Rattle Can Vs Spray Gun : Which is the Best Method for Painting

Painting might seem like spilling some colors but it’s certainly way more than that. Making sure the details and the coating are fine enough, the utensil plays a critical role. Thus, comes the everlasting Rattle Can Vs Spray Gun debate.

Paint-slingers often get confused about whether to use a rattle can or a spray gun for their project. Yet, an experienced one will ask when to use which one. Why? Because they know both have their specialties and come into work under different circumstances.

Well, that’s why we are here for. We are going to take a look at every ins and outs with rattle cans and spray guns that will help you choose the right one for you.

Let’s start with the basics.

What Is A Rattle Can?

A Rattle Can
A Rattle Can

Rattle can, also known as aerosol spray gun, is the most common type of widely available paint cans. The can is filled with different ingredients that make it one of the most convenient paint bottles out there.

A big number of compressed air is present in the container at the top. The compressed air is also called the propellant and it pushes out the paint in a soothing tone for flawless coating.

What Is A Spray Gun?

A Spray Gun
A Spray Gun

As the name suggests, a spray gun is exactly like a gun but instead of bullets, it’s paint. Like rattle cans, spray guns also use compressed air but are present externally rather than in the gun itself.

To make sure that the liquid paint comes out in droplets of paint in a supervised way, the combo of the nozzle and compressed air comes in handy. However, with a spray gun, a hose and a compressor are mandatory to even get it running.

Rattle Can Vs Spray Gun: What’s The Difference?

Now that you know what a rattle can and a spray gun is and how they function, we can get to our foremost question, which one is better?

In a nutshell, the size of the object you are trying to paint, and the type of paint you are willing to use are the crucial factors. Nevertheless, there are other factors that you should also take into account for choosing the right one. Let’s check them out.

Surface Area

When it comes to painting, surface area or the size of the object matters the most. Before you even get your hands on a rattle can or a paint gun, know what you are going to be painting.

However, when it comes to coating bigger surface areas such as a vehicle, you would certainly want a spray gun. A rattle can not spray the same wide pattern as a spray gun.

With a spray gun, you have the access to spread the paint in wide areas which is something you should go for if the object is large. Painting a car or any big object can be time-consuming and the bigger nozzles are surely going to help here.

Moreover, the volume of paint coming out of it is on your hand with spray guns. You can easily change the volume level and spray faster than ever with it.

On the other hand, rattle cans are built-in paint bottles that don’t give you the access to modify anything. A smaller volume of paint and spray pattern will be the things you will come across. Thus, a slower process.

However, you can pull off a craftsmanship painting with a rattle can if you are working on a smaller object such as the windows of a house.


After taking the painting accuracy into account, who wouldn’t want convenience in the process. Tinting takes a lot of effort and sweat and after everything, no one wants to do the extra cleaning part. So, what’s the extra cleaning part you might ask?

Well, the spray guns require an extra step of cleaning whereas the rattle cans don’t. You will find less waste on rattle cans as they don’t widespread as much as the spray guns.

Additionally, you would need to clean the spray gun after use. After pouring paints inside it, you certainly would need to change colors. For that, there’s no other alternative but to clean it properly and then pour the other color inside it.

Coming to the convenience part of the paint job, we shall give the medal to rattles cans.

Cost- Efficient

Undoubtedly, spray guns are pricier than rattle cans but when it comes to effectiveness, the spray gun wins. Using a spray gun involves a few externals that you must buy to make it work in the first place. It includes instruments such as a regulator and compressor.

However, if you are a regular roller of colors then you might be able to bring a better output and make the spray gun worth it.

Buying 16 fluid ounces’ worth of a rattle can doesn’t mean that it contains 16 fluid ounces of paint. Flammable gases such as propane and butane are present in the rattle can which is called the propellant. It helps the cans to provide constant or near-constant pressure for the paint to come out smoothly.

As a result, the propellant is also present when the weight is measured and sealed into the cans. So you are not getting exactly 16 fluids ounces’ worth of paint.

But does that make spray guns more efficient? Yes, in the long run, the spray gun is more efficient. You can buy paints in the exact number that you would have expected. Thus, last longer than your rattle cans.

Also Read: Foam Gun Vs Foam Cannon: The Ultimate Comparison

Paint types

Surely, you will need to paint on different types of surfaces such as acrylic and plastic. Limitations to surfaces are there in the case of rattle cans. They only come up with oil-based and water-based. Therefore, if you are willing to paint plexiglass then you are handcuffed here. They will not stay on the plexiglass as expected.

In contrast, you can select the type of paint you want based on the product you are going to paint. Starting from oil-based enamel, and acrylic to latex paints, you will have the access to all.

