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How to Choose a Paint Roller

A roller is a roller, right? Not quite. Knowing how to choose the right paint roller can save you time. Choosing the right paint roller requires a good understanding of what your project requires.

Paint rollers come in various sizes and roller covers come in different coverings, each with a different purpose in mind. To choose right roller you need to consider the size of paint roller you want and the kind of surface you'll be painting.

Roller cages (the skeletal frame that includes the handle and “ribs” that rotate) and their covers come in several lengths. Rollers are available in mini to 12-inch (and bigger) sizes. The mini (or trim) rollers are good for painting woodwork and other small areas. To work on walls and ceilings, choose a 9-inch roller; the larger sizes are heavier and will make you tire more quickly. A roller cage with plastic ribs holds up better than cardboard cages. Plastic can be cleaned, and it lasts longer than a cheaper version.

You have to select the length of the nap on covers and what it’s made of. Roller nap is made from natural or synthetic fibers. Nap is available in various lengths, so use the one recommended for the surface you’re painting. In general, the longer the nap, the more paint it will hold. Use the following as a general guideline.

  • 1/4-inch nap for smooth or fine surfaces, such as new walls, ceilings, wood doors, and trim

  • 3/8-inch nap for smooth to light-textured walls

  • 1/2-inch nap for most walls and medium rough surfaces, such as textured plaster, and concrete

  • 3/4-inch nap for rough surfaces, such as textured walls and ceilings, textured plaster, and concrete

  • 3/8- or 1/2-inch nap is a good general-purpose roller cover.

You find helpful information about selecting the right tool for your project on the packaging, and you can ask a salesperson for help.

Choose a roller cover based on the texture of the surface to be painted.
Choose a roller cover based on the texture of the surface to be painted.
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