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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. Paint sprayers are one option but they are not for everyone.
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.
Electric Power Paint Roller - Comparison Guide
Wagner 0530010 SMART Sidekick Power Roller
Wagner 0156113 TR10 Telescopic Pressure Roller
Graco 244512 Pressure Roller Kit
Wagner Power Roller Plus Cordless Multospeed 7 Pc System
Black & Decker C800659 Pro Electric Power Paint Roller
Wagner Spray Tech 0530002 SMART Power Roller
Types Of Rollers: Electric, Pressure & Hand
Ever since humans first started applying paint to surfaces, they have looked for ways to make the task simpler and quicker. The brush gave rise to the roller, which has evolved into the electric roller and the pressure roller.
The hand roller is a relatively recent invention; it only came into being in the early to mid-1900s. A typical hand roller has few parts: the roller cage or frame has a single rib, which in turn holds the cylindrical roller cover.
Your hand roller is perfect for quick, one-off jobs that you can tackle in an afternoon, like the laundry or bathroom.
But if you have a lot of wall to cover and not a lot of time, you might want to try the electric or pressure rollers. Electric rollers generally come as a single unit, comprising the roller, a tube and an electric motor. Paint is pumped directly from the paint can onto the roller as you are rolling the paint onto the wall. The paint flow is usually controlled by a button on the roller.
The pressure roller is basically an airless paint sprayer, with the roller pole attached directly onto the spray gun. The roller cover is specially designed with holes to distribute the paint. If you already outfitted for an airless sprayer, this might be an option for you. Being airless, it would also accommodate fluids with a thicker viscosity than the electric and offer a smoother finish than the hand roller.
Electric Power Rollers Vs Spray Guns
And there is no doubt that they get the job done very quickly. You can finish painting an entire room or the exterior of your house in a flash.
But there are some disadvantages. If you don’t know what you’re doing, they are tricky to handle. They are expensive, from $200 upwards, and that’s on top of the compressor or motor. Don’t forget that with a spray gun, you need to wear adequate protection like a proper respirator and goggles.
The clean-up can be especially trying, since you need to clean every nook and cranny of the gun. And there’s that bugbear of all spray guns: overspray.
No matter how you try to safeguard against this, you are always going to get some sort of overspray. With an electric power roller, it’s easy as plugging it in and painting. There is no overspray and it gives you neat, sharp lines. If you’ve got your rolling technique down, the electric roller produces a finish equal to, if not better than, the spray gun. And you don’t have to battle with clogged air tips ruining your finish.
The clean-up is pretty easy too since most models come with a reverse wash system. The tricky bit is cleaning the roller cover. But, if you don’t want the hassle, you could just throw the cover away. It’s not as quick as the spray gun but is much faster than a hand roller. And you don’t have to stop and refill with paint as you do with siphon or gravity-fed guns. The electric rollers are also cheaper than spray guns ranging from around $70 to $100.
So, the electric roller wins? Not quite. For one thing, the less powerful electric rollers can only be used with water-based paints while spray guns can accommodate a wider variety of materials. In addition, the electric roller is not as versatile as a spray gun.
It is the perfect choice for DIYers painting large flat surfaces like walls and ceilings. However, there are only so many walls and ceilings in your home to paint. You might use it once and then it’ll stand in the tool shed gathering dust. It might be cheaper than the spray gun in the short term but you’ll only get so many uses out of it. Still it’s a great tool to put on your list for Father Christmas.
What To Look For In a Paint Roller
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.
Top 6 Paint Rollers For All Types Of Jobs
1. Wagner 0530010 Smart Side Kick Power Roller
My Overall Rating
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.
2. Wagner Telescopic Pressure Roller
My Overall Rating
Wagner’s pressure roller does what it says on the box. But not without a few problems. The pressure roller attaches to any airless sprayer system as long as the hose fits the roller. The roller extension is fitted directly onto the spray gun.
Once you depress the trigger, paint is distributed to the roller and onto the wall through holes in the roller. Using the roller is not an unalloyed joy. A roller is only as good as its roller cover. And with the Wagner pressure roller, you can’t use just any roller cover hanging around the tool shed.
The unit is sold with the specially designed 9 “ Wagner roller cover, which has a polyester fiber 3/8” nap. The nap is fine for smooth surfaces. If you’re painting rough surfaces you will have to buy a cover with a longer nap. I prefer natural fiber covers, as they absorb and distribute paint more efficiently. I would have also liked the option of having a smaller roller for all my cutting-in work. Instead, I had to do that by hand.
The handle extends from 18” to 48” − handy if you’re painting your great room or your ceilings. A word of caution: don’t hold the trigger too long or else it can get messy. And I don’t think this will stand up to the rigours of commercial use; some of the plastic components broke after a few uses.
It also suffers the other disadvantages of any airless system: the noise and the clean-up.
With an extra roller cover, the Wagner comes in at about $170.
3. Graco 244512 Pressure Roller Kit
My Overall Rating
The manufacturers say the Graco pressure roller kit has been designed to be used with Magnum and Graco airless sprayers. However, I’ve seen contractors using the roller with any airless gun that has a 7/8 thread and it worked just fine. I’d suggest using washers with all the attachments so nothing leaks.
The Graco comes a 9” roller cage and a 1/2'” nap polyester cover. Its 20” extension is handy for all that ceiling work. It also has a 45-degree adapter for the gun, for those awkward spots. My advice is to keep the pressure low and a light finger on the trigger.
It is a hardy piece of machinery that will stand up to the rigours of commercial use. The only drawback is the synthetic cover which doesn’t last as long as a natural fiber cover and takes twice as long to clean. You can buy an extra cover with a ¾” nap for rougher surfaces for less than 10 bucks.
At under $80, the Graco pressure roller is a good addition to any painting set-up.
4. Wagner Power Roller Plus Cordless Multispeed System
My Overall Rating
Wagner has moved on a bit from the battery-operated multispeed system. This is probably the most basic power roller you can get. It’s portable, but you carry the entire system along with you while you paint. You decant the paint directly into the paint tank attached to the pump. Attach a handle and sling the system over your shoulder. And away you go.
But it’s heavy and, because of the relatively short 8” hose, you have to keep the container close at hand. You still end up going up ladders and end up having to refill the tank multiple times. You have a degree of control over the paint flow.
But, sometimes it’s necessary to turn off the pump so you don’t end up with too much paint on the roller. I think the roller would fun to use this on smaller projects Anything bigger is likely to be a real pain − literally. The system is no longer in production so sourcing parts could be quite difficult. Used systems go for around $60.
5. Black & Decker C800659 Pro Electric Power Paint Roller
My Overall Rating
Contractors often turn their noses up at Black & Decker, but any self-respecting DIYer would have at least one B&D tool in his or her shed. I’m on the fence about this one. It’s a lot of money to pay – just under $100 – for something you might use only once. Mind you, you would have a lot of fun using it.
With the Black & Decker Pro electric power paint roller, the paint is fed directly from the can through a tube to the roller. Applying paint is super-fast and there’s none of the mess associated with hand rollers or spray guns. The manufacturers boast about it painting one gallon of paint in under 10 minutes.
The system comes with a 16” inch extension – great for those tall walls and ceilings. And the 20” inch tube means you aren’t tethered to your paint can. Other accessories include a splatter shield to stop paint from splattering onto the ceiling. There’s also roller keeper to store your roller overnight if you’re too tired for clean-up.
6. Wagner 0530002 SMART Power Roller
My Overall Rating
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.
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.
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.
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.