When to Use Microfiber Paint Rollers and When Not to


Microfiber rollers are becoming increasingly popular for use in interior home painting and in other applications, but they are only effective in certain situations. These rollers can be a boon, but they can also be troublesome if they are used incorrectly or used for the wrong jobs.

So when should you use microfiber rollers and when should you not use them? Microfiber rollers should be used in painting projects where a smooth, consistent application of paint is desired, and should not be used in paint jobs where texture in the paint such as brushstrokes are desired.  

Microfiber rollers are a great tool to have in any painter’s essential kit, but it’s important to know when to use them, and more importantly, how they should be used for best effect. Read on to find out more about microfiber rollers and how they can be used to best complete your projects.

What are Microfiber Rollers?

Microfiber rollers are like traditional woven paint rollers but feature a wrap of microfiber cloth. Microfiber cloths are like normal cloth, but the fibers on microfiber cloths are extremely small.

On a microfiber roll, the microfibers are adhered to the roller with heat, which makes microfiber rollers very durable. They don’t tend to lose fibers in the paint job, which can lead to unsightly flaws in the paint later on if these fibers become stuck in the paint, as can happen with other rollers.

By definition, a microfiber is smaller than a thread of silk, which is itself only the fifth of a diameter of a human hair. Microfibers are made of synthetic materials such as the following (or a compound of several of these materials):

  • Polyester
  • Nylon
  • Kevlar
  • Nomex
  • Trogamide
  • Polyamide
  • Polypropylene

Microfibers are very good at absorbing liquids, especially oil-based liquids, and are not hard enough to scratch paintwork unless they are contaminated with grit or hard particles of debris from prior use.

This means that when they are used in painting, they can leave an exceptionally smooth finish with minimal texture, allowing for a smooth, glossy finish in paint projects.

What Projects are Microfiber Rollers Suited For?

Microfiber rollers are best used in any paint projects which require a smooth finished effect because they leave a minimum of texture behind when you use them.

Especially in projects where you are wanting to maintain maximum reflectivity, such as projects using high gloss paint, microfiber rollers are a good choice because they don’t create texture on the surface of the wall, which in turn forms micro shadows and makes the paint job seem duller.

Microfiber rollers are also a good choice for any large paint project because they hold four times their volume of paint. This means that each load of paint on the roller goes farther, and you can get large spaces painted more quickly.

In areas where you want to be especially careful of the surroundings, microfiber paint rollers are a good choice because they don’t tend to splatter. This can help you avoid getting a fine splatter of paint on anything in the room you’re painting in.

Microfiber Rollers are The Choice of Professionals

Microfiber paint rollers are popular among professional painting contractors because they are free of lint and can paint fifty percent more for each roller load.

This means that there is less labor necessary to complete each job, and because painters don’t have to waste time getting up and down ladders to load the paint on their rollers, painting jobs can be completed more quickly.

What Paint Should be Used on Microfiber Rollers?

Microfiber rollers are useful for a wide variety of different paints used in the interior of the home. Here are the kinds of paints that can be used with a microfiber roller:

  • Gloss paint
  • Semi-gloss paint
  • Flat/matte paint
  • Eggshell paint
  • Satin paint
  • Metallic paints

The smaller the nap on the microfiber roller is, the finer coverage it is capable of. Nap on rollers typically runs from a 1/4 inch nap to a 1-inch nap, typically found more often in woven rollers than microfiber ones.

Because they are designed for smooth finish work, microfiber rollers are more often found in smaller naps to increase the smoothness of the final paint job.

Thicker naps, such as ¾-inch nap, are better for stucco, brick, and masonry work. 3/8th-inch nap is most often used for ceilings and drywall, while smaller naps are more suitable for walls, wood, and metal surfaces.

When Microfiber Rollers Should Not Be Used

Since microfiber rollers are best suited for smooth finish jobs, their abilities are somewhat wasted on rougher textured surfaces such as brick, stucco, and masonry.

Not only do these surfaces not require a fine finish, the rough texture of these surfaces can be damaging to microfiber rollers and cause them to wear out more quickly. For textured surfaces such as these, other types of rollers may be more suitable.

Microfiber rollers are also not suitable for jobs where you want to actually see the brushstrokes on the wall in a painting job. In some types of interior paint jobs, the texture of the painting brush stroke is actually desirable to create a distressed or older look.

Benefits of Microfiber Rollers

Microfiber rollers have a host of benefits in comparison to other types of rollers or using painting brushes. Here are a few of the upsides of using a microfiber roller over other paint rollers or paintbrushes:

  • Microfiber rollers are economical. Most microfiber rollers can be purