The Colortopia Blog · Sep 25, 2013

What is the Best Paint Roller for Your Paint Project?

Have you ever stood in the paint roller aisle in the paint or home improvement store and wondered what the difference between paint roller covers was? Some are thick, some are thin, and they come in many colors. It can be confusing.

Paint Roller 101

The surface you’re painting determines the nap (the thickness of the woven cover) you will need. Thick 3/4″ nap roller covers are best used on stucco, decks, brick, and masonry. This thick and fluffy nap can hold more paint and get into the crevices of the rough surface. Medium 3/8″ nap roller covers are best for ceilings and drywall. Small 1/4″ nap roller covers or foam rollers will produce the smoothest finish and are ideal for use on walls, wood, and metal surfaces.

It’s important to choose the right size nap for your project. If you use a thick 3/4″ nap roller cover on a smooth wall, it will produce an orange peel textured surface. You should use a 1/4″ nap cover to produce a smooth finish. If you use a thin 1/4″ cover over stucco, the cover will rip apart quickly and not get paint into all the crevices of the surface.

Most paint roller covers are made of woven materials and come in a variety of colors. Each brand has different colors, but the majority are white, yellow, or blue. Microfiber rollers have become popular recently too. When you see a white roller cover with diagonal blue stripes, it’s microfiber. They are best used on light to medium textured surfaces. For very smooth surfaces, use a white woven short nap roller. It will provide you with an ultra fine finish.

What is the Best Paint Roller for Your Paint Project?

There are two basic types of paint roller frames: large 9″ long roller frames and a smaller 4″ style. The large roller is better for big surfaces like walls and ceilings, while the 4″ style is ideal for doors, furniture, and cabinets. If needed, you can screw on a painting roller extension pole to each roller frame to reach high places. Use the rounded end of the foam roller cover when you don’t want any roller edge lines to show up in your finish.

To attach the roller cover to the paint roller frame, simply align the hole in the cover with the end of the frame and push it on.

Paint Roller Tips:

  • Always buy the best rollers and covers that you can afford. They will last much longer and give you superb results. Bargain roller covers may break apart quickly and can leave lint in your paint finish.
  • Try different brands of paint roller frames to make sure the handle feels good in your hand. If you are doing a lot of painting, a roller frame with a comfort grip will keep your hand from cramping.
  • Don’t use excessive pressure to apply paint—an even, light pressure is all that is needed.
  • Remove your roller cover from the roller frame right after you are finished painting.
  • Use soap and water to clean up after using latex paint. Hold the roller cover under running water and squeeze your hand over the roller to remove the paint. Repeat until all the paint is out of the roller, then let dry. Never leave the cover soaking in water.

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