A handy 4 step guide to painting with rollers

Paint rollers cover a large surface area much faster than a hand-held paintbrush.  Here're a few tips and a handy four step guide to getting the most out of them.

  • The most important rule for paint rollers is to load them sparingly and to roll gently.
  • Don't submerge your roller in the paint to load it; paint will seep inside the roller cover and leak out while you're rolling. Instead, dip only as deep as the roller cover (or "nap") and then spin your roller against the tray and dip it again until the cover's whole surface is coated.
  • Never start against an edge such as a corner or moulding with a full roller of paint. If you do, you'll end up with a heavy build-up of paint that can't be dispersed. Instead, start 30 centimetres (12 inches) from the edge, then gradually work back towards it.
  • Areas at the edges and around the trim that are painted with a brush will have a different texture from those painted with a roller. To ensure a consistent finish, brush on your paint, then immediately roll it out using an 8 centimetre (3 inch) roller. Make sure the small roller's cover matches that of the roller used on the rest of the wall, otherwise the texture of that spot will be different.
  • To minimize lap marks when you're painting a ceiling, feather out the edges as you go. Apply your paint in one long roll from one end of the ceiling to the other, then roll the nearly dry roller in different directions along the edge to disperse the paint there. Repeat this process until the ceiling is covered. If you're applying a second coat, paint in the opposite direction.
A handy 4 step guide to painting with rollers

What you will need

  • Paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Roller
  • Paint tray

Before you begin

  • For a neat finish, first paint around all the edges of your wall using a paintbrush.
  • Only a brush can give you the crisp line you need for spots where one surface meets another.
  • This process is known as "cutting in."

Here are a few things to consider when you're choosing the right roller:

  • A good roller will keep a firm grip on the cover and prevents it from slipping.
  • Your roller should spin freely, have an ergonomic and solvent-resistant handle and a durable frame with a metal arm.
  • Make sure your roller also has a threaded handle to which you can attach an extension pole.

1. Choose the right roller cover

Depending on the material that your roller's cover is made out of, it will give you different results. Here's a breakdown of some common materials to help you choose the best one for your job.

  • Foam will give you a neat finish and is ideal when painting close to trim. For a seamless job, use foam pads when cutting in around the edges and a foam roller for the walls.
  • Lamb's wool is tough and durable yet made from soft fibre that holds paint well with a minimum amount of splatter.
  • Synthetic fibres hold lots of paint, so you'll spend less time loading and reloading the roller.
  • Microfibre is suitable for most surfaces and tends not to shed.
  • Mohair is easy to clean and the extra-fine fibre holds and releases paint well. This is the best choice for high-gloss paints.

2. Start near the floor

  • Load a roller with paint and, starting 30 centimetres (12 inches) from the floor and 15 centimetres (6 inches) from the side of your target wall, roll upwards at a slight angle with light pressure.
  • Then, stop short of the ceiling and roll downward, working quickly to spread your paint evenly.

3. Continue in stages

  • Reload your roller and repeat from a starting point further across the wall, rolling up to a point just short of the ceiling and then rolling back down.
  • Continue this process across your target wall.
  • Don't be concerned if you see roller marks; they'll be smoothed out later.

4. Overlap the strokes

  • Without reloading your roller, roll back over the entire area you've covered to smooth and blend the paint.
  • Use very light pressure and work your roller so that each new stroke slightly overlaps the previous stroke.
  • Wait for this coat to dry, and then repeat steps 2 to 4 if you want to apply another coat.

Keep these tips and handy four step guide in mind and you'll get more out of your paint rollers.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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