What Type Of Roller Do I Use?

What type of roller do I use?

Rollers are ideal for painting large areas, particularly ceilings. They are quick and easy to use. There are several types of roller to suit different paint jobs: foam, mohair or sheepskin, available in short, medium and long-pile. Your choice of roller really depends upon the sort of paint you are using. Foam rollers are not recommended for normal latex paints as their spongy texture creates air bubbles in the paint film which can then burst, leaving a cratered, orange peel effect.

Deep Pile Rollers

Deeper pile rollers do not necessarily apply more paint to a smooth surface. The longer the pile, the more pronounced the surface texture (stipple) becomes. You can have good hiding at the top of the stipple but not at the bottom, plus you end up with an unacceptable surface texture. A shorter, denser pile roller will carry more paint and give a better finish.

Used Rollers

One of the problems of using alkyd enamels on smooth surfaces is lint and fibers from the roller sleeve ending up in the paint film. Many contractors avoid this by saving rollers that have been used previously in latex paint and cleaned out well with a spinner. This ensures that loose fibers and lint have been removed from the roller sleeve. Even new "lint-free" sleeves should be dipped in clean mineral spirits and "spun out" before using them in alkyd enamel.

Orange Peel

A wall that has been painted many times with a roller develops a surface texture or "orange peel". When a surface like this is patched, and the patches are sanded smooth prior to repainting, the patches should be "stippled" when they are spot primed or they will be quite visible under the new topcoat. Stippling can be done by using the end of a brush with a dabbing technique or with a semidry roller. More than one application is usually required.


Backrolling is a technique where a surface that has been painted is rerolled before the first coat has dried. Alkyd paints have an open time (before the paint sets up) of about 30 minutes at 70ºF (20ºC). Backrolling alkyds beyond 30 minutes can cause excessive "stipple" because there is not enough solvent left in the film to allow proper flow and leveling. Backrolling latex paint is difficult because the open time is very short (less than 5 minutes) and the flow and leveling properties are poor. Rolling into a partially dried latex film can leave a rough surface texture that will be visible when the paint dries. A first coat applied by airless spray, followed immediately by backrolling, is a common professional technique.