Painting, decorating and home improvement tips blog

How to Choose a Paint Roller

Posted by Adrian
September 23rd, 2016

How to Choose a Paint Roller

When it comes to painting walls, ceilings or trim you need to consider the type of roller you need to use for the best results for the job you are doing. This not only includes the length of the roller but the nap or pile of the roller, a bigger nap roller will hold more paint, whereas as a smaller nap roller will hold less but will give a smoother finish.

You also have to have the correct roller cage or arm for the roller sleeve. Roller sleeves have a different diameter core, or hole, for where the cage fits into, it may have a 1 ½ inch or a 1 ¾ inch core so make sure you have a matching cage and roller sleeve.

Some rollers, such as a 4 inch mini rollers don’t need a cage, the sleeve has a small diameter core that slides over a arm. This is essentially a length of metal that has a right angled bend on the end to accept a mini roller sleeve. If you get a long arm for a 4 inch microfibre sleeve it is ideal for getting into those hard to reach places such as behind a radiator.
Some manufacturers do however make small rollers that do need a small ¾ frame for there 4 inch rollers.

Choosing the right roller sleeve for the job

Below is a list of roller sleeve pile thickness (nap) for a particular job, there are slight variations between manufacturers so thickness given is only a guide.

  • Short pile – ⅜ nap (10mm approx) Ideal for smooth surfaces, newly plastered ceiling and walls, emulsions, eggshell and satin finishes.
  • Medium pile – ½ nap (13mm approx) Ideal for semi-rough surfaces such as Artexed ceiling and walls, flat walls and ceilings, emulsions.
  • Long pile – ¾ nap (19mm approx) Ideal for semi-rough to rough surfaces, emulsions, masonry paint.
  • Extra long pile – 1 ¼ nap (32mm approx) Ideal for rough to very rough surfaces, masonry paints, emulsion.
  • Mini microfibre roller – ⅜ nap (10mm approx) Ideal for smooth finishes, emulsion, new plaster.
  • Foam roller – High Density Foam Ideal for smooth finishes, trim, gloss, satin and varnishes.

So basically a thin nap is ideal for flat surfaces, trim etc and thick nap is ideal for rough textured surfaces such as heavy artex or masonry. Foam rollers are great for trim, doors etc.

It is worth paying for a decent roller set up if you intend to use it more than once, some cheap DIY store offerings should be avoided as they do not last and the sleeve may molt leaving you with bits of roller sleeve in you paint, or you spending more time picking bits out of the paint rather than painting.


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Roller sleeves

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