Ever stood before a wall, paint roller in hand, ready to start your transformation project? You may think it’s as simple as dip and roll. But there’s an art form hidden within those fibers.


Just like the perfect brush stroke can bring a masterpiece to life, using the right roller can make or break your painting project. So, what rollers do professional painters use?


This isn’t just about picking any old roller from the hardware store aisle; we’re talking precision selection here – size matters, materials count, and yes… even that nap length is crucial! Not only will you discover different types of rollers used by pros, but also learn how paint type and surface texture influence their choice.


Table Of Contents:

The Importance of Choosing the Right Paint Roller

Choosing the right paint roller is more than just a pick-and-go task. It’s about understanding your painting project, from the type of paint to the texture of your surface.


You wouldn’t put on sandals for a long-distance race, right? Similarly, using an inappropriate roller can make your painting journey unnecessarily long and tiring. Not only that, but choosing poorly might lead to a less-than-stellar finish or even require additional coats.


Bob Vila’s guide on best paint rollers sheds light on this subject. As they put it: A good-quality roller holds more paint and applies it more evenly…and will produce superior results with fewer hours invested.”

Different Rollers for Different Jobs

In our line of work at New Age Painting & Coatings, we’ve seen how different projects need unique approaches when it comes to tool selection. Multiple factors are at play here – like if you’re dealing with smooth walls or rough exteriors.


This Family Handyman article emphasizes why such distinctions matter: “The thicker nap (of some rollers) helps get into all those nooks and crannies.”

Pick Your Roller Wisely.

To sum up – be smart about picking out your paint roller. Consider what you’re working with, and let that guide your choice. And remember – a little extra time spent selecting the right tool can save you a lot of trouble down the line.


After all, it’s not just about getting paint on walls – it’s about doing it well.

Key Features of Professional Paint Rollers

The materials used in professional paint rollers play a vital role. Pros prefer synthetic fabrics like nylon or polyester because they hold more paint and give smoother results.


Roller size also matters. Smaller rollers are perfect for tight spaces, while larger ones cover more area faster. The standard roller length is 9 inches, but sizes can range from 4 to 18 inches depending on the job.

Nap Length

Nap length refers to the thickness of the roller’s fabric layer. It affects how much paint the roller holds and how it applies to different surfaces.


A shorter nap (1/8 inch) works well with smooth surfaces for a sleek finish. But rougher textures need longer naps (up to an inch) to reach crevices and coat evenly.


Professional painters often choose high-quality rollers because they last longer and perform better over time, especially when painting large areas regularly. This choice might seem pricey initially, but their longevity pays off in long-term use.

Ease of Use & Maintenance

No one wants tools that are difficult to handle or maintain; this rule applies equally to pro painters. So top-notch rollers offer features like easy-grip handles, effortless loading/unloading of paints, plus simple cleaning processes – making them practical choices for daily jobs.


So next time you see a painter smoothly applying coat after coat without fuss? Chances are he’s got himself one fine set of professional-grade rolls.

Types of Professional Paint Rollers

The roller you use can make or break your painting project. But, not to worry. Here’s a rundown on the types of rollers professionals like us at New Age Painting & Coatings rely on.

Foam Rollers

Let’s start with foam rollers. These bad boys are ideal for glossy paints and smooth surfaces. They give an ultra-smooth finish that will leave people wondering if it was done by a machine.

Nap Rollers

Moving onto nap rollers. Now, these guys come in different lengths, known as “nap.” A shorter nap gives a smoother finish but requires more coats, while longer naps hold more paint and work great for textured surfaces.

Knit Fabric Rollers

We also have knit fabric rollers, which are super absorbent due to their woven fibers – think about them like thirsty sponges ready to soak up all that paint. Plus, they’re durable enough to handle rougher surfaces without falling apart mid-job.

Microfiber Roller Covers

Last but certainly not least: microfiber roller covers – the VIPs (Very Important Paintbrushes) of our toolkit here at New Age Painting & Coatings. Microfibers can hold up to 6 times their weight in paint because they’re denser than foam or knit fabric options; so less dipping into the tray means we get your job done faster.


