When to Use a Brush or Roller to Paint Furniture

Brushing and rolling are two painting techniques that are commonly used for furniture. Whether it be a dresser, nightstand, table, or other wood furniture, unless you have a paint sprayer, you will likely need a brush or a foam roller to paint your furniture.

However, while both approaches can be effective, both can have different outcomes regarding how the final product looks. Additionally, there are certain furniture parts where one of the tools is better than the other.

This post discusses when to use a brush vs a foam roller for painting furniture.

When to use a brush or roller to paint furniture

brush vs roller chart

Brushes are a bit more versatile than foam rollers when it comes to painting surfaces of furniture. You can use a brush to get between grooves and designs of decorative woodwork. Alternatively, you can paint completely flat surfaces very easily as well.

Foam rollers on the other hand can only be used on flat surfaces. Any bends or grooves in the wood are very difficult to cover with foam rollers. For instance, the circular legs of a table, or rounded edges of a dresser can be difficult without the flexible bristles of a brush.

Related: 7 Best Materials to Line Dresser Drawers

Differences in paint texture

Although foam rollers can’t be used on certain surfaces, the advantage of foam rollers is that when they are applied on flat surfaces properly, the layer of paint is perfectly even. With a roller, you can achieve a perfectly flat and even coat as if the wood furniture was sprayed by a paint sprayer.

Paint brushes, on the other hand, can leave brush strokes on furniture. With a really good quality brush, in an oval or completely round shape, you can dramatically diminish brush strokes. However, a poor-quality paint brush with artificial bristle won’t be nearly as effective in creating a completely flat finish.

Nevertheless, extremely fine sandpaper can be used to diminish brush stroke texture as well.

Related: Best Paint for Furniture Without Sanding

Differences in efficiency

Foam rollers tend to be a much more efficient solution for painting furniture. Foam rollers tend to hold paint extremely well, meaning you can cover lots of surface area before needing to replenish it with more paint. Additionally, the rolling motion that creates a perfectly even texture makes it easy to quickly apply paint without worrying about some areas being more concentrated with paint than others.


As far as cost goes, both solutions are comparably expensive. A good quality brush can go for 10 to 20 dollars and most foam rollers fall within the same range.

Related: What is Floetrol?: Everything You Need to Know

Final words: Using both

You can paint the hard-to-reach areas with a brush, but you may end up with brush strokes on the more noticeable areas. With a foam roller, you can get a nice even finish but it might not do a great job with surfaces that aren’t flat.

That being said, if you want to make sure your furniture comes out impeccable, consider using both tools. For instance, with a dresser, you could use the foam roller on the top, sides, and drawer fronts. With the brush, you would paint any indentations in the wood, or uneven decorative woodwork that would be difficult to paint with the roller.

If you are planning on painting many pieces of furniture in the future, it might be worth the investment to purchase both tools.


Related: 5 Common Fusion Mineral Paint Mistakes

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