Paint Sprayer vs Roller

Paint Sprayer vs Roller

No matter the surface you’re painting, you’ve got more than one application option.

While brushes and rollers used to be the norm for painting walls or cabinets, there are now plenty of paint sprayers on the market for DIYers.

But you shouldn’t opt for a paint sprayer because you think it will be faster – especially if you’ve never used one before. A lot of times, rolling ends up being the quicker option.

Like anything else, there are pros and cons to both methods. Here’s what to consider.

Pros and Cons of Using a Paint Roller

using paint roller

Using a paint roller is a fairly straightforward process.

First, you prep your area, taping off surfaces you don’t want paint to touch and laying down plastic sheeting to protect your floors and furniture. Then, dump paint into your tray, apply some to your roller, and start painting.

The downside to using a roller is that it often takes at least 2-3 coats of paint to achieve proper coverage – which can feel like back-breaking work when completing a large job.

But, luckily, you don’t have to do all the work at once. 

The beauty of a paint roller is that you can stop whenever you need a break, store your roller in a Ziploc bag in the fridge, and then pick up your project when you have time.

Pros of using a paint roller:

  • Easy prep work
  • Simple application process
  • Inexpensive
  • You can stop at any time and start again when you’d like
  • Superior coverage

Cons of using a paint roller:

  • Labor intensive

Pros and Cons of Using a Paint Sprayer

Using a Paint Sprayer

If your mind immediately jumps to time-saving benefits when considering a paint sprayer, you might want to think again.

While it’s true that a sprayer will get paint on the wall much quicker than a roller, the prep work is quite intensive. 

If you’re spraying in a house or around a surface that you don’t want paint to touch, you have to cover it with plastic and tape.

You will also need to put time into thinning paint, assembling the sprayer, and cleaning it afterward. Paint sprayer cleanup is substantially more time-consuming than paint roller cleanup.

Then, there’s using the gun. It can take a bit of time to learn to properly spray a surface without having splotchy patches or paint runs.

But with all the negatives aside, there are some benefits to using a sprayer. The most significant advantage is that a sprayer will get into nooks and crannies that a roller can’t. 

Paint sprayers can save you time and frustration when painting things like brick, textured walls, ceilings, and furniture.

Pros of using a paint sprayer:

  • Ideal for textured surfaces
  • Fast to get paint on the wall
  • Great for large sections of wall
  • Not as physically demanding as rolling paint

Cons of using a paint sprayer:

  • Time intensive prep work and assembly
  • It comes with a learning curve
  • Messy
  • Less superior coverage
  • Time intensive clean up

Paint Sprayer vs Roller: Applications

There are obvious pros and cons to both a roller and a paint sprayer. And while you can use these tools for the same applications, you might not want to.

Here are common surfaces and which is better: a paint sprayer vs roller.

  • Interior walls – roller
  • Exterior walls – paint sprayer
  • Cabinets – Either (Depends on size and how much prep work is involved)
  • Textured surfaces – paint sprayer
  • Furniture – Either
  • Ceilings – Sprayer if they are heavily textured, a roller if not

So, is it better to paint with a sprayer or a roller? Using a roller is usually better if you’re painting an interior wall.

With a roller, you’ll have more control, achieve better coverage, and won’t have to worry about overspray.

Spraying makes the most sense when you have a large job to complete, need to cover texture, if your house is empty, or if you’ll be painting outside.

Final Thoughts

There’s a myth that paint sprayers will automatically save you time on your project, but this isn’t true. If you’re using a paint sprayer in your home, you need to methodically prep the area so that paint doesn’t get where it shouldn’t.

If you’re painting a small area, a roller is the way to go. However, if you’re painting a large or textured surface, a sprayer is beneficial.