The Best Paint Rollers for a Better Finish on Your Next Project (2023)

Getting your hands on the best paint roller will help make your next paint project a big success. Whether you're painting walls, ceilings, doors, furniture or the outside of your home a paint roller will make it quicker, easier and give a great finish.

If you're painting a ceiling and walls, the common 9-inch medium pile roller is your best choice. Try it with an extension or use a pole roller to reach those out-of-reach areas such as stairwells. If you want to give your doors, kitchen cabinets or furniture a smooth finish you’ll need a 4-inch foam roller.

Whatever type of painting project you are taking on our guide will point you in the direction of the right roller for the job.

(MORE: How to Paint a Room)

Which is the Best Paint Roller to Use?

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The Best Paint Rollers for a Better Finish on Your Next Project (1)

1. PRODEC 9" Trade Professional Medium Pile Roller Kit

The best paint roller for walls, ceilings, and general decorating jobs


Size: 9 inch

Tray: No

Material: Woven

Pile length: Medium

Best for: Emulsion, Masonry

Reasons to buy


Recycled paint tray


Smooth action


Not much splatter

Reasons to avoid


Takes time to get clean

If you are on the lookout for a good all-purpose paint roller to emulsion your walls and ceilings then this straightforward roller kit is just the job. This professional quality set comes with a 9-inch trade quality cage frame, a couple of woven medium pile roller sleeves and a recycled plastic tray.

The paint roller has a satisfying smooth roller action, making it easy to apply smooth coats of emulsion to your walls and ceilings. The pile is deep enough to paint over semi-smooth surfaces such as Artex and masonry with the added bonus of very little splatter. But, as the roller retains a lot of paint, it will take a little longer to clean.

Buy the PRODEC 9" Trade Professional Medium Pile Roller Kit now

The Best Paint Rollers for a Better Finish on Your Next Project (2)

(Video) Best Paint Rollers for a Better Finish on Your Next Project in 2023

2. Hynec Ultimate Paint Roller Set

Comprehensive all-round paint roller kit with added bonus of a brush


Size: 9 and 4 inch

Tray: Yes

Material: Woven acrylic

Pile length: Medium, Smooth

Best for: Emulsion, Gloss

Reasons to buy


Rollers and a brush


Woven and foam rollers


2 x 9-inch rollers

Reasons to avoid


No 4-inch tray

This complete home paint set is perfect if you just want to get started on your latest painting project with as little fuss as possible. It has everything you need to paint walls, ceilings, doors, and more. For effortless emulsion work, there is a 9-inch roller frame with two 9-inch roller sleeves and a 9-inch paint tray.

For smaller sections where your 9-inch roller won’t fit there is a 4-inch roller frame with a woven emulsion roller. This can be easily removed and replaced with the mini foam roller, ideal for glossing doors. To complete the package there is a 1.5-inch ergonomically designed brush. Great for cutting in around doors, windows, and painting skirting boards.

Buy the Hynec Ultimate Paint Roller Set now.

The Best Paint Rollers for a Better Finish on Your Next Project (3)

3. Harris Walls & Ceilings Essentials

Small paint roller set perfect for hard to reach areas and doors


Size: 4 inch

Tray: Yes

(Video) Best Paint Roller Reviews In 2023 | Top 5 Paint Rollers For A Better Finish On Your Project

Material: Woven, Foam

Pile length: Medium, Smooth

Best for: Emulsion, Gloss

Reasons to buy


Decent rolling action


Foam and woven roller sleeves


Good price

Reasons to avoid


Flimsy tray

Having trouble trying to paint behind a radiator? Struggling to get into smaller areas to paint? Looking for a smooth gloss finish on doors? A 4-inch roller provides the answer to all these questions. This simple set from well-known decorating brand Harris comes with a single roller handle, a couple of roller sleeves, and a 4-inch roller tray.

(MORE: Painting with Gloss)

The sleeves — one woven for emulsion and one foam for gloss — fit snugly on the roller handle making sure that you get a decent rolling action and a decent finish. They are easy to remove, replace, and clean. The plastic tray is not the sturdiest but it will get the job done.

