How to Paint with a Roller for a Streak-free Paint Finish

DIY decorating culture encourages the average homeowner to transform their home into their little slice of paradise, enhancing blank walls and spaces with their chosen colour scheme and interior decor. 

Correcting painting mistakes is time-consuming and physically tiring, so we’re here to help you get it right the first time. In this guide, we walk you through how to paint with a roller on walls and ceilings so that you can get the best results.

Table of contents

Tools you will need

Before you start painting, you’ll need to ensure you have all the necessary tools and have set up your space and equipment correctly:

  • A paint roller: Rollers come in different fluff thicknesses to paint varied textured walls and ceilings. For example, rollers with a 1″ nap are for rough surfaces like concrete or textured walls, whereas one with a 3/8″ nap thickness is perfect for smooth surfaces. Using a thick roller on a smooth wall will cause splatters that will require more effort to even out. Before using your new paint roller, you must de-fuzz it to avoid bits of fluff ending up painted on your wall. Wash your new roller with water and allow it to dry before using it.
  • A roller frame: You can get cageless or adjustable frames, depending on the type of roller you choose. Make sure you purchase one that matches the size of your roller.
  • A roller tray or roller bucket: This is where you will put your paint as you work.
  • An extension pole: Although you don’t necessarily need one, having it will reduce your painting time and make painting ceilings and high walls less tiresome.
  • A ladder: A ladder is always good to have to get to hard-to-reach places.
  • Paint brushes and masking tape: This is to prep the wall or ceiling so you can roll it. You can use paintbrushes to cut out a border and masking tape to protect the edges.
  • A protective plastic roll, or a dust sheet: A protective plastic roll will save your work area from drips and spills.
How to Paint with a Roller for a Streak-free Paint Finish

Our tips on how to paint with a roller 

Prepare your wall or ceiling.

Before you use a paint roller, you must prep the wall or ceiling edges, known in the industry as cutting out, because the roller can’t paint right up to the edge.

  1. Apply masking tape around the edges you want to protect, for example, along the skirting board, light fixtures, window frames and contrasting coloured walls. 
  2. Take your paintbrush, dip it into the paint about halfway down the bristles and wipe the brush against the side of the paint tin to remove excess.
  3. Start painting a few centimetres from the edge. Paint downwards on a vertical edge and, depending on your dominant hand, either left-to-right or right-to-left on a horizontal edge. Appling light pressure will establish a paint line. Take this paint line up to the edge for a clean line.

Avoid paint streaks with the right amount of paint on your roller.

Once you have completed all the edges, you can paint with a roller. Whether you’re painting a wall or a ceiling, you must ensure that you have the correct amount of paint on your roller so that it is even.

  1. Put your paint in the reservoir of your paint tray, be careful not to overfill it. 
  2. Dip your roller lightly into the paint. It should cover less than half of the roller. Roll it back and forth on the ramp to distribute it evenly; this is how to stop patchy paint when using a roller. Test this by pushing it forward and lifting it to see if the roller spins smoothly. Following this method will also prevent paint drips.
How to paint a wall with a roller

How to paint a wall with a roller 

Follow these steps to get a professional finish on your walls with a roller. 

  1. Start in the middle of the wall on the edge where you cut in. Use the roller to create a “W” shape about a meter in length.
  2. Spread the paint from the middle to the top and bottom until you fill in the block section. Paint as much over the cutting-in edge to blend the paint lines.
  3. Once you have completed 3-4 sections, you need to lay off these sections. Laying off is how to paint with a roller without streaks. However, do this before the paint section dries, or this will create patches.
  4. Take an unloaded roller and start from the top corner as close to the edge as possible, with hardly any pressure, and roll straight down until you reach the bottom. Repeat this action, overlapping to prevent streak lines.
How to paint the ceiling with roller

How to paint the ceiling with roller 

The technique for painting a wall with a roller will also work for painting a ceiling. 

  1. Start by masking your cornices, edges and lighting fixtures.
  2. Cut in the edges with a paintbrush to create a border.
  3. Then use the roller in the same way as you would for a wall. Work in 1-meter sections in a parallel motion. 
  4. And the crucial technique on how to stop patchy paint when using a roller is to layer off before it dries. Using the lightest touch, use the roller to blend the edges without creating new brush strokes, achieving a smooth and consistent finish. 

Another way to prevent streaky walls and ceilings is to add a second coat. Even if you have chosen a deep colour, a second coat will cover any mistakes or unevenness. Wait a minimum of two hours before adding a second coat.

Learn how to paint with a roller at Build & Plumb.

Here at Build & Plumb, we want to provide you with all the tools and knowledge to help you to complete your painting and decorating projects. 

Following this step-by-step guide, you should achieve a smooth and even paint job on your walls and ceilings. 
Looking for more ways to enhance your decorating skills? Shop professional-grade painting and decorating tools and complete your DIY projects like a pro with Build & Plumb.

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