The Best Paint Roller Techniques and Tips

A man wearing a white shirt and holding a paint roller.

Painting the interior of your home can be a fun project and it can also save you an abundance of money that would otherwise be spent paying painters to get the job done. But this home project can also present a myriad of challenges, especially if you don’t have much painting experience. Luckily, there are many tips, tricks, and techniques to follow to bring your painting a-game and make your house look better than ever! Read up on all the best tips below before you start using a paint roller around your home.

Choose the Right Paint Roller

This may not be a technique per se, but choosing the right paint roller is the first step on the path to success. You’ll want a high-quality brush, of course, but the length of the nap of the roller will vary by the wall type and painting needs. Roller nap is made from natural or synthetic fibers, available in a range of lengths, with each size recommended for a different type of surface. The general rule of thumb is that the longer the nap, the more paint it will hold.

As a general guideline, use a ¼-inch nap for smooth and fine surfaces. This would include spaces like a new wall, ceilings, wood doors, and even trim. A ⅜-inch nap should be used for smooth to light textured walls while a ½-inch nap should be taken advantage of for the majority of walls, especially those with medium-rough surfaces. This includes textured plaster as well as concrete. A ¾-inch nap is best for rough surfaces, such as textured walls and ceilings. To cover all of your bases, a ⅜- or ½-inch nap acts as a great general-purpose roller.

Remove Lint From New Roller Covers

Lint on a roller cover could end up botching your paint job. Remove the lint from a new cover by using either painter’s tape or a vacuum. This will keep the paint clean and smooth as it goes onto the wall.

Roll in a Pattern

Painting a wall with a roller in a diagonal pattern.

Painting in the right pattern makes a difference in how easy the process is and in how it ends up looking. As you roll paint onto the wall, do so in a "W" or "N" pattern, allowing you to coat the wall’s surface in wide sections. Work along a wet edge that’s been cut in, getting as close to the trim as possible to avoid leaving a ribbon of brush marks around the perimeter of the wall.

Use the Right Amount of Pressure

Applying the right amount of pressure when painting makes a big difference in how great it will look once you finish. Moderate pressure should be applied. This is because using too much pressure could cause a “bead” or “rope” along the edge of the paint job, while a complete lack of pressure will simply make your arm tired. As you end each stroke, lightly lift the roller away from the wall to avoid creating an edge that is too distinct.

Work in Small Sections

A tray with white paint and a paint roller.

Working in small sections of a wall makes painting with a roller easier and will increase the quality of your results. These sections should be two to three square feet at a time. As you’re painting, the roller should sound wet. When it begins to lose the crinkly and moist sound, it needs to be reloaded with paint.

Hold the Roller Properly

A man painting a wall on a ladder.

The roller should be held in a particular way to deliver the best results. Hold it in your dominant hand and stand with your feet shoulder width apart as you paint. The roller should be held directly in front of you, providing you with the appropriate level of control as you paint. If you’re using an extension pole, place your dominant hand towards the bottom for more control and your non-dominant hand in the middle to help with leverage and pressure.

Using a paint roller doesn’t have to be an intimidating task, even if you’ve never done it before. These tips make painting like a pro easy and even fun!