide base coating coverage and some freehand movements. While some airbrushes only accept one size of needle, manufacturers have increasingly introduced models that accept multiple needle sizes. Painters should choose a more flexible airbrush and try different needle sizes until they find the right size that matches their painting ability. As a general rule, more experienced airbrushers should consider smaller diameter needles for projects that require freehand precision, while novices, especially hobbyists, should utilise larger needles until they develop precision skills.

Buying Airbrush Needles on eBay

eBay hosts myriad sellers who offer airbrushes and airbrush accessories. The key is to utilise eBay's powerful search engine to find the sellers who offers the airbrush needle that matches your shopping criteria. The best way to use eBay's search engine is to type specific keywords that reduce the number of seller options. You should live by the mantra, "the more specific the keywords, the better". For instance, try typing brand keywords to find the right seller. Brand name airbrush needles should be more precise and durable. Two of the more popular airbrush accessory brand names to consider are "Badger" and "Iwata". You can then peruse the list of brand name airbrush accessory sellers to find the one who matches your shopping criteria.

Once you find the right seller, you have an abundant amount of information to review on the seller product page. The airbrush needle seller should display an enlarged photograph of the needle for sale. From the photograph, you should be able to discern if the needle has any grooves that indicate bending. The product page should also convey the condition of the needle, product delivery terms, and accepted payment methods. eBay also posts seller customer reviews on the product pages. Look for sellers who have earned high customer praise for selling painting supplies, preferably sellers who have eBay airbrush selling experience.


Technology has improved the precision that painters need to produce a flawless piece of art. Instead of nuanced hand movements that detract from the final product, airbrushes provide a steady way to deliver paint from the source onto the painting surface. The key component of an airbrush is the needle, which mixes air and paint to form the mixture to be dispersed from the airbrush. However, airbrush needles comprise the most fragile part of an airbrush, which means painters, both expert and novice, must know the signs of a bent or used airbrush.

Once an airbrush needle is rendered useless, painters need to know how to shop for a new airbrush, the keyword being "new". Used needles typically do not possess that straight form required to produce flawless artwork. Painters must match the type of airbrush with the right-sized needle, with smaller needles working best with double-action airbrushes, and larger needles the right match for single-action airbrushes. Above all, size is the most important airbrush needle buying factor. Needles under 0.15 mm require the most precision, as they do the best job of drawing fine lines. Airbrush needles larger than 0.3 mm are typically used for base coating.

Explore more guides