the painted surface
How To Use a Roller On a Wall Or Ceiling
The application of paint with a roller is popular because it will quickly spread paint over a large area. If done properly it leaves a smooth and attractive finish. Improper techniques will result in paint ridges, runs, sags, uneven coverage and specks of paint on surfaces that should be clean.
This article will discuss how to use a roller in general, the tools needed and also specific techniques of how to roll a wall or how to roll a ceiling. For help with cutting-in see "How To Cut-In a Wall or Ceiling".
These are the tools needed to roll walls and ceilings. They are not expensive and if cleaned and cared for can be used for many future painting projects. Besides the paint, four of the tools should be well made and of good quality. They would be the roller cover, roller frame, paintbrush and the roller handle extension. For more information about painting tools see "Tools". The tools and equipment needed are as follows:
Roller cover - The roller cover may be the most important since it is what actually puts the paint on the surface. There are three common types: 100% lambswool, synthetic fiber and a wool/synthetic blend. The 100% lambswool does cost more but it usually delivers better results. Being wool it has the ability to absorb paint but also easily release the paint onto the wall. This same property makes them easier to wash out than synthetic fiber roller covers. They are very durable and will paint many rooms if washed out and cared for properly. The synthetic fiber cover is less expensive but does not have the absorb/release ability of the lambswool. Thus they are more difficult to wash out. They perform well in most situations but not as well as the lambswool. The wool/synthetic blend tries to be the best of both but does not quite measure up. Again the 100% lambswool will out perform the blend in application of paint and clean-up.
All roller covers are available in sizes that indicate the thickness of their nap. This ranges from 1/8 of an inch up to 2 inches. A good all-purpose size is the 1/2 inch. It can be used for almost any purpose. This size holds paint well. It is easy to control to avoid leaving roller ridges, runs and sags. The nap is short enough to leave a smooth texture when the paint is rolled out to an even coat. A surface like a textured ceiling will require a 1 1/2 or 2 inch thick nap roller cover. The 1/8 or 1/4 inch nap is useful for painting flat doors or shelves when applying enamel paints.
Avoid the cheap one-time use roller covers. They shed their fibers, do not hold paint well and generally make painting difficult.
Roller frame - This is the handle for the roller cover. It should be sturdy and hold the roller cover on without letting it slide off during use. Avoid the cheapest of frames but the most expensive may not be needed either. The average price frame will usualy perform very well.
Roller handle extension - Using a roller frame without an extension can be very awkward and tiresome. The extension adds leverage, length of reach and increased comfort while rolling. The two to four foot adjustable type is most useful. The adjustables work one of two ways. One has a twist and lock mechanism which can be adjusted to any length within its range. The other type locks by way of a spring loaded button mechanism. Both work very well, the main advantage is the ability to adjust their length. An adjustable extension saves time, effort and your back. They are worth every bit of their cost.
Roller screen and bucket - This set-up is a five gallon bucket and screen that hangs on the inside of it. The bucket holds the paint for the roller to work from. It is easier to use than the roller pan. To use this set-up, pour a gallon or two of paint into the bucket and hang the screen on the rim. Dip the roller into the bucket just far enough to touch the top of the paint with the roller cover and use the screen to remove the excess. Do this several times to completely load the roller. It does take some practice not to dip the roller in too far. During breaks the roller cover can be hung from the screen and the whole set-up be enclosed in a plastic bag to prevent the paint from drying.
Roller pan - The alternative to the bucket and screen method. It is handy for small tasks. The pan will not hold much paint so frequent refilling is needed during large jobs. They are easy to step in for the accident prone.
Hot dog roller - Known by many names but it is a small skinny roller about the size of a weiner. It is used to roll in tight spots especially behind toilets. No kidding!
Low-tack tape - Rollers often throw off specks of paint. This sometimes cannot be avoided so low-tack tape is used to mask over surfaces where the specks may fall. The baseboard usually is the place where the specks fall and should always be masked off. Also have a wet rag handy to wipe up specks and drips as they fall.