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Paint Sprayers vs. Rollers: Which is the Best?

Last Updated on January 2, 2020

Paint Sprayers vs. Rollers: Which is the Best?

Image credit: Petr Kratochvil, Public Domain Pictures

Paint sprayers and rollers are widely considered to be quick and easy substitutions for the conventional paintbrush. But which is better? More importantly, which is better for your needs?

In the guide here, we take a look at both options. We will explain what they excel at, what they struggle with, and which one will be right for you.

The Paint Roller

The nice thing about paint rollers is that you can get them for a few dollars at your local paint store. They have a better reach than a paintbrush, allowing you to easily access the top half of your wall or even ceiling.

Of course, they also feature a larger surface area than a conventional brush, which means you can cover significantly more wall real estate with a single pass of the roller.

The technique with a roller is somewhat specific, requiring constant motion, and lots of overlapping strokes. This means that there may be a bit of a learning curve.

For the most part, though, it’s an effective means of getting the job done. This will be a good option for people who have only a few select painting tasks that they need to tackle. On the other hand, if you have lots and lots of painting tasks on your hands, you may favor something with higher volume output.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that the roller isn’t so good at tackling detail-oriented projects. If you’re painting molding or furniture, this won’t be a tool that you reach for.

While it’s not necessarily a tool that is easy to clean, it can be affordably replaced.

paint roller

Image credit: CC0 Public Domain, Max Pixel

  • Affordable
  • Significantly faster than a paintbrush
  • Improves your reach substantially
  • Difficult to clean
  • Not able to perform detail-driven tasks
  • Learning curve

The Paint Sprayer

The paint sprayer is many people’s go-to tool because it’s ridiculously quick, and (relatively) easy to use.

It used to be that this was only a tool for professionals. This was largely because the price was prohibitive. While they are still more expensive than your average brush, paint sprayers designed for the amateur are now readily accessible and fairly affordable.

As most manufacturers are more than happy to tell you, a paint sprayer can significantly reduce the time you spend on your project. As an added bonus, they are also very precise, and versatile. Depending on the type of sprayer, you can do anything from painting an entire home to applying a new finish on your car.

HVLP sprayers (high volume, low pressure) are prized for their ability to apply a high-quality finish to pieces that demand precision. This includes things like furniture or even molding.

There are also airless sprayers, which are great for high-volume jobs, such as painting the walls of your house. You may also be able to find specialized tools that give you the best of both worlds, thanks to a variety of different tips and turbine speeds.

The technique is also pretty simple. Keep the nozzle of the sprayer several inches from the workpiece, and fire away. Once you get the hang of it, you should find that high-quality results quickly ensue.

There are a few issues that weigh against the paint sprayer. Even the more affordable options are still substantially more expensive than a paint roller. They can also be hard to use outdoors. The atomized paint particles are what make the sprayer so quick. However, they also don’t work so well in the breeze. If you find yourself painting on a windy day, you may wind up with a big mess on your hands.

Buying a paint sprayer is a good idea for people who may have a variety of do-it-yourself paint jobs in their future. If you will need the sprayer continuously, the time you save may quickly justify the expense.

paint sprayer

Image credit: Adam Hartman, U.S. Strategic Command

  • Extremely fast
  • Easy to use
  • Versatile
  • Pricey
  • Messy

Which Is Better/Easier To Use?

When it comes to the question of which is easier to use, it seems pretty clear that the paint sprayer earns the distinction. It’s fast and highly effective.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s better. Paint rollers can produce results that are just as good as those of the paint sprayer. The question then becomes: Which is more valuable to you, your time, or your money?

If you’re looking to save a few dollars, the paint roller is the way to go. If you’re just hoping to save some time, the sprayer will be the tool for you.