Paint Roller Vs Paint Brush? The Ultimate Guide

You have to use the right painting tool to ensure the best results. But choosing between a paint roller and a paintbrush is not always intuitive. So how do you choose between these two painting methods for your DIY projects?

A paint roller is the ideal tool when you want to paint large areas as efficiently as possible, whereas a paint brush is better for small areas such as trim. Most medium and big painting projects will require you to use both a roller and a brush.

Here, we discuss everything you need to know about how and when to use paint rollers and paint brushes.

Paint Roller vs. Paintbrush

While some people might see painting as a chore, DIY’ers enjoy giving their home a fresh look with a new paint job. 

Many painting projects can be done right with either of these tools, but you will most often need both.

Brushes

Paint brushes are a universally beloved painting tool that you’ve probably used. But when are they best?

Brushes are best when dealing with small areas and spots where you need to paint with precision, such as tight trim and corners.

There are countless styles of brushes to choose from. A great-looking paint brush is nice to have, but you also want to hold it and see how it feels in your hand before buying it.

If you plan on doing a lot of painting in the future, investing in a set of different-sized brushes makes a lot of sense. You can also buy them as needed but a whole set will save you money in the long run.

paint brush

Choosing between types of brushes is not just about style but also size. Here is what we recommend:

  • 1-2-inch brushes: Use a brush of this size when painting hard-to-get-to areas like tight corners or where you need detailed touches.
  • 2.5-3-inch brushes: Paintbrushes of this size will help you get trim looking its best as efficiently as possible.
  •  4-6-inch brushes: These wide brushes can easily handle big areas that are still too small for a roller. The wide handles on this larger brush allow for sweeping and stronger brush strokes, ensuring that you finish quickly.

Yet another consideration when purchasing brushes is what types of bristles they have. You can find natural fiber (made from animal hair like ox hair) or synthetic bristles.

A synthetic brush is generally cheaper, and the difference in quality between synthetic and natural brushes is hardly noticeable.

Rollers

We’ve all seen a movie scene or television show where the main characters roll paint onto the walls of their brand new house. But when are these tools best to use?

A roller is designed to paint larger areas and uses more paint than a brush. Paint rollers are used to maximum effect when painting walls and ceilings.

Just like paintbrushes, you can find different styles of rollers. The length of the roller you buy should depend on the height of the area you plan to paint, but consider future projects as well.

You will also have to choose a paint roller with the right nap size.

  • 1/4-inch or 3/16-inch nap: This nap size is ideal for untextured plaster, wallboards, drywall, and metal.
  • 3/8-inch or 1/2-inch nap: This is a general nap size most painters use on common walls and ceilings. It is also suitable for paneling and smooth surfaces like concrete.
  • 3/4-inch or 1-inch nap: When painting corrugated metal, textured plaster, or stucco, this is the best option.

Choosing the right nap size will help you get the most out of your time and money.

Is a Paint Roller More Efficient than a Paintbrush?

Using a roller is generally more efficient than using a paintbrush since you cover more area faster. This is true with big paint jobs like walls. However, a paint roller just won’t get into places like trim edges, so it is not always the most efficient option.

It is good to emphasize areas where you can use your paint roller to get them quickly out of the way. You can then grab your paintbrush and put a finishing touch on the hard to get to places, ensuring a job well done.

Painting Trim with Paint Roller vs. Paintbrush

To see that a paintbrush is the best option for trim, all you have to do is consider its size. If you were to use a roller here, you would get paint all over the place where you do not want it.

Trim and areas with an irregular shape must be painted with more precision than walls, where you can use heavy and deliberate strokes to cover more. Consider the trim’s size to choose the right paintbrush. This is where having a set of brushes comes in handy.

Painting trim will take more time and effort because of this, but it ensures the best possible results.

The Best Way to Approach a Painting Project

If you are serious about getting high-quality results, be prepared before you start to paint. 

The first step is to decide what type of paint you want to use. Choices include latex and oil-based paint. Latex paint tends to be cheaper but oil-based paint can provide you with better-looking results.

Next, get your materials ready. You will want to use a painting roller, paintbrushes, and mineral spirits or another paint thinner. You will also need small containers to clean your tools with mineral spirits or soap and water once you are done.

Put on painting overalls and other clothing you won’t mind getting paint on. Ensure the room is well-ventilated for safety. Also, get electronics, furniture, and other things out of the way to avoid accidentally damaging them.

Once you have everything ready, it is time to paint! As we noted above, it is best to start with a painting roller and hit the ample areas first to get them out of the way. Then grab your brushes and finish up with detailed strokes.

Conclusion – Paint Roller vs. Brush

Whether you are painting a room or an entire house, both paint rollers and paint brushes have their use. You can get the best out of painting projects if you know when to use which of these two options.

Follow the advice we outlined above and your painting project will turn out spectacular!