Choosing Paint Rollers, Paint Pads and Paint Sprays
Types of paint rollers
Paint rollers are less accurate than brushes and you will have to use brushes along with them for any precise work. But they cover surfaces much faster and are ideal for painting large, uncomplicated areas.
A roller consists of a metal frame containing the roller mechanism with a handle fitted to one end and a roller sleeve on the other. They come with a special tray in which you load the sleeve with paint. Most rollers are 175mm (7in) wide, though larger and smaller versions are available.
The cheapest type of sleeve is made from foam. There are sleeves made from other materials: mohair sleeves which have a fine, short pile; sheepskin or synthetic fibre sleeves with a longer pile; and embossed rollers for use with textured paints.
There are also special paint rollers with a very slim sleeve for painting behind radiators and ones with two or more narrow rollers fitted on a flexible axle for painting pipes. For painting ceilings and high walls you can buy an extension pole whichinto the end of the roller handle, but it’s cheaper to improvise an extension by fitting a broom handle or a length of 25mm (1 in) thick dowel.
Choosing roller sleeves
When buying a roller, watch out for a cheap flimsy frame which won’t last long or too large a frame which can be tiring to use. Choosing the sleeve for a roller is, however, the most crucial factor.
Foam sleeves tend not to last long and can be difficult to clean. They can also be splashy in use and paint can drip from the ends if too much pressure is applied or the sleeve is overloaded with paint. That said, they are suitable for use on smooth or slightly textured surfaces. Sheepskin sleeves are expensive but worthwhile where you are dealing with a very rough surface and need a very hardwearing roller. As for the rest, you should aim to get a sleeve with the correct length of pile. When considering coverage, choose short-piled sleeves for smooth surfaces and long-piled sleeves for rough surfaces. But if it’s a really good
finish you’re after, short-piled sleeves tend to give better results, though a lot here depends on the type of paint: sleeves made from natural materials work best with solvent-based glosses; synthetic sleeves are best with emulsions.
Paint pads consist of a square or rectangle of short pile fibre (synthetic or mohair), usually backed with foam, attached to a metal or plastic plate and handle. They come in a range of sizes varying from 62mm (2-1/2in) up to 187mm (7-1/2in) wide. You can also buy special edging pads for cutting in between walls and ceilings and at corners; these have small guide wheels which run against the surface you are not painting. And there are very small pads (often with a flexible handle) for precision painting such as in crevices and behind radiator pipes and other hard to get at areas.
For high walls and ceilings, pads are available with a socket to which you can fit a broom handle. By providing you with the extra reach you need, this cuts out the need for ladders.
Pads are sold with special trays (narrower and deeper than a roller tray) for loading them with paint, some trays have a grooved roller for transferring the paint to the pad you are using.
You can use paint pads with all commonly available paints (though thixotropic paints must first be thoroughly stirred to destroy the jelly texture). They are not particularly expensive but many are sold as complete sets which may be inconvenient if you want only one size as a replacement.
Another way of applying paint is to use a paint spray. Gloss paint is available in aerosol form but, since it is very expensive, it is only worth using on small jobs such as repainting a wicker chair (where it’s ideal for all the nooks and crannies) or to spruce up an old domestic appliance. For larger areas you can use a spray gun. This consists of a compressor (usually electric) connected to a paint reservoir and nozzle; you squeeze a trigger to apply the paint. These have the limitation that, for interior use. You would have to spend a great deal of time masking off areas you don’t want painted, so it’s better to use them for exterior work such as painting the outside walls of the house. Because of their restricted usefulness it’s worth hiring a spray gun rather than buying one. When hiring, make sure the paint reservoir is neither so large as to make the gun too heavy, nor so small that you are forever refilling it. Also check that the gun is suitable for use with the type of paint you have in mind. Exterior paints sometimes contain fibre or granular ‘’ and not all guns are able to cope with this kind of solid matter. Usually a special nozzle must be fitted.
Pressurised paint systems A recently developed product is the pressurised paint system. This consists of a container into which you fit special tubs of paint; an ordinary soda syphon bulb then provides the pressure to force the paint along a flexible tube to the painting head, which may take the form of a flat brush, a paint pad or a roller (these are interchangeable). The paint flow is controlled by a push-button in the head.
This method is a lot less messy than painting with conventional equipment but it’s expensive and you can only use the type of paint recommended by the manufacturer of the machine.