Paint roller being rolled in orange paint on black paint tray

Knowing how to use a paint roller is a fundamental part of how to paint and therefore should be one of the first things you learn how to do before you start your DIY painting project.

Choose a quality roller:

  • It is important to choose a quality roller over price, as a good quality sleeve will hold more paint, which therefore allows you to paint a room faster. If you are using a roller for the first time, we recommend a 230mm roller.
  • The length of the pile known as the nap is important to consider. The reason this is so important is due to different surfaces requiring different lengths e.g. a smoother surface requires a shorter nap. We recommend using a 5-6mm nap when applying oil-based paint to a smooth surface. We recommend using a 12mm nap for water-based paints on smooth surfaces such as walls and ceilings.
  • Be sure to check the product packaging you are using for the best roller recommendations

Preparing to use your roller:

  • For oil-based paints use turps to moisten the roller and for water-based paints use water.
  • Use a piece of scrap timber or butchers paper to get rid of any excess moisture on your roller. It is important not to use newspaper to get rid of excess moisture as the roller can pick up the ink.

Loading your roller:

  • To ensure the roller is evenly covered dip it in the paint try turning the roller.
  • To evenly distribute the paint roll it over the rigid part of the tray a few times without plunging it back into the pool of paint. Do not overload the roller as it will cause it to drip or slide.

Applying paint using your roller:

  • By painting 1-2 metre stripes at a time, this will be most effective. Your first stroke should be up; if you roll down first, the paint will cause a puddle under the roller. Do not move the roller too quickly as it may cause a spray
  • Start as if you are painting a large M, W or backward N then fill in the blanks with horizontal or vertical zigzag strokes. Finish off by rolling gently top to bottom with the roller nearly dry
  • As you move across the wall, repeat this process. If you want to break, wait until you get to a corner and don’t stop painting until the wall is complete
  • For the ceiling, it is best to finish off near a light source, such as a window.

Taking care of your roller:

  • Before you wash your roller, scrape any excess paint off by using a putty knife or scraping tool with a semicircular cutout in the blade.
  • Wash the roller in warm water and detergent if using water-based paints or use a solvent as specified on the can for any oil-based paints.
  • Rinse the roller and squeeze it out until the water or solvent is clear, and allow the roller to dry naturally.