Paint Sprayer vs Roller (Best for Interior & Exterior)

Here’s our comparison of a paint sprayer vs roller including the differences and the best choice for interior and exterior house painting. Paint sprayer vs roller There are a lot of considerations when it comes to picking between spraying paint or rolling it. Whether you are planning to take on a single wall in the house or the entire house itself it’s important to use the right tool for the job at hand.

You need to think about the color choice you would like, what type of paint you are planning to use, what your skill level is if you’re planning to do it yourself; and of course, whether you’re rolling it on or spraying it on.

The common misconception is that spray painting is faster and easier. Although this might seem true on the surface, it isn’t always the case. The truth is that spray painting isn’t as easy as you would probably think.

Preparation is the foundation of a good paint job, allowing paint to look at its best and last a long time. -Mark Dixon, with Bob Heidt, House Painting, Inside & Out

Differences Between Spraying Paint And Rolling Paint

Quicklist – Paint Sprayer vs. Paint Roller

  • Paint Sprayer
    • Achieve even, professional-looking coat: Yes
    • Covers surface area quickly: Yes
    • Good for covering gaps and surface imperfections: Yes
    • Recommended for indoor use: No
    • Minimal and simple cleanup: No
    • Best for exteriors: Yes
  • Paint Roller
    • Achieve even, professional-looking coat: Yes
    • Covers surface area quickly: No
    • Good for covering gaps and surface imperfections: No
    • Recommended for indoor use: Yes
    • Minimal and simple cleanup: Yes
    • Best for exteriors: No

Paint rolling in living roomThe aspect of being able to achieve an even spray coating of paint is a challenge, especially for a first time home painter. It takes a lot of tries and fails before many can get a smooth easy coat. First timers usually experience uneven coverage, drips, and messes all over the place.

But this shouldn’t stop you. If you’ve got some extra pots of paint to spare and practice with just until you get your groove, then this is something worth trying. Paint sprayers may seem intimidating at first but they do come with budget friendly models.

In terms of difficulty, spraying is more complex than rolling on paint. A lot of people think that spraying just saves so much more time over rolling but the amount of time saved during the application is front loaded in the amount of time used to assemble what is needed for the sprayer. So in terms of length of time, they are more or less on the same page.

In terms of difficulty, spraying would require a little bit of technical knowledge whereas rolling is pretty upfront and basic. More than that, when you get tired of painting your walls, you can easily wash and pack up your roller and save it for another day.

With a sprayer, you must soldier on until the end as any leftover paint will clog up the gun when it dries.

The upside to a sprayer, though is that it easily covers nooks and crannies as well as areas and angles that a roller just will not be able to reach. It also works well for textured surfaces.

They use about 30% more paint than the roller, though so in terms of cost, be prepared to pay by at least 30% more. But the finish is smooth and professionally done. Read more about the best paint finish for a living room here.

 Rolling Vs Spraying Paint Interior

Paint roller on wallSpray painting is a favorite where large surfaces are involved however, they are not always a given when there are interior areas involved.

The reason behind this is because spray painting can turn messy especially for an average homeowner who isn’t getting any type of professional help. There are a lot of things to consider when painting the interiors of a household.

For starters, you would need the element of accuracy. On the other hand, roller painting is very good for interior painting. It’s perfect for when you are trying to avoid certain areas that you don’t want to get paint into or in areas that have detail work that you just wouldn’t want to ruin.

Most DIYers with limited painting experience who are considering a paint sprayer vs roller for the interior should go with a roller.

Should you insist on spray painting your interiors, though, it would be wise to use paper and protective tape to protect the areas that you don’t want to paint over. [Source: Guidance on Brush and Roller Cleaning]

Spray Vs Roller Exterior Paint

Paint sprayer on house exteriorFor exterior walls and other outdoor parts of the house, spray painting would be the runaway winner. The kind of application it provides is much thicker and its process is so much faster than any other method such as brushing or rolling.

What’s really great about spraying is that even if you don’t have that much experience, this is something that you can easily pull off.

You just need to remember to start off of a flat surface on the outsides of the house. Pick a wall that doesn’t really have a lot of texture until you get better at it and feel confident enough to try out the rest of the other exterior parts of the house.

You also need to take weather into account when you are painting your house’s exteriors. The best season to get the exteriors of the house painted would be during the beginning of summer or the beginning of fall.

The reason why this is the recommended season for painting the exteriors of the house is because there is minimal rain and the temperature is far more stable compared to the rest of the other seasons.

You need to give the paint enough time to dry and cure but before you even get there, you need to put on a smooth application and weather has everything to do with it.

When To Use A Paint Sprayer

If the goal is for you to achieve an even coat that looks as if it’s professionally applied, then a paint sprayer is the way to go. It covers surface areas pretty fast. What would typically take about a few minutes for a roller to apply, it would only take a sprayer about a minute or so.

Using a paint sprayer is excellent for covering gaps and cracks and any other surface imperfections that you might want to cover up. [Source: Optimum Viscocity for Paint Application]

It can be tricky to use a sprayer indoors so the recommendation is for when you are painting the exteriors if you are doing it yourself.

When To Use A Paint Roller

A paint roller is recommended for when you are painting over porous areas or those that have the tendency to absorb more paint than usual. Interior painting is perfect for roller painting.

A paint roller isn’t as messy as a sprayer, the cleanup is minimal and simple; and it provides superb coverage.

You’ll be tempted to buy a cheap, throwaway fuzzy-napped roller, but save yourself the headache! A 1/2-inch foam paint roller works faster, easier, and better. -Brian Santos, Painting Secrets

Overall, it all boils down to preference with a few basics in mind. For the interiors a paint roller is king, but for exteriors spray painting reigns supreme.

What do you think is the best choice when it comes to a paint sprayer vs roller? Let us know in the comments to share your experience and advice. For another article like this, see our page about whether to paint or stain kitchen cabinets

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