How to paint with rollers and not streak

Updated November 21, 2016

The secret to painting like a pro is using the tools the pros use. High-quality tools can be cleaned again and again after every paint job for years. This saves money. The techniques used to roll paint on a wall without leaving streaks or lines are mastered with practice and know-how. Steady even-pressured strokes up and down the wall are comparable to an artist's strokes as she paints a picture on a canvas. The wall or ceiling is your canvas.

Pour two inches of paint into a hand-held paint holder. Dip the bristles of a paintbrush into this paint, and paint the border of the wall. Painting the border reduces roller streaking, because the roller won't have to roll so close to the wall or ceiling corners. Rolling close to corners increases the chance of creating thick lines of paint with the edges of the roller. Paint from the corners of the wall or ceiling in toward the wall or ceiling about five inches. Go over the brushed-on paint with a mini-roller to smooth out all brush marks and further feather the paint out. Feathering just means spreading it out.

Pour 1 gallon of paint into a 5-gallon bucket.

Hang a metal paint roller screen from the inner lip of the 5-gallon bucket. This set-up is easier to move around and work with than a paint tray.

Slide a roller cover with a 1/2-inch nap over a 9-inch roller frame. Wood-handled roller frames often roll smoother than the cheap plastic ones. Get a roller frame with the threaded hole at the end of the handle. Screw an extension pole into this hole. Extension poles come in many lengths and designs. The extension pole takes the back work out of rolling paint.

Roll the roller down the face of the metal roller screen until just the nap hairs or fibres of the roller cover touch the paint. If you go too far, the paint will seep in between the cover and the ends of the roller spindle and squish out onto the surface while you roll. Roll up and down the screen several times until the roller is loaded with paint. Turn the roller sideways and look to see that the nap fibres have wicked the paint to the core of the roller cover.

Place the loaded roller six inches above the bottom paint boarder and six inches out from the corner border on the wall, and roll all the way to the top of the wall and then back down. These strokes are just to get the paint off the roller and onto the wall. Lift the roller off the wall. Place the roller back where you first started and go back over the applied paint, up and down, pushing the paint up toward the ceiling paint border, down toward the floor paint border and over toward the corner paint border. The idea is to smooth the lines and streaks as quickly as possible while the paint is still wet.

Dip the roller back into the bucket and load the nap fibres with paint. Keep the roller wet with paint and continue pushing the paint up and down the wall and across the wall. Overlap each previously painted area by one-third the length of the roller to eliminate all streaks, lines and ridges.


Keep the roller wet while painting and finish the entire wall before taking a break, or streaks will occur. Keep light and even pressure on the roller while applying the paint. The idea is to allow the paint to roll off the roller rather than pushing it off the roller.


If you paint over a section of the wall that has already started to dry, you will streak the finish.

Things You'll Need

  • Handheld paint holder
  • Paintbrush
  • Mini roller
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Metal paint roller screen
  • Roller cover, 1/2-inch nap
  • 9-inch roller frame
  • Extension pole
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