How to Use a Paint Roller

Painting with a roller is easy once you know the steps. Here's a quick refresher on how to use one for a speedy and flawless paint job.

Go back to basics and discover our top tips for using a paint roller.

Painting a large wall goes much faster when you have the right tools. Luckily, there are a variety of options to ensure a quick and easy paint job. A paint roller covers more surface area per stroke than a paintbrush, and the handle can be elongated for hard-to-reach areas. Roller covers come in different widths and materials appropriate for any painting project. Once you're prepared with the materials needed to complete your paint job, application is a breeze. We'll show you how to use a paint roller, below, so you can refresh your walls in a weekend.

What You'll Need

  • Paint 
  • Paint pan
  • Roller brush and cover
  • Water
  • Drop cloth
  • Lint roller

Step 1: Pour Paint

Pour an inch of paint into a paint pan. Make sure the paint pan is on a flat surface. Place the roller cover onto the roller handle and remove any wrapping. With any paint job, invest in a higher-end cover for a better paint job. The cheapest cover options don't hold as much paint, which can make a paint job take much longer.

Step 2: Wet Roller

To prep the brush for painting, get the roller cover damp with water. Shake the brush to remove any water from the inner tube. Blot and roll the cover dry with a rag or on a drop cloth. This primes the brush so that it absorbs and applies paint evenly. If you are using a wool cover, use a lint roller or tape to remove stray fibers before dipping into paint.

Step 3: Roll In Paint

Roll the roller in the paint until it's evenly covered. A new roller brush will typically take 5–6 repetitions to fill. Roll against the paint screen or tray ridges to remove excess. Removing excess will help prevent paint drips on the wall.

Interior Paint Tips

Step 4: Roll On Wall

Starting a few inches from the bottom of the wall, apply a stroke of paint upwards with even pressure. Don't press too hard on the roller, as the fibers of the roller cover will get matted—let the paint do most of the work. Pressing too hard will also make your paint thick at the edges of the stroke. If you're using a paint roller with an extended handle, stop a few inches from the ceiling. Without lifting the roller, move it down the wall. Keep the same even pressure as you continue across the wall.

How to Paint Walls

Step 5: Continue Painting

Continue in a zigzag or "W" pattern until the paint on your roller becomes thin. Keep the zigzag pattern within a section of the wall to ensure an even layer over the entirety of the wall. Working in a zigzag pattern helps to smooth out roller marks at the edges of the stroke.

Step 7: Finish Wall

Reload the roller as needed and continue applying paint in sections until the wall is covered. If needed, add a second coat on top of the first using the same technique.

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