How to choose the right paint roller nap

Written by elizabeth knoll
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How to choose the right paint roller nap
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Because walls and surfaces come in so many different textures, you need to choose the correct paint roller nap for the wall you are painting. If you use a nap that is too short on a rough surface or textured wall, the paint will not be applied to all the grooves and crevices of the wall. Long-nap rollers used on smooth surfaces will apply a paint layer that is too thick due to the roller's ability to hold a vast quantity of paint in its thick nap.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Identify what type of surface you will be painting. If painting multiple surfaces, take note of each surface.

  2. 2

    Select the type of paint you will apply to each surface. Flat or latex paints require a different nap than enamels or gloss finishes.

  3. 3

    Purchase the appropriate paint roller. Short-nap rollers work well on plasterboard, plaster, smooth wood and masonite. They also work great with enamels or gloss finishes on smooth surfaces. Slightly rough-nap rollers work well on textured drywall, textured plaster, rough wood and poured concrete. Also use slightly rough rollers with flat or latex paint. Long-nap rollers are best used on rough surfaces like concrete block, Spanish plaster, shingles and brick.

Tips and warnings

  • Using a rough-nap roller on smooth walls will yield an orange-peel appearance. If you do not desire this appearance, always use a smooth-nap roller on smooth walls.

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