Buy the Harris Walls & Ceilings Essentials now

The Best Paint Rollers for a Better Finish on Your Next Project (4)

4. Wickes Professional Roller on an Extendable Pole

Don’t like ladders? This extendable paint roller is the answer


Size: 9 inch

Tray: No

Material: Woven

Pile length: Medium

Best for: Emulsion

Reasons to buy


Good coverage


Extends to 1.4m

(Video) How to Choose a Paint Roller - (Mistakes to Avoid)


Sturdy and lightweight

Reasons to avoid


Fixed roller head


No tray

You can say goodbye to getting up and down a ladder every couple of minutes with the help of this extendable roller. This sturdy well-built pole roller is 0.9 meters retracted and reaches 1.4m when fully extended. It’s the ideal choice for those out of reach, hard to paint areas such as hallways, landings and stairwells, but still ideal for painting standard height walls and ceilings.

The roller head boasts a professional 9 x 1.75-inch sleeve that retains plenty of paint. Combined with the two easy-grip areas on the lightweight pole you get a smooth finish and good coverage.

Buy the Wickes Professional Roller on an Extendable Pole now

The Best Paint Rollers for a Better Finish on Your Next Project (5)

5. ProDec Twin Head Masonry Kit

Spruce up brickwork with this heavy pile roller


Size: 9 inch

Tray: Yes

Material: Woven

Pile length: Extra long

Best for: Masonry

Reasons to buy


Extra-long pile


2 x sleeves


4-inch masonry brush

Reasons to avoid


Not suitable for general decorating

If you are painting the outside of your house, an outdoor wall, or internal brickwork you are going to need a heavy-duty roller to get the best finish on your masonry. This specialist kit comprises a 9-inch plastic tray, a sturdy roller frame, and two trade quality extra-long woven pile roller sleeves that are great for rough and uneven surfaces such as render, pebble-dashing, and general brickwork.

The extra-long woven fabric of the roller means that it has great paint holding capacity. A loaded roller will work the paint into all areas of a rough surface and cover well. As an added bonus this set includes a 4-inch masonry brush where more precision is needed.

Buy the ProDec Twin Head Masonry Kit now.

(Video) Knit vs Woven Paint Rollers: Which is Best for Your Painting Projects?

The Best Paint Rollers for a Better Finish on Your Next Project (6)

6. Harris Powercoat Paint Roller

A dual-purpose pro paint roller for quicker coverage


Size: 9 inch

Tray: No

Material : Micropoly

Pile length: Heavy

Best for: Emulsion

Reasons to buy


Dual handle roller


Longer standard handle


Micropoly sleeve for a great finish

Reasons to avoid


No tray

If you are looking to get a professional finish on your walls and ceilings as quickly as possible then this micropoly roller is very much worth a look. The roller frame comes with a longer than usual 0.63cm handle which gives plenty of grip and extra reach for hard-to-reach or awkward areas. For out-of-reach areas, the bottom of the handle can be unscrewed and replaced with a Harris screw-fit extension pole.

The sleeve is a microfibre and polyester mix which is great at retaining paint and spreading emulsion evenly and densely on smooth and semi-smooth surfaces with hardly any splatter. It gives a decent flat and even finish and in some cases, you only need to apply a single coat to get the end product you want.

Buy the Harris Powercoat Paint Roller now.

Is There a Difference in Paint Rollers?

Choosing the right paint roller for your needs will depend very much on the paint job that the roller is going to be used for. If you are looking to emulsion walls and ceilings then you need to be looking at a standard 9-inch roller with a medium pile. If your painting stairwells, landings or an area where you need a ladder but don’t have one — or don’t want to use one — then you need an extension pole roller.

However, a 9-inch roller won’t reach into smaller narrower areas so a 4-inch roller is an ideal choice. These come in two variations woven and foam. Woven is great for emulsion and subtle textures, but if you want a smooth finish when glossing doors or painting furniture then you need a foam roller.

How to Clean Your Roller

Once you have finished with your roller, you need to make sure that you clean it straight away so you can use it again. Emulsion and water-based paints are easy to remove. Run your roller under warm water until the water runs clear. Squeeze out with your hands, wash again, squeeze again and leave to dry.

If you are using oil-based paint like an undercoat or gloss, you will need to use a brush cleaner. Place the roller in a suitable-sized container with the brush cleaner and squeeze to remove any paint. Repeat until clean. Note this will be messy and you might want to wear rubber gloves.

