The paint roller revolutionized how we paint, making the process faster and allowing us to spread paint more evenly than a brush. Small, handheld, compressed-air paint sprayers are now another option. Spraying or rolling, which tool and technique best suit your project? Let’s weigh your options. 


Using a Roller


  • Gives you a thicker layer of paint and better colour consistency.
  • Gives you better control of the flow of paint.
  • Is simple and easy.
  • You don’t need to be highly skilled.
  • Minimal clean-up.
  • Relatively inexpensive. Roller, roller cover, paint tray, and tray liner are all you need. 
  • Can pause the project when you need to. 
  • Rolled paint bonds better to the surface. 



  • Must tape corners and edges you don’t want to be painted. 
  • Hard to use on textured surfaces.
  • Must be meticulous so as not to create gaps in paint or areas that are thicker than others.
  • Time-consuming as you have to roll over every inch of your surface twice.
  • Low-quality roller covers shed hairs, leaving lint to dry into your paint and ruining your finish.
  • Cheap roller covers have a weak inner core that dissolves when it comes into contact with paint causing it to slide off the roller frame. 


Using a Spray Painter


  • Covers large areas quickly.
  • Creates a smooth and pristine finish.
  • Great for filling the gaps in textured surfaces.
  • Gives a better finish on non-flat surfaces.



  • Must cover every inch you don’t want to be painted with plastic or drop cloth (ceiling, windows, doors and floors). 
  • Requires extensive preparation (set up equipment, put paint in the reservoir, connect hoses and cords).
  • Is an all-or-nothing project that must be completed before stopping. 
  • Wastes a large amount of paint, therefore, is more expensive. 
  • Need to purchase/rent an expensive paint sprayer. 
  • Sprayers require cleaning and maintenance after use.
  • Tiny paint droplets produced by spraying don’t connect with each other as well as rolled-on paint. 
  • The time you save in the application you’ll spend assembling your tools.
  • Not as easy as it looks; takes a lot of trial and error. 


When to Use a Roller:

  • Use for painting interior walls. 
  • Good for when you want to keep things simple.
  • Use when painting on a budget.
  • Use when covering a dirty surface as it allows you more leeway. 


When to Use a Sprayer:

  • Use when priming large new surfaces when only plumbing, electrical boxes and windows need masking.
  • Use on exterior surfaces with a clear perimeter; when you need to mask only items on the building, not around it. 
  • Good for surfaces with lots of detail work and/or texture (popcorn ceilings, built-up baseboards, cornices, dentils, masonry)
  • Use for an empty space (no furniture/appliances to cover).


Spray painting is the fastest way to paint large areas where you don’t need much accuracy. 

Roller painting is good for areas where you need to avoid getting paint on other surfaces. Keep in mind that each method has its strong points and both methods can achieve a professional finish.  If you’re still struggling to decide which technique to use, ask your local paint supplier for advice. They’ll have the knowledge and experience to help you decide what method is right for your project.   

Not sure whether you should spray or roll? Want to purchase quality rollers? Need to rent a paint sprayer? Call Calgary’s independent paint and blinds store West Hillhurst Paint + Design at (403) 270-9696 or email at kyle@westhillhurstpaint.com. Our knowledgeable professional design associates provide high-quality paint and stain, a wide selection of blinds, advice for home projects and excellent service. Call for a consultation today!

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