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1/4 or 3/8 inch nap rollers?

For painting interior walls, is 3/8 or 1/4 inch nap rollers best? What are the advantages or disadvantages of using one as opposed to the other? Is the finish different?

THanks for anyone who may be of help.

Re: 1/4 or 3/8 inch nap rollers?

My grandfather was a painter and here's what I remember.
The recommended nap size is relative to the sheen of the paint. Flats and velvets usually require a thicker coat than higher sheened paints. The recommended nap size for flats and velvets are 3/8 to 1/2 in order to achieve the film thickness required.
The film thickness recommendations (per coat) for higher sheened paints are much lower. In order for these paints to develop an even shine multiple coats with a smaller nap ( 3/16-1/4 inch) is often recommended.

A. Spruce
Re: 1/4 or 3/8 inch nap rollers?

As a general roller, I use a 3/8" nap. The only reason I've used a longer or shorter nap is due to the surface being painted. A smooth surface requires less nap length and less paint to fill all voids and cover the surface evenly, where as a textured surface (typical interior wall ) requires more paint and a roller nap length that can reach the bottoms of the nooks and crannies. The only times I've used anything longer than a 3/8" nap is when painting extremely rough surfaces, such as acoustic ceilings, where the crevaces are very deep and the surface is very porous and you need large amounts of paint and nap length to reach the bottoms of the nooks and crannies. Now, in the case of acoustic ceilings, my preferred way of painting is with an airless sprayer and you paint in four different directions so that you paint each side of all the hills/valleys of the texture. Rollers tend to glob paint, leaving a thick, heavy feeling that I don't personally care for, though that is not to say that acoustic ceilings can't be rolled, it's just my preference.

Re: 1/4 or 3/8 inch nap rollers?

Good points about the surface texture. I guess I kind of forgot to mention that part.:o

Re: 1/4 or 3/8 inch nap rollers?

Yeah, 3/8" nap rollers are just fine for 95% of wall textures.

1/4" rollers have to be reloaded so often that it can slow you down. This can be a detriment with modern latexes that start setting-up so fast!!

Some painters like a 1/2" 'cuz they don't have to load as often.
Applied texture difference between 3/8 & 1/2 are almost meaningless.

You need to apply good/full coats regardless of sheen. If a higher-sheen paint is applied too thin, the full gloss WON'T develope fully. The coat would be too thin to be durable & reflect light evenly.


Re: 1/4 or 3/8 inch nap rollers?

JUst like a quality brush is of the greatest importance in obtaining good painting results, so is a using a high quality roller cover. It always amazes me the people who opt for the inexpensive six-pack of rollers that sell for about $1 per roller. You can squeeze them and readily compress the nap and feel the core. Such a roller will readily get shaggy, laying the paint out unevenly. This will be expecially noticeable on smooth walls and with higher sheen paints. A high quality roller cover has a very dence nap and will not get saggy or compress when being used. Even a quality roller will wearout and should be discarded when it ceases to lay out the paint well.

As to what nap to use: on smooth walls with flat paint I personally like a half inch roller. With eggshell or satin I prefer 3/8ths. With high sheen paint, I use a 1/4inch on smooth walls or optionally 3/8ths on light to merderate textured walls.

Higher sheens paint have their pigments much more finely milled.
Unfortunately, this gives them a tendency to run and sag. Nothing more discouraging then looking back down the wall and seeing the paint sagging! This is the reason you have to put on a thinner more even coat of paint with glossy paints and why you should use a thinner nap to this end.

Re: 1/4 or 3/8 inch nap rollers?

What I've also found helpful when using rollers is to take a piece of wide packing tape and roll the roller on it to remove any loose lent from the roller so that it does not end up on your walls when painting. I ususally use around 3 feet of tape on large rollers until the loose particles quit coming off on the tape

Re: 1/4 or 3/8 inch nap rollers?

I usually use 3/8 but it depends what texture you're going for :D

--Mark, an Eden Prairie, MN Painter

Re: 1/4 or 3/8 inch nap rollers?

im a pro painter for 40 yrs and i use only 3/4 naps on almost every thing i paint cause of ease and speed you just need to use expensive naps

J Roper
Re: 1/4 or 3/8 inch nap rollers?

I only use a 1/4 for slick walls and with a glossy finish. 3/8 for eggshell or satin finish and 1/2 for flat finishes, on dry wall. Stucco or block I use a 1" or more depending on the roughness.

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