Painting - How to Select the Proper Painting Tool

Choosing whether to use spray painting vs. brush painting vs. a roller is a balancing act for many contractors. Selecting the incorrect option can impact your profits and your customers' goodwill. Follow these guidelines to select the best tool for every situation.


When to Use a Brush

Brush work is slow going, but it's necessary for small surfaces or tight areas that require a deft hand. For an even application of paint across an entire room, use a brush to cut in the corners where walls meet and rollers can't reach. Angled brushes work well for painting window frames and for trimming the top of the wall where it touches the ceiling or molding. A brush is also the best choice for molding because it pushes the paint into the recessed ridges.

Brushing often isn't practical for a large job, such as a building's exterior, but you typically need to use a brush for at least a portion of the task. Older properties often have slight damage to their exterior, such as small crevices on the finish or siding. Sprayers and rollers don't provide consistent application to these rough areas, so use a brush to force paint into the cracks.

While brushes are handy for small jobs, the bristles inevitably leave marks, making brushes a poor choice for some surfaces. Highly smooth surfaces, such as metal gutters or rails, benefit from the even application that spraying provides.


When to Use a Roller

Rollers are wide, and they cover a lot of space quickly, making them an ideal choice for large, flat surfaces such as ceilings and walls. You can use them indoors and outdoors, even over materials with rough textures, such as wood and stucco.

Selecting the proper type of roller for each job is the key to an even application of paint. Rollers with a short nap work best on plaster and drywall, and long-nap rollers help push paint onto rough surfaces such as concrete and stucco. While rollers work well on big areas, they can't reach into nooks and crannies, so use them in conjunction with a brush for complete coverage.


When to Use a Sprayer

Sprayers apply paint much faster than brushes or rollers, but their fine mist drifts onto everything nearby, so you need to cover anything you don't want to spray. If you want to use a sprayer inside, it's best to do so when the property is empty of all furniture.

A sprayer is a logical choice to quickly cover a building's exterior, as long as you take time to cover anything you can accidentally over-spray, including the roof and nearby landscaping. Even though the prep work for spraying is more extensive, you make up significant time while painting. Many jobs require two coats of paint, and spraying achieves this much faster than brushing or rolling. Fast application means you can fit in more jobs, boosting your bottom line.

While spraying is efficient, sometimes a job is so small that it's just not worth spending so much time prepping to guard against over-spray. Carefully consider how much prep work is needed in relation to the size of the space to determine whether the balance tips in favor of brushing, rolling or spraying.

Alternating between brushes, rollers and sprayers helps you provide an attractive, high-quality paint job on a variety of surfaces. Use these tips to pick the best tool for the task and keep your customers satisfied.


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