Finish in hot soapy water to remove any brush cleaner residue. As an extra precaution, wrap in clingfilm to stop any paint residue from going hard.

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(Video) Foam Paint Roller vs Nap Roller: Which is Best for Your Painting Project?


Which paint roller gives the best finish? ›

What is the Best Paint Roller for Your Paint Project? Ceilings and Drywall - Medium 3/8″ nap roller covers work best. Walls, Wood, and Metal - Small 1/4″ nap roller covers or foam rollers will produce the smoothest finish. Light to Medium Textured Surfaces - Microfiber rollers are best.

What paint rollers do professionals use? ›

Professional painters typically use a variety of rollers depending on the project and surface they are painting. For interior projects, foam or microfiber rollers with a 3/8-inch nap are usually used for smooth surfaces like walls and ceilings.

Do different paint rollers make a difference? ›

Thick or thin makes a big difference

Each roller has a different thickness of fabric or “nap”, specifically designed for different surfaces around the home. The thicker the nap or length of fabric, the more paint a roller will hold. The thicker the nap, the rougher the surface the roller is designed for.

What gives the best finish brush or roller? ›

The porous surface of the roller holds much more paint than a brush and distributes an even layer of paint much faster. Different finishes can be achieved with different rollers: Rollers with a smooth surface will produce a smooth finish. Rollers with a thick or fluffy surface will create a more textured finish.

How do I avoid roller marks when painting? ›

If you do this, you won't have to worry about stippling or roller marks in paint:
  1. Use the right size roller cover. Larger surfaces need larger rollers.
  2. Use the right style of brush for the type of painting you are doing. ...
  3. Use a high-quality paint. ...
  4. Buy enough paint for the job.

Do pro painters use rollers? ›

Many professional painters combine spray painting, roller painting and brush painting depending on the exact surface being painted. Starting with the brush, each method is faster than the previous one, but each method is less accurate than the previous one.

Do you wet a paint roller before painting? ›

Before you start a paint job, you actually want to wet the paint roller cover with water. “This primes the roller cover to soak up as much paint as possible,” Barr explains. But don't go too crazy—Barr suggests removing excess moisture with a paper towel and a good shake of the roller so it's just slightly damp.

Are cheap paint rollers any good? ›

Buying a Cheap Roller Cover

If your time is worth anything, a cheap roller cover is the most expensive tool you can buy. Cheap covers don't hold enough paint, shed fibers on your walls, and in general are a pain to use. We prefer lamb's wool roller covers, but any top-quality roller cover will work fine.

Should you wash and reuse paint rollers? ›

A quality roller should last up to 5 cycles before shedding. You can reuse it without affecting the quality of the paint application and over time it will end up paying for itself.

Are foam paint rollers better? ›

Foam rollers are ideal for use on smooth interior walls, whereas traditional rollers are more ideal for exterior walls with uneven surfaces. Foam rollers glide easily along smooth, flat surfaces, dispensing paint uniformly. Foam absorbs liquids easily.

What type of brush gives the smoothest finish? ›

If you're painting a smooth surface, use a white China bristle for a smooth finish or, if you need to achieve an even finer finish, a China bristle blended with ox hair is recommended.

What brush is best to avoid brush marks? ›

Use brushes with nylon-polyester bristles. A brush about 2.5 inches wide is a good choice for cabinets. Some painters like the angled bristles of so-called sash brushes.

What brushes do professional painters use? ›

While paintbrush bristles can have either synthetic or natural bristles, synthetic bristles are the most practical. Commonly used by DIY-ers and professional painters alike, they work well with water-based paints like Aura® Interior, ben® Interior, and Regal® Select Interior.

How do you get rid of roller marks? ›

Fortunately, you can remove roller marks by using a wet sponge and some sandpaper. Once your paint has dried off, rub down the surface using your sandpaper. Be sure not to get rid of too much of the paint because the only goal is to even out the coating.

Will a second coat of paint get rid of roller marks? ›

Fortunately, just as you do with your walls, you can get rid of roller marks on the ceiling by applying another coat of paint or using a fine grit sandpaper to knock down the ridges.

How many coats of paint do I need for a smooth finish? ›

I recommend three thin coats of paint, but it all depends on the color and consistency. After the final coat of flat paint, sand* lightly with super fine sandpaper. Your project should be smooth and even. Remove sanding residue with a soft bristled brush attachment on a vacuum.

