According to my paint roller research Norman Breakey and Richard Adams invented the handy little paint applicator back in 1940. The interesting twist is, Breakey (Canada) and Adams (U.S.A) supposedly created the device in two different Countries without ever having met each other.

No matter who is responsible for the roller, both Breakey and Adams have helped speed the job of millions of professional painters and home do it yourself types. Invention of the paint roller has also added to the bottom line of manufacturers who create painting related products all around the world.

Below you will find information regarding the best paint roller (cage/frame) and roller cover (or sleeves as they are also known) to buy and what thickness of roller cover to use with your specific project.


The rougher the surface being coated the denser (thicker) the roller covers nap (fabric) needs to be. A quality roller cover is lint free and has it's fabric infused into a plastic tube, wish my hair was like that actually (infused that is).

Inferior type roller covers with cardboard cores absorb paint and break down quickly. Solvent or water moistens the inner cylinder causing the sleeve to loose its shape and firmness.

The best roller covers will apply your paint with speed and smoothness and range in sizes from 1'' to 18'' or more wide and depending on the manufacturer thicker than an inch of nap (fabric depth).

Roller cover thickness

  • 1-1/4" Nap:
  • All naps above 1-1/4" are used on extremely rough stucco, stipple, brick and masonry etc.

  • 1.0" Nap:
  • Medium rough stucco, stipple, brick and masonry.

  • 3/4" Nap:
  • Knock down, stipple or medium smooth walls.

  • 3/8" Nap:
  • Also good for medium smooth walls.

  • 1/2" Nap:
  • Regular walls such as drywall or a plastered surfaces.

  • 3/16" Nap:
  • For walls and doors if you need a little less texture.

  • 1/4'' Nap:
  • All naps below 1/4" are usually used on very smooth surfaces such as fine grained wood work, floors cabinets and MDF or HDF board.

As a personal note on sleeves, I hate the thought of washing out a roller cover, even so, a used cover seems to perform better than a brand new one as it tends to distribute the paint nicer so this is a nifty tool you might want to try.


When selecting your cover be sure that it's recommended for the paint being used. Some of the newer paints do not work well with certain rollers.

Furthermore, you might want to purchase a couple different thickness of roller covers as you could find yours to thin (or visa versa) for the job being done. As an example, when I roll a ceiling I use a 3/4" sleeve. You on the other hand might find that after using the 3/4" sleeve it's to heavy or not performing properly requiring a switch to a thinner or thicker roller cover.

Roller cover type

  • Lambs Wool:
  • Works best when applying flat or mat alkyds (oil based) varnishes, stains and other similar type products .

  • Mohair:
  • Mohair is especially made for semi gloss enamels and should be rolled onto a smooth or un-scuffed surface.

  • Orlon:
  • Orlon is the best fibre to use if your applying gloss or semi-gloss acrylics to an unmarred surface.

  • Polyester:
  • Polyester is effective on very rough areas but doesn't work well with polyurethanes or speciality coatings like epoxies.

  • Blended:
  • Blended roller covers are the most recommended sleeves due to their dual purpose of distributing both latex or alkyd paints with consistency and evenness. Even so, try not to use an oil based sleeve (once cleaned) in a latex base coating (or visa versa) as it can (at times) cause issues.

  • Foam:
  • Foam in most cases should only be used when painting cabinets or cupboards with a melamine product. With that said, foam sleeves are made for other jobs like ceilings or varnishing but I find, on the majority of projects, that they usually leave a poor quality finish.

  • Textured:
  • Specialty texture roller covers work by applying textured products onto a surface. A harder looped sleeve can lift the wet texture evenly while at the same time hiding imperfections that may be on the surface. I do find that a texture roller can be less consistent (in the finished look) when rolling larger areas though.

  • Others:
  • Some sleeves have etched, lifted or cut out sections that create a texturing or uniformed pattern of the the paint. Edgers for cutting in (brushing) can also be purchased if you need a tool for those hard to get at areas. I myself don't recommend them though.

  • Wallpaper Roller:
  • Various widths of plastic or metal rollers can also be acquired to level out seems and flatten wallpaper as it's being hung.

Different types of cover and cover thickness will give you an assortment of finishes in your rolled paint. Your paint retailer should be able to assist you with choosing the best roller frame and cover depending on the specific job being done.


Of all the rollers on the market a whizz or speed roller is one of my favorites being very versatile and handy for a number of little jobs because It's small enough for painting shelves or behind that pesky toilet. I have also on occasion used a speed roller to quickly coat a surface while standing on a ladder. To get at those high in the sky areas use a can hook and paint can grid. Speed rollers can tend to be faster than a brush on those hard to get at occasions.

As far as those fancy type of paint rollers including the paint in stick, paint in sleeve, pipe, corner, or edge rollers go, most are usually a waste of money.

The best roller frame is one that's been constructed of thick gauged wire or heavy plastic along with end bearings and have a threaded handle. Also, as the roller frame compresses, the sleeve (or cover) should slide on and off with ease yet at the same time hold the cover firmly onto the frame when rolling a wall.

Trust me when I say "If you spend a little extra (not a lot) on a good paint roller frame you'll be happy for doing so". As a confirmation of what I'm saying Consumer Report states that the only roller they've found to work quickly and with the least amount of mess is the old fashioned (and least costly) metal framed bearing type roller. I enthusiastically agree with Consumer Reports statement as long as the width and thickness (nap) of the roller cover is appropriate for the job at hand.

If you looking for the best price on good quality paint rollers, covers and extension handles then check out this store.

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