Let’s face it, it can seem like very slow going if you’re using a paintbrush on a larger project. For some, getting a smooth finish with brushes can be a more difficult time – plus, there’s always the risk of having problems with your paintbrush bristles and having them detach from the handle, leaving you with stray bristles stuck in your paintwork. The answer, if this is something you’ve either found yourself dealing with or expect to encounter, is to go for a paint roller instead.
Choosing the right paint roller is important, as there can be a surprising variety between different types of roller. The choice depends on what type of project you’re going to be undertaking. It’s important to keep a few different things in mind, including the size of roller sleeve you’ll want as well as the surface you’re painting, as well as the ‘nap’ (the actual painting fibres) material. There’s also the material of the ‘cage’ to consider (the roller and handle); for instance, plastic is lighter and easier to clean, but less durable.
With the variety of considerations that need to be made, it can be a little confusing to know where to start. That’s where our buying guide comes in – we’ve done the hard work for you and collected the best paint rollers available to buy on the market today, to make things just a little bit easier.
|Coral Paint Roller Set||9″||Medium||£|
|Prodec Tiger Stripe Medium Pile Roller Kit||9″||Medium||£££|
|Harris Medium Pile Roller Set||9″||Medium||££|
|Hamilton 7 Piece Mini Roller Kit||4″||Low||££|
|Silverline Mini Paint Roller||4″||Medium||£|
|T-Class Ultima Roller Set||12″||Medium||£££|
This set of paint rollers from Coral comprises two 9×1.5″ roller sleeves with a matching 9″ roller and an extra deep tray. The tray helps to ensure that you’ll have plenty of paint available even if you’re taking on a larger job – it’s only a small timesaver but it’ll add up. The roller sleeves themselves are also of great quality – made from knitted polyester, they have a very high fabric density. This means it’ll hold onto more paint, and ultimately give you more rapid coverage.
Another of the standout features of this roller set is Coral’s patented ‘Headlock’ technology. It’s a simple mechanism that allows you to lock the roller sleeve onto the frame via a couple of clip tabs on the end. It holds the sleeves in place for a more even painting action, but additionally makes swapping out the sleeves a breeze, as you’re less likely to get paint all over your hands. The lightweight frame also contributes to a much easier painting process.
- High density polyester material
- Securely holds sleeves
- Extra deep tray
- Sleeves may not last
You’d be forgiven for thinking this was more of a fashion statement than a DIY tool – animal print always seems to be in style somewhere, right? However, in this context tiger stripe refers to the medium pile material used for the roller sleeves. Made from a woven acrylic material, these rollers are suitable for use on smooth and semi-smooth surfaces and best paired with emulsion or masonry paints.
The metal frame on the roller ensures a dependable level of durability, and an industry standard push fit mechanism for attaching the sleeves to the roller makes sure everything is kept in place for even paint strokes. It also comes with a generously proportioned roller tray, allowing you room for plenty of paint for those larger jobs. Ultimately, it’s a good value package for a solidly versatile roller.
- Good quality sleeves
- Leaves smooth finish
- Good value
- Lower quality handle/frame
This duo of paint rollers by well-established household DIY brand Harris consists of two 9×1.5″ roller sleeves, a multi-purpose size capable of tackling the vast majority of household painting tasks. The roller sleeves are made from knitted polyester in a medium pile, offering you a great balance between how much paint they can hold onto and coverage/smooth finish.
The cage and handle are made from good quality and lightweight materials, meaning that the painting process is much less tiring. The sleeves are bets used with emulsion paints, and as medium pile sleeves are most suitably paired with smooth to medium-smooth surfaces. As you might expect from a more well-known brand like Harris, everything is of good quality and also comes at a reasonable price.
- Good quality sleeves
- Strong build quality
- Prone to leaving fluff
Hamilton’s 7 piece mini roller set is perfect for smaller jobs as well as more fiddly things, like painting into corners, cutting in on walls and ceilings and similar jobs that need the slightly more precise touch of a smaller roller. Supplied with 5 identical high density foam roller sleeves, changing and maintaining the sleeves is super straightforward – they just clip onto the roller and can be easily unclipped for cleaning. Foam rollers are simple to clean as well, usually needing just warm water.
One other advantage of foam rollers is that they usually leave a very smooth finish, and there is no chance of fibre loss impacting the quality of your strokes. As such, you’re sure to get a lovely neat finish on smooth surfaces. It’s not likely to be too tiring to use either as it’s a mini roller – metal roller frames are durable but can be a little on the heavy side, so a smaller frame here negates that.
