There’s no more effective touch-up for a drab room than a fresh coat of paint. Whether it’s handprints accumulated in your halls, a muddy faux-Tuscan brown in the kitchen that’s starting to look a little dingy and dated, or the pretty-princess pink bedroom that your teenager has long since outgrown, a bad paint job can bring down the entire room, not to mention the resale value of your home.
If you’ve ever tackled a big painting job, you know that the results can be astonishing, but the time to put two or even three coats on the walls is not insignificant. Enter the electric paint roller. By feeding the paint into the roller, these devices eliminate the need to constantly reapply paint from a tray, and can halve your painting time. If this sounds like the right tool for the job to you, then read on for our review of power paint rollers popular on the market today.
Several factors play into evaluating power painters. Efficacy is high on the list – does the tool have enough suction power to take up all kinds of paint, even thick primers and viscous premium paints? A good power painter should also be easily portable, with a long cord and hose so that DIYers can reach the farthest corners of the room (and up to the highest ceilings in grand, open-plan spaces) without constantly fighting their own equipment.
Accessories and attachments should be easily replaced as needed, and enable the user to complete a wide range of jobs, including painting corners and trimming out crown molding, baseboards, windows and doors. To receive top marks in power painter reviews, the product should be easy to clean. Finally, quiet operation is an extra, bonus consideration – any veteran handyman or woman knows there’s nothing like good tunes to make a chore speed along.
Wagner is perhaps the leading manufacturer worldwide of powered painting tools, and the company’s products can be found in home improvement stores and backyard sheds across the United States.
The SMART Power Roller draws on the company’s long experience in the field and is designed with the homeowner and DIYer in mind. The base unit is sized to fit a standard gallon can of paint and cannot accommodate the five-gallon buckets used in commercial scale painting operations. It does, however, include a lid that holds the feed hose steadily in place and provides good protection against dripping, tip overs and outside contaminants falling into the open can.
The kit ships with an adapter for cutting in trim and working in tight spaces. It also comes with two rollers; one with a three-eighths inch nap suitable for economically coating smooth drywall and one with a three-quarter inch nap intended for use on rougher and more textured surfaces like plaster.
Pros and Cons
The Wagner SMART Power Roller offers nine speeds of paint feeding to ensure a steady flow of paint, whether you are working with a thick primer or a thinner specialty coating. A convenient handle-mounted button starts and stops the flow of paint. The tool is easily capable of feeding the thickest premium paints, and so receives good grades for effective operation.
This power painter comes with a 16 foot feed hose, allowing users to climb ladders and cover a significant swath of the wall before the can has to be moved up the line. It also includes an 18 inch extension handle, which allows average height adults to paint ceilings up to 8 feet high without a ladder.
However, the system is not compatible with longer extension handles. If your future holds high ceilings, open stairwells and vaulted living rooms, the SMART Power Roller will not spare you the hassle of dealing with ladders.
Like all power paint rollers, this one does not take the same covers as manual rollers, and requires the use of special perforated covers so that the paint can seep out from the interior of the handle to the roller surface.
Suitable replacement covers can be found at most major home improvement chains, although selection for covers with the especially deep naps used for very rough surfaces like brick is limited. The SMART Power Roller ships with the three most common sizes used in household painting projects, and is a good start for most common DIY needs.
No review of power paint rollers is complete without considering the cleanup at the end of the day. The SMART Power Roller receives accolades for its reversible pump, which allows the user to backflush unused paint from the supply hose into the can. Clean up is not completely hassle-free, but with the chore ranging from 10 to 30 minutes depending on the kind of paint used, it is not unreasonable.
Finally, in the bonus noise-control round, this tool does provide a certain degree of background noise, but not enough to prevent a DIYer from mixing opera with his primer and punk rock with her paint.
The Wagner SMART Power Roller is a great starter kit for home DIYers. Although it doesn’t have some of the features that commercial painters would look for, and isn’t great for high-ceilinged spaces, it can turn a more modest household job from a three-day weekend project to a single day honey-do.
As an alternative to the all-in-one mentality of the Wagner SMART Power Roller, the Side Kick does one thing and does it well. That thing is paint walls quickly. The Side Kick dispenses with some of the accessories and bells and whistles provided with the flagship SMART product.
If you want to use your power paint roller to cut in trim and fit into narrow corners, you’ll need to buy your accessories separately. In the alternative, you can just cut in around your trim and paint into corners with an old-fashioned, unpowered edger or trim roller.
However, where the Side Kick outshines its big brother is with its simplified feed mount, which can accommodate both one gallon cans and the five gallon buckets that come into play for the biggest painting jobs.
Most notably, the Side Kick is also compatible with standard paint roller extension wands, allowing users to reach all the way to the higher ceilings found in upscale and historic houses without dragging around a ladder. The Side Kick has no pretentions towards solving all of your painting problems, but in many ways it’s a more efficient tool for tackling the big jobs.
In our review of power paint rollers, there’s something for everyone. The homeowner who wants one system with the flexibility to handle the most commonly-encountered tasks in a typical home painting project will likely want to steer towards the Wagner SMART Power Roller.
The home owner who wants a tool that only handles smooth walls, but reaches far, wide and fast will be better served by the Wagner Side Kick. Either way, you’ll be enjoying that fresh paint feeling in less time than ever before.