Painting can be an arduous chore, especially if the surface you must paint has unique challenges. Intricate detail work, trim, lattice, or extremely rough surfaces can be a problem for traditional paint application methods.
The choices for application come down to using a paintbrush, a roller, or a spray rig of some sort. Each method has advantages and disadvantages depending on the type of paint, the surface you are painting the size of the surface. In most instances, if you are painting walls or other large, flat, and regular surfaces, the two choices are to use a paint roller or a paint sprayer. How do you choose the right tool for the job you are facing?
Professional paint contractors typically use airless paint spray rigs for their jobs. You can find these systems for sale at your home improvement or paint store but expect to pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars for this type of equipment. There are smaller, less expensive options for homeowners. You may opt to rent an airless paint sprayer for your painting task, which is a viable option. However, before you pull that spray rig into your home and starting shooting paint at the walls, there are some advantages and disadvantages you should consider.
o Inhalation Hazards – Because you are aerosolizing the paint, it becomes an inhalation hazard. The use of the right protective gear, including respirators, eye protection, and protective garments, is a must when operating an airless paint sprayer, especially in a confined space like a house.
o Explosion and fire – Turning a volatile or flammable product like lacquer or some oil-based paints can become an explosion and fire hazard. Many painters have learned this lesson the hard way when an errant spark or static electricity has ignited a fire or caused an explosion in the area where they are working.
o Pressure – Airless paint sprayers deliver paint to the tip of the spray nozzle at extreme pressures. Getting a finger, hand, or arm in front of the spray nozzle can inject paint under the skin or even cut the skin. Such an injury can have serious health implications
The old standby for most homeowners and do-it-yourselfers is the paint roller. This simple piece of equipment has been the preferred method of applying paint to large flat surfaces such as walls, ceilings, and floors for many years. New technologies in fibers and the design of the rollers have made using a paint roller easier in many cases and can produce beautiful, flat painted surfaces.
Deciding whether to roll or spray should be based on several factors. Looking at the things that you may face in your house painting task on a one to one comparison may help you decide.
|Rough Surfaces||Rollers can cover rough surfaces, but it usually takes more effort and longer to get good coverage and to fill the small gaps and imperfections in the rough surface||Spray rigs excel at covering uneven surfaces. The ability of the airborne paint to get into and fill gaps, cracks and odd angles makes an airless paint sprayer the champion at applying paint to uneven surfaces.|
|Large Areas||Paint rollers can do an effective job of covering larger areas quickly.||Airless paint sprayers can deliver paint quickly and efficiently to large areas. The spray rigs that can draw paint directly from a five-gallon container make it possible to paint huge areas without stopping or interruptions.|
|Ease of Use||There isn’t anything much simpler than a paint roller. Paint rollers are quick and easy to use, don’t require a lot of preparation, and can be very efficient in some situations.||While the actual application of paint with a spray rig is easy, the prep work required and the cleanup following the painting can make using an airless paint spray system much more labor-intensive and expensive.|
|Prep Work||How much prep work you need to do depends a lot on the area in which you are working? If you have floor coverings to protect or you have contrasting trim or other areas you need to protect from splatter and drips, the prep work can be a bit more involved. Overall, less prep work and forethought are required with a roller.||The problems with the aerosolized paint drifting and getting on any nearby surface requires anyone using a spray rig in a confined space such as a home to pay careful attention to preparing the area for painting. Barriers across openings, covering of any surface not to be painted, and completely masking windows and any surfaces not to be painted can be time-consuming and problematic.|
|Cleanup||Cleanup after using a paint roller is usually quick and easy. The roller is a consumable and goes in the trash along with the paint tray liner and any rags or paper towels used.||Cleaning up an airless paint sprayer can take as long as the paint job. The pump and hose must be flushed entirely with clean water or solvent, and the spray gun should be cleaned carefully with attention to the tip.|
|Cost||Paint rollers are cheap when compared to the cost of most airless spray rigs. Even if you are buying the entire package with the roller frame, paint tray and liner and roller cover, you are going to spend far less than what you will pay for the least expensive airless spray rig on the market.||Good airless equipment is expensive. Expect to pay at least several hundred dollars for the lowest price rig at the home improvement store. If you want professional-style equipment, you can spend thousands. You should also consider the ongoing costs to purchase replacement and repair parts, new tips for the spray gun and special additives to paint to get the quality of finish you want.|
|Finish||Paint rollers can deliver excellent results on the finish. They may leave some slight texture from the roller, but the better the roller cover, the less noticeable the surface texture will be.||Airless sprayers can apply an ultra-smooth finish without brush marks or roller texture marks. However, the quality of the finish produced by an airless paint spray rig is dependent on the technique and skill of the person running the paint gun.|
For most homeowners who are wanting to paint a few walls in their home, or perhaps refinish the kitchen cabinets, our view is that using a high-quality roller is the better option. Overall using a paint roller is less expensive, quicker, and easier for the average do-it-yourselfer. Painting large areas and surfaces is not a chore that homeowners face regularly. The cost of a good airless spray rig is hard to justify when it may see use once every 4 to 6 years.