Spray, Brush or Roll? New Developments Mean New Advantages in Paint Sprayer Technology 1

The three primary ways paint is applied to a surface are with rollers, brushes, or spray technology. While each form of application brings its own benefits – as well as it’s own disadvantages – many professional painters do not yet fully realize the variety of options available to them for painting.  Some remain stuck in old habits that are inefficient while others simply haven’t been exposed to new products and technologies that have greatly expanded the paint professional’s repertoire.

Paint brushes come in different thicknesses with different types of bristles depending on what type of work is being done. Rollers come in different widths with different piles made of different materials, each created to work with different coating types for different types of jobs. And as with brushes and rollers, paint spray technology has matured a great deal in the last few years, to the point that professional painters now have a number of different options available to give them better coverage without sacrificing control and ease of use. Between the extremes of a short-use, disposable technology like a can of spray and an expensive, long-lifecycle technology like an air brush are a number of different options that can address most any type of paint work.

Indoor commercial paint spraying.

Emerging sprayer technology leads to greater versatility.
Image courtesy of Airless Paintsprayer

Improved paints and additives have made some of the previous objections to using paint sprayers obsolete. In the past, paint sprayers were primarily used for coverage of smooth substrates like metals or glass. Sprayed paints faced difficulty adhering to rough surfaces and filling in all imperfections presented by an unsmooth surface. From hairline cracks in substrates like stucco to textured interior walls, paint that was applied with a sprayer didn’t always offer a uniform coat on rough or imperfect surfaces. However, manufacturers are now producing paints that offer better coating and protection on irregular surfaces. For example, new acrylic paints are elastic enough to fill small cracks and divots in a way that oil or water-based spray paints previously could not.

Furthermore, improved pressure valves and mechanical controls have made paint sprayers much more versatile and manageable on the job-site. Whereas early paint sprayers had difficulty regulating pressure with precision control, later model compressor and air guns make doing so simple. With this kind of fine-tuning, professional painters are able to more easily control the velocity and spread with which paint leaves the sprayer. This control means paint sprayers can be used to paint aluminum siding, airbrush model airplanes, and most every other conceivable job in between.

Overspray is a waste of money and paint.

Overspray is wasteful and costly.
Image courtesy of CIBurbanity.com

Interestingly, one of the main benefits of using paint sprayers can also quickly become a disadvantage: cost. Paint sprayers were long thought to allow painters a great deal of control while painting large areas quickly. That said, even with new paints that can help sprayers be useful on non-smooth substrates, a painter not in complete control of his tools can easily waste paint via overspray or blowback. Due to the fine mist produced by most paint spray technology, waste is both common and hard to manage.  Furthermore, overspray can leave potentially harmful chemicals in the environment. Making sure that the paint pressure and distance from the surface are correct is key to reducing waste and ultimately realizing the cost benefit long associated with using a paint sprayer.

While it isn’t necessarily considered a disadvantage, paint sprayers require more upkeep and maintenance than brushes and rollers if they are to be used long term. Like investing in any piece of machinery or equipment, a paint sprayer must be properly cleaned and maintained if it is to be useful for very long. Knowing how to properly care for the sprayer when it is not in use is every bit as important as knowing how to control it when it is.

Interior of a paint sprayer

The anatomy of a paint sprayer.
Image courtesy of Popular Mechanics

New advances in paint spray technology open new doors for painters. Maintaining high standards with your paint work can now be accomplished a variety of ways by using paint sprayers. However, as with any brush or roller, you must take the time to become an expert with your sprayer to make sure you are realizing all of the advantages (like saving time and money) while minimizing disadvantages (such as overspray and pollution). Click here to learn more about the emerging technology impacting professional painters!

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  1. Pingback: Paint Robotics and Emerging Technology for Painters | BYK | Ford Develops Dirt Detection System

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