Perhaps the second most important tool is the roller and all its paraphernalia. A complete setup includes the roller pan, frame, cover and pole. All these items make a difference to the quality and cleanliness of your work. You can’t go wrong with the Wooster line of supplies. Below are links to the items we recommend:
- Roller cover – 3/8″ merino wool – here on Amazon
- Roller frame – here on Amazon
- Roller pole – here on Amazon
- Roller pan – here on Amazon
Although this recommended set will cost you over $50, all the items are reusable and will produce very good results with less effort and even with lower skill levels. I will go over the benefits of each item.
Keep in mind, the roller cover has a few jobs to perform. The first is getting the paint from the bucket to the wall (it must load easily and retain the paint cleanly.) It must distribute the paint across the surface easily and it must leave a reasonably even and smooth texture (stipple). Many painters disagree about the best products on the market, but we prefer the Wooster line for all types of rollers except the merino wool cover.
The wool roller cover is a time-tested applicator. Rollers were invented in the 1940’s and wool was one of the first materials used in making the roller nap. Wool performs well with the new low/no VOC paints, but many manufacturers are recommending microfiber or other synthetic materials instead. Our crew still uses wool for a few reasons. Primarily, they allow us to apply large amounts of paint quickly with very little spatter or flecking. They also apply more paint on the wall resulting in a thicker finish. One drawback is the stipple can be a little heavier if you’re not used to using this type of cover, but stipple isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Another drawback is that wool is often hard to come by since it is a natural product. Roller manufacturers must compete for the wool as it is used in many different products – this is the main reason they are so expensive. The wool cover is very easy to clean too. If you think the stipple might be a problem, I’d recommend the Wooster Micro Plush or Polar Bear. It is worth mentioning that these covers are only recommended for sheens satin and lower. For more glossy finishes, you should stick with the woven rollers like the Wooster Pro Doo-z. These can all be found on Amazon.com.
The roller frames should be heavy duty and should not bend easily. A shaky frame is no fun. Some cheap frames allow the roller cover to slip off too easily. A bent frame will leave ropes and be difficult to level out the paint. A roller that keeps slipping off the frame will lead to excess paint getting in the frame and dripping/flinging all over the wall and work area. Don’t skimp here – a good frame is only about $5 more than a cheap on and will last you a lifetime if cared for properly. When you clean your frame at the end of the job – take care that ALL the paint is removed. This will ensure the cover can be removed easily and the frame operates smoothly.
The pole is not as important as the other items, but a pole should be used when practical. A cheap pole will feel like it is going to all come apart and will make your project more stressful. A good, sturdy pole will give you confidence with your work.
Finally, the bucket or pan. Some painters prefer a five-gallon bucket and screen other prefer a plastic roller bucket like the one we linked to. We use both for different reasons. If we are going the disposable route, the five-gallon bucket works well and will only set you back the price of the screen (about $3) – but you can reuse them if you let them dry our thoroughly. The pan is a little easier to use and slide around the work area. The choice is yours, but we do have a word of warning here. Never use a cheap roller screen (sometimes called a ‘grid’) and try to avoid the cheap roller trays that lay on the floor or tall, narrow roller buckets. These last two types are easy to step on and flip or knock over. The last thing you want is to spend your day cleaning the carpet instead of getting the project done. I would also recommend against buckets with wheels. They make if hard to control the loading of your roller and can lead to unfortunate mishaps (like the kids rolling it down the stairs.)
Painting your home can be a lot of fun if you commit to the right product and tools – enjoy!