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Paint Brush or Roller for Walls?

paint roller

Though painting the walls of a large room can be time-consuming and tedious, the results are well worth it – if you do it right. For the best results, always start with high-quality paint, and pick equally good tools to apply the paint, or you might be disappointed with the finish.

But wait, should you use a brush or roller? The answer to that question is: It depends on what type of painting you’re doing. Read on to see which painting tool to use and when.

Pros of Painting with a Brush

Paint brushes allow you to easily control where you apply the paint. They’re best for cutting-in, detail work, and small areas that require some finesse. They’re also best for painting textures, like brick, as their bristles can push the paint into grooves and tight textures more easily, for a clean and even application.

More: Best Paint Brushes for Decorating Indoors

How to Choose a Paint Brush

Paint brushes come in a variety of styles and sizes. You’ll want to be sure you choose the right one for the job to get the best end results. The most common types of brushes are:

  • Synthetic bristle – Stiff bristles are made from nylon or polyester. Synthetic brushes are ideal for water-based paints.
  • Natural bristle – Softer bristles and ideal for oil-based or gloss paints.
  • Flat sash – Best for wide areas like doors or smaller walls, when a roller is too big.
  • Angle sash – Ideal for cutting in around ceilings, corners, and trim.

Brushes will inevitably leave brush strokes and are more likely to show imperfections from a novice painter, so for large and highly visible areas like walls, you may want to consider a roller.

Pros of Painting with a Roller

Paint rollers are best for the large, centre flat surface area of the walls. Even the widest paint brush won’t do as quick and complete of a job as a roller when it comes to larger areas like walls, so you’re better off investing in a paint roller for this.

You’re likely going to use emulsion paint for your walls, it’s the most popular for walls and ceilings. It’s water-based, and comes in a wide range of colours and textures – Matt, Silk, and Soft Sheen.

I recommend B&Q’s Valspar V700 emulsion paint blend for walls, as it provides exceptional coverage, and is a premium paint and primer formula. It’s also stain-resistant, washable, and very hard-wearing – ideal for busy homes.

How to Choose a Paint Roller

Much like paint brushes, rollers come in a variety of sizes and styles as well. The most common styles of paint rollers are:

  • Wool (natural fibre) – Best for oil-based paints and can be used on any surface texture.
  • Polyester – Best for water-based paints and can also be used on any surface texture.
  • Foam – Best with oil-based, high-gloss paints and on porous surfaces like wood.

The length you choose for the roller’s filament will depend on your wall texture. For smoother walls, you can use a roller with shorter hair. If a wall is more textured to begin with, longer hair rollers will work best for smooth, even coverage.

The size of the roller you’ll need will depend on the job at hand. For most interior walls, you’ll use a standard size roller which is around 9” (23cm). There are other sizes available, so take notes on your wall sizes before shopping or purchase a quality paint roller set with multiple size rollers.

Best Way to Paint Interior Walls

As you may have gathered, the best way to paint interior walls is by using both a brush and a roller together. Use a brush to cut in your walls along the ceiling, edge of skirting board, corners, and to paint detail work or textured surfaces. An angled brush specifically designed for cutting in is ideal for this task. You’ll also want to use a brush around windows.

The roller comes into play when you’re painting the large walls between the areas you’ve cut in. No brush can apply paint as quickly and uniformly on a flat surface as a roller. For the best coverage, you’ll want to roll your paint on the centre of your walls in a “V” shape. Continue painting “V”, applying more paint as necessary, until your wall is evenly coated.

More: Why Paint Won’t Stick to Wall

Another benefit to using a roller on walls, is that they come with extension poles to help reach the top of a high wall, without the need for ladders.

Bottom line: Use a brush to cut-in around the edges of the wall, and a roller to paint the large surface area of the wall.

Painting requires quite a bit of planning, preparation, and detail work to get it just right. If you take the time to do it right, your home will look clean, polished, and well-put-together. Choose high-quality materials and the right tools for the job and you’ll have a first-rate paint job that will last you for years.