Pros and Cons of Paint Sprayers

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Getting your painting job done right starts with choosing the right tools.  What are the pros and cons of paint sprayers for completing your painting DIY?

When you're using a paint sprayer to get a job done, you could complete it in a fraction of the time it takes traditional methods. Or can you?

Here's where you'll find out everything you need to know about paint sprayers before purchasing one.

Are you ready to get started?

pros and cons of paint sprayers

Pros

Cons

Faster Paint Time Cleaning the Sprayer Takes Longer
Can Get More Projects Done More Expensive than Brushes/Rollers
Paint Dries Faster Retouching can only be done with a sprayer
More Even Results Must Backroll (or else see above)
Results look more Professional Might need a compressor (added cost)

Pros and Cons of Paint Sprayers: The Pros


PRO: Faster Paint Time 

One of the Pros of using a paint sprayer is the amount of time you save.   

With a paint sprayer, you can get great results with just one coat. This is because the sprayer will create droplets of paint which then “splash” out onto your wall.  This is call atomized paint. 

One horizontal pass with your paint sprayer is like making 3-4 passes with a brush/roller. 

In practical terms, this means you can save between 15-30 seconds on each pass you make with a paint sprayer when compared to traditional painting methods. 

That might not seem like a lot at first, but then multiply that time savings across the number of passes you need to take to paint a fence, home, or exterior wall. 

Paint sprayers make it easier, and waaayy faster, to cover difficult paint such as greens and purples. 

That's why paint sprayers are such effective tools.

pros and cons of paint sprayers

Rollers, Brushes and Paint Thickness

You have to be careful when brushing or rolling on paint.  You can’t use too much paint or you’ll end up with runs.  You have to go back and inspect your work and get rid of those runs. 

It can be hard to get into edges and corners with a brush/roller. 

Also, if you don’t use enough paint on the first pass, you’ll have to do a second or even a third coat.   

Get more projects done in less time with a paint sprayer. 

PRO: Faster Dry Time 

Painting with a sprayer means that the layer of paint you apply is thinner than when you brush or roll it on.  This leads to shorter paint drying times than if you brushed/rolled it on.    

This means you can paint more surfaces faster with your sprayer than with a brush and roller.   

We recommend waiting an hour and testing your newly painted surface in a hidden area.   

If it's dry, you are ready for your second coat!    

PRO: More Even Results with a Paint Sprayer 

One of the benefits of painting with a sprayer is that the paint is applied more evenly. When you brush your paint on, you can end up with runs or thick paint in random spot. 

A sprayer mixes the paint with air and shoots out the paint evenly onto your surface.

Your results will look and feel more professional.  Your friends won't know the difference.   

pros and cons of using a paint sprayer

PRO and CON:  Prep for Rolling Vs Spraying Paint Indoors 

It can take a lot of time to prepare a room for paint spraying vs rolling. Because the paint is atomized, it can linger in the air while you work. 

That means you’ll need to mask the entire room before spraying. You’ll also need to cover the entire floor with a layer of plastic. 

Paint rollers require prep work as well, but you can work in sections. Instead of masking the entire room at once, you can work along each wall with a drop cloth. 

Pros and Cons of Paint Sprayers: The Cons


CON: Extra Paint Used 

One of the cons of using a paint sprayer is the amount of paint you need to get your job done.  Painting with a paint sprayer can save you a ton of time, but how much paint will you need? 

Bad news it, if you’re painting with a sprayer, you'll need to have some extra paint on hand to get the job done. 

The amount of extra paint you’ll use, depends on the type of spray gun that you're planning to use. 

HVLP paint sprayers use about 20% more paint on-hand than you think you'll need.  This paint budget will make sure you have enough to get the job done. 

Most folks use their HVLP spray guns outside for painting exteriors or fencing.  

A standard paint budget for using an HVLP paint sprayer is about 1.5 cans of paint to 1 can of paint for a roller/brush. 

But depending on how much PSI you use, your ratio could be 2:1 or even 3:1 on a windy day outside. 

