Spraying vs. Brushing and Rolling

So this isn’t really a debate between which method of painting is better.  Ideally, we would spray paint everything.  For example, you could hire someone to paint your car with a brush and roller but why would you?  The quality of finish you get from using a spray gun is so much better than using a brush and roller that you’d think that all of our customers would choose the spray option.

   Like everything else though, there are trade-offs and limitations to every method of doing things. Spraying is much more expensive.  Although the application of paint by spray gun is very fast and efficient, the time it takes to set up the equipment and protect everything else in a room from ‘overspray’ adds to the overall time and cost of a paint job. 

   The second issue is that there is a tradition of painting woodwork, such as doors and trim using a brush.  If the painter is highly skilled and experienced, the brush marks showing are an indication of their skill and the mark of a professional.  Some would call it an ‘old-school’ look and there are clients, designers and contractors who specify that look on projects, especially in older homes and high end projects.

   Now that you know the main differences between the two methods, let’s get into specific applications where spraying is ideal.  The first one is in new home construction.  In an empty house, ideally without the flooring or electrical fixtures installed yet, spraying is the ideal choice.  There is less time needed to set up, the window frames, baseboards and other trim can be sprayed without concern for paint landing on the walls or floors adjacent the trim, and the only thing that needs to be protected are the windows themselves.

   Another area ideal for spraying is detailed millwork: fireplace mantle pieces, built in shelves, book cases and sometimes, kitchen cabinets.  

   I say sometimes when talking about kitchen cabinets because it’s hard to paint the cabinets with a spray gun without getting paint inside the cabinets themselves and most of the time you want to retain the finish on the inside of the cabinets.  The other reason is that most kitchens, even relatively expensive ones with high quality wooden doors have plastic, (low pressure laminate) cabinets and edge trim.  Those items can be difficult to prepare properly so that paint of any kind can stick. 

   A hidden challenge with painting kitchen cabinets is to not paint the hinges! Every door has two hinges and a handle so if the doors are left on, they have to be taped off which is a time consuming and frustrating process.  If the doors are taken off then the question becomes one of where the doors and drawer fronts will be painted and stored.  Imagine painting the front of a cabinet door. Now think about where you are going to put it while it dries? Now image you have 30 doors and 12 drawer fronts and they have to be painted 2 or 3 coats each on both sides!

   That challenge of logistics when spray painting things like doors brings us to the time consuming job of making a spray booth. This is a temporary area set up to paint items like doors where any overspray can be contained in a specific spot.  It’s easier said than done.  I have the equipment and experience to set up a spray booth but it still doesn’t  solve the problem of where to put something once it’s painted.

   After the application of one coat, the item must be moved out of the booth and placed in a separate area, free of dust and dirt while it dries.  Ideally, everything would get hung on hooks so it can be painted on all sides and not handled.  If that’s the case, the booth has to be very large, usually bigger than most rooms in the average house. 

   Conversely, the items can be packed up and moved to a remote location where there is already a spray booth set up.  That option ensures a higher quality end result but the rental on a shop with a booth isn’t cheap and we don’t have one simply because we don’t do enough spray projects to warrant the expense.  Added to that expense is the time and effort needed to carefully wrap and pack finished product for return shipment. No point in doing all that work to produce a perfect finished product only to have it chipped or scratched on the trip back!

    So as I said at the beginning, there is not perfect solution. We tend to spray when the opportunity presents itself or when the customer is looking for a superior look and finish and the budget allows for that type of finish. 

   Give us a call and we can discuss all the options available to you.