<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=3263748927046193&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">
Skip to main content

«  Learning Center

Spraying Paint vs Brushing Paint: How to choose which is right for you

February 20th, 2023 | 4 min read

By Kaylea Kuhlman

Spraying paint and brushing paint have little differences in the end result What most people don’t know is the difference in the process of each and when to spray or brush. 

At Brush & Roll Painting, we take pride in using the most high-quality paints on the market that provides durability, strong hide, and great clean-ability. Since 1996, we have sprayed and brushed cabinets, woodwork, and exterior homes across thousands of homes in Omaha, Nebraska. 

This article will describe the differences between spraying and brushing paint on cabinets, woodwork, exteriors, and interiors. We will also give some factors to consider if you are looking into having one of these spaces in your home painted. 

By reading this article, you will better understand when to spray paint and when to brush paint. Knowing these differences will save you money as your painters can get the job done the quickest for your convenience.

Woman sprayiing cabinet door white in a spray boothMan brushes white paint on a wall.

The differences between spraying and brushing paint

A common painting misconception is that brushing and rolling is more durable than spraying. The truth is that either can be just as durable and there is little difference in the appearance of both. 

The reason for the misconception is that low-quality paint products are used with a spray application and are thin. However, the paint would be thin with brushing as well if the same low-quality, cheap paints are used. 

The biggest difference between spraying and brushing is when you spray some of the paint evaporates. This is overspray and it falls on surfaces. Overspray can become messy, but with the right prep work, it can be contained and under control. 

Because of overspray, spaces that are done with a spray applicator require more prep work and cannot be used or are called locked down, while the project is going on.

Brushing and rolling require much less prep work than spraying, but it can take twice as long to apply. Spraying tends to go faster because painters have more control over the paint as they can put it on lighter or heavier. With brushing, the same amount of paint gets applied every time. 

A good way of understanding spraying versus brushing is that spraying is layering the paint and brushing is spreading.

Spraying vs. Brushing: Cabinets

When deciding to have your cabinets or woodwork brushed and rolled or sprayed, think about what makes the most sense for you and your home. 

If you need to use the space at night over the days or weeks that the painters are there, they should brush it. Spraying is a great option if you can wait to use the space until it is complete.

A kitchen taped and masked off completely with plastic, in preparation to be sprayed.

The prep work for spraying cabinets consists of covering every space that could be at risk of getting overspray on it. The painters have to be thorough as they cover cabinet openings, countertops, floors, ceilings, and papering some areas of the walls.

The prep work for brushing includes masking the ceiling, parts of the walls and covering the floors.

Spraying vs. Brushing: Woodwork

The prep work for spraying or brushing woodwork is similar to spraying or brushing cabinets.

For spraying woodwork, painters must cover floors, ceilings, and some areas of the walls. The spaces can’t be used until all the overspray settles when the painting is complete.

The prep work for brushing includes masking the ceiling and the bottom of the walls and covering the floors.

Oak Wood Cabinets & Trim

If you have oak cabinets or woodwork, they have to be back-brushed because of their special grain. If they are sprayed you will get little pinholes everywhere. Pinholes are created when the paint goes over the grain, the grain traps air, and the air comes out and makes a bubble pop. If the paint does not get worked in the grain with a brush, there is no way to avoid popped bubbles or make them go away. 

Back-brushing must be done on the first coat of paint and possibly the second coat. These surfaces can receive a final coat with spraying. 

All other types of wood are safe for spraying without back-brushing. 

To learn more about painting oak cabinets and trim, click here.

Spraying vs. Brushing: Exterior

The most important factor in exterior paint is that it needs to be thick and applied heavier. Spraying is the most common way to paint a home’s exterior because it can do just that at 6-8 mil’s per spray.

With brushing, the same amount of paint gets applied every time (3-4 mil’s), so it will need more coats, doubling the time it takes to spray. 

Brushing and rolling exterior paint could be 50-60% more in cost than spraying because of the extra time it takes to paint. 

Exterior front door covered in plastic tarp in preparation for the home's exterior to be sprayed.

The overspray is not as much of a factor with exteriors as it is with cabinets and woodwork because the work is outside. 

The prep work for spraying would be fully covering all windows and doors with plastic. With brushing, the space does not require as much prep work because the paint is not at risk of traveling to other unwanted areas. Usually, it takes masking along windows and doors, instead of covering the entire thing. 

It is entirely your preference when deciding whether your exterior should be brushed and rolled or sprayed.


Spraying vs. Brushing: Interior

Spraying interior walls should only be done in very few different circumstances. Spraying could be done when floors and trim are not installed and when the ceiling is the same color.

Furniture covered with a plastic tarp inside a house with green walls and a freshly painted white ceiling.

If your floors and trim are installed, a lot more prep work will have to be done to protect them from overspray. This extra prep time is not ideal.

Masking the ceiling, trim, windows, and doors and covering the floors and furniture, then brushing and rolling the walls would take much less time.

 Should I choose spray or brush for my next painting project?

Though brush and roll are in the name, at Brush & Roll Painting we have no preference over how you would like us to apply paint for your project. We want to apply the product in the way that works best for you and your home. 

Now that you know the differences between spraying and brushing, compare low-quality paint to high-quality paint. Knowing the difference between cheap and expensive paint will ensure that you get the best results you can from both spraying and brushing paint.

Kaylea Kuhlman

Kaylea is the Brush & Roll Painting Content Manager.