There are many different roller covers out there so the question is how do I know which one I need. It is important to choose the right roller for the right job. When it comes to choosing a roller we look at the surface being coated and what we want the result to be.

Pile height or nap
The pile height or nap refers to the thickness of the roller, the lower the nap the smoother the finish and the thicker the more textured the finish will be. A longer nap has greater paint holding ability and should be selected when painting irregular surfaces such as brickwork or masonry. Lower pile rollers should be used for surfaces such as plaster and timber as it will leave a smoother finish.

Short Nap 5-10mm
Short naps are best used with glossy paints as they do not hold as much paint as the other kinds of rollers, however leave a thin smooth coating. This is ideal when painting smooth to semi smooth substrates. Some applications include-

  • Painting flat doors
  • Appling enamels
  • Using semi-gloss or gloss on walls and ceilings.
  • Application of clear coating, both solvent and water based. (not recommended for applying stain or stain varnish unless you are laying it off after application with the roller)

Regular Nap 11-14mm
Regular nap is the bread and butter roller cover. It is very versatile as it holds a fair amount of paint but doesn’t leave much of a textured finish behind. Regular naps are perfect for most applications including-

  • Plasterboard ceilings and walls
  • Fibrous cement sheeting when painting exteriors or interiors
  • Acrylic undercoats, flats and low sheens
  • Exterior painting of eaves and soffits

Long Nap 20-30mm
Long naps are the heavy lifters, used when you encounter a rough or irregular surface. The long pile allows the paint to be easily applied to crevices and dimples with minimal effort. Long naps also have supreme paint holding ability, perfect for use on porous surface that require a larger quantity of paint. Examples of practical uses are-

  • Cement Render
  • High build textured surfaces such as heavy stucco or acrylic texture coat.
  • Bricks and blockwork
  • Rough sawn timber fences


Types of rollers

Lambswool rollers
As the name suggest these roller are made from lambswool, also known as shearling, and are typically at the higher end of the price scale. Lambswool rollers hold a lot more paint than any man made fabric roller and this equates to you not have to dip your roller as many time. They are also associated with a smoother, easier, cleaner job and also last a lot longer than the other fabric roller on the market.

MicroFiber Rollers
Microfiber rollers have become very cheap and popular over recent years. They are basically a fine woven fabric than can produce an ultra-smooth finish when use correctly. Ideal for gloss and semi-gloss paints on areas such as doors however, they do not do well in rougher surfaces such as brick because they don’t hold enough paint and it can be hard to get paint into every nook and crevice.

We use these roller mainly for solvent based paints as enamels and two pack are not exactly easy to clean out of your new roller, typically we dispose of these rollers after one use. They are convenient and very inexpensive however care must be taken during application to avoid bubbles forming from aeration of the paint. Foam rollers can also be used to make faux roller, texture roller and other specialist uses.

To summarize use shorter pile rollers on finer more detailed or conspicuous areas. Regular and long nap rollers should be used on plaster all the way up to rough surfaces as these areas are less sensitive to roller stipple.