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How To Paint With A Roller: Best Tips And Tricks

Imagine finishing a home improvement project, only to find brush marks after completing a painting project. A painted surface should look smooth and professional, and brush streaks tend to ruin that image. 

You can learn to do simple home painting projects that look flawless upon completion. Throughout this article, you will learn everything you need to know about how to paint with a roller properly in order to create an even painted surface.

how to paint with a roller without streaks

Why Should You Use A Roller?

These are two key reasons why you should use a roller instead of a brush to paint:

  • Rollers are made of absorbent materials, making it easy for them to carry enough paint for a large surface area in one dip.
  • When used correctly, the right roller will produce a smooth, even paint coat.

What Causes Paint Streaks?

The best way to learn how to use a roller is to find out what causes paint streaks in the first place. Some of the reasons why a roller could possibly leave paint streaks include:

Poor Quality Paint

There’s paint for most price points, and the lower you go price-wise, the lower the quality of your paint. More expensive paint will reduce your chances of getting chalky, which is the most common reason for paint streaks.

Chalky paint tries to mimic matte paints. The best way to ensure that you’re not applying low-quality paint is to test out the paint on a smaller area, away from the area you’re painting.

If you need a paint job done quickly, then consider using fast-drying paint. Fast-drying paint can be beneficial for time-sensitive projects. Remember that you have to apply more than one coat of paint, which shouldn’t dry as fast. 

These paints will leave streaks because more coats don’t dry properly. On the other hand, slow-drying paint takes its time, providing an even finish each time.

There are paint brands that produce shiny paints; this kind of paint is unforgiving because it will most likely highlight any unwanted marks on your wall. 

Flat paint absorbs light instead, as is the perfect choice for amateur painters because it masks any dents and imperfections on your wall. The ideal paint is when you can balance flat, slow-drying paint with a little bit of a sheen.

Using Amateur Techniques

When applying paint on walls, the technique you use will determine how well the paint will dry. You need to figure out the correct amount of pressure to place on the roller as you plan out your process, especially for bigger rooms.

It’s always a good idea to divide your work into manageable chunks so that you apply an even coat each time. 

Don’t add another coat if the previous one hasn’t dried completely because then you’ll merely be smearing the paint all over the wall.

With a roller, you might be tempted to apply too much pressure as you paint, but try to keep it as light and natural as possible. Too much pressure won’t form an even coating; you’ll keep breaking as you go higher and lower with the roller.

Changing roller directions can also be a huge problem because the wall registers your pattern. If you choose to begin painting from one direction, stick to it. 

If you want to have an even finish, then paint with the grain of the surface and not against it.

Using The Wrong Roller

Did you know that there are different rollers with varying textures of wall and sizes? Rollers are porous, which makes them quite absorbent, which means they can carry enough paint for a larger surface area than a normal paintbrush could. 

Using the correct roller should help you cover these surfaces quickly without over-exerting yourself.

Choosing The Best Roller

The right roller will save you time and frustration. You need to understand your painting project and the goals you’re trying to achieve before choosing the correct roller. 

Like paintbrushes, roller cages come in different sizes, with different materials for various purposes. Rollers range from “Trim” to 12-inches in size, and the one you choose depends on the magnitude of your project.

Trim rollers, for instance, work well on small surfaces such as furniture, while medium sizes work well for walls and ceilings. 

A roller’s nap also matters; the nap is the thickness of the material on the roller.

Plastic rollers are a perfect choice for water-based paints. If you want to use solvent-based paint, go for natural fiber rollers such as mohair and lamb’s wool. 

Sponge rollers are more absorbent and will work best with oil-based paints.

The size of the nap also varies with the surface you’re looking to paint over. Smaller naps like the 1/4-inch and 3/8-inch naps are perfect for fine surfaces such as light-textured walls, trim, and ceilings. 

Longer naps cater to more textured surfaces. 1/2-inch and 3/4-inch naps, for instance, cater to medium to rough surfaces like concrete and textured plaster.

how to paint with a roller without streaks

Other Tools You May Need For Efficient Painting

To properly use a roller, some of these additional tools can be helpful:

  • Extension Pole:

A paint roller is short, and you may not reach higher, hard-to-reach places with it.  This is where an extension pole comes in. 

The pole consists of a handle with several key parts, including an adapter, pole, locking system, and grip to help you reach those high places. The handle helps to cover heights between 2 and 4ft.

  • Roller Cover:

This is also known as the nap, and it comes in different sizes and materials, as mentioned above.

  • Frame:

The paint roller frame consists of a wire cage that holds the roller cover. Most frames consist of easy-grip handles to help roll the paint smoothly.

  • Tray:

If you’re looking to use a paint roller, you’ll require a paint tray. Paint trays consist of ribbed surfaces to help you get full coverage on the nap by rolling it back and forth.

  • Clamp:

This is helpful when painting smaller surfaces. A clamp holds whatever you’re painting onto a flat surface so that you can have an even finish without shaking.

