Spraying vs. Brushing

Spraying vs. Brushing

            As a paint contractor in Raleigh, NC, I would like to answer a question I’ve been asked many times over the years: What’s the best way to apply paint, spraying or brushing?  That question has many answers.  Let me explain what I mean.

Every surface to be painted is different:

  •   Is it an interior or exterior surface?
  •   Is the surface wood, metal, plastic, etc.?
  •   Is the surface smooth or rough?
  •   Will it be painted or stained?

These are all things that need to be considered before deciding how to apply the material.  I’ve owned and operated my own painting company for many years and I have to evaluate each job in order to make this decision.  I personally prefer to spray and this is the reason why.  In most cases, the exterior of a home will consist of a smooth siding and smooth boxing, boxing meaning where the gutters are hung.  Firstly, during the spraying process I am able to apply paint or stain much faster than I can by brushing.  That reduces the labor cost which is passed on to the homeowner.  Secondly, the surface being sprayed will have a more uniformed appearance. It will simply look better because there will be no brush strokes.  Thirdly, when spraying paint, I am able to apply a much thicker coat of paint than I ever would be able to do by brushing.  On average, by spraying I am able to apply 8 to 10 Mils of paint per coat (Mils meaning how thick the material is when applied to the surface) but by applying the same paint by brush I would only be able to apply 3 to 4 Mils of paint by the time I brush it out to give it a smooth appearance.

Some old school paint contractors prefer to brush rather than spray because to spray requires a lot of preparation (covering up windows, doors, lights, etc.  We like to tape off and cover the areas in plastic).  Also, it takes a special skill to spray.  So many of the old school painters who don’t spray will try and sell the job in their favor.  How do they do that?  Simply by trying to convince the homeowner that spraying is bad.  Their number one technique in doing that is to say that spray painters thin their paint too much.  Now it’s time to use some common sense.  When a spray technician is spraying, he doesn’t care how thick or thin the paint is.  Why should he? It takes no more effort to spray thick paint than it does to spray thin paint. But let’s imagine you are getting ready to brush the same surface. What’s easier to do: brush thick paint or thin paint?  That’s something to think about.  Now, I’m not saying that every surface is a perfect candidate for spraying but most of the time it is.  Some surfaces require a brush or roller application (i.e. brick, rough siding like cedar, or any rough surface).  In that situation, I like to do what I call “Sprushing.”  That’s when I spray the material on followed by a brush or roller depending on the surface.  Just remember when receiving your next painting estimate that there are many ways to apply paint and spraying is not always bad.