CLIFF NOTES: Your Go-To Guide

How to Choose Roller Covers

In modern painting, the paint roller is as valuable as the paint brush itself, creating greater efficiencies in application and speed.

Sadly, the inventor of this great tool, Norman Breakey, failed to patent his product and faded into obscurity with little  lasting credit for his functional design.  Yet Mr. Breakey’s practical painting tool lives on.

Today, there are many styles and shapes of rollers for a wide variety of situations.

Breaking Down the Types of Rollers

Paint roller covers were originally made of lamb’s wool.  While wool rollers are still used for certain scenarios, most roller covers are made with synthetic fibers.

These different fibers are designed to handle varying chemical components in coatings, from mild latex paint to highly corrosive epoxy or urethane coatings.

Another key variable is a roller’s size which is determined by both its width and “nap height”.

Nap Height

Nap height is the measurement of the roller cover fiber.  Covers have different heights (or thicknesses) of fiber to address a wide variety of paint and surfaces and should be chosen with a specific coating/surface combination in mind.

For example, smooth surfaces require a 3/16” or 1/4” nap height.  These roller covers are used on surfaces such as metal doors and smooth epoxy applications to ensure a “silky” texture and sheen.

A typical wall requires a roller with nap height ranging from 3/8” to 1/2”.

For rough areas like textured walls/ceilings and exterior block walls, a 3/4” or 1 ¼” roller cover should be used.

If a roller cover is too thick, it will result in an uneven application.  The paint won’t lay down smoothly.  On the other hand, if the cover is too thin, the paint won’t fill cracks and porous areas, resulting in incomplete coverage.

Width of Cover

The width of the roller cover determines how long it is from end to end.

A 4” roller is often used for small areas and trim, while the standard size for typical wall space is 9”. This common size is used for a variety of applications.

Finally, the 18” roller cover is used for large wall sections and floors.

Specialty Covers

More exotic covers are available for specialty finishes.  Covers with fabric or plastic loops can achieve a certain hammered-like finish while sponge covers with decorative patterns can leave behind stylized designs.

Roller Cleaning and Care

At Future City, we dispose of 98% of our roller covers every day.  The surface texture of used covers gets worn out after use, compromising the fibers.  Re-using roller covers increases the chance of inconsistent texture on future paint jobs.

Though costlier, we use new rollers nearly every day to ensure the highest quality result possible.

Do you have any questions about paint rollers?  Want to know more about our roller process?  Ask away in the comments below!

Posted by Andrea | in Partners and Products [industry expertise]