With an airless paint sprayer, you’ll use 40% more paint than if you brushed or rolled.  That means 40% of the paint that you're spraying ends up somewhere else besides your paint surface. 

Poor spray techniques can increase this ratio to 50/50. 

CON: Cleaning Your Sprayer

One of the cons of owning a paint sprayer is the clean up afterwards.  Unlike a brush/roller which requires maybe 5 minutes of clean up time, cleaning a sprayer is much more involved.   

You must clean out your sprayer every time you use it, or if you change paints. 

It takes a decent amount of time to take apart a sprayer so it can be flushed out. 

You're going to have paint go everywhere while you're getting this job done as well. 

If youre buying a paint sprayer, you’ll want to look for certain makes and models which attach to a garden hose.  This makes cleanup go a lot faster. 

The best paint sprayer reviews can help you to sort out which features each model has so you can have confidence in your purchase. 

We love this beginner and budget friendly model from HomeRight.  You can buy a special cleaning kit just for this sprayer.   

Maintenance Tips

If you aren’t careful when cleaning your paint sprayer, you could end up with a clogged tip.  If you do have a clogged tip, you'll want to twist the tip a full 180 degrees.

Then point your sprayer at a cardboard or wood scrap and then squeeze the trigger until the clog clears. 

You may also find clogs at the filter which will need to be manually cleared.  

Really look at your ball-check valves, hose connections, and the internal spraying mechanisms when cleaning your sprayer and your sprayer will last a long time. 

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CON: More Expensive than Brushes and Rollers

To buy yourself a decent paint sprayer, you are looking at paying anywhere from $50 – $500.  Commercial paint sprayers will start at around $1,500. 

Good quality brushes and rollers are pretty cheap in comparison.  You can get all your paint supplies, brushes, rollers, paint tray etc for around $50. 

As discussed above, paint sprayers use more paint than brushing or rolling, which makes using a paint sprayer more expensive. 

cleaning a paint sprayer

CON: Backrolling or Backbrushing is Recommended

Some paint sprayers recommend that users perform a technique called “backbrushing” after applying the paint.

Sometimes this might be referred to as “back rolling” instead. 

This can take some extra time, if you don’t have a helper to backroll behind you as your spray paint. 

It basically means that after the paint has been applied to the surface, the user must then use a brush or roller to create a coat that is more even or can better penetrate the application surface. 

First you spray, then you brush, and then the paint dries.  

Not every surface requires backbrushing, but if you're painting unfinished wood or wood that has been previously painted or stained, it is a good idea to do so even if the tool doesn't recommend that it needs to be done. 

This allows for the surface to look even instead of having the patchwork look that some paints may leave.  

Our Recommendation

We recommend backbrushing most surfaces that you paint, especially indoor walls, trim, doors, cabinets etc. 

Backrolling makes sure that if you need to touch up your paint in the future, that you can do it with a brush. 

If you don’t backroll, the texture of the paint on the wall won’t match the texture of the paint applied with a brush.  You’ll be left with a mess that you’ll have to repaint. 

CON: Might need a Compressor 

In order to atomize the paint properly, a paint sprayer must typically be hooked up to some form of an air supply such as an air compressor.    

Only airless sprayer models and some HVLP models are able to get away with not having an air compressor hookup. If you are looking to save a few bucks, buy a sprayer that doesn't need a compressor. 

If you are going to get both, check out our Buyer's Guide for buying an air compressor. 

Conclusion

Paint Sprayers might be more prep work and clean up afterwards, but the results speak for themselves.  There's a reason why professional painters use sprayers; they get professional results in less time.  

Try a sprayer today; you won't regret it!

Quick FAQs

Is it worth getting a paint sprayer?

Pros of paint sprayers included speed of application, smooth and even finish, paint dries faster, getting your jobs completed in less time.

Do you use more paint with a sprayer?

Yes, anywhere from 20 – 50% more, depending on the type of sprayer and your technique. HVLP will use less paint than airless paint sprayers.


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