How to Select a Paint Roller

How to Choose the Right Paint Roller for your Paint Project

By Mark J. Donovan

Paint rollers save an incredible amount of time compared to painting with standard paint brushes. You can paint a room or surface several times faster with a paint roller than a paint brush. Paint rollers also prevent hand fatigue that often accompanies using a paint brush all day. Selecting a paint roller can be confusing due to the wide variety of options that are on the market.

Paint rollers are most commonly found in 9 inch lengths, however smaller ones are available for painting in tight areas or small surfaces.

The chief item to consider when selecting a paint roller is the nap length. Paint rollers are sold in various nap lengths to address different surface textures.

The smoother the wall surface the thinner the paint roller nap required. For example, a 3/8 inch nap is adequate for most interior wall surfaces due to the fact that the interior walls are typically constructed out of drywall which has a fairly smooth surface, particularly after the primer has been applied. Plywood on the other hand often only requires a 3/16 of an inch nap. With exterior painting projects, where the surfaces are often rougher a thicker paint roller nap is required, such as ½ inch or more. The thicker the nap the better job the paint roller can do in getting the paint into the deep recesses of the wall surface.

To select a paint roller that is right for your painting project consider the wall or surface texture. Read the label on the paint roller to determine its thickness and what type of wall surfaces it is best used on. Keep in mind that paint roller naps can vary in thickness from as little as 3/16ths of an inch to as thick as 1 inch. They are also made out of a variety of materials including nylon, mohair, wool, polyester and polyester/wool bends. I often select a polyurethane foam paint roller when painting interior walls. They seem to do a good job holding paint and spreading it evenly on the wall surface.

If on the other hand you are applying a high gloss paint or a polyurethane varnish you may want to choose a paint roller that consists of a polyester/wool blend.

To conclude if you are painting a smooth type surface with a flat or eggshell type paint, select a paint roller with a medium nap. If on the other hand you are painting the surface with a varnish or oil-based paint select a shorter nap. And if you are painting a rough type surface select a paint roller with a longer nap.

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