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Pressure paint roller

Listed under Blog, Equipment, paint, products Posted Dec 21 2011

I have been looking over a house re-decorating job that involves painting about 1000m2 of ceiling and wall area. I am looking into the benefits of using a pressure paint roller / power roller to apply the paint to the walls.

The fastest ways to apply paint to internal plastered walls and ceilings Depending on the size of the pump and tip, an airless spray gun can apply from a litre to several gallons per minute. The next fastest approach is an airless spray roller system where you have a spray gun and a roller sleeve at the end of a pole – the paint is sprayed and then synchronously rolled. Then you have a power roller system using an internal fed sleeve, so you have like a constantly charged sleeve. And then you have conventional roller and sleeve kits – I think Wooster’s roller and brush system is the best of this type for quality and speed.

There are pro’s and cons when comparing each approach.

Airless spray arguably gives the smoothest finish and is undoubtedly super fast.

On the downside, it requires time for masking up and protecting windows, door, fittings etc. Also a straight spray finish is not necessarily appropriate where maintenance is concerned. Unless the local painter has a portable spray gun, touching up marks with a brush or roller will leave a different texture to the spray finish and stick out terribly. This texture touch-up issue is why many contractors spray and back roll. It is also why many contractors were excited by the maintenance benefits of a portable battery-powered Graco Minimax airless.

Spray fed roller This is slower than spraying, but faster than internal fed rollers. This system is appropriate where mechanical painting is required, ie applying emulsion on render and textures where the paint has to be pushed into the substrate. Basically, the paint is sprayed through a conventional spray head and then forced into the surface by the action of the roller sleeve. This system allows for using any type of sleeve, so conceivably you could get the smooth high end finish on smooth internal plaster walls and ceilings, however, you would have to prepare the work area as if it were being sprayed.

Internal feed power roller Way faster than conventional rolling systems, and requires minimal masking up compared to spray or spray fed systems. However, the quality of power roller sleeves doesn’t appear that great where high end finishes are required – they start at 14mm pile! So at first glance, it is probably not appropriate to rely on an internal fed power roller where a very high quality rolled finish is required.

However, using a power roller with a 1/2″ pile sleeve, applying paint fast and furious, and another painter following behind, backrolling with a drier short plush pile Wooster sleeve, that could achieve the best of both worlds.

If you have a lot of wall area, a rolled finish is required and the standard is commercial quality, you could justify investing in a pressure fed spray roller system, with a 1/2″ sleeve of your choice, but allowing for comprehensive masking up.

If you have a lot of wall area, a rolled finish is required AND there is a pre-requisite for better than commercial quality workmanship, you could justify investing in a spray fed roller system with a 3/8″ pile sleeve, or the “cleaner” internal power fed rollers, (as long as you back roll with a superior quality 3/8″ roller sleeve).

If you have “normal” wall areas, a rolled finish is required AND there is a pre-requisite for better than commercial quality workmanship, Wooster rollers in the right hands can do great things, fast.

If you have large areas and a spray finish is required, and you have accounted for how to achieve invisible touch ups, an airless spray unit is the best choice.

Written October 2008
In the UK, airless is almost exclusively for industrial use, which for me is like “the other side” of painting. But once upon a time, I was given the chance to try out an airless powered paint roller. In a nutshell, it was amazing!

Imagine just standing there rolling the wall out, never bending over to reload the roller, rarely running out of paint mid room, never worrying about dripping paint between the roller tray and the wall. Basically, it was non-stop clean and fast rolling with an internal fed perforated roller sleeve. It was an airless unit that unlike a spray gun, didn’t coat every square inch of a room in paint mist.

That is my everlasting (and probably idealised) recollection of a power roller.

We didn’t buy one, because from memory, it took a while to clean the unit out, so you needed a very long run of work to compensate for the hour or so cleaning the sleeve and making the inside of the feeder pole gleam. In those days we didn’t really tender for large site work, but if I did, I would highly recommend looking into a power roller system. (Hence re-visiting this post.)

Does anyone use one on a regular basis? How does it compare speed ways, to using high quality Wooster roller frames and sleeves?

Thanks to Stephen at Lion Industries for clarifying the choices and pros and cons of power fed rollers. As an idea for budgeting, they could supply an internal feed power roller set-up with pole, all ready to attach to an airless pump and paint for about £400 plus VAT.

And as an idea for an airless unit suitable for applying interior acrylic and vinyl emulsions, (no heavy body exterior paints) they suggest the Graco 395 or Titan Xi 345 which are between £1000 and £1400 plus VAT.

Food for thought when you get your next large scale high quality job!

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