How To Apply Latex Paint With a Roller? (4 EASY Steps)

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Reviewed by
Eral Kadrija

Tony Adams

Latex paint is water-based, has a thick flow, and can be applied with different equipment.

To apply latex paint with a roller, choose and prep the roller, prep the paint bucket, and apply 2-3 coats of latex paint.

Paint rollers are easy to use, save you time, and apply the paint evenly. But, you must choose the right roller and need some experience to get a smooth finish.

What Type of Roller Can You Use to Apply Latex Paint?

To apply latex paint you can use standard rollers, mini rollers, canvas rollers, foam rollers, and nap rollers.

The roller you use depends on the sheen: gloss, semi-gloss, or flat paint requires different rollers because they have different finishes. 

Standard rollers are 7 – 12 inches wide and work well in most situations (near baseboards or ceilings). Mini rollers under 5″ are good for tight edges and corners. That’s because they’re easier to handle than larger ones due to their smaller size.

Canvas rollers work best for flat surfaces with a low sheen, and vinyl or foam-covered rollers should only be used for high-gloss sheens. 

Foam Roller

Foam rollers apply latex paint well on smooth and even surfaces, and don’t leave lap marks behind. They are good at applying semi-gloss or gloss latex paint.

However, foam rollers don’t apply latex paint well on rough or uneven surfaces as the roller absorbs too much paint.

Foam rollers apply thin coats of latex paint well, but struggle to apply thick coats of it.

Nap Roller

The nap of a roller cover refers to the length of fibers on it. Consider what type you want because they come in natural and synthetic materials. Synthetic material is excellent when applying latex paint.

For smooth surfaces, use a nap length of 3/16 to 1/4 inches. For medium or semi-smooth surfaces, use a nap of 3/8 to 1/2 inches, and for semi-rough surfaces, use a nap length of 3/4 to 1 inch. Extra rough surfaces (such as brick) require a nap of 11/4 to 11/2 inches.

A longer nap will absorb more paint than a short one, so pick which one best fits your needs.

How to Apply Latex Paint With a Roller?

To apply latex paint with a roller, do the following things.

  1. Choose and Prepare Your Roller.
  2. Prep the Paint Bucket.
  3. Apply Latex Paint.
  4. Apply The Second Coat.

1. Choose and Prepare Your Roller 

Here are some steps that will teach you how to apply latex paint with a roller.

Choose the right type of roller to apply latex paint.

For instance, use a roller with a longer nap for a textured wall surface or attach an extended handle to your roller for tall or large surfaces. The extra handle with help you control it better.

Prep the paint roller before painting by using a synthetic roller sleeve. The loose fibers on the sleeve can result in the clotting of paint during application. So, you must remove these fibers. 

Damp the roller with water for easier paint loading — the roller must be slightly damp and not dripping in water.

2. Prep the Paint Bucket

Setup the Paint Bucket or Tray

Pour latex paint into a clean bucket, but don’t overfill the bucket as it can spill out when loading the roller.

You can thin the paint if it’s too thick. To thin latex paint, use water as a paint thinner and thin it in a ratio of 4:1 (4 parts latex paint, 1 part water). 

3. Apply Latex Paint

Apply Latex Paint To The Surface

Before applying latex paint, outline the fringe of the wall using a paint roller. Long and horizontal strokes help with achieving even coverage. 

To apply latex paint with a roller, do the following things.

  1. Dip the roller into the bucket. 
  2. Remove excess (or sticky) paint from the roller. 
  3. Start at the middle of the surface.
  4. Leave 6 inches of space from the edges and 12 inches from the surface. Leaving these areas unpainted allows you to spread the paint evenly.
  5. Roll the paint onto the surface by keeping the roller at a slight angle. 
  6. Apply the paint in upward strokes. 
  7. Work in single areas before moving to the next one. This helps you to apply latex paint evenly. 
  8. After painting one area, dip the roller into the bucket, and paint the other areas. 

4. Apply The Second Coat

Apply a Second Coat And Clean Your Roller

Wait until the first coat of latex paint dries before applying the next one. Latex paint takes 3 hours to dry between coats. If you re-coat too soon, the finish will turn sticky, tacky, or peel off.

While waiting between coats, put the roller into a plastic bag and then put both into a refrigerator to prevent the paint from drying.

If the paint dries into the roller, you must clean it (which takes time), let it dry, and then re-use it. So, putting it into a refrigerator between coats is a better option.

Apply the second coat of latex paint the same way you applied the first one. You need 2-3 coats of latex paint for proper coverage. 

Tony Adams

Tony Adams

Woodworker, Interior and Exterior Painter, Flooring Specialist

Tony is a professional painter and an author of DIY Geeks. Tony has completed over 1,000 painting projects for his clients. It's safe to say he knows what he Is talking about.

Eral Kadrija

Eral Kadrija

Lead Editor, Home Renovator

Eral has a passion for home renovation and repair. Over the years, he has bought, renovated, and sold 7 old homes. Using his experience from different DIY projects he created DIY Geeks.

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