What's The Difference Between Spraying vs Rolling Paint

What's The Difference Between Spraying vs Rolling Paint

Painting your home is a great way to add value and increase its curb appeal. But when it comes to choosing the best painting method, there are two popular options: spraying vs rolling paint. Although both techniques can produce beautiful results, each one has its unique benefits and drawbacks that homeowners should consider before starting their projects. In this blog post, we will discuss the differences between these two methods of painting as well as provide tips on using sprayers for DIY projects. By understanding the pros and cons of each technique, you'll be able to make an informed decision about which route is best for you.

Before selecting a tool for your paint project, it's crucial to take into account certain aspects such as the surface you'll be painting, its setting, and the amount of time available. Although a paint sprayer may seem like a quicker technique, it may not always be the ideal option. It's advisable to assess the advantages and disadvantages of utilizing paint sprayers versus using a paint roller for spraying and rolling paint before concluding which approach suits your assignment.

Interior of home that has been painted with an airless sprayer

Spray Painting May Not Be As Easy As It Seems.

Using a paint sprayer for the first time may not be as easy as it looks, and achieving an even coat can take a lot of trial and error. Beginners may experience issues such as drips, runs, uneven coverage, and overspray. However, with affordable models available that are easy to use, you can practice and perfect your skills. If you're willing to use a bit of paint to test your spraying abilities, don't hesitate to give it a try!

Rolling Paint Could Be Just As Fast As Spraying Paint

When painting, some people think that using a paint sprayer will save them time, but this may not be the case. Although spraying paint may be quicker to apply, it requires more time to assemble tools, prepare the area, and clean up. In contrast, rolling paint takes less time to prepare and clean up, making the total project time about the same as spraying. (Keep in mind,  experienced painters are more efficient at masking and using an airless sprayer will typically would be the method they would normally choose for applying paint). 

Another point to keep in mind is that if you get interrupted or become tired while using a paint roller, you can easily pause your project and resume it later. You can quickly clean your roller or place your paint-covered tools in a zip-lock bag to keep them fresh until you continue. However, once you fill an airless paint sprayer with paint, you are committed until you finish painting. If any paint is left in the airless paint sprayers hose or gun, it will dry and cause clogs.

Rolling paint is an affordable choice.

If you're looking for a budget-friendly option for painting, consider rolling paint instead of using a sprayer. Even affordable paint sprayers start at around $300 and renting one can cost you $65-$100 a day. On top of that, sprayers use about 25% more paint than rollers. So, rolling paint can be a more cost-effective choice for your project.

Spraying Paint Covers Hard To Reach Areas

A paint sprayer is an effective tool for painting tight spaces and textured surfaces such as popcorn ceilings, brick walls, crown molding, cornices, lap siding, and hard-to-reach parts of furniture. It provides better accuracy than a brush and gives a smooth finish without leaving lap marks because of the way the paint is spread (Providing you are using the right tip size and pressure setting and the airless sprayer).

Both A Sprayer & A Roller Can Create A Mess 

When using a paint sprayer, it's important to mask off anything that you don't want to get paint on, including windows, floors, and ceilings, in addition to edges and trim. This can be done with film or a drop cloth. If you don't mask properly, you'll end up having to clean up overspray. Unlike a roller, a sprayer can produce a fine mist that covers surfaces.

To avoid the risk of overspray, it's recommended to use a sprayer for outdoor projects or in an unoccupied indoor space. It's not worth the potential problems if your masking isn't done perfectly. Keep in mind that if you're painting outside, a sprayer should not be used on windy days.

Choosing The Right Equipment & Tip Size

When using an airless pump to spray paint, ensure that you select a paint sprayer that is suitable for your project. For painting the exterior walls of a house, it is advisable to use a gas airless paint sprayer that can manage thicker paints like elastomeric coatings. For painting interior walls, we suggest using a smaller interior paint sprayer or electric paint sprayer. 

When planning for your painting project, make sure you spray paint walls with the right size tip that is designed for both the airless output and the viscosity of the paint.  Thicker paints such as elastomeric coatings will require a larger tip opening to accommodate the flow of material and the pump will need to generate enough pressure to keep up with the volume of paint.  

