Choosing the best paint roller

I have been guilty so many times of “roller abuse”, yes I admit it, I put them in a carrier bag straight after use, say I’ll wash it out later and then three months down the line I end up throwing the solid lump of carrier bag and roller that has combined in to a single object into the bin. That was before I discovered just how much difference choosing the right roller makes, spending a little extra makes such a huge difference that, I know it sounds faintly ridiculous, but I actually end up respecting the little guy enough to actually clean it immediately after use, and get this too, they are actually easier to clean than there budget counterparts!

Even more so than brushes, choosing the right roller for the job is vital, a top quality roller really can cut the time of a job by hours and leave a smoother and more even finish than you would ever have expected. Just like brushes rollers come in many sizes from monster eighteen inchers to the tiny slim ones for painting behind radiators.

Roller covers or sleeves come in different nap lengths, depending on the quality they can shed too, similar to the way cheap brushes drop bristles. As a rule the shorter the nap the smoother the finish. Choice of nap length is governed by the surface being painted and the kind of paint being used.

The shorter the nap, the less paint it will hold, however the more densely packed the material it is made from, the more it will hold. Sheepskin and lambswool hold an incredible amount of paint, their extra long fibres however are best for textured surfaces. For a smooth finish on a smooth surface mohair is hard to beat for a good balance of paint loading and finish.

As a quick guide, for a smooth surface using high gloss paint you’ll want a very short nap roller cover, 1/4-inch or 3/16. Remember, for oil based paints make sure your roller is solvent resistant. For applying eggshell or matte paint to a smooth surface you can go for a slightly longer nap that will hold more paint, yet still provide a smooth finish, something like a 3/8-inch or 5/16 nap. For surfaces like textured plaster or rough concrete the longer naps come into play. 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch nap roller cover will leave a noticeable stipple of course, but on such textured surfaces this should not be a problem.

If you could only buy one roller then a nine inch wide with 3/8 inch nap will be versatile enough for all surfaces, add an extension pole to allow you to go from floor to ceiling in one go without over stretching or having to keep hopping up on a kick step.

Back to where we started, the clean up. You have probably spent sufficient money on your roller now so as not to be regarded as disposable. They should be cleaned simply with soap and water, however, they can be temporarily stored between coats by wrapping in a plastic bag and sealing tight, double bag if possible.