Best Paint Roller for Walls

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Not all paint rollers are created equal.  The best paint roller for walls depends on the texture of the wall you’re painting and the finish of the paint you’re using.   

You don’t want to buy top of the line paint for your living room and apply it with a substandard paint roller. 

Give your room your best DIY effort and learn how to choose the best paint roller for your walls. 

best paint roller for walls
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Best Paint Roller for Walls Quick Chart

Best Paint Roller for Walls

Paint Roller Cheat Sheet

Before you check out our recommended rollers below, use our cheat sheet to figure out which kind you need to get the best results.

Paint Finish

Roller

Textured Surface Long Nap
1/2 to 1"
Smooth Surface Short Nap or Microfiber
3/16 - 3/8"
Flat/Eggshell Short Nap
Knit
3/16 - 1/2"
Satin Long/short Nap
Knit
Depends on Lighting in Room
3/16 - 1/2"
Gloss/High Gloss Short Nap
Woven
3/16 - 3/8"

Best Paint Roller for Textured Walls

This long nap roller from Wooster is 3/4" and available in 4-18 inch lengths.  Because of its' long nap, its perfect for semi rough or rough surfaces, like brick, stucco etc.

The core is polypropylene (basically plastic) so it's durable enough to handle most everything you throw at it. 

This paint roller is knit, which means it picks up more paint than other types of rollers.  Keep this in mind when you're picking up paint from your tray.

Wooster always has quality products, that's why you'll find us recommending a few of their paint rollers below as the best paint roller for walls.

Runner Up: Best Paint Roller for Textured Walls

Purdys paint roller pack is a multi-pack we can get behind.  

The 1/2" nap is considered to be middle of the road, so you can use it for most paint finishes.  The length of the fibers on this paint roller set mean it performs best when used on textured surfaces.

Best Paint Roller for Smooth Finish

Short naps are the best paint rollers for walls if you're painting gloss or semi gloss.  You can also use them for flat/eggshell.  You should always use a short nap when your surface is smooth.

Woosters 3/16" comes in a variety of lengths from 4" to 9" and even in a 12 count multi-pack.  Like all Wooster rollers, this paint roller is shed resistant and comes with a durable plastic inner core.

Best Roller for Satin Paint

The Wooster 3/8" performs best on smooth surfaces.  We like it for satin paint because the nap is middle of the road and can be used to get pro results for both eggshell and semi gloss.  

Depending on the lighting in your room, your stain paint could look eggshell/flat OR glossy.  This 3/8" performs well with both types of paint finishes taking out the guess work.

The True Blue Pro 6 Pack is also available in 1/2" nap and in larger multi-packs of 48!  Best for smooth and semi smooth surfaces like ceilings.

True Blue Rollers are microfiber and they pick up and release a ton of paint onto your surface.  Also shed resistant and lint free for a clean finish.

Works with a ton of different paints including oil, stains and epoxies.

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Best Paint Roller for Walls: How to Choose a Paint Roller Buyer’s Guide

You're getting ready to jazz up your interior for spring and you grab a few rollers, but get less than stellar results.  Uneven paint with bubbles!  Why does this happen?  You followed all the directions for prep and bought good quality paint.

Well, if you're not using the best paint roller for your walls and paint, your going to get shabby results that you won't be proud of.

Go through our handy Guide and chart to get yourself the best paint roller for your walls this DIY season.

What is a Paint Roller Cage? 

A paint roller cage is the handle that you put your new paint roller on.  You should grab one that’s quality made so the roller doesn’t come off slowly while you’re painting.   

best paint roller for walls

Different Types of the Best Paint Roller for Walls 

The best paint roller for walls are available in many different naps and lengths.  For larger surfaces, you can buy longer rollers, although you’d get the job done faster with the best paint sprayer instead!

You have so many choices when it comes to sizes and nap (or pile) length and even the way the roller fabric is constructed (knit versus woven).  It’s enough to confuse anyone.   

Paint rollers are available in many diameter sizes including: 3/16", 3/8", 1/2", 3/4" and 1". 

What Size Paint Roller Nap Should I Use?

What is Nap? 

Nap means how long or thick the fibers are on your paint roller.  You can have long naps, short naps or anything in-between.   

Whether or not you’re using water based or oil based paint also impact the type of fibers you should be using.  You’ll get the best results from reading our Guide below. 

The type of paint you’re using and the surfaces that you’re painting determine how long/thick or short/thin your nap should be.   

Short Nap 

Short nap rollers are perfect for smooth walls and ceilings where the surface is flat and you don’t have any texture on which to apply the paint evenly.   

You could even use a microfiber roller.  Aim for a nap of 3/16 - 3/8".