Why is my paint never smooth? ›

There are a few culprits, including not properly cleaning the surface and picking up dust and debris, applying the paint too thick, or applying too many coats of paint over time, says Stipe. “It's important to thoroughly prep the surface by cleaning and sanding before painting,” he explains.

Do you cut in before or after rolling? ›

Always cut in first then continue painting with a roller. Cut in and paint with a roller one wall at a time. If you cut in all areas first and then roll the entire room, the paint that was applied when cutting in will have dried quicker and you will be left with a patchy, uneven finish.

Why am I getting lines when rolling paint? ›

These paint streaks are called raised edge roller marks, and they're caused by paint that's been applied too thickly or unevenly. The cause: This typically happens when the roller is full of paint and is pressed too firmly against the wall.

Do professional painters spray or roll? ›

Many professional painters use sprayers because the prep time is not a huge time sink for them. But, some professionals can roll paint incredibly fast and evenly too.

Are microfiber rollers better for painting? ›

Woven roller covers are more shed-resistant, so they're better for gloss and semi-gloss finishes, which can highlight lint left over from the roller. For flat, eggshell, and satin finishes, knit roller covers do the job more efficiently. For consistent control and smooth finish, we recommend microfiber roller covers.

Do you wash paint rollers with hot or cold water? ›

In terms of tips for cleaning paint rollers, first scrape the unused paint back into the tin with a putty knife and roll it on a rag to remove excess. Disassemble the roller, rinse with warm water, add detergent and work it into a lather to remove the rest of the paint.

Do foam rollers leave a smooth finish? ›

A foam roller leaves a smooth, streak-free finish on your cabinets and furniture. However, you must be aware and leave a wet edge to roll into otherwise you may experience roller marks.

Why do foam rollers leave bubbles? ›

Air bubbles will appear on the surface when working with a foam roller. This is a natural process. It is the air within the foam that is being transmitted onto your surface. Allow for air bubbles to dry naturally (no breeze or wind within the room) and it will vanish completely once dry.

What nap is best for smooth walls? ›

For smooth surfaces such as new drywall, choose a shorter nap (3/16” or 1/4") to evenly apply the paint. Because a shorter nap picks up less paint, it is common for some painters to “bump up” to a longer nap for increased production.

How many times can you reuse a paint brush? ›

A good, well-maintained paint brush can be used several times, over a period of several years. For example, all the paint work I have done in the last seven years was done with the same paint brush! However, it is less advisable to reuse a paint roller.

Can you leave paint rollers in water overnight? ›

Stopping during a painting job can be tricky since paint rollers and brushes dry out overnight, rendering them useless the next day. An efficient way to solve this issue is to keep rollers and brushes wet overnight, so they are ready to go the next day. To do this, all you need to do is cover them tightly in plastic.

Is there anything better than a foam roller? ›

Foam rollers are a quick and effective method to target larger muscles, but a tennis ball can do the trick as well. Even if a client does have a foam roller, tennis balls help clients roll smaller areas of a muscle that larger rollers can't reach.

What is the disadvantage of foam roller? ›

There are certain conditions and circumstances where use of a foam roller could be detrimental or damaging to a person's body. Foam rolling exercises load and stress the underlying tissues, including nerves, skin receptors, blood and lymphatic vessels, as well as bones.

Are smooth or ridged foam rollers better? ›

A smooth foam roller is a good choice for someone who is just getting into rolling because the pressure is not as intense as with a textured roller. Also, smooth foam rollers are typically less expensive than textured rollers.

What brush is best for straight lines? ›

Square brushes are the absolute best if you're going for a crisp straight line. Load up the top of your brush with just enough paint to stamp that perfectly straight line, which will match the length of the bristles on your brush. You won't be disappointed!

Do foam brushes leave streaks? ›

A crafty cousin of the bristle brush, the foam brush is a useful tool for DIY projects and hobby painting. These brushes are made with high-density pads that won't leave streaks. Because foam brushes are disposable, cleanup is easy, and since they come at a low price point, you don't have to worry about one-time usage.

