Choosing a Paint Roller Cover

Spring is a great time to spruce up around the house and the easiest way to give your home a facelift is to paint. A good cutting-in brush, and a roller make painting a quick and easy project. But, who knew that there were so many different roller covers? What you are painting will determine the nap (thickness of the roller cover) you need to do the job. Roller covers come in different colors and materials and rollers create a smoother finish and better coverage than brushes.

Rough Textured Surface

If the surface is rough like a textured wall or ceiling, stucco, bricks, decks or masonry, you will pick up and distribute the paint best with a ¾ inch roller cover. The extra depth will pick up more paint and reach into the crevices for full coverage. It also holds more paint so you don’t have to go back to the pan as often.

Smooth Surface

The 3/8 inch nap is most often used for smooth surfaces like walls and ceilings. It is also used for painting some wood surfaces like shelves or boards before they are turned into projects. Small ¼ inch covers produce the smoothest finish and are best for furniture, metal, and anywhere where you want a very smooth finish.


Rollers are generally 9 inches long, 6 inches long, 4 inches long, or 2 inches long. These sizes correspond to the projects you are painting. If you are painting a large surface, the 9 inch roller will cover the quickest. You may use the other sizes to fit the width of your project or reach into areas where the longer cover won’t fit. In some cases, such as painting a dresser or piece of furniture, you might use several sizes.


Synthetic covers like nylon, polyester, and microfiber work very well for water-based latex paints. If using oil paint, a natural material like mohair or sheepskin works best because it picks up more paint.  Blended materials such as a wool/polyester blend covers can be used with latex or oil paints. They have the absorbing ability of wool, and the longer life of the polyester material. There are also foam roller covers that work quite well for a seriously smooth finish.