Whats in a roller?

From the DIY enthusiast trying their hand at a basic room re-paint to the professional painter completing a high end paint project, the quality of the roller will significantly impact the finished result.

As paint department staff will attest, when helping customers select the right equipment for their job, sound advice on which roller to choose is always well received – and appreciated long after your customer has left the store!

DIY painters in particular often feel bamboozled by the variety of rollers on the market. Making the right choice can be confusing, and customers can end up feeling more baffled than inspired. By providing reliable, accurate advice on roller choice, you can help ensure your customer’s paint project rolls a whole lot more smoothly!

When choosing a roller, customers need to select one that suits the paint they are using and the surface they are painting on. In addition, roller fabric, components and quality should be taken into account.

What’s in a roller?


The fabric a roller is made from plays a key role in its effectiveness and the finish it creates. Consider the following:

Pile height (aka nap length)

In general, the shorter the pile height the finer the finish.

  • Use a short nap (5 – 9mm) for smooth surfaces using higher gloss paints.
  • Use a med nap (10 – 12mm) for moderately uneven surfaces, using flat or low sheen paints.
  • Use a long nap (20mm or longer) for rough surfaces.

Woven versus knitted fabrics

All Rolana rollers are sourced from Europe or the USA, where the skills in fabric manufacturing and finishing are at world’s best.

Woven fabrics

It will shed less than a knitted fabric.

Recommended for:
Semi-gloss and gloss paints on smooth surfaces where a fine, lint-free finish is required.

Woven fabrics are made from a continuous filament, which is composed of various textile materials, depending on performance requirements. The composition is controlled to obtain optimal paint pick up and release in the application for which the roller is intended. The filament is actually woven into the backing material which forms the cloth, thereby locking it in.

Knitted fabrics

Excellent paint pick-up.

Recommended for:
Flat and low sheen paints on smooth to semi smooth surfaces where any fibre loss is not easily detected.

’Sliver knit’ is the process used to manufacture knitted fabrics. It uses loose fibres (mainly polyester), spun together to form a continuous rope. A needle picks up the spun fibre, then knits it and attaches it to the backing material.

As the knitted fabric is not in the form of a continuous filament woven into the backing cloth, but rather a number of small fibre lengths spun together, knitted and attached to the backing cloth, fibres are more loosely bound, meaning knitted fabrics tend to shed more fibre.

Other roller components

Roller core

The core is an important element of a good quality roller and a Polypropylene (PP) core offers strength and durability. Some cores are made with resinimpregnated paper, and these tend to break down in use and do not last as long as rollers made with good quality PP cores.

All Rolana covers use a specially blended PP core, which is 1.5mm in thickness and is manufactured with tight tolerances to ensure that the roller is perfectly round and rolls evenly and smoothly on the surface, without ‘bouncing’ (ie it does not ‘chatter’ during use). The PP core also provides resistance to solvents.

Roller end caps

The metal end cap in the roller core ensures paint build up does not accumulate inside the core, which can at times affect the finish.

Roller production and finishing

Not all rollers are equally durable or well made! Thermal fusion is a process whereby the fabric is thermally and permanently bonded to the core, which means the roller fabric will not detach from the core during the painting process. Some rollers use adhesives to bond the fabric to the core.

The adhesive will deteriorate with time and will be affected by some solvents and repeated use of the roller. This results in the fabric detaching from the core. Like all quality products, quality finishing is the key to a good paint roller.

Selleys use a state-of-the-art, six station European finishing machine that ensures the covers are finished to a high standard.