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Spray vs Roll for exterior painting

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Matt Stone

Is it better to spray or roll exterior paint?

From time to time we have clients request that we use a roller and brush to paint their home’s exterior. They seem to think that this will result in a better finish. But is that really true? It makes some sense that a “hand done” job will be better that what a machine can do. Read below to get the truth from a professional painting company.

Rolling vs. Spraying

What does Hometown Painting do?

The quick answer is that in the hands of an experienced professional a paint sprayer is just as good, if not better, than a brush and roller approach. Paint sprayers are a normal part of our exterior painting process.

So why then do so many people think that a brush and roller is better? The most common reason I hear given is the thickness of the paint being applied.

Does a Paint Roller Apply a Thicker Coat?

I have heard many homeowners and even a few painters say that a roller applies a thicker coat of paint than a sprayer. This is simply not true. The truth is, you can use a paint sprayer to apply the paint as thick as you want. This flexibility means someone using a paint sprayer has a lot of control over the paint finish.

Factors that affect the thickness of paint when using a sprayer.

  • The size of the spray tip being used.
  • How many passes you make with the sprayer.
  • How much you overlap your passes.
  • How quickly or slowly you move your hand when spraying.

With so many ways to adjust the thickness when spraying, the paint’s thickness can be dialed in to just what the painter wants.

Is a thicker coat of paint always better?

The thickness of a coat of paint is measured in “mils.” Each paint manufacterer will recommend how thick their paint should be applied. This will be the same whether it is sprayed or rolled.  Applying paint with a much thicker coat than is recommended will often lead to sags or runs in the paint.

The better approach to achieve a thicker overall paint job is the use more coats.

Are There Other Pros/Cons to Spraying

Hometown Painting uses both sprayers and rollers depending on what makes sense for each situation. These are the reasons we may use one or the other.

Sprayers Usually Save Time.

For most larger exterior jobs, using a paint sprayer will be much faster that rolling the entire house. This saves labor which also saves the homeowner money.

Sometimes for small jobs it is quicker to use a roller or brush because there is less masking required when painting with them. Also, we will ofter use a roller for trim or other smaller areas of the home that are being painted.

Paint Sprayers give a smoother finish.

A paint sprayer will result in a smoother finish than a roller or brush. This will be especially noticeable on exterior doors and smooth trim.

Spraying Paint is Not as Easy as it Looks.

A paint sprayer requires experience and skill to use correctly. If you would like to talk to a professional painter about your next project, visit our contact page for more details.

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Author: Matt Stone
Matt is the owner of Hometown Painting. He has worked in the painting and construction trades for over 10 years. He has a passion for teaching homeowners so they can make the best paint choices for their homes.

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