Textured ceilings and walls are best painted using either a long nap roller or a paint sprayer (hint hint!). 

Long Nap 

We could all use a long nap some days!  Ha!  Anyways, a long nap roller is thicker because it has longer fibers on the roller.  

Those longer fibers make this type of roller the best paint roller for textured walls, stucco or other rough surfaces.  

This is so you get your paint applied evenly (surface uniformity) into all the nook and crannies.  The best size nap to use here is a 1/2" to a 3/4" or even a 1".

Knit Versus Woven

Knit roller covers pick up and apply more paint onto your surface than other types of roller covers.  It doesn’t matter what paint finish you’re using: always buy the shed resistant version

I know I hate digging lint out of my paint on my wall when I used to use cheap rollers.   Perfect to use with satin, flat and eggshell paints.

Woven covers are just like you think, the fibers are woven together and locked together tight, which provides a super smooth finish.  Woven fibers keep the roller cover from shedding fibers or lint onto your surface. 

Since gloss and semi gloss paint finishes don’t hide imperfections, you need to use the best paint roller for walls that ensures you get a perfect finish with these 2 types of paint finishes. 

​​Water and Oil Based: What is the Best Paint Roller for Walls for Each?  

Most folks are painting with water based paints these days.  Water based latex and acrylics require you to use a synthetic roller. 

Painting with oil based paints means you should grab a natural fiber paint roller that’s blended with polyester.  For example, a lamb’s wool polyester blend or a mohair and polyester blend. 

Are Foam Rollers the Best Paint Rollers for Oil Based Paint? 

Using foam rollers for any kind of paint isn't going to give you good results.  I find that foam rollers are cheaply made, don’t absorb or apply the paint evenly, and leave bubbles in the finish.   

Best Paint Roller for Walls and Your Paint Finish 

For different types of paint finishes, there are specific rollers that deliver the best results. 

The best paint roller for walls you plan on painting with a flat or eggshell finish should be applied with a 3/8 or ½ inch nap roller. 

Gloss and semi-gloss go on better with short nap paint rollers because the shorter fibers generate less bubbles while rolling your paint out.  

PRO TIP

The higher the gloss of your paint finish, the shorter your nap should be.

The best paint roller for walls when you’re using satin paint is up for debate. Satin paint finish is almost between an eggshell and a semi gloss finish. 

Depending on the lighting in the room, it can look flatter or glossier.  The rule of “the higher the gloss, the shorter the nap” applies here.   

For satin paint, we recommend you take a look at your room and paint a small section with your desired color.  See what the finish looks like in the lighting.   

If it looks glossy, the best roller for satin paint will be one with a shorter nap.  If it looks a bit on the eggshell or flat side, pick a 3/8 or ½ inch nap. 

best paint roller for walls and satin paint

Before rolling, I cut in by our switches with a satin based paint.  I want to show you folks how a difference in lighting, even within 2 feet on the SAME wall, can affect the look of a satin finish.

The top cut in looks glossy, and shows the texture on the wall. The lower cut in look flat and appears to hide the texture much better.

So choose your paint finish wisely!  Not sure if I'm a fan of the gloss look on my textured wall so I'll have to go grab a flat base finish.

Are Power Rollers the Best Paint Rollers for Walls? 

We aren’t big fans of power rollers, although everyone has their own opinion and reason for using one.  We wrote a detailed Buyer’s Guide outlining the Top 4 Power Paint Rollers.  Click the link up to find out more about why we really prefer to use a paint sprayer if we’re going to use a power tool to paint. 

Textured Rollers for Making Patterns 

Patterned walls go in and out of fashion.  You can buy rollers that apply a pattern in the paint as its rolled onto your wall.  Just remember: if you want to change up your wall someday, you will have a ton of work to do to get that wall back to a flat surface for repainting. 

Check out the cool video below of all the different ways you can slice and dice your own roller to make creative patterns. 

Are Paint Rollers Disposable? 

I mean you could throw away your paint roller after you’re finished using it, but the quality rollers are designed to be cleaned and used over and over again.  It’s more of an investment than a disposable item.   

Its recommended to clean out your roller after each time you paint.  

Let’s be honest.  We all put it in the fridge overnight wrapped in Saran Wrap.  There’s really no harm in it. Just make sure you let it come back up to room temp before using.

Best Paint Roller for Walls: Does Quality Of a Paint Roller Matter? 

If you're looking to cover a large area quickly and consistently, the best option if you don't have a paint sprayer, is to use a paint roller.  You can buy them from small (3") to larger sizes (18" wide) which covers most surfaces.