To sum it up, professional painters don’t just pick any old roller off the shelf – each type has its strengths and is suited for specific tasks. Choose wisely, or better yet – let us do the hard work for you.

The Influence of Paint Type on Roller Selection

The paint type plays a big role in deciding which roller to use. It’s like choosing the ideal footwear for a long-distance race – definitely not sandals, right? Let’s dive into this topic.

Water-Based Paints and Rollers

Water-based paints, or latex paints as often called, work best with synthetic rollers. These are typically made from nylon or polyester. They soak up less paint, leading to fewer drips and messes.

Oil-Based Paints and Rollers

Moving onto oil-based paints, natural fiber rollers become your best bet here. Materials such as lamb’s wool or mohair are perfect because they hold more paint without over-saturation. Think of them as sponges that don’t get too soggy.

Specialty Paints Need Special Rollers

For specialty paints, foam rollers give smooth finishes, especially when working with high-gloss latex paint types.


Remember, folks, matching the right roller to your paint type is not just practical; it ensures your masterpiece has the finish it deserves.

Roller Selection for Different Surface Textures

Selecting the right roller can make a huge difference when painting. The surface texture plays a big part in this choice. So, let’s break it down by looking at three main types of surfaces: smooth, semi-rough, and rough.

Smooth Surfaces

If you’re working with a smooth surface like plaster or metal, you’ll want to use a roller with a short nap length – around 1/4 inch is ideal. This roller type helps apply an even coat without leaving any unwanted textures behind.

Semi-Rough Surfaces

Moving on to semi-rough surfaces such as concrete block or textured drywall, longer-nap rollers are typically used here – something in the range of 1/2 to 3/4 inches would be best suited for these kinds of projects.

Rough Surfaces

For those tough-to-paint rough surfaces like stucco or brickwork, reach out for long-nap rollers; we’re talking about one inch or more here. They can get into all those nooks and crannies and ensure full coverage despite the unevenness of the material.


Remember that using high-quality materials from reliable sources like New Age Painting & Coatings will also contribute greatly towards achieving professional results.

Proper Care and Maintenance of Professional Paint Rollers

Caring for your professional paint rollers is not just about keeping them clean. Ensuring your professional paint rollers have a longer life, better performance, and cost savings in the long run is achievable through proper care.

Cleaning Your Roller After Use

The first step after any painting job is cleaning. If you’ve employed water-based paints like latex or acrylic, a combination of warm, soapy H2O should be sufficient for cleaning. But if it’s oil-based paint, use a solvent such as mineral spirits. Here are some detailed steps to clean different types of paints off your roller.


A quick tip: don’t let the paint dry out on your roller. Start cleaning right after you’re done painting for an easier process.

Drying Before Storage

Once cleaned properly, give your rollers enough time to dry completely before storing them. A damp environment can breed mold, damaging the fibers over time. Here’s a guide with more tips for maintaining your painting tools in their best shape, including ideal storage conditions.

Roller Maintenance Tips from Pros

  • To prevent hardening of leftover paint, avoid soaking the entire roller in paint—just dip half or three-quarters into it.
  • If using it again within a few days, store it wrapped up tightly in plastic wrap or a bag—no need to wash it.
  • Avoid cheap one-time-use covers—they waste money and hurt the environment. Invest in quality, reusable ones instead.


With proper care and maintenance, your professional paint rollers can be an investment that keeps giving back with each flawless finish they help you achieve.

Common Mistakes in Roller Selection and Usage

Picking the wrong roller can lead to a mess, wasted time, and an unprofessional finish. One of the most common errors is choosing a roller with an incorrect nap length for your surface texture. For example, using a short-nap roller on rough surfaces won’t give enough coverage, leaving behind patchy paint.


A similar mistake involves not considering the type of paint you’re working with when selecting your tool. A guide from Paint.org reveals that oil-based paints work best with natural fiber rollers, while water-based ones are ideal for synthetic rollers.

Misusing Your Tools

Rushing into painting without preparing your roller is another pitfall many fall into. Proper prepping includes removing loose fibers or lint from new rollers to avoid ending up on your painted walls. Moreover, overloading your roller leads to drips and uneven application – it’s always better to use more moderate amounts of paint per roll.

