Make light of big painting jobs with our round-up of the best paint rollers for walls
Painting walls can be a tedious, time-consuming task that can leave you with sore hands and an aching back. But there is a better way to wage war on your walls that leaves paintbrushes out of the picture altogether: the mighty paint roller. In this article, we’ll explain what type works best for different projects, and suggest some of the best paint rollers to tackle any wall, big or small.
If you’re tempted to skimp and just make do with one of the brushes languishing in your shed, then think twice: a roller will get the job done in considerably less time than mere brushwork alone, and a roller with an extendable pole handle will help you reach those high up places without the need for a step ladder. Spend a little cash now, and you’ll save yourself hours of hassle and get better results to boot.
Read on and we’ll explain how to choose the right roller for the job, and suggest some of our favourite rollers for every application.
How to choose the best paint roller for your walls
What type of paint roller do I need?
Rollers vary both in width and in the thickness of their sleeve pile (also known as ‘nap’), which is the material that covers them.
There are three types of pile to choose from: short, medium and long. For most smooth, flat internal walls, you’ll want to use a short or medium pile roller as they pick up less paint, so you get an easier action with less potential dripping. If your wall is lightly textured, then go for a medium pile roller, as this will let you cover more of your walls faster. Finally, if the wall you’re considering covering is heavily textured, reach for a long pile roller, as this will pick up a lot of paint and ensure it gets into every nook and cranny.
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How do I use a paint roller?
After covering all surfaces in the room that you do not want to be getting paint on, you need to prepare your roller. The first thing to do is remove any loose fluff and fuzz from its pile, as you don’t want that getting stuck to your walls.
If you’re using water based paint, then simply dampen your roller, spin off the excess and roll it repeatedly on a clean surface – such as a spare piece of cardboard or similar – to remove all the loose fluff. If, however, you’re using oil based paints, then you need to wet the roller with the solvent you’re using for the job instead, and follow the same process. It is also possible to take a little masking tape and use this to pull off loose fuzz from the pile, but it’s not our preferred option.
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That done, prepare and stir your paint of choice well and pour it into your paint tray. Dip your roller in the paint until just less than half of it is covered, then roll it across the ramp in your tray to distribute it as evenly as possible around the roller.
If a second coat is required, do not clean your roller. Instead, scrape excess paint back into your tray and wrap the roller in an air-tight plastic bag. This will keep it moist and also pre-loaded with paint for when the first coat is dry and the wall is ready for its next layer.
How long does a paint roller last?
If treated properly, a decent roller will work for years, but the trick is to clean it after each job, allow it to dry and secure it in a clean, dry place. If you don’t and there are remnants of old paint still left on it, this will harden and you’ll need a new sleeve. You can buy restorer, but quite often you can also buy two new sleeves for the same price, so clean it once you’ve used it and save yourself a few quid in the process.
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The best paint rollers for walls
1. Hynec Paint Roller Set: Best beginner’s paint roller set
Price: £18 | Buy now from Amazon
This consists of everything you need to paint your walls except the actual paint. The set contains a 9in tray, two roller frames (one 9in and one 4in), two 9in roller sleeves and two separate 4in sleeves for gloss and emulsion. There’s even a 1.5in brush for doing your cutting-in.
The 9in roller allows for a quick, smooth application of paint and a consistent finish, while the 4in equivalent makes it easier to get into hard to reach areas like behind radiators. The brush is handy for any small touch-ups that need doing after it has dried.
Key specs – Size: 9- and 4-inches; Roller material: Faux lamb wool; Tray included: Yes; Pile length: Medium; Paint suitability: Emulsion/Gloss
2. Wickes Professional Roller & Extendable Pole: Best paint roller for tall ceilings and walls
Price: £17 | Buy now from Wickes
For taller ceilings and more awkward to reach walls, there’s nothing better than having an extendable roller in your arsenal. This Pro offering from Wickes is an ideal contender to join your decorating kit.
With a large 9in roller, the Wickes roller holds emulsion well, leading to less chance of dripping, while the pole handle is sturdy enough to handle vigorous work. Extending from 0.9m to a full 1.4m length, the extra reach is most welcome for doing ceilings without reaching for the step ladder.
Key specs – Size: 9-inches; Roller material: Woven acrylic; Tray included: No; Pile length: Medium; Paint suitability: Emulsion
3. Harris Trade Big Box Roller and Brush Set: Best all-encompassing paint roller set
Price: £32 | Buy now from B&Q
The Big Box Roller and Brush Set from Harris Trade offers a roller for every occasion and, indeed, every type of paint.
While this set is clearly overkill for most people’s needs, what you get for your £32 is impressive. There are four 9in medium pile micropoly sleeves, a 9in cage roller frame (screw fit), a 9in deep ridge tray, a 4in roller frame with six jumbo mini micropoly sleeves and a 4in tray plus three paint brushes (1in, 1.5in, 2in), and even an extension pole that goes from 0.64- to 0.9-metres in length.
All of the rollers are suitable for use with both gloss and emulsion, and the combination of large and small rollers, plus the extendable pole means even large wall surfaces, encumbered with radiators and other assorted fiddly elements, will take no time at all.
Key specs – Size: 9in, 4in; Roller material: Micropoly; Tray included: Yes; Pile length: Medium; Paint suitability: Gloss and emulsion
4. ProDec 9″ x 1.75″ 4 Piece: Best paint roller for a pro job
Price: £8 | Buy now from Amazon
There are few rollers that come more highly recommended by the experts than the ProDec 9” x 1.75”.
Coming as part of a four-piece set consisting of a cage roller frame, 9in tray and two medium pile rollers that are ideal for emulsions of all types (albeit not gloss or satin where a short pile roller is required), the rugged build of the frame and the machine-woven fabric of the rollers imbue the ProDec with excellent durability. This set will handle heavy duty use and come back for more.
The rollers pick up paint well and simply wash clean with warm (not hot) water once you’re done. A great set.
Key specs – Size: 9-inches; Roller material: Woven acrylic; Tray included: Yes; Pile length: Medium; Paint suitability: Emulsion
Harris Ultimate Corner Roller: Best paint roller for tackling corners
Price: £8 | Buy now from Amazon
The Harris Ultimate Corner Roller is, well, exactly what it says it is – the perfect way to paint both the corner join and inner edges of each wall simultaneously, leaving you with a rolled finish that meshes seamlessly with the rest of your wall.
This is a really cunning bit of kit and can even be used in conjunction with the Harris Ultimate Extension Pole to help you reach corner sections which would otherwise lie awkwardly out of reach. For bigger jobs, this is the intelligent way to cut corners.
Key specs – Size: 47 x 9.2 x 4.47cm; Roller material: Microfibre; Tray included: No; Pile length: Medium; Paint suitability: Emulsion