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Your next painting project will go much smoother with a quality paint roller and cover. Not only do paint roller covers allow you to paint much quicker compared to a standard paintbrush, but they also apply paint very evenly across surfaces.
Paint roller covers are porous, cylindrical painting tools that slip over the metal frame of a paint roller. Because their surfaces are porous, they can hold much more paint than a regular paintbrush. When dipped in paint and rolled onto a surface, like a wall or a furniture piece, the paint roller cover applies paint evenly. They’re commonly made from synthetic fiber.
The overall appearance of paint roller covers varies based on the finish they produce. Paint roller covers will differ based on the type of material used, as well as the density and length of material that covers the roller. Depending on your project, you should also consider the size of the roller cover when selecting one.
Here are the best paint roller covers to consider for your next project.
Best Overall: The Home Depot Better High-Density Cover
A great paint roller cover is one that is highly adaptable for different types of paints and wall surfaces. If you can find the right roller cover that you can repeatedly use on different projects, you will spend less time and money switching covers. This cover set gets the job done by offering a versatile material and durability at a low price.
The Better High-Density Cover uses a highly durable polyester material that is perfect for a wide variety of paints and is ideal for water-based paint. The polyester makes it easy to wash and reuse time and time again. The set includes a pack of three reusable covers in the standard 9-inch size.
Best Budget: The Home Depot Best White Woven Cover
Budget paint roller covers can be tricky since you typically get what you pay for when it comes to the quality of the cover. Value covers that are made with inexpensive fabrics and materials will start to tear, flatten, or dry up after just a single project. At the very least, poor budget covers won’t retain the paint, allowing stray splatters and drips to ruin your work as you roll it across the surface. The Best White Woven Cover, however, is not like other budget covers.
This cover provides a great combination of durability and coverage with its 4-inch width. This size is perfect for painting small or narrow areas where full-size rollers won't reach. The white woven material evenly distributes paint to the wall without leaving any marks or clumps of paint to dry, thus ruining the finished look.
Best 3-Inch: ALAZCO Mini 3" Refill Covers
Most paint rollers are 9 inches or wider. While this is a great size for general use, particularly on large areas of a wall or ceiling, they tend to suffer in more confined spaces. Therefore, a good 3-inch roller and cover can paint where these larger options struggle. Great for corners and edges, smaller paint roller covers are a good alternative for brush work as well.
When you want a lot of little covers in a single pack, the Alazco 12-cover set is the perfect option to purchase. Using polyethylene fibers in a tight configuration, these covers restrict the amount of paint that is lost to drips, splatters and spraying while rolling across a surface.
Best 9-Inch: Wooster High-Density Pro Woven Roller Cover
If you want a paint roller cover that is a good balance between large and small, 9 inches is the magic width. At this size, most covers can tackle a common room wall in less than an hour with the right roller and paint combination. These rollers also tend to be more manageable to get a good finish in an efficient manner. With the right material, a 9-inch cover is a go-to tool to have for any paint job.
The Wooster Pro High Density Pack offers three individual 9-inch covers that are perfect for average-to-large-size paint jobs. The 9-inch width is good for covering more surface area than smaller covers without adding a lot of bulk onto the end of the roller. These rollers are extremely well made with shed-resistant materials so paint stays on the cover and the wall.
Best Synthetic: The Home Depot Good Medium-Density Polyester Cover
Since paint roller covers come in a variety of materials, it can be difficult to know which one you need for your project. By far, the most common material is a synthetic fiber that is easier to wash and use with most standard interior and exterior paints. A synthetic material like polyester also has the advantage of being more durable, meaning it will last you longer than other materials.
Budget-friendly and extremely durable, the Good Medium-Density Polyester Cover is the perfect option for most types of wall paints, including common water-based paints. The pack comes in many different sizes and options so you can choose the number of covers you need for a single project or to last you through several projects if necessary. The covers fit on easily over most rollers around 6 or 9 inches wide.
Best Natural: Wooster R291-9 Lambswool Cover
Wool roller covers are known for holding a lot of paint, releasing the paint easily and smoothly, and cleaning up with relative ease. For these reasons, many painting experts are willing to pay a premium for natural-fiber covers.
The Wooster R291-9 Lambswool Cover uses natural lambswool for a high degree of uniform paint coverage and extra grip to keep drips and runs to a minimum. The wool is woven into a synthetic backing for superior durability. This roller has a 1/2-inch nap, making it ideal for textured or semi-rough surfaces, such as spray-textured ceilings. It is suitable water- and oil-based paints and stains.
What to Look for in a Paint Roller Cover
Paint roller covers are typically woven or knit synthetic fibers, microfiber, or foam. All work well when applying any paint type or varnish, which makes them perfect for use on doors and other smooth surfaces.
When using a glossy finish paint, choose a woven fabric for the roller cover because they are resistant to shedding. Paints with a glossy finish tend to show lint because of their high sheen.
Knit roller covers work well for more flat or satin paints and stains. Knit covers have a looped backing that allows them to absorb and subsequently release more paint than woven covers can.
High-density paint roller covers can hold more paint. When you paint with a high-density paint roller cover instead of a low-density one, you’ll get a more concentrated color. This is great if you’re painting your bedroom a deep blue or even a solid white. High-density paint roller covers also work well if you’re covering up an old layer of paint with a new color.
If you’re painting a fresh, unpainted surface and you’re opting for a more soft look, consider choosing a low-density roller cover.
Paint rollers and paint roller covers come in a range of sizes designed for different purposes. If you’re painting a wall, you may opt for a large paint roller. Smaller projects, like painting furniture, will require more detailed work that warrants a significantly smaller cover.
The standard paint roller cover is about nine inches long. Painting small areas may warrant a four-inch cover, while large projects will be easier with a seven-inch cover (or even larger). Before purchasing your paint roller cover, consider the size of your project. Painting with a larger roller will be quicker, but it will be more difficult to maneuver in tight areas.
How do you clean paint roller covers?
Can you reuse paint roller covers?
As long as you clean your paint roller cover well, you can reuse it several times before it affects the quality of paint. In general, your paint roller cover can be used about five times, but this ultimately depends on the product’s overall quality.
How many roller covers do you need?
The number of roller covers you need depends on how many different paint colors you’re using. If you’re painting all four walls of your bedroom the same color, for example, you’ll just need one roller cover per painter. For projects using multiple paint colors, purchase one roller per color to make the project more efficient.
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Lauren Murphy, a long-time writer and editor who specializes in DIYs, home upgrades, and other home-related topics, provided additional research for this article.