What is the Best Paint Roller for Your Paint Project? - Home Decorating & Painting Advice

What is the Best Paint Roller for Your Paint Project?

Diane Henkler of InMyOwnStyle.com tells Glidden® how to choose the right paint roller for your next DIY project.

Q: How do I know which paint roller to use for my painting project?

A: The surface you’re painting determines the nap (the thickness of the woven cover) you will need. The size of the paint roller is also important. Be sure to choose the right paint roller for your project. If you don't, you may waste time and money, and will not get the result you want.

Paint Roller Nap


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. 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. 




Choose the right nap to use for your project based on the kind of surface you will be painting:

Stucco, Decks, Brick, and Masonry - Thick 3/4″ nap roller covers can hold more paint and get into the crevices of the rough surface. If you use a thin 1/4″ cover over stucco, the cover will rip apart quickly and not get paint into all the crevices. ​

Ceilings and Drywall - Medium 3/8″ nap roller covers work best.

Walls, Wood, and Metal - Small 1/4″ nap roller covers or foam rollers will produce the smoothest finish. 

Light to Medium Textured Surfaces - Microfiber rollers are best.

Smooth Surfaces - Use a white woven short nap roller for an ultra fine finish. If you use a thick 3/4″ nap roller cover on a smooth wall, it will produce an orange peel textured surface.

Paint Roller Size

There are two basic sizes for paint roller frames - large 9″ long roller frames and a smaller 4″ style.



Decide which roller size to use depending on what you will be painting:

Walls and Ceilings - The large roller is better for big surfaces.

Doors, Furniture, and Cabinets - A 4" paint roller is ideal. 

Paint Roller Tips


Now that you have the right paint roller nap and size, here are a few other things to keep in mind when using a paint roller:
  1. 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.
  2. If needed, you can screw on a painting roller extension pole to each roller frame to reach high places.
  3. Use the rounded end of the foam roller cover when you don’t want any roller edge lines to show up in your finish.
  4. Don’t use excessive pressure to apply paint—an even, light pressure is all that is needed.
  5. Remove your roller cover from the roller frame right after you are finished painting.
  6. 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.
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.  
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