Painting Walls, Brush vs. Roller

On Friday I made a big push to finally complete the painting of the wainscoting in our office remodel. There are various tools to apply the paint: rollers, brushes, even sprayers. As we don’t have a sprayer, I’m reserving my comments to just rollers and brushes. When it comes to rollers for example, the ‘nap’ aka fuzzy material part, comes in Heavy 1″ to 1-1/2″,  Medium (aka Semi-Smooth) 1/2″,  and Smooth 1/4″. In less technical terms they’re super puffy, not as puffy, and pretty short. Super puffy is good on heavily textured walls, less puffy on just your regular walls and ceiling, and pretty short on trim, cabinetry, etc.. For the wainscoting, all I had on hand at the time was Medium. And I thought that would do just fine. I was wrong.

Painting With A Roller vs. A Brush

The thing about rollers is that they can leave a sort of texture in the paint. No matter the quality of the paint or the roller, it’ll do it every time, especially if you’re using the wrong roller nap for the job, like I did. Now normally a little bit of roller ‘texture’ doesn’t matter because most walls are already textured. But I had a smooth surface and should have used a smooth roller.  The roller I used left a bumpy effect. This was NOT the look I was going for. One bit of trim dried that way and I was not pleased in the least, thankfully it’s in a tight corner, so not as noticeable. I next tried applying the paint with a medium quality brush instead. Here are the two side-by-side….

I wanted to give the wainscoting paneling a kind of linen look. We purposely hung the paneling with the wood grain horizontal, so when I painted it vertically, the brush lines made a kind of subtle fabric texture. But here’s the tricky part: the roller makes quick work of the job, while the brush is more time consuming and labor intensive. So I came up with a compromise: I rolled on the paint, then quickly went over it with the brush to flatten it out and get the look I was going for. Here is another photo comparison of the two, with the brush on the top half and the roller on the bottom half….


The above photos didn’t pick up on the true color of the paint – No natural lighting as the window is still covered up. Here are better photos, but they still show only the first coat….

By the time I was done with the second coat, it was late and I was tired, so I didn’t take finished photos. In case you were wondering, the paint is Benjamin Moore’s ‘Anchor Gray’. 🙂