Choosing Paint Roller Covers

An assortment of paint roller cover sizes and colors | Construction Pro Tips
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Which paint roller cover should you buy?

The largest expense of any painting job is the labor, so choosing the correct tools and supplies is critical to doing the job right the first time.  Choosing the incorrect roller cover could leave your walls rough, covered in fuzz , and with an uneven shine. And worst of all, choosing the wrong cover could ultimately lead to costly callbacks. Callbacks kill! Here’s a breakdown of the most common types of roller cover sizes and materials.  Pick the right one for your project and make painting a pleasurable task!

A purple nine inch paint roller cover | Construction Pro Tips
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Roller Cover Size: 9”

Pile Height: ½”

Material: Woven (less shedding)

Uses: Standard Smooth Interior Walls/Ceilings

Notes: The Staple, my go-to roller cover.  95% of all interior painting is done by a ½” pile cover.  Woven material nearly eliminates shedding (tiny fibers stuck to the wall, and provide a very smooth coating.  Relatively inexpensive and available anywhere

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Roller Cover Size: 9”

Pile Height:3/4”

Material: Woven (less shedding)

Uses: Lightly Textured Interior Walls/Ceilings

Notes: Basically, this is the same as the roller above but ¼” thicker.  I use these for knock down, orange peel and hand-textured walls and ceilings.  Thick enough to work paint into the textured substrate while not being excessively thick and imparting too much stipple in the finish.  Woven material nearly eliminates shedding (tiny fibers stuck to the wall, and provide a very smooth coating.  Relatively inexpensive and available anywhere.

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Roller Cover Size: 9”

Pile Height: 1 ¼”

Material:  Knit (Higher Production - Doesn’t Compress)

Uses: Rough Interior Walls and Ceilings & Exterior stucco/brick/etc.

Notes: There are two noticeable differences with this cover: Very thick and made with a different fabric - knit.  This style of fabric stays fluffy longer, allowing you to work more paint into very coarse substrates.  I use these on porous popcorn ceilings and well as stucco and other exterior porous surfaces.  Make sure you have strong shoulder for this one - loaded with paint it's quite heavy.  Not to mention the effort it takes to push paint into bare masonry….  Available in most large home goods stores.

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Roller Cover Size: 4.5”

Pile Height: Assorted

Material: Woven & Knit

Uses: Small Projects, Trim, Doors

Notes: The same type of cover as the 9” but in a smaller form.  Can be used effectively from a bucket on a high ladder without the awkwardness of a larger 9” roller.  A perfect tool for a small project that still needs a great finish.

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Roller Cover Size: 14”

Pile Height: Assorted

Material: Woven & Knit

Uses: Medium to Large Size Walls and Ceilings

Notes: The same type of cover as the 9” but in a larger form.  Great for production, but without the extra muscle needed with the 18” roller.

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Roller Cover Size: 18”

Pile Height: Assorted

Material: Woven & Knit

Uses: Large Projects, Commercial and Industrial Projects

Notes: The big boy of the bunch.  Normally used by pro painters on large new home construction, commercial and industrial painting projects.  Covers a very large area with fewer lap marks.  Can be very awkward in standard wall/ceiling

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Meet the Expert

The difference in cost between a cheap roller cover and an quality roller cover is nominal in the total cost of the painting project.  Buy a quality roller cover, one appropriate for your project, wash it well and you’ll get years of service from it.  Choose an inexpensive, or incorrect, roller cover for your project and you’ll be left with unsatisfying results and another project on your hands - repainting your project again!  Take it from a pro - do your research, buy a quality roller cover and make sure it's appropriate for your project.

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Nick Slavik, proprietor of the Nick Slavik Painting & Restoration Company, adheres to the idea that simpler is often better. By using traditional finishing methods, methods proven by painters of the past, Nick creates the best finishes for all modern applications.

“I have found that many of the techniques used in historical structures and furniture finishing translate quite easily to many of the most common, modern applications.”

Nick believes that work done by hand will result in the best finish. These methods of finishing are not limited to historical homes, however. Whether painting the interior of one of the area’s newer homes or restoring the exterior of one of the many local, older houses, he will complete the project by hand. The product of hand-finishing is far better than many of the pre-finished products available to the homeowner.

Besides the selection and applications of finishes, Nick provides a complete design and color selection service. Using his many historical references, his experience placing color and a computer program that can manipulate digital images of your home, Nick will find the right colors for you and your home.