What’s Cheaper: Building vs Buying a Sprayer?


Sprayers can be expensive. So when you need to control weeds or pests, the question arises: is it cheaper to buy a ready-made sprayer or build your own? Buying a pre-made sprayer is certainly the more convenient option, and you can be fairly confident that it will work effectively from the start. Building your own sprayer means you can make it fit your specific needs, but is it really cheaper to do it yourself? 

In most circumstances, it will not save you money to build a sprayer yourself. In fact, it may cost you more to build a sprayer of comparable quality, especially when you factor in your time. If you already have some of the components, or you use lower-quality items, then building a sprayer yourself may save you money. There are many factors that will affect the cost o a sprayer including the type, quality of the components, size, and the time you are willing to put in.

In this post, we will compare the cost of building and buying a few different sprayer types and examine the factors that may affect the cost.

Comparing Different Sprayers

When comparing the cost of buying a new sprayer versus building one, you must take into account the features, specifications, and quality. This will ensure that you are comparing sprayers that will have similar capabilities and durability.

Here are some of the key things to look for when comparing sprayers:

  • Tank capacity: Often, the first thing you notice on a sprayer is the tank size.  Obviously, a larger tank capacity means you can cover more area before needing to refill, but it also means more weight to pull or carry. Larger tanks will cost more, so don’t oversize a tank if you do not need to. 
  • Boom width/coverage: The width/coverage is critical for a boom or boomless sprayer. A wider boom will cover more ground faster, but it is harder to maneuver and store.
  • Pump capacity (GPM): The pump capacity (GPM) impacts the speed you can travel, the distance your spray gun can reach, and how wide of a boom you can support.
  • Pump type: There are several types of sprayer pumps. They are not all equal. In addition to flow rate, what pressure can it achieve? How much horsepower does it require?  
  • Accessories: Some sprayers have extra features or accessories. Things like tank agitation are great for keeping the contents of the tank mixed, while a regulating valve allows you to adjust the pressure and flow of the spray. These features are necessary if you spray often. If applicable does it come with a spray gun?
  • Hose: Length is important, as it determines how far you can reach from the sprayer, but the material is key. Nylon or clear braided hoses can become brittle and less flexible than EPDM rubber hoses. 
  • Spray gun type: Is it a quality spray gun? Does it come with a nozzle for spot spraying, tree spraying, high-volume, etc?

Now let’s look at the cost to build and buy some different types of sprayers.

Spot Sprayers

A spot sprayer is a super common and versatile sprayer type that can be used for lawns, pastures, food plots, etc. It is easy to construct so it makes sense that someone may want to put one together themselves.

Buying a Spot Sprayer

To compare the costs of buying new versus building your own I looked at 15 different models of spot sprayers from four different manufacturers. For more information on the specifics please take a look at this spot sprayer guide. I stuck with fairly standard setups that are offered by farm stores and hardware stores. Brands included: Master, Fimco, Northstar, & Chapin. I did not include spot sprayers with specially contoured tanks or sprayers with special features. The focus was on sprayers with a 15 or 25-gallon tank, 1-2.2 gallon pump, simple spray wand, and usually a pressure regulating valve. 

At the time of writing this article, the average cost was about $183. The average cost of a 15-gallon spot sprayer was $167, the 25-gallon average was $193. The cheapest options were very basic with just a pump, tank, hose, and spray wand. The more expensive options included quality spray guns, pressure regulating valves, and sometimes a manifold for adding other hoses or spray wands.

Spot Sprayer SizeAverage Cost of a New Spot Sprayer
15-Gallon Spot Sprayer$167
25-Gallon Spot Sprayer$193
Average Cost of Both Sizes$183

Building a Spot Sprayer

I identified all the components you would need if you were to build your own spot sprayer of the same relative quality as the ones discussed above. You can see the costs below. As you can see the cost adds up fast. Using comparable items the cost of building a 15-gallon spot sprayer yourself comes out to about $197. That is more than the average cost of just buying one already made, and that doesn’t include your time!

When it comes to a spot sprayer, unless you want to customize your sprayer, or you already have some of the components, it won’t save you any money to make your own. It should be noted that the individual cost of these items may vary and it is likely that the quality of these pieces may be better than what some “box store” spot sprayers are made from. In this case, the Teejet pressure regulating valve that I included in this list is a better more expensive valve than what is commonly used.

Small Boom Sprayer

One main reason you would consider building your own sprayer is to potentially save money on the boom. For that reason, I decided to compare the cost of buying and building a small boom sprayer that you could use on an ATV/UTV or mower. Also, because you could easily turn a spot spray into a boom sprayer we will compare the costs of a complete sprayer and just the cost of the boom only. 

