Painting your house will not only improve its looks, it will also protect it from the elements. In a country with weather like ours, that’s important. If your looking to learn how to use paint rollers then this will be a great resource for you.

How To Use Paint Rollers For Best Results


It is important that before you tackle your paint job, you make sure you have the right equipment. Taking shortcuts or using the wrong roller can cost more time and greater expense in remedial work. So first, before getting into how to use paint rollers, let’s learn the different types of rollers.

Paint Rollers
Always choose a quality roller that has the correct fabric for the paint and surface being painted. It will give the best paint coverage and surface finish. Avoid using economy all purpose rollers which will only give a poor surface finish – too much paint on smooth surfaces and not enough on rough surfaces.

Selecting your roller is easy. They are designed for the surface you’ll be painting – smooth, textured, rough, and the type of paint – water-based or turpentine / oil solvent based.

By following the guide on how to use paint rollers, you can select the correct roller and be assured of making your painting quicker and easier.

5mm to 12mm nap sleeve:
Ideal for smooth surfaces such as ceilings, walls, all smooth sanded surfaces, hardboard, plaster board, particle board, MDF.

12mm to 25mm nap sleeve:
Ideal for all textured surfaces such as textured wallpaper, fibrolite, cement render, rough sawn timber, fences, smooth concrete.

25mm to 38mm nap sleeve:
Ideal for extra rough surfaces such as brick, stucco, block, rough concrete, trellis, lattice. Using turps/oil and solvent-based paints (matt, satin, gloss, solvent-based enamels, oil paints).

Mohair 5mm nap sleeve:
Ideal for smooth surfaces such as ceilings, walls, all smooth sanded surfaces, hardboard, plasterboard, particle board, MDF.

Paint Roller Handles
Before learning how to use paint rollers you must understand the different sizes. Rollers are produced in four sizes: 75mm, 180mm, 230mm and 270mm with handles made to fit these sizes. Each of these are ideal for the DIYer, the size depending on the area to be painted. Professional painters, or those who need to cover large surfaces, prefer to use trade quality handles which are very robust and are designed for use with large extension poles.

For smaller paint jobs it is recommended that normal DIY handles are used. They are ideal for the home user and can be used with small extension poles if necessary. When using your paint roller handle check that the frame is strong and not easily bent, and that the cage assembly is tight and spins freely. Also ensure that the handle is a comfortable grip in your hand and does not rotate on the rod.

Paint Trays
The importance of a strong, self supporting paint tray cannot be over emphasised. Trays which are too flexible make handling difficult and may result in spillage.

Handy Hints – To avoid excess splattering of paint, do not roll too quickly – a steady action gives the best results. To avoid paint dripping, take care when loading the sleeve and always roll off the excess paint.

Extension Poles
The painting of ceiling and floors can be made easier with an extension pole. A 1m pole is designed for home use and a 3m extension pole is suited to high ceilings, walls and building exteriors.

Pole Sander
Sanding smooth walls and ceilings can be a chore made easy by a pole sander which fits the extension handles. Using conventional sandpaper, the pole sander can save backbreaking work usually associated with sanding.

Paint Brush
A cutter brush is designed for trim work, however, a standard 50mm paint brush will suffice. The 25mm brush and detail brush can be used in tight areas.

Other Tools
Taking shortcuts during painting is one way to make more work for yourself. You take a little extra time to use masking tape and newspaper to protect switch plates, light fittings and electrical outlets and a drop cloth to cover those surfaces where drops or runs could damage an existing surface. A clean cloth for wiping away the small drips and runs is essential if you don’t want to spend hours later trying to clean up the mess.

Painting can be made easy if you let the roller do the work. It is the painter’s job to supply the labour, it’s the fabric pile on the roller which controls the paint application.Always use good equipment. Clean rollers, trays and handles are every bit as important as a clean brush. If your roller handle has been used before, place a drop of oil on the roller handle bearings (the two plastic end caps), you’ll be surprised how much easier it makes the job.

The Technique
Let’s examine the points outlined above.

Loading The Roller:
Make certain your tray is clean, then tip the paint into the tray to the paint level shown. If you put too much paint in the tray it makes loading the roller difficult and spillage easy. Once you’ve got the right amount of paint in the tray, roll the roller into the paint to saturate all the fabric, then use the ribbed section of the paint tray to squeeze out the excess paint. By following this method your roller gets an equal distribution of paint and that makes application easier and more consistent.

Three basic steps:
Follow the three basic steps of how to use paint rollers, blending and finishing as described to achieve an excellent surface finish.

1. Rolling on the paint. Aim to coat an area 1m wide by 2.5m high. This height would be a ceiling to floor area on a typical house wall. To cover this area will take approximately three roller loads. Imagine you have broken the area to be painted into thirds and use one roller load for each third. By adopting this technique you will achieve an even flow and spread.

Rolling Hints:
Be prepared! Have everything you need ready before you start. Aim to complete a wall or ceiling and not a half one.

  • Cut in with a paint brush around edges, skirtings, architraves and window frames.
  • Work steadily! Don’t rush and don’t roll fast with a loaded roller – unless you want to spray droplets of paint everywhere.
  • Roll the first stroke UPWARDS on vertical surfaces – this prevents dripping.
  • Always paint across the shortest distance when painting a ceiling or wall. That is, if a ceiling is 5m by 3m, paint across the three metre distance – you’ll find you get a better finish.
  • Where possible start close to the strongest light source and then work away from it. This makes it easier to pick up any missed patches.
  • Clean up! Wash your rollers, brushes and trays IMMEDIATELY after you’ve finished painting.

2. Blending in the paint. The second step in the basic roller technique is to roll back and forth over the whole area aiming for a smooth, even paint coverage. The three areas should now be blended into one.

3. Finishing off the surface. The third step in the basic roller technique is important. Use this step to achieve a perfectly smooth finish. If you prefer a fine textured surface, leave this step out. Firstly, roll out your roller into the next section you intend to paint until the roller is dry of paint.

If it’s the last section of area to be painted, roll out your roller on a piece of newspaper to dry the roller out. Now roll the roller back and forth over the painted area using very light pressure (the weight of the roller head only is sufficient) until the surface is smooth and free of bubbles. Finally, make one pass, floor to ceiling. IN ONE DIRECTION ONLY. It is important that the metal frame of the roller is always on the same side when you paint, to ensure the roller fibres point the same way.

Caring For Your Roller
Your sleeve will consistently provide a superior finish given reasonable care.

Cleaning sleeves

The last step when learning how to use paint rollers for your next project is to make sure you clean your rollers.Use a wire Roller Cleaner to remove excess paint.
Thoroughly clean the sleeve in the recommended paint solvent, wash in warm soapy water and rinse in clean water.
Stand sleeve on end to dry.
Wash the roller frame thoroughly after use and dry before storing.
Never leave a roller sleeve exposed to air during a “coffee break.” Either wrap it in plastic food wrap or immerse it in recommended paint solvent

Now you can get started, as you have learned all the steps on how to use paint rollers and use them correctly for your next project. If you need help with your next project, feel free to contact our team of professionals and receive a FREE quote today!