Can you get a smooth finish with a brush? ›

Simple answer - yes! If you want to achieve a smooth finish, you will need a brush with long, synthetic bristles that is soft to the touch. Natural bristle brushes can be great for using with thicker paint like chalk paint, but not so useful for a brush stroke free surface.

Can you roller over brush marks? ›

Instead, before you dip your roller in the paint, slide the brush cover off the roller frame, 1-2 inches should do the trick. Now when you roll, the brush cover can roll right up against and over your brush strokes from where you had cut in previously.

Do brush strokes disappear when paint dries? ›

Any brush strokes that are left will disappear right before your eyes. Quick note: you can't let the paint dry too much before you roll it or it will get tacky so work in sections. That's it! That's all you need to do to get a smooth finish without brush marks.

Do expensive paint brushes make a difference? ›

Good quality brushes are highly recommended for interior painting. The type of bristle and brush style will depend on what type of paint is being applied and what it is you are painting. The make your painting job easier and looks more professional.

What finish do professional painters use? ›

The most used sheen of interior paint

Semi-gloss and eggshell are the most popular.

What roller is best for smooth finish with eggshell? ›

Best Roller for Eggshell Paint

A microfiber roller will give the smoothest finish possible for eggshell and other flat paint sheens. Microfiber tends to be very popular with contractors as they hold four times their volume of paint to help finish big projects efficiently.

Is a foam roller better than a nap roller for cabinets? ›

A small 4” foam roller is best for painting cabinets.

A higher nap may leave extra fuzz or small bubbles which is not ideal for trying to get smooth surfaces. Leave the higher nap rollers for surfaces that have a slight texture like drywall.

What kind of roller to use for satin paint? ›

The Medium Pile Microfibre Roller

Probably one of the most popular and reliable rollers on the market, these are designed to apply water-based emulsions, such as matt and silk paints, to internal walls and ceilings.

What are the 5 levels of paint finish? ›

5 Types of Paint Finishes and Where to Use Them in Your Home
  • High-Gloss Paint Finishes. High gloss paints are the most light-reflecting and shiny of all of the types of paint sheens. ...
  • Semi-Gloss Paint Finish. ...
  • Satin Paint Finish. ...
  • Eggshell Paint Finish. ...
  • Flat / Matte Paint Finish.
Apr 4, 2022

How do you paint so it looks professional? ›

These top tips will make your next paint job a smashing success, whether you're painting all your walls or just one.
  1. Wait for Dry Weather. ...
  2. Do a Thorough Visual Inspection and Prep. ...
  3. Know Your Nap. ...
  4. Protect Anything You Don't Want Painted. ...
  5. Remove Light Switch and Outlet Covers. ...
  6. Let the Roller Do the Work.

How many coats of paint do professional painters do? ›

So, back to the first answer: always use two coats. Using two coats of paint is our industry standard.

Do you wet a foam roller before painting? ›

Before you start a paint job, you actually want to wet the paint roller cover with water. “This primes the roller cover to soak up as much paint as possible,” Barr explains. But don't go too crazy—Barr suggests removing excess moisture with a paper towel and a good shake of the roller so it's just slightly damp.

Is a hard or soft foam roller better? ›

If you're just starting out with using a foam roller, choose one that's on the softer side. As your technique improves and your muscles adapt you can progress to using a denser (harder) roller. Denser rollers are also better for long-term use because they're more durable.

What is the best roller for eggshell paint on drywall? ›

For flat, eggshell, and satin finishes, knit roller covers do the job more efficiently. For consistent control and smooth finish, we recommend microfiber roller covers. 1/4″ – Use for ultra-smooth surfaces like cabinets, doors & metal. 3/8″ – Use for smooth surfaces like walls & ceilings.

How do you prevent roller marks on satin paint? ›

Clean the surface: Always start with a clean surface. Any dirt, dust, or grease will create streaks in the paint. To clean the wall, simply wipe it down with a damp cloth. Use a high-quality paintbrush, roller, or foam brush: A good brush or roller will help to evenly distribute the paint and prevent streaking.

What roller is best for gloss enamel paint? ›

Mohair and shorter nap synthetics in a 4 to 5 millimetres nap length. This is a good choice for applying oil-based gloss and semi-gloss paints. Synthetic nap lengths between 5 to 10 millimetres synthetic are suitable for higher sheen acrylic paints such as gloss or semi-gloss.


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