Paint rollers are a great way to cover large areas quickly. They consist of a metal frame and a soft roller cover that's used to apply the paint. As with paintbrushes, a better quality roller can make your paint job go much faster and produce better results. When choosing a roller, there are a number of features you should look for to ensure you're making a smart purchase.
Roller frames should be strong and sturdy, with ball bearings at both ends of the roll to produce the smoothest results. The frame should feature either expandable compression wires or metal rings for holding roller covers in place [source: Crowder]. It's important to choose the right size roller, too. Many people are tempted to get the largest roller they can find, thinking that this will get the job done fast. In fact, larger rollers are heavy and unwieldy, and can be difficult for novice painters. The most effective size for painting walls and ceilings is 9 inches (22.3 centimeters), while smaller versions are useful for painting trim and cabinetry [source: This Old House].
If you plan to paint the walls and ceilings in your home using a roller, you may also want to look for models that have compatible extension poles. Check to ensure that the pole is connected via a locking mechanism, rather than a twist connection, which is less secure. Most homeowners will find that poles that can expand between 4 and 8 feet (1.2 to 2.4 meters) in length are the most practical to meet their needs [source: Crowder]. Using a pole will allow you to paint without using a ladder, and can make the job less stressful to your neck, back and shoulders.
Roller covers should be chosen based on both their thickness and material. Synthetic covers should be used with oil-based paints and lacquers, while wool covers work well with most water-based paints. Covers made from mohair provide a very smooth finish, and are best for painting doors and furniture. The thinner the cover, the shorter the nap or pile of the fibers will be. Naps shorter than 1/4 inch (6.35 mm) produce the smoothest results, while those between 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch (6.35 and 12.7 millimeters) are best for interior walls and ceilings. When painting rough surfaces or the exterior of your home, use rollers with 3/4-inch (19-millimeter) naps. Materials thicker than 1 inch (25.3 millimeters) are designed for very rough surfaces, such as stucco [source: Old House Web]. Choose more expensive roller covers to avoid dealing with loose fibers as you work. To create a textured look, look for rollers with integral stippled or stenciled patterns.
Working on a really big job? Read up on paint sprayers in the next section to learn how to complete a big job quickly and still get professional results.