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The Best Paint Rollers - The Ultimate Guide

When decorating, having the best tools for the job is essential if you want to achieve the best possible finish. That is why it is crucial to know exactly what paint rollers are best for you. In this guide we are going to cover what to look for in a roller, the best rollers for different scenarios & the best brands to buy.

Best paint rollers

Paint Rollers Explained

Paint rollers allow higher quantities of paint to be applied as smoothly as possible to a surfaces, especially when compared to a paint brush. Having the right tools for the job is the first step in any decorating project. Contrary to what many DIY'ers believe, not all decorating supplies are the same and they can't all achieve the same finish. What we always say to DIY'ers is to buy the most expensive decorating tools you can afford, as they offer more durability, will achieve a much better finish and long-term offers much better value for money than a cheap decorating tool that you will use once and bin.

All manufacturers of paint roller sleeves offer varying roller sleeves for a range of jobs that are made out of different materials, such as foam and polyamide. These sleeves come in levels of 'nap', otherwise known as 'pile', which refers to the length of the fibres the sleeve is made out of.

  • Short pile - for smooth surfaces such as interior doors & furniture, allowing the smoothest finish possible to be achieved
  • Medium pile - a general use roller for use on a range of surfaces including interior walls
  • Long pile - for very textured surfaces such as masonry, allowing the paint to be applied in all the small gaps and cracks you find on rough surfaces

Not only do rollers come in different materials, but they also vary in width.

  • 4" roller - also known as mini-rollers, 4" rollers are for tight areas or detailed painting such as interior trim or furniture
  • 9" roller - the most common width of roller, that is used for most painting jobs, including interior walls
  • 12" roller - this gives flexibility to use a slightly bigger roller that can be used both internally and externally
  • 15" roller - the largest common size of rollers, usually for large exterior surfaces such as exterior walls
Roller Nap Size Guide

The Best Paint Brushes For Different Jobs

Having the best tool for the job is the first step towards achieving a perfect finish. We are going to breakdown some of the various circumstances you will need a particular roller and give our recommendations for the best paint roller for the job at hand.

Best Paint Roller For Smooth Surfaces

Smooth surfaces such as interior doors, radiators and other woodwork and metal require a short-pile nap roller that will achieve an ultra-smooth finish. This is why paint brands have a wide variety of mini-rollers on offer to provide the characterise required for its application. For example, Wooster offer three mini-roller sleeves; the Wooster Jumbo-Koter Red Feather 4.5", the Wooster Jumbo-Koter Big Green 4.5" & the Wooster Jumbo-Koter Pro/Zoo-Z 4.5". The Wooster Jumbo-Koter Red Feather 4.5" in particular is what we would recommend for use on smooth surfaces as it has a perfectly smooth finish and is ideal for use on doors, cabinets & metal, which covers just about any interior smooth surface you will need to paint.

An alternative choice to a 1/4 Nap roller such the Red Feather would be to use a foam roller, which has no nap at all. These are very effective for achieving a spray-like finish on smooth surfaces, with excellent example being the 9" Hamilton Performance Foam Roller for a 9" roller and the Wooster Jumbo-Koter Big Green as a 4.5" roller. Foam rollers have a few advantages, such as the fact they absorb large amounts of paint for great pickup, they do not shed and they cover well, especially when applying thin coats due to their ability to hold paint. Foam rollers aren't suitable if you are using an oil-based paint as these paints tend to be thicker and therefore don't work quite as well with the foam roller sleeve. Lastly foam rollers are not as durable than other fibres, so you may not get as much lifetime value from them.

Best Paint Roller For Interior Wall & Ceilings

A general-purpose medium-pile roller is perfect for walls & ceilings as it provides added paint pickup while still maintaining a smooth finish. When it comes to medium-pile rollers, look no further than the Perfection range from Hamilton that comes in 4", 9", 12" and 15" forms. The microfibres used by Hamilton reduce paint splatter, plus being a Hamilton product, it is made to the highest possible standards.

