Painting Trim (Still. Always): Paint Sprayer v. Brush

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I made the title all dramatic, but, really, we’re pretty much (finally!) finished with the trim! We still need to touch up (it turns out leaving painter’s tape up for weeks means you peel a lot of paint off the ceiling when you take it down. Oops), and there are still the stupid cabinets to paint….but three doors, three door frames, two windows, and miles upon miles of baseboards and crown molding are DONE! Yay!

I mentioned before that I’d do a post at some point comparing using the paint sprayer for painting trim with doing it by hand. And here it is.

We painted the door to our walk in closet and all the baseboards that we removed way back when we tiled with our paint sprayer, the HomeRight Finish Max Pro.

Here’s that door:

Benjamin Moore's Jet Black trim with White Dove walls

And then we painted all the rest of the trim, including the two other doors, with a brush. We were planning to do all the doors with the sprayer, but then it was very humid with lots of scattered storms while we were painting, and I just wanted to be finished with the trim already. Here’s the door to the bedroom:


I think the paint was still tacky when I took that second picture. And they’re also different doors; I think the closet door is pressboard and the one above is real wood. So keep those things in mind, as well as just different light on different days when you look at the photos.

A few thoughts:

On the painting process: One of the biggest advantages of spraying over using a brush is that it’s much faster. The Finish Max Pro is fairly slow as far as paint sprayers go, because it’s designed to give you a really nice finish on small projects. The paint comes out slower and in a finer mist than with a heavier duty paint sprayer. So with the sprayer it was a few minutes for a coat, dry time, then a few more minutes for the next coat. Of course, you also have to deal with taking the doors off and bringing them outside, then reinstalling. But it’s a big time saver.

In retrospect, I could have saved some time using a small roller on the flat parts of the door instead of just a brush, but it’s the little edges and crevices that have to be done with a brush that are the biggest pain in the ass anyway. We used Benjamin Moore’s Advance paint for the trim (because every time I send Dave to buy paint he comes home with something super expensive), and I found it kind of tough to work with with the brush. It’s very thick, and I had a lot of trouble keeping drips under control (and, sadly, I didn’t always manage. Don’t look too closely if you come visit!) And with the second coat, I felt like if I went over a spot to try to smooth things out, it just wiped all the paint right off, so I kind of had to slop it on thick. If that makes any sense. Dave didn’t find it as annoying as I did. It’s supposed to be very durable (essentially, it’s supposed to be a water based paint that acts like an oil based paint), and we’ll also be able to use it on the cabinets….so I’m hoping it will make up for how much of a pain it was in the end. Anyway, so I found the brushwork slow, tedious, and often frustrating.

On the finished product: This is kind of a mixed bag. On one hand, there was that previously mentioned issue with dripping that leaves something to be desired in the trim that was painted by hand. And of course, the touching up where it got on the walls did not happen when the trim was painted with a sprayer outside the house. The sprayer gives you a really even, professional looking finish, provided you take your time and are careful about drips. The only thing I don’t like about the finish the sprayer gave us is that it seems duller than what we did by hand. I’m guessing that this is because the paint was so thick that we had to water it down a good bit to get it to go through the sprayer (you generally have to water down paint for the sprayer, but this paint took more water than usual). We used semi gloss, and I’m really loving the shininess of the black on the hand painted trim (to the point where I might even wish we’d gone with high gloss), so I’m kind of bummed that the closet door and some of the baseboard don’t have quite the same sheen.

So edge to the sprayer on process and a toss up for finish. If I had it to do over again, I might wait for a nicer day so we could do all the doors with the sprayer. And I’m pretty sure the cabinet doors will be getting painted with it.


Painting Trim (Still. Always): Paint Sprayer v. Brush — 9 Comments

  1. The black doors look sooo good!

    We’re getting ready to paint siding for our camper and boy would a sprayer come in handy. Miles of siding to be painted… Anyway, so glad you warned about the drips because that would be a deal breaker if I hadn’t already been warned about it.

  2. I LOVE the black doors and trim! And I’m so the queen of drips. It’s like someone, somewhere forgot to turn off the faucet in my brain and it leaks out into my painting.

    I’m so dying to paint our kitchen cabinets. I think using a sprayer would be a lifesaver!

    • It’s like the drips appear out of nowhere when your back is turned, and you don’t notice them until it’s too late! Or at least it’s like that for me….

  3. I never would have thought to use a sprayer on trim! How awesome is that!! And how amazing does your trim and doors looks! A job well done lady!!! Nicole xo

  4. I looove the black doors! It all looks great. I am going to get a paint sprayer sometime to do my kitchen!

    That Ace Cabinet & Trim paint I have been using is the same way… I really have to babysit it and keep going back to look for drips for about 15 minutes. But in the end the finish has been really durable and pretty, so it was worth it.

    • I remember you complaining about that paint! Good to hear PITA paint can be worth it in the end. And I have TWO paint sprayers, so you should borrow one of mine (the newer one, not the one you borrowed last time).

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