4 Tips for Using a Paint Roller

A paint roller applying paint to a wall.

If you don't have much experience with paint rollers, you may be wondering if you're using them right. Fortunately, using a paint roller is a very simple task, particularly if you're armed with a helpful set of tips.

Select the Right Roller

Before starting a painting project, you must select a suitable paint roller. Since you will be applying a steady amount of pressure to the roller, make sure to select one that features a strong frame. Also, if you intend to use your roller to apply paint to a ceiling, purchase one whose handle features a threaded end. This will enable you to add an extension pole to the roller, thus eliminating the need to stand atop a ladder when applying your paint. In addition, you will need to select a roller sleeve that is equipped to handle the surface you intend to paint. If your surface is of a smooth consistency, 1/2 nap sleeves should suit your purposes. However, if your surface is of a rougher texture the job will probably require a 3/4 or 3/8 nap sleeve.

Prep Your Paint Roller

Now that you've selected a suitable roller, you're ready to begin applying paint to your chosen surface. Start this step by placing your sleeve over the roller. If you are using a latex-based paint, lightly dampen your roller with water. Alternatively, if you're working with an alkyd-based paint (an oil-based paint), gently dip the roller in the paint. Once your roller has been dipped into the paint, carefully run it across a protective absorbent surface to roll away any excess paint. This will help keep paint drips to a minimum.

Use the Right Stroke

When painting with a roller, produce an "N" or "M" shaped pattern with your initial coat of paint. Next, go over the first coat with a second coat applied in a straight bottom-to-top fashion. Make sure to smooth out any paint ridges with a paint brush shortly after they are formed, as they will be considerably more difficult to get rid of if given ample time to dry. Also, make a point of not scraping the edges of your surface's corners with your paint roller. Use a paintbrush to apply paint to the corners of your surface.

Properly Store Your Roller

If you're taking an extended break or want to quit painting for the day, wrap your roller in a wet rag, aluminum foil, or plastic wrap and store it in the freezer or refrigerator. If you're working with latex-based paint, however, store your roller in a bucket of water. An improperly stored paint roller will not last long, so take care of it to make the most of your investment.

When using a paint roller, just remember these helpful hints and you'll have no problem achieving your desired paint effect.