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For smoother lint-free results with all paints, use a woven roller fabric—especially with higher-sheen coatings. For greater pickup and release (faster application), try a knitted fabric when using flats or eggshell paints.

(Or nap.) Quite simply, for rough surfaces, use a longer pile (1/2–3/4”). For smooth surfaces, use a shorter pile (3/16–3/8”), or even a microfiber for a glass-like appearance.

Different fabrics offer different advantages: pickup (greater capacity), controlled release, durability, surface uniformity, and cleanup. What’s most important to you?


An ideal paint applicator increases production and makes your painting project easier; choose the right roller cover and that’s exactly what you’ll do. When selecting a roller cover, the most important factor to consider is the sheen of your paint.


Glossy paints have a very high sheen and will tend to show more lint on the surface from the roller. Therefore, when using a gloss or semi-gloss paint, it is important to choose a shed-resistant woven cover. The fibers that make up the woven fabric are locked into the backing with a tight, “double lock” process providing a smooth and virtually lint-free finish.


To apply flat, eggshell, or satin paints and stains, a knit roller cover is recommended. Knit roller covers can pick up and release higher amounts of paint than woven fabrics because the fibers have a looped backing with a single pass-through process resulting in a more “open” fabric. However, if you’re looking for a finer, professional-quality finish, a shed-resistant woven roller cover is recommended with flat or satin paint too.

Microfiber and foam roller covers are also available in many paint and hardware stores. You can achieve spray-like results with both of these roller covers when applying any type of paint, varnish, or enamel. They are great to use on cabinets, doors, and other smooth surfaces.

Now that you know which roller cover fabric to choose, learn which nap height to choose based on the texture of the surface you’re painting.

The Wooster Brush Company offers quality roller covers for every sheen of paint available, but different rollers excel in specific applications. To help you select the perfect roller cover for your next project, read below. If you have additional questions or need more information, please contact our Customer Service Department chat.


Loading a Brush

Choosing the correct roller cover starts with knowing the sheen of paint you will be using. Once you’ve picked either a woven or knit roller, the next characteristic you want to focus on is the nap height, which is the length of the fibers that extend from the backing and carry the paint to the wall. Below are some general guidelines to help you.

For smooth surfaces such as new drywall, choose a shorter nap (3/16” or 1/4") to evenly apply the paint. Because a shorter nap picks up less paint, it is common for some painters to “bump up” to a longer nap for increased production. While this can be a good idea to speed your painting project up, it is important to note that higher naps may leave a textured look on a smooth surface. Always remember to select a nap height that will provide you with your desired finish regardless of the paint pick up and release capabilities. Sometimes faster isn’t always better!

Rough surfaces require a higher nap (3/4” to 1-1/2”) so the long fibers can reach into the valleys of the texture. Higher nap heights are great for textured plaster or stucco, siding, decks, concrete block, brick, and corrugated metal. Long nap heights offer great paint pick up and release, which makes getting into all the cracks and crevices of the surface easy. Remember, the rougher the surface, the higher the nap to make your job easier.

Next, learn how to properly load a roller cover.

The Wooster Brush Company offers quality roller covers for every project. If you still want to leave it to the experts, visit our Customer Service Department chat.


loading roller

  1. Many painters “break in” a roller cover by priming it with water or thinner. In our lab we never prewet a cover before painting. If you choose to, you must spin it out with five or six strong pumps so it is only lightly damp. Then take even more moisture out by blotting the cover with a paper towel. Wooster recommends conditioning only for water-based paints, using water.
  2. Use a liner in the paint tray to save time during cleanup. Thoroughly mix the paint, then pour some in the well of the tray. Don’t overfill—the well should be half empty. You need room to roll excess paint onto the tray’s roll-off area.
  3. With the roller cover on the frame, drag some paint with the edge of the cover from the tray well back onto the roll-off area. Do not submerge the cover. Roll it on the grid toward the well using several quick forward strokes, then drag more paint back with the cover. Continue until it is completely saturated but not dripping.
  4. Patience is very important when loading a cover. It takes time to work paint through the fabric down to the core, especially with woven fabrics. Allow several minutes for the initial loading.
  5. Do not “starve the cover” by attempting to paint too far without refilling—that can compress the fibers and make it more difficult to reload, forcing you to spend more time in the tray.