Buying a Small Boom Sprayer

I looked at several basic boom sprayers. To keep it simple, I just compared units that had the same components as the spot sprayers discussed above but came with a simple boom to mount on an ATV/UTV. I found that the average cost for a complete sprayer was about $478

Building a Small Boom Sprayer 

The cost to build a small boom sprayer will be similar to the cost of building a spot sprayer but you will add the boom components to it. In addition to that you may need a larger pump and a valve for the boom and spray wand. Here is the list of components that are needed for a 25-gallon boom sprayer with 10-foot coverage:

The total for these items is about $400. You will need a few pipe fittings to connect the hose, so altogether you will probably need to spend $415 if not more. So it would technically be a little cheaper to build your own ATV boom sprayer, but not much. Do note that this DIY boom does not fold like the ready-made sprayers you could purchase. Another factor to consider is how the sprayer will sit or attach to your machine. The cost to build may increase if you need to do some custom fabricating.

As noted earlier, if you already have a tank or other components on hand from an older sprayer or piece of equipment, you certainly can save more money building your own sprayer. I have a couple of other articles where you can find out how to specifically put together a simple boom or build an ATV sprayer that will last

Spray Boom

What if you have a spot sprayer already and want to add a boom? Could you save some money making this yourself? There are a few different boom types that you can purchase and add to a spot sprayer. They offer 7-12 feet of coverage and the price varies widely. This is because the coverage they provide also varies. This is important to consider because some booms may limit the effectiveness of your herbicide or pesticide. Let me explain what I mean. 

When you shop for a spray boom kit to add to a spot sprayer, there are two main styles you will see. One is a very simple boom offering 7-10 feet of coverage. They will have 2 or 3 “flood” nozzles that produce a wide pattern and coarse droplet size. This boom will work fine for many applications, however, pesticides or herbicides that require fine dropless and good even coverage on a plant surface may not work well when applied by a boom like this. That is where the other more expensive boom type comes into play. This other style is a setup that offers about the same width of coverage but has more nozzles evenly spaced. These are flat fan nozzles that do not have the same wide pattern as the “flood” nozzles but they produce smaller droplets and can be more effective at coating a surface with your spray solution.

Sprayer nozzles, droplet size, etc., can be complicated topics. If you are new to sprayers be sure to read this article where I cover in detail the different aspects of spray nozzles.

Cost of Boom Kits:

Cost to Build Your Own Sprayer Boom

Since the cost to buy a 7 ft coverage spray boom is so little, I decided to look at the cost of building a boom with 10 ft coverage:

These components cost about $185. You should figure another $15-20 for thread sealer, fittings, etc. This does not include the spray tips because those will vary depending on your application, but you would be able to get those for $10-15 each. Making a sprayer boom with 10 ft of coverage would cost about $300. You can see the pattern here, in most cases it does not save money to build your own sprayer. There are certainly some cheaper ways to go about this, but I chose these components to make the investment worthwhile. The cost could potentially be reduced using PVC pipe, smaller tubing, plastic clamps, etc.

Skid Sprayer

Finally, I thought that it would be helpful to also look at a sprayer that would be used by turf professionals. A commercial skid sprayer that can be used to spray and fertilize yards is a central tool for turf management companies. If you are starting a turf care company or are looking for ways to expand your operation without breaking the bank, it makes sense to see if building your own spray rig will save you money.

Cost of Buying a Skid Sprayer

There are many variations of skid sprayers. I want to compare a fairly typical setup that could be used for lawns and small to medium-sized trees (up to 40 feet tall). This requires a gas-engine-driven diaphragm pump that produces at least 8 GPM and 500 psi, 300 ft of 1/2 inch hose, hose reel, tank, plumbing, agitation, and skid. I identified five different companies that made 200-gallon sprayers that fit these criteria: Fimco, King Sprayer, Dultmeier, Reddick, and Master Mfg. The average cost was about $5100.

Cost of Building a Skid Sprayer

To build a skid sprayer of similar quality to the commercial ones available. You will need the following items:

This comes to about $3400. This does not include your time or tools. If you wanted an electric rewind hose reel or a larger pump for taller trees you will probably need to spend another $1000. Also, there will be specific things needed for your situation that this list has not taken into account. So while you can build a skid spray rig for less money than buying a new one, the savings may not be enough to justify it. If you have mechanical experience or can fabricate a metal skid/frame, you could certainly benefit more from building your own unit.

Things to Keep In Mind

A sprayer you buy will usually have a warranty or guarantee. If you build it yourself, you won’t have a warranty on an entire sprayer, however, the individual components will still have some warranty, as long as you are using them as intended. Transport and storage can be a big deal, especially when you have limited space. A homemade sprayer could be built with this in mind. 

Although in most cases buying a sprayer will be just as cost-effective as building one yourself, don’t let that stop you. If you desire a customized sprayer built with the components you have found to last, then you should consider building.

Shane Blomendahl

I have more than a decade of experience using, building, studying, and testing sprayers in several applications. With the knowledge I have gained I want to provide straight forward and detailed answers for DIY homeowners, farmers, and commercial turf and tree care pros.

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