Failing To Maintain Rollers Properly

The neglect of proper cleaning post-painting sessions also counts as one frequent error made by both DIY enthusiasts and professionals alike. Bob Vila recommends washing out the remaining paint immediately after use, followed by thorough drying before storage—this ensures longer-lasting tools are ready for the next project adventures.

Case Studies of Professional Paint Roller Use

Experience speaks louder than theory. Let’s explore some real-world examples from our work at New Age Painting & Coatings, where we chose the best paint rollers for specific jobs.

The Victorian Home Project

We were asked to repaint a century-old Victorian home with its original stucco exterior intact. This surface was rough and uneven, so we needed a roller to reach crevices without leaving excess paint behind. We chose a high-nap (1-inch) roller made from sheepskin; it allowed us to apply an even coat of paint despite the irregular surface. The Family Handyman has more information on choosing rollers for textured surfaces.

Mural in Children’s Hospital Wing

A local children’s hospital commissioned us to create vibrant murals on their walls. For this delicate task, foam rollers came in handy due to their ability to give smooth finishes, which are essential when painting detailed designs.

Eco-Friendly Office Space Transformation

An eco-conscious client wanted us to transform their office space using only low-VOC paints. These water-based paints have a thinner consistency compared to oil-based ones and require different tools for optimal application. A synthetic fiber roller with medium nap length proved ideal because it held enough paint without causing drips or splatters.


In each case, knowing what type of roller would deliver the desired result was key. It’s not just about the paint; it’s also about how you apply it.

Expert Tips for Choosing and Using Professional Paint Rollers

Picking the right paint roller can make all the difference in your painting project. But, with so many options out there, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Don’t worry. We’ve got some expert tips that’ll help you navigate this sea of choices.

Selecting Roller Material Based on Paint Type

If you’re using water-based paints like latex or acrylics, synthetic rollers made from nylon or polyester are ideal. They hold up well against these types of paint without soaking up too much. Bob Vila’s guide on choosing paint rollers offers more detailed information.

Nap Length Matters Depending on Surface Texture

Rougher surfaces need longer nap lengths, while smooth ones require shorter naps. For instance, if working on a textured wall or ceiling, go for 1/2 inch to 1 inch nap length. This Old House explains how different textures call for varying nap lengths.

Maintenance: Cleaning and Storage

A well-maintained roller will serve you better and last longer. After each use, clean your roller thoroughly before storing it away in a dry place. The Family Handyman shares an excellent tutorial on cleaning and maintaining paint brushes and rollers here.


Picking the right materials based on your paint type, considering the surface texture for nap length, and keeping good maintenance habits will ensure you get the best out of your painting projects.

FAQs in Relation to What Rollers Do Professional Painters Use

What paint roller gives the smoothest finish?

A high-density foam roller offers the smoothest finish. It’s perfect for painting cabinets and doors because it leaves no lint or brush marks.

What brand of paint roller is the best?

Purdy makes top-notch rollers loved by pros. They’re durable, hold lots of paint, and offer a range of sizes and nap lengths to tackle any job.

What is the best roller thickness for painting walls?

If you’re rolling walls, grab a 1/2-inch nap. It’s thick enough to apply an even coat but won’t overload your wall with too much paint.

Do pro painters reuse rollers?

Sure do. Pros clean their rollers after each use. Proper cleaning keeps them in great shape to be reused for future jobs.


It’s what sets amateur work apart from professional-level painting.


The variety of rollers that professional painters use depends on factors like the type of paint, surface texture, and desired finish.


Various rollers, each with advantages, can be utilized for various painting tasks. That knowledge in your arsenal can turn a good job into a great one.


Caring for these tools also plays a vital role in maintaining their efficiency. Ensure that you properly clean and store them after every utilization.


Avoiding common mistakes while selecting or using these rollers is another key to flawless finishes.


Remember: The journey towards mastering any skill begins with understanding its tools inside out! What better way than learning about what rollers professional painters use?

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