In short, you will not be dependent on the manufacturers to make your desired type of rattle can paints.

Colors Available

Talking about manufacturing proceedings and not covering color availability is not fair. Let’s say you have finally selected a gloss black spray paint for your car only to find out that rattle can manufacturers don’t make them. We can say that it’s quite annoying for anyone who is looking for unique colors to add up to their paintings.

Similarly, you might want to mix two colors and make a custom one. Well, you don’t have the convenient option with rattle cans. Rattle cans are only available in definite colors that are widely common. If you want something unique then the mixing part takes place.

Rattle cans do have the mixing option but as said before, it’s not convenient. The procedure involves messing with the nozzle and many other things while different equipment takes place.

This goes without being said that owning a spray gun opens the gates to making custom colors. You can simply take a bowl, pour different colors, and mix it with a brush. That’s it, your custom color is ready to get into the spray gun.


Portability doesn’t play an important role here yet matters for a few who are always on the go. As you can already predict, spray cans win the battle when portability is in recital.

You can carry those boxes of colors anywhere you want without any hesitation. Moreover, even if you forget to bring a specific color, a nearby shop or an online shop is always available to fulfill your supply.

On the other side, spray guns are just not portable-friendly. Sure, you can carry them but not so favorable.


Even though painting seems a job that is not hazardous at all, there are hidden ones. Surely it doesn’t involve playing with fire but the pigment itself or the fumes might turn into something dangerous.

However, none of them is safer than the other. Before even getting hold of the rattle can or the spray gun, make sure you have enough ventilation, gloves, goggles, and masks.

Nevertheless, each has its hazards. While using a spray gun, goggles are mandatory. The paint that comes out of the spray gun is often very thin and widespread. As a result, there’s a chance that the paint might just get into your eye.

Similarly, the rattle can have a strong and toxic fume that requires you to wear a mask. A face filtering piece (FFP) with a protection factor of at least 20 must be used here to stop the toxic fumes from getting inside of you.

As a bonus tip, it’s recommended that you use your rattle cans outdoor. If you can’t provide enough ventilation, the fumes might be present for a long time.


Out of everything, nozzles play a huge role. How the paint will come out and at what angle is dependent on the nozzle. If you are a big fan of detailed work, then you surely want a versatile nozzle. Yet, using spray bottles for car detailing or any sort of details is not preferred.

Spray guns have varieties of options to choose from and apply. Having the option of installing different-sized nozzles, you can change the thickness and thinness. Detailed working takes place using smaller nozzles and there’s no better alternative than using spray guns.

Part of the detailed work involves adjusting the paint coming out, opacity, and fading. Fortunately, all can be done by placing different nozzles under different circumstances.

However, having a fixed nozzle like the rattle can doesn’t mean that you can’t do any type of detailed work. You need to be experienced to pull off with a rattle gun’s nozzle.

Coating and Overlapping

Lastly, a good coating is a must-require thing for anyone willing to paint on anything for the long term. On the other hand, overlapping when giving it a nice coating is considered usual.

Both rattle can and spray gun are considered to have a good coating and overlapping. However, one of them is just better. Spray guns are said to hold the crown of overlapping and coating. It’s because of the nozzle spacing that the rattle cans didn’t take care of.

The spray guns are often seen with nozzle spacing that covers all regions under receiving droplets from two adjacent nozzles.

Frequently Asked Questions

That’s all the things that you needed to know to select your sprayer. It’s time for the questions that you guys frequently ask but remains unanswered.

Can you spray a car with a rattle can?

Yes, you surely can paint anything with a rattle can. However, the results wouldn’t be as flawless and time-saving if you would’ve used a spray gun instead. On top of that, you would need to buy tons of cans to cover that much of an area.

Is it better to roll or spray?

Rolling paint may look less messy but they are certainly a time killer. Sprays are said to be four times faster than rolling. Thus, sprays are a way better choice.

What size compressor do I need for spray painting?

Pressure plays an important role in the output you have been expecting. Thus, getting a compressor worth at least 12 CFM is recommended.

Are paint sprayers messy?

Yes, they can get messy if you don’t know the proper protocols. Just like everything, spraying has a pattern as well to follow that will surely cause less mess. However, when it comes to paints, messy rooms are expected.


To conclude, there’s no way one is better than the other when it comes to Rattle Can Vs Spray Gun. It is up to the project that you are going to be working on and depending on that you can grab your desired sprayer.

The spray gun generally excels at offering quicker painting, possibilities for color blending, and variable nozzles. On the other hand, rattling guns are for people who are constantly on the go and don’t want to carry anything. Moreover, likes less cleanup after painting.

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