Features to Look for in a Paint Roller for Walls

  • Bounce Back
  • Shed or Lint Free
  • Good quality roller cage with handle

Bounce Back 

Pay attention to squeeze roller, if it quickly returns to its normal shape that means it well made 

Shed or Lint Free and the Duct Tape Test 

Cheaply made roller covers leave nap fibers and link behind on your paint surface.  Yuck.  Grab some duct or masking tape and wrap it around your roller then pull it off and examine how much fiber was left behind. 

All that stuff might end up in your paint and on your wall!  Pass on rollers that shed a ton of fibers or that aren’t labelled “low shedding”. 

Good Quality Cage with Handle 

Choose a good handle plastic or metal cage, they will stand up to everyday use.  Double check that the handle has the option to add an extension rod.

Also make sure there is a strong point where the extension fits into the handle so you know you can roll without worrying about the extension rod coming apart from your paint roller cage/handle

Make sure that the handle is ergonomic so your hand, wrist and arm don’t get tired while rolling. 

Don’t Cheap Out 

The discount multi packs just won’t give you good results.  Period.  That’s all we have to say about this. 

How Long Does the Best Paint Roller for Walls Last? 

Quality paint rollers will last longer.  They are made to withstand the abuse and paint cleaners/thinners etc. you throw at it when your cleaning it.  How long exactly your roller will last depends on the quality of the roller and how much you're using it.

What is a No Drip Paint Roller?   

No drip paint rollers are made differently than regular paint rollers.  Instead of pouring your paint into a tray and then rolling the roller back and forth to “pick up” paint evenly, a no drip roller is specially designed.   

It has a “paint chamber” inside the roller that you pour your paint into.  As you roll, the paint comes directly out from the inside of the roller, wetting your roller as you apply it to your wall.  We’ve never used one, not sure if we’re fans.  

How to get a Smooth Finish with a Paint Roller: Tips and Tricks 

How do you get a smother paint finish? There are a few pro tricks before you even start painting, that get you better rolling results. 

First, run the roller over some duct tape or masking tape to grab any loose lint off the roller. 

Always wash rollers in warm soapy water and rinse it out before you get started.  This trick washes away any lint before you start painting for the day. Use a paint roller spinner to remove all the water from your roller before you start painting.

What Causes Roller Marks When Painting with a Roller?

Each roll with your roller applies less and less paint onto your surface.  This leaves lines on your wall.  The best way to stop this is to do shorter rolls with your roller and refill your roller more often.  

Once you've painted a small section go back over that section and gently roll over it with a small amount of paint on your roller to even out your coverage.

Cleaning the Best Paint Roller for Walls​​​​​

Section on how to clean with tools linked to amazon, based on paint you used it will be different procedure and require different cleaners.  

Ever wonder why you just cant seem to get all the paint out of your roller?  It can take forever!  rinsing, squeezing over and over again.  Well, you can actually buy a few tools that make this process super easy.   

These tools work wonders at getting all of the paint out of your roller without much hassle.  Those tools are 5 in 1 tool or a putty knife that basically squeegees the paint right out of all the fibers.   

The second tool is a ​roller spinner by Purdy that spins your roller around removing all the water so it dries fast and clean.   

If you’re old school, you can just squeeze the roller with a paper towel to remove excess water and then stand your roller on its end in a ventilated area and let it dry before using again. 

Cleaning Your Roller and Water Base Paint 

Water based paints are easy to clean out of your roller and require just soap and water.   

First, using your 6 in 1 tool or a putty knife scrape all the extra paint off the roller back into your paint can.

Remove roller from your paint roller cage/handle and start rinsing it with water.  Using the 6 in 1 or a putty knife, start scraping the roller all over while rinsing with water.  Once you've gotten the paint out of your roller, wash it with gentle soap and water.  When the water and soap run off your roller clear, then its clean.  

You can work excess water out with your putty knife and then either squeeze the roller with some paper towels or use a roller spinner.  Set the roller on its end and let it dry overnight.

Cleaning Your Roller and Oil Based Paint 

Oil based paints require more work to clean them out of your roller.  Unlike water based paints that clean up perfect with just soap and water, you’ll need to have some paint thinner or mineral spirits handy.    

Then, dip your paint roller into a container filled with paint thinner or mineral spirits until the roller cover is clean.  Don’t forget to work in an area that’s ventilated and wear gloves plus goggles when handling paint thinner. 

Once clean, use a paper towel to soak up excess thinner from your roller and wait for it to air dry. 

What is the Best Paint Roller for Walls: Our Recommendation 

Which is the best paint roller for walls? We recommend the Wooster line of paint rollers and tools.

Conclusion 

The best paint roller for walls all depends on what you’re painting and the type of paint you’re using.  Hopefully our guide helped to demystify paint rollers for you.  Now, get painting! 


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