A major part of your success with DIY painting projects is your equipment.
While the number one factor is overall skill (which really only comes with time), the second factor is making sure you are using the right tool for the right job. If you’re thinking about starting a painting business, this is a critical decision.
Having the right type of tool can be the difference between an okay job and an impressive one, and this sometimes means picking between investing in a paint sprayer vs roller methods.
The battle between the paint sprayer vs roller has been going on for decades. Some swear by the spray guns for their decorating projects, while others only use rollers.
Trying to choose between the two options can be a difficult choice, especially when it comes to interior painting.
Making sure you’re equipped with the how-to’s of indoor decorating is going to take you from a sub-par DIYer to a Pinterest-worthy maker.
Painting with a Sprayer – The Basics
The modern spray gun is easily one of the best decorating tools in the modern era.
Paint sprayers are commonly used for spraying water-based compounds for different cleaning projects as well as release agents.
If you’ve read any of our paint sprayer reviews already you’ll see they’re used for large projects, especially for construction workers that are working on bigger commercial as well as residential jobs. For the homeowner, they are a perfect little sidekick when it comes to decorating both the interior and exterior of your house, as well as DIY projects like furniture, and other smaller jobs.
Plus, you can also stain various styles of wood with sprayers, making them a great all-in-one tool to get most home redecorating projects done.
There are 2 basic types of paint sprayers:
Airless paint sprayers and paint sprayers powered by air.
A Quick Look at Airless Paint Sprayers
When using airless sprayers, you don’t need an air compressor. The motor is activated by operating the sprayer with a pumping action, initiated by pulling the trigger
I know what you’re thinking. No, it’s not like a water gun. The best airless paint sprayers have the pump built-in the machine itself. The pump-action pushes the material through the spray gun and out the nozzle at the tip of the gun. Learn more about how airless sprayers work here.
In short, the material is transformed into a mist-type fog when it comes into contact with air that rapidly settles on whatever you are coating.
Airless spray guns are available in different types and designs and they are best for painting interior walls and exterior projects where the surface may not be flat. When it comes to painting with a sprayer vs roller on exterior walls, the sprayer wins hands down.
Compressed Air Spray Guns
As you guessed, compressed air guns come with the assistance of compressed air. (Learn how a compressor works)
The air compressor applies pressure to the air sprayer’s basin. This pushes the material out of the nozzle, giving a smooth coat on the surface. Traditionally, compressor paint sprayers are used for automotive spraying and a factory finish-like.
They can come small or large, with the smaller being attached right to the spraying gun and the bigger compressors being mounted on a cart.
Painting with a Roller – The Basics
If you’re wanting to get the smoothest surface in a small area, then rollers are your best bet. They’re available in all kinds of sizes, widths, lengths, and styles, depending on the project you’re working on.
They usually have two parts: the outer skin and inner frame.
The outer skin is put onto the inner frame and is what comes into contact with the paint and the surface.
There are a few different kinds of rollers available:
If you’re wanting to add more of a designed look to your surface, then you’ll want a textured roller.
Textured rollers have a specific type of foam on the outer skin that has a pattern carved into it. This texture is seen on the surface as you roll.
Manual rollers are the standard rollers. They’re used for your standard walls and ceilings. They come with a handle, making it easy to roll on the material on any standard surface.
There are now several automated rollers on the market which feed paint directly to the roller, making it a hybrid between a paint sprayer and a manual roller. Check out our review of the Wagner Smart Side Kick roller.
Mini Hot Dog Rollers
Mini hot dog rollers are a great little helper when you’re needing to get to difficult spots.
Especially when you’re not doing a regular home, it can come in handy.
It’s best for custom-built homes and small DIY projects to get anything with tight corners or crevices detailed. They’re best for painting around sinks, corners, skirtings, cupboards, shelves, etc.
Which Uses More Paint? A Paint Sprayer Or Roller?
If you’re wondering which one uses more paint overall, the answer is paint sprayers.
Paint sprayers use up to 33% more paint on average than your standard roller.
Because the sprayer vaporizes the liquid into a mist, millions of tiny spray molecules are left in the air, and soon enough make their way to settling on various surfaces (rather than the ideal surface you’re coating).
Plus, between airless sprayers and HVLP paint sprayers, airless sprayers use more. Airless sprayers may use up to two gallons of paint per minute.
Spraying vs Rolling – Which One Is Quicker?
For the battle of speed, sprayers take the lead by a long shot over rollers.
Paint sprayers can get a job done about 2-3 times as fast as rollers can.
Because of how quickly the paint can transform into a mist, you get a much quicker coat. By utilizing the power of the air over your arm strength, you are able to cover larger areas much faster.
Coverability… Who Takes The Lead?
Again, sprayers take the lead by a long shot with coverability. The main reason for this is because paint sprayers are able to spray into a wide area, it can cover anything in its path.
Meanwhile, rollers have to get into every nook and cranny inch by inch to cover an area, which can make painting exterior walls a pain.
Which One’s More Budget Friendly?
Hands down, rollers win this fight.
Because rollers are a more basic tool that doesn’t require power or upkeep, they are much cheaper.
Rollers are generally a two or three-part tool that is very easy to manufacture, thus keeping the costs down.
Sprayers, on the other hand, can be made up of 50-100 parts that involve an intricate design process, and power, making them much more costly to manufacture, and thus more expensive for you as the homeowner.
If you’re on a super tight budget and can’t decide whether to spray or roll paint, rolling is by far the cheapest option in terms of equipment.
The Verdict: Spraying vs Roller
If you’re caught between the two choices and stuck between buying a paint sprayer vs roller, it’s recommended to go with a sprayer for larger projects.
While rollers are great for standard jobs like walls or ceilings, they start to get very difficult with anything that’s custom-made, especially large projects that have several angles of a surface to work with.
Paint sprayer guns are quicker, cover better, easier to use, and don’t require a ton of detailing skill to get a job done.
Overall, they’re more convenient to use, however, their one downside is they can be messy because they can overspray an area.
They typically aren’t the best tool for small one-off furniture projects or highly detailed small DIY jobs. With that said, if you’re a serious DIY’er or professional carpenter, investing in the best paint sprayer for furniture is well worth the money. The Fuji Semi-Pro 2 for example, is one of the best furniture spray guns on the market and tops many lists out there.
However, they’re great for doing big projects. Just know that you’re looking to spend more on the sprayer and the overall amount of paint.