Rollers are very useful for painting large areas, particularly those with a textured surface. They’re especially suitable for emulsion paints because they enable you to work quickly, so each new area of paint can be merged into a wet edge on the previous area – this can be difficult with a brush because emulsions dry relatively quickly.
Rollers consist of a frame with a handle, and a sleeve which applies the paint to the surface. A number of types of sleeve are available:
– foam sleeves are cheap and suitable for both emulsion and gloss paints, but don’t give a very good finish
– pile sleeves, with natural (sheepskin) or synthetic fibres, are very good for emulsion paints but not suitable for gloss
– mohair sleeves are for gloss paints
– special sleeves are available for creating patterns with textured paints.
Special small rollers with long handles are available for reaching behind radiators, and spring-loaded rollers for painting around pipes.
Roller frames with a hole in the end of the handle can be used with a broomstick to help reach high walls and ceilings.
Paint roller technique
Before starting with the roller, paint edges and around switches, sockets and ceiling roses with a brush.
A paint roller must be used with a tray. Special trays are available with a shallow well to hold the paint at one end and a sloping area like a draining board at the other, to help you load the roller evenly. Fill the well with paint, dip the roller in it and then run it up and down the sloping part until it’s evenly coaled.
Estimate the area to be covered with the first load of paint, and apply it in a series of zig-zag strokes. Spread the paint evenly with strokes in all directions and finish with parallel strokes and a light pressure on the roller. You should be able to work quickly, but don’t move the roller too fast or paint will tend to flick off the ends of the sleeve. Apply the second load so that it slightly overlaps the wet edge of the first, and so on until the job is complete.
If you’re using gloss paint, it may have a stippled look at first, but don’t worry: if you have spread the paint correctly it should dry to a smooth finish.
Remove as much paint as possible by rolling it out on newspaper. For emulsion clean out the roller in plenty of water – use the sloping part of the tray to squeeze the water through the pile. Keep going as long as your patience allows – it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to remove every trace of the paint from the roller, though. Squeeze out the excess water and leave the roller standing on end to dry.
Cleaning mohair rollers used with gloss paint can be messy. Start by squeezing out as much paint as possible, clean out the tray and put some white spirit or a proprietary paint brush cleaner in the well. Now use the tray to work the cleaner thoroughly into the roller. Finally, use soap or detergent and water to wash the cleaner from both the roller and the tray.