Proper Preparation Before Beginning A Painting Project

  1. Before beginning a painting project, prepare the right supplies and the area you’re planning to paint. The right supplies include the correct paint and rollers for your project.
  1. Place protective covering on the floor, and paint tape over any areas that don’t need a coat of paint before you begin.
  1. You can use a roller on most surfaces; if you’re planning to apply wood surfaces, ensure that the surface is smooth by sanding and applying primer on it. If your wood surface is filled with grooves, then the paint will highlight the bumps and any more imperfections. You may also need to smooth the surface and sand it to make it smooth before applying any paint for wall paint jobs.
  1. Paint adheres better to rough surfaces, and you may need to go the extra mile and sand between each coat, including the primer and each coat. Sanding will ensure that the final project is smooth and streak-free.
  1. Conditioning your paint rollers before use. First, you’ll need to choose a good roll cover for a good job; don’t skimp on the rollers. Low-quality rollers use ineffective materials which aren’t absorbent enough.
  1. New rollers contain lint, and you’ll need to remove it before painting. You can remove the lint using painter’s tape or a vacuum. Defuzz the roller nap by soaking it in water for about ten minutes, shaking off excess moisture, and then fit the roller to its frame.
how to paint with a roller without streaks

Painting Techniques Using A Roller

You will need:

  1. Open the paint bucket and use a paint stir stick to stir the paint for about half an hour to give it a smooth finish. Pour some of the paint into the tray, and be sure not to overfill it. Dip a fraction of the roller into the paint and then roll it on the tray’s groove for full coverage. You’re now ready to begin your painting project.
  1. Start with a layer of paint in a zigzag pattern, a foot from the bottom, and leave some space from the corner. You will need to apply light pressure as you go up. Rollers aren’t effective on wall edges, so stop a few inches below the ceiling. Fill the spaces with a crisscross pattern; you can leave paint build up and streaks at this point. Use a paintbrush to cover the corners with paint.
  1. Paint can dry up quickly; lay off the wall before it dries up after the initial coats. Layoff includes making long parallel strokes to smooth the paint and make the surface even. If you’re covering a large area, do it in sections so that the paint doesn’t dry up on you before you finish.

Best Practices Of Painting

Maintain A Wet Edge

When painting, ensure that you overlap the last paint stroke with another paint stroke to maintain a wet edge. This way, the paint job has no visible roller marks.

You may be tempted to submerge the roller in paint when creating a wet edge, but this puts you at risk of developing a fat edge, which will make a noticeable bump that will require more patching or sanding to get rid of. 

Dip just a small fraction of the roller into the bucket and then roll it over the tray grooves before creating a thin wet edge.

Paint Continuously

Painting can be tiring, but don’t leave the paint job half done. Ensure that you paint each section to completion before taking a break. While taking a break, cover your roller with a plastic film to keep it wet.

Use A Maximum Of Two Coats

When painting, ensure that you use two coats. Reinforcing a third coat may create more streaks, so use the first coat to fill most of the wall with paint than the second coat to smooth out the paint coverage.

Use One Type Of Paint

If you find yourself running out of paint, mixing it with paint of different textures or a slightly different color to finish the paint job is a terrible idea; it might ruin the color sheen.

Clearing Up Streaks

These are some of the steps you can take to clear up paint streaks should they occur:

  • Cover streaks with a new coat of paint before it dries up
  • Use the same pressure when painting so that the paint coat looks even
  • Sand any excess paint using grit sandpaper to keep the wall smooth
  • Clear excess paint after sanding the wall surface and then cover the surface with a new coat

Cleaning Up After A Painting Project

  1. Now that you’ve finished your painting project, start by clearing any protective materials, including tarps and paint tape. Clean your rollers and trays right after the final coat to prevent them from drying up.
  1. Before cleaning up, use a scraper to remove any excess paint from the roller sleeve. Soak the roller in water for five minutes before squeezing excess liquid off using your fingers.
  1. Pour the water and rinse it thoroughly until the roller gives off clear liquid, then leave it somewhere well-ventilated to dry.
  1. We recommend discarding foam sleeves after applying oil-based paints because these paints can be hard to clean.

Knowing How To Paint With A Roller Guarantees A Quality Paint Job

Throughout this article, we have learned why paint leaves streaks, and what can be done to avoid it. We have also covered how to paint with a roller without leaving streaks, and the best way to cover these marks before your paint dries.

The best paint project requires a combination of excellent quality products, tools, and techniques. Prepare your paint surface and tools before you begin your project so that you’re not pausing to find tools you require while working. We hope this comprehensive article has provided you with enough knowledge for you to perfect your next paint project. 

About Lisa Bohrer

Lisa is a native Texan who says she wears many hats. She is a wife, mother, grandmother, farmer, animal lover, fisherwoman, gardener, and college student. Lisa is a sophomore at Liberty University where she is taking classes to earn her Associates Degree in Creative Writing. She and her husband of 35 years fill their days with life on the farm raising goats and chickens, and then most evenings she can be found at the computer writing, or researching a topic that has piqued her interest.

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