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Spray Painting vs Roller Painting

There are many many factors to consider when deciding to paint with either a spray painter or a roller. Sometimes both are the answer! Sometimes neither. To break it down as simply as possible, it depends on how much time you have, your skill level and just plain old personal preference. For the inexperienced, spray painting requires a small learning curve and an investment in the right equipment, either purchased or hired. For paint rolling, it can take longer but you have greater control and will ultimately use less paint for the same surface area. Read on for more information or give us a call to bring in the professionals.

Room Preparation Is Key

For any paint job, good surface preparation will ensure the quality of your paint job. You can read more here about preparing your surfaces for painting. Meanwhile, when it comes to ensuring accuracy (and keeping clean-up to a minimum) good room preparation is essential. Ideally, move all furniture out of the room, it will ensure the furniture is protected and means you have a clear work space. If it’s not possible, place into the centre of the room and cover well. Mask and cover all surfaces you do not want to paint. There is nothing more satisfying than finishing a paint job, peeling back those taped edges and seeing nice clean paint lines underneath. Spray paint, being airborne, will potentially get onto anything that is not well sealed and requires extra attention to detail. For roller painting, you can throw a drop sheet over most surfaces or objects and know they’re safe (be sure to still tape off corners and close surfaces). This video on room preparation will help explain … https://youtu.be/oNagIA8sKY0

Spray Painting

Spray painting is best used for empty rooms, textured surfaces or for external surfaces. It can be quick to apply but extra time is needed to mask the room as airborne paint can get into everything. If you’re outside, wind will play a factor in wastage, leading to higher material costs. You will also need to consider the type of paint you are using, most paints will need to be thinned down and strained to prevent clogging the equipment.

With spray painting there can be a learning curve required to get the technique correct. Practice with a scrap piece of wood or cardboard to perfect an even coverage, learning to avoid over or under spraying will ensure the quality of the finished job. Once you’ve got the technique down, paint sprayers can be very efficient from a time perspective, reducing painting time to up to a fifth versus rolling. However, consider other factors such as paint wastage, splashback and misting can occur, increasing paint costs by anywhere from 20% to 50% or greater. Good quality equipment is a must and can be expensive to purchase or hire. There are three main types of spray gun -

  • Compressed Air - or Low Volume, High Pressure (LVHP)
    • This is what the pros will generally use. It requires good technique and leaves little margin for error. It is used to create a sleak finish and is ideal for doors, cabinets and railings. It may need back-rolling or back-brushing (see below) if you want a matte finish.
  • HVLP - High Volume, Low Pressure
    • More forgiving than LVHP systems
  • Airless - this uses an electric pump to pressurise the paint
    • Best for beginners

  • Thorough cleaning of the equipment when not in use is essential to prevent clogs and protect the equipment from permanent damage.

    Back Rolling or Back Brushing

    This is the technique of going over your spray painted surfaces with a dry roller or brush to smooth out an excess paint while also adding some light texture to the paint. Adding texture is not only for aesthetic reasons, when done for primer it will aid in a strong bond. It will also mean the surface is better suited to future “touch ups”.

    Roller Painting

    Painting with a roller is ideal for most home paint jobs. The technique is simple and forgiving. Be sure to use high quality rollers (not necessarily the most expensive), poor quality rollers will leave behind fibers and even lose shape leading to an uneven coat. A 270mm roller will be ideal for large broad strokes and a smaller 100mm roller will give you greater accuracy in harder to reach areas. An extender arm will assist to reach higher surfaces and a brush will still be needed to finish off edges and corners.

    The Decision Is…

    If you don’t shy away from learning a new skill, then consider spray painting. Once learned it can be a valuable skill to have if you have a big job or plan on doing more of it in the future. For the small jobs, then roller painting is probably your best option. Of course, we at McAuliffe Painting are highly trained and experienced in all techniques and can use them to their full potential in bringing new life into your home or commercial property. Take the guesswork out and Call Us today.

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