Hamilton have developed a 4" mini roller version of their medium-pile roller to provide a solution to the framing effect. This is caused when a paint brush and roller are used on the same wall, causing a noticeable difference in finish when they dry. To prevent this, cut in using a brush as normal, then using the 4" mini roller apply the paint as closely to the edge of the wall as you can. This ensures that the same roller is used on the full wall, achieving the most even finish possible.

Best Paint Roller For Masonry

Exterior walls require a long-pile roller sleeve that is durable and able to apply paint evenly and effectively to rough masonry walls, especially when it comes to painting pebbledash. A long-pile roller such as the Hamilton Perfection Long Pile Roller is available in 4", 9", 12" and 15" forms, allowing you fantastic versatility depending on your personal preference. We would recommend the 12" version, used in combination with a double arm frame and an extension pole in order to apply masonry paint, especially if you are painting a large exterior wall, as it will take pressure off your elbows and back.

The hard-wearing fabric used not only offer an excellent finish, but provides a superb paint pick up that maximises your coverage. Furthermore, with a 4" mini roller version, you can prevent the framing effect even on exterior walls.

Best Paint Roller Sets

There are a number of paint roller sets that offer excellent value for money for both DIY'ers & decorators, allowing you to be prepared for any decorating project you have without having to wait for roller sleeves to be cleaned. The Hamilton Perfection Roller Set is particularly great value as it contains five medium-pile roller sleeves, one long-pile roller sleeve and a free angled brush for cutting in, covering you for just about every decorating project you have.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Can paint rollers be reused?

Yes, you can wash out paint rollers and reuse them multiple times, especially if you buy a good quality paint roller that has much more durability than a cheap roller sleeve.

Q. How many paint rollers do I need?

If you are painting just one room in one colour, then you will only need a singular paint roller to finish the job. If you are using multiple colours, we would recommend you get two roller sleeves as this will mean you do not have to fully clean and dry the sleeve before moving on to the other colour. You will not need to get two roller sleeves as these can be very easily cleaned and dried using a paper towel.

Q. How do I stop paint roller splatter?

There are a number of ways to prevent your paint roller from splattering paint on surfaces that you do not want painting. Firstly, a good quality roller will help minimise paint splatter, which is always a good place to start. Secondly, try not to apply to much pressure to the paint roller. Slow and gentle motions will apply to paint evenly, and if your roller has a good pick-up, it will not require much pressure to apply to paint. Lastly, move the roller in straight motions as when you use a zig zag motion, the paint will gather in corners on the roller and will splatter more often.

Q. How do I clean paint rollers?

The cleaning process will differ depending on if you are using a water-based paint or an oil-based paint. If you have been using a water-based paint, firstly remove the sleeve from the frame and use a scraper or painters tool to scrape out any excess paint back into the paint tin. Once you have done this, you can simply rinse the roller under a tap of warm water until the water runs clear. If you have been using an oil-based paint, you must use a solvent to clean it such as white spirit. Remove the excess paint by scraping it back in the tin and then by rolling as much paint as possible onto a surface you can throw away, such as some paper. This removes as much paint as possible to make the next process as easy as it can be. Fill a tub with white spirit or turps and place the roller sleeve in, making sure it is submerged. Leave the sleeve for 5 minutes and remove it, repeating the process until all paint has been removed. If you keep them container with a lid on it for a few days, the paint will sink to the bottom and the white spirit can be decanted back into the bottle.

Q. Where should I store paint rollers?

Once you have cleaned your paint rollers, store them in a sealed plastic bag until you come to use them again. Avoid getting them dirty as this will mean you will have to clean them again before use.

Paint roller

We hope this has answered any questions you may have had regarding the best paint rollers! At Painters World we have a wide range of brushes, rollers & paints available, so no matter the job, we've got the right decorating tools for you. Shop our huge range of products today and get FREE next working day delivery on all orders over £50.

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