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Paint Brush Roller vs Spray: What’s Best? When to Use One Over the Others?

Check out the differences between a paintbrush roller and a sprayer. Learning about these brushes will help you in having an informed decision of which tool to use in painting your home.

White interior with painting materials and ladder.

Painting your home on your own can be a major undertaking. Not only do you have to decide what kind of colors make sense for the space, but you also have to decide on what equipment to use. 

While paint sprayers are better for those looking to cover difficult surfaces like crown molding or brick walls, paint rollers are often the cheaper and simpler option. Let’s take a closer look at the debate between paintbrush rollers vs spray to determine which is best in what scenario.

What is a Paint Brush Roller?

FLY HAWK Paint Roller,4 FT Brush kit Multi-Function Paint Roller kit with House Paint Roller Brush Stainless Steel Pole, New Splicing Rod, Mural Brush for Walls and Ceiling (White) (4 FT)

A paintbrush roller is a tool used to paint large flat surfaces as quickly as possible. It features a frame and a roller cover that is dipped in paint, then applied to a surface. Paintbrush rollers are typically used to paint large surfaces, including walls and interiors, because they allow you to apply an even coat of paint in a fraction of the amount of time it would take with a traditional paintbrush.

But rollers have their limitations. Due to the size and shape of the tool, it can often be difficult to get into tight crevices or do a lot of intricate detailing. Plus, paint rollers are typically only good for one project. It may be possible to clean the cover and use it again with the same color paint. But it may be difficult to switch to a different shade without affecting the consistency of the color. 

What is a Paint Brush Sprayer? 

YATTICH Paint Sprayer, High Power HVLP Spray Gun, with 5 Copper Nozzles & 3 Patterns, Easy to Clean, for Furniture, Fence, Car, Bicycle, Chair etc. YT-191

Paint sprayers are mechanical devices that project a coating material such as paint onto a surface. There are three different types of paint sprayers – airless, high volume low pressure (HVLP), and pneumatic. Each has its own strengths and recommended applications.

Paint sprayers allow you to get the job done with much less effort than a paint roller because much of the heavy lifting is done for you. All you have to do is keep your aim steady and your finger on the trigger. Plus, sprayers also make it easier to apply paint to hard-to-reach areas such as crown molding, popcorn ceilings, and brick walls.

But purchasing or renting a paint sprayer is also more expensive than a paint roller and they use up a lot more paint. So, it may not be the best solution for those who are on a budget.

When is a Paint Brush Roller Appropriate?

Woman on a ladder holding a roller brush.

A paintbrush roller is typically better for common household projects that don’t require much complexity or precision. According to Nicole Gibbons, founder of Clare online paint store, “A roller is the best applicator to use for the vast majority of common household paint projects. A nine-inch roller is what you’ll want to use for rolling large surface areas such as walls or ceilings, and you don’t need to be highly skilled.”

Paintbrush rollers can get simple projects done quickly and efficiently. All you have to do is dip the roller in the paint and get to work. It may take a bit of practice to get an even coat. But this is a straightforward, low-cost method that can result in a gorgeous paint job, as long as you’re willing to out in the elbow grease.  

When is a Paint Brush Sprayer Appropriate? 

A paintbrush sprayer is better for larger, more complex projects such as painting a new building or a surface with a lot of square footage. They can often get the job done faster and unlike a paintbrush roller, users are in full control of the evenness of the coat. Sprayers are also great for covering textured surfaces like stucco or cornices that may be difficult to tackle with a roller, especially for inexperienced painters.

But paint sprayers have their drawbacks as well. For one, they are more expensive than rollers. Paint rollers are available for as little as $10 on Amazon or Home Depot. Whereas a paint sprayer can cost anywhere from $50-$400.

Plus, paint sprayers are a piece of machinery and can be dangerous if not used correctly. According to Rick Watson, director of product information and technical services at Sherwin Williams, users should always wear a face mask or respirator when operating a sprayer. “The high pressure generated by an airless sprayer could pierce your skin and inject toxins into the body,” Watson said.

So, while paint sprayers can be a useful tool for the right project, they are not recommended for every situation and must be handled with care.

Which is the Best Paint Brush Roller or Paint Brush Sprayer?

A couple painting the living area using roller brush.

Ultimately, it depends on the size of the project. If you’re just retouching a single wall with a flat surface, a paintbrush roller is likely the most economical option. If you’re painting a new home from scratch, including the ceiling and hard-to-reach crevices and cornices, then a paint sprayer is probably the best. But it all depends on what kind of budget you’re working with and what kind of equipment you feel most comfortable using.



Martha Stewart: Spray Painting or Roll Painting Your Walls: Which Is the Best Method?