Stay Safe & Follow Manufacturers Guidelines 

When using an airless sprayer, it is essential to prioritize safety and take necessary precautions to prevent accidents, particularly the risk of paint injection. Paint injection occurs when pressurized paint is forced under the skin, which can lead to serious injuries and health complications. To avoid such dangers, it is crucial to wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) including gloves, safety goggles, and a full-face shield. Additionally, never aim the sprayer at any part of your body or other people. Ensure that the sprayer's pressure is set at a safe level and never exceed the manufacturer's recommended pressure. Always point the sprayer away from yourself and others, keeping a safe distance. Regularly inspect the sprayer's hoses, fittings, and nozzles for any signs of damage or wear, replacing them as needed. Lastly, follow the manufacturer's instructions for safe handling, cleaning, and storage of the airless sprayer. By following these safety tips and precautions, you can minimize the risk of paint injection and ensure a safer painting experience.

Using The Right Tip For Your Project

Here are some tips for airless spray tips and their typical uses, along with an explanation of the numbers on the tip size:

Tip Size and Fan Pattern: The tip size for airless spray tips is represented by two numbers, such as 5-17. The first number indicates the fan pattern width in inches (multiply the first number by 2), and the second number represents the orifice size in thousandths of an inch. For example, a 5-17 tip would have a fan pattern width of 10 inches and an orifice size of 0.017 inches.

Choosing the Right Tip Size: The size of the tip determines the amount of paint delivered and the thickness of the coating. Larger tip sizes (e.g., 0.021 or larger) are suitable for thicker paints, such as latex or heavy-bodied coatings. Smaller tip sizes (e.g., 0.015 or smaller) are better for thinner materials like stains or lacquers.

Common Tip Sizes and Uses:

0.011-0.013: Fine finishes, lacquers, stains. cabinets

0.015-0.017: Trim work, interior walls, primers

0.019-0.021: Walls, ceilings, exterior surfaces, latex paints, some elastomeric paints

0.023-0.025: Elastomeric coatings, thicker coatings, textured surfaces.

Consider Paint Viscosity: The larger the orifice/opening of the tip, the thicker the paint it can handle. It's important to match the tip size to the viscosity of the paint you're using. Thicker paints require larger tip sizes to allow proper flow and prevent clogging.

Test and Adjust: Before starting a project, it's advisable to conduct a test spray on a sample surface to ensure the tip size is appropriate and the desired coverage is achieved. If necessary, adjustments can be made by choosing a different tip size or adjusting the pressure settings on the sprayer.

Remember to consult the manufacturer's recommendations for your specific airless sprayer model and the paint you intend to use. Following these tips and understanding the numbers on the tip size will help you select the appropriate airless spray tip for different paint types and achieve optimal results.


Ultimately, the decision between using a sprayer vs rolling paint for your next project depends on your preferences and goals for the job. If speed and efficiency are your top priorities then spraying may be the better option; however, if you’re looking for a more precise finish then rolling is the way to go. If you’re unsure about which technique will produce the best results for your project, it may be helpful to seek advice from a professional painter or contractor to make an informed decision. Good luck!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the disadvantages of spray painting?

While spray painting can offer certain advantages in terms of efficiency and speed, there are also several potential disadvantages to consider when using this method to paint a house. Here are some common drawbacks:

Overspray: One of the primary concerns with spray painting is the risk of overspray. If not properly controlled, the paint mist can drift and settle on unintended surfaces, such as nearby vehicles, windows, plants, or neighboring properties. This can result in additional cleanup efforts and potential damage or inconvenience to surrounding objects.

Need for extensive preparation: Spray painting requires thorough preparation to protect surfaces that shouldn't be painted. This typically involves covering windows, doors, landscaping, and other delicate or non-paintable areas with drop cloths, plastic sheets, or tape. Proper masking and taping can be time-consuming and labor-intensive.

Weather dependency: Spray painting is highly weather-dependent. Windy conditions can make it difficult to control overspray, leading to uneven coverage or wastage of paint. Rain or high humidity can interfere with the drying process and affect the final finish. It is essential to choose suitable weather conditions for spray painting, which can limit the flexibility of when the work can be done.

Skill and technique required: Achieving a smooth and professional finish with spray painting requires skill and technique. It can be more challenging for inexperienced individuals to handle spray equipment effectively, leading to uneven application, drips, or runs. Proper training and practice are necessary to master the technique and achieve satisfactory results.

Health and safety considerations: Spray painting involves the use of aerosolized paint particles, which can be harmful if inhaled. Protective measures such as wearing appropriate masks, goggles, and coveralls are necessary to ensure personal safety. Adequate ventilation is also crucial to dissipate fumes and prevent the accumulation of flammable vapors.

Limited paint options: Some types of paint, such as textured finishes or specialty coatings, may not be suitable for spray application. Additionally, certain paints may require specific techniques, such as rolling or brushing, to achieve the desired effect. Therefore, spray painting may limit the available options for paint selection.

Cleanup and maintenance: Cleaning spray equipment can be more involved compared to traditional painting methods. The spray gun, hoses, and other components need to be thoroughly cleaned to prevent clogs and ensure optimal performance. Disposing of excess paint and properly managing paint waste can also be more complex.

It's important to carefully consider these potential disadvantages and evaluate whether spray painting is the most appropriate method for your specific painting project.

Is It Better To Spray or Roll Paint On Textured Walls?

When it comes to painting textured walls, both spray painting and rolling techniques have their advantages and disadvantages. The choice between the two methods depends on several factors, including personal preference, the specific texture of the walls, and the desired outcome. Here are some considerations:

Spray Painting:

Efficiency and speed: Spray painting is generally faster than rolling, especially when dealing with larger areas. It can provide quick and even coverage over textured surfaces.

Uniform finish: Spray painting can result in a more uniform finish on textured walls, as the spray mist can reach into crevices and uneven areas more effectively than a roller.

Challenging for intricate textures: If the textured walls have intricate patterns or deep recesses, spray painting may be more challenging to achieve even coverage in those areas. Overspray control can also be more difficult on intricate textures.

Overspray concerns: Proper precautions need to be taken to control overspray and protect surrounding surfaces from unintended paint.


Control and versatility: Rolling paint on textured walls allows for more control and can be used to create various texture effects. Different roller covers, such as naps with different lengths, can be chosen to match the desired texture.

Better coverage on certain textures: For some types of textured walls, such as heavily textured or rough surfaces, rolling can provide better coverage and fill in the texture effectively.

Easier for DIYers: Rolling is generally considered easier for do-it-yourself (DIY) projects, as it requires less setup, is less affected by wind or overspray concerns, and does not require specialized equipment. Potential for roller marks: Depending on the texture and technique used, rolling can sometimes leave roller marks or create a less uniform appearance compared to spray painting.

Ultimately, the best method for painting textured walls depends on your specific situation and preferences. You may choose to use a combination of both techniques, starting with spray painting to quickly cover large areas and then using a roller to achieve the desired texture and final finish. It can be helpful to test both methods on a small inconspicuous area of the wall to determine which technique provides the desired result before proceeding with the entire project.

What is the difference in the amount of house paint used when spraying versus rolling?

When comparing the amount of house paint used when spraying versus rolling, it's important to note that the actual paint consumption can vary based on several factors, including the specific application technique, the surface being painted, and the skill of the person applying the paint. However, in general, spray painting tends to use more paint compared to rolling.

Spray painting typically requires a higher volume of paint due to factors such as overspray, fine mist particles that may not adhere to the surface, and the need for multiple coats to achieve full coverage. Additionally, spray guns atomize the paint into tiny droplets, resulting in a thinner application and more dispersion of paint, which can contribute to increased paint usage.

On the other hand, rolling paint onto surfaces typically provides thicker coverage and more direct transfer of paint to the surface. This can result in more efficient paint usage and less wastage compared to spray painting. Rollers tend to absorb less paint and deliver a higher percentage of the paint directly onto the surface being painted.

However, it's worth noting that the actual paint consumption will depend on various factors, including the texture of the surface, the porosity of the material, the type of paint being used, and the technique and skill of the person applying the paint. It's always a good idea to follow the paint manufacturer's recommendations regarding coverage rates and consult with professionals for specific guidance based on your project requirements.

What Is The Best Method For Interior Painting - Spraying or Rolling?

A good paint job requires the right tools and techniques to achieve a professional finish. When it comes to interior painting, there are two primary methods: spraying and rolling. For covering large surfaces, a spray gun offers efficiency and speed, allowing for quick coverage of expansive areas. On the other hand,  a paint tray and paint rollers are ideal for applying paint to uneven surfaces, such as textured walls. Rollers with the appropriate nap length can effectively fill in the texture and create a uniform appearance. Whether it's using a spray gun or a roller, both methods have their advantages when it comes to achieving a flawless paint job on large and uneven surfaces for interior painting.