Planning a painting job? Then you’re likely considering all of the options available to you. Depending on the size and scope of the task at hand, there are benefits and drawbacks to using a paint brush, a paint roller, or a paint sprayer.

Paint Sprayer

If you’ve ever tackled a large-scale job like painting your house, you have probably used – or wished you were using – a paint sprayer. While they were once limited to professionals, now there are a variety of paint sprayers available for anyone to buy at relatively affordable prices. Whether or not a paint sprayer is the right solution for you depends on a number of factors.

Pros: With its ability to cover large areas very quickly and efficiently, the paint sprayer is nearly essential for painting exteriors with a clear perimeter, especially those with rough or damaged surfaces. It will paint smoothly over the cracks, crevices, gaps, bumps, and other nooks and crannies typically found on houses, decks, and garage doors. The paint sprayer can reach higher than a brush or roller to get every angle and needs only one coat to leave a smooth finish without any brush marks. Best of all, it needs very little effort on the part of the user, so you can just take it easy.

Cons: Although the paint sprayer does the job in a fraction of the time, it does require a massive amount of preparation before you can use it. A thorough cleaning is also unavoidable after each use, adding to the time involved. Fortunately, the sprayer is so efficient at painting wide swaths that the set-up and clean-up time is worth the trouble when you’re dealing with bigger duties. However, it isn’t a practical choice for small jobs or most interior walls unless you don’t mind masking and tarping absolutely everything within spraying distance that you don’t want to be painted. An exception would be a room early in the process of remodeling, when you can employ an “anything goes” mentality and spray away.

Paint Roller

This trusty tool has long been a favorite of painting contractors and do-it-yourself home owners alike. A major upgrade from the traditional paint brush, the roller is capable of handling bigger projects, but not quite as big as the tasks assigned to the paint sprayer.

Pros: Designed for painting large interior areas like master bedrooms, dining rooms, and living rooms, the paint roller enables you to cover wide areas in a reasonable amount of time. Since there is a reduced chance of overspray, less masking and preparation is required than the paint sprayer. In addition to its simple set-up and clean-up routines, the roller is easy to pick up and handle for anyone and comes with a much lower price tag. If you were unable to get the surface spotlessly clean beforehand, the roller can deal with it by laying down a thick initial coat that allows the paint to bond better with the surface. You can count on a smooth, uniform finish thanks to a technique known as back-rolling, which mixes spraying and rolling – after spraying the surface, the paint is quickly rolled down to connect the droplets together.

Cons: Unlike sprayers that can get into the hardest-to-reach spots and fill imperfections of all sizes, the roller is a bit more of a bulldozer and lacks that subtle touch when it comes to detailed surfaces. The roller can leave behind drips and pooled-up paint in these areas. While the roller is extremely useful indoors, it doesn’t possess the sheer power necessary to tackle most exterior jobs, such as painting the side of your house. Although it is fairly easy to use, novices may initially find it difficult to apply paint evenly. Obviously, rollers aren’t as quick or efficient as sprayers, but they are superior to brushes for most home renovation projects.

Paint Brush

The oldest painting tool known to humanity, the paint brush is often overshadowed by the roller and the sprayer because of their ability to tackle larger projects. However, the brush still has its uses and can still handle some tasks better than its more impressive brethren.

Pros: Since paint brushes are designed to fit into tight spaces, they are excellent when painting small areas, fine details, and textures found on trim, edges, and corners. A far more precise tool than the sprayer or roller, the brush allows for better control of where you want the paint to be distributed, and it does a great job of covering up cracks and nails. There are a variety of different sizes and shapes available, so you can always find the right brush for almost any project. Paint applied with a brush displays improved adhesion and uniform coverage. Beyond the practical concerns, using a paint brush gives you a feeling of reconnecting with your roots and can provide a meditational experience.

Cons: On the other hand, the old-fashioned way of doing things isn’t always the fastest, and that has never been more true than when painting with a paint brush. It can be an arduous, time-consuming, and physically demanding task that will bore you to tears in most cases. The monotonous and tedious process of painting with a brush is what inspired the invention of the paint roller and the paint sprayer, so that fact should come as no surprise. By far, this is the slowest method of painting because it requires more than one coat to achieve the desired effect. At times, brushes can struggle with nooks and crannies if you don’t have the proper size or style and they tend to leave brush marks when you’re finished. It’s a paint brush; what do you expect?