- 5 rollers
- Easy to use
- Foam leaves a smooth finish
- Middling foam durability
This mini paint roller set from Silverline is a versatile DIY tool that counts on a strong build quality and a large number of roller sleeves for the price to stand out as a competitive choice. At a very reasonable price, it comes with a galvanised steel frame that is tough and durable, but relatively lightweight thanks to its size. The 10 supplied roller sleeves are all medium pile acrylic, ideal for leaving a smooth finish.
Medium pile is also ideal for smooth and slightly textured services. The smaller size of the roller sleeves paired with the slightly longer frame makes this an ideal choice for painting smaller, potentially more awkward places – for instance, behind radiators. The plastic handle has a gentle ergonomic shape, ensuring a bit more comfort while painting, and is shaped to let you hook the handle over the edge of paint tins.
- Lots of roller sleeves
- Ergonomic handle
- Good for precise painting
- Limited sleeve lifespan
The Ultima roller set from T-Class is designed as a high-quality roller sleeve with the aim of providing a high standard of finish. To ensure higher levels of durability in the roller sleeves themselves, the fabric is thermally bonded to the core of the roller. This not only ensures that paint coverage is kept even, but also helps the rollers withstand even things like solvent-based paint, which are typically harsher on rollers.
The ‘Micropoly’ material on the roller sleeves is designed to give a super smooth finish, and also has carefully designed edges to minimise splatter to the sides. One of the other most notable features is the 12″ double arm frame. It maximises stability when painting, preventing roller slippage. There’s also a large capacity roller tray for maximum efficiency. The fact that that it comes with three rollers in the set also adds a bit of value to the package.
- Double arm frame
- High quality finish
- Thermobonded sleeve
- Bolts may stick out
Which Paint Roller To Go For?
Paint rollers are surprisingly varied in terms of the naps; the painting material itself, which can be natural or synthetic fibres; and the cages, which vary in terms of material, size, weight and so on. With all this variety it’s key to know what kind of roller is best suited to you as well as the project you’re working on. Here’s our buying guide for the best overall paint roller, as well as the best option for those on a budget.
Best Paint Roller – the T-Class Ultima Roller Set is the best overall paint roller here. This comes down to factors like the quality of the sleeves and the dual arm frame, which offers exceptional precision and control over the painting process whilst leaving a great finish. It’s also surprisingly lightweight, so while it’s not the cheapest the quality does stand out as a reason to invest.
Best Value – for those painting on a budget, the Silverline Mini Paint Roller is the best choice. This comes by merit of the fact that it comes with 10 roller sleeve refills along with the high quality handle/frame and sleeve material. While it’s only generally suitable for smaller jobs, it’s hard to knock the sheer value of how much you get and its relative quality.
Paint Roller FAQ
How to paint with a roller
Using a paint roller is pretty straightforward, but still needs some precision to do well. With new roller sleeves, they work best when rinsed in clean water before use to get rid of any fuzz and fluff. Dip the roller lightly into the paint, covering less than half of the roller. Then roll it on the ramp of the tray to evenly distribute the paint on the roller cover. Then, paint onto your surface with broad, even zig-zag diagonal strokes, filling in gaps with similar motions. To finish, long parallel strokes over the top will help you get a smooth finish.
How to paint a ceiling without roller marks
The best way to avoid roller marks, especially on a ceiling, is to be methodical and use a number of layers. Diagonal strokes to begin with, filling in the gaps in a criss-cross pattern. Then, once that layer is done, long parallel strokes evenly applied as the next layer should result in a smooth finish free of roller marks.
How to get the smoothest finish with paint roller emulsion
Getting a smooth finish on emulsion paint with a paint roller is 1 part technique, and another part your choice of roller sleeve. Short, medium or long pile rollers are all able to handle emulsion paint, and the smoother/flatter your surface, the thinner the nap required.
How to clean a paint roller
Cleaning a paint roller can be something you make harder for yourself if you don’t look after the sleeves. If there’s likely to be any break in your painting, cover the roller with something like clingfilm to prevent it from drying out. You can actually also reclaim some paint from the rollers, as they have a tendency to absorb paint like a sponge . Hold the roller vertically over the paint container and scrape off (with a putty knife) excess paint. This then makes cleaning easier, as well as economising on paint. Then, rinsing thoroughly with warm water and paint thinner (if necessary) is the quickest route to clean rollers – don’t forget to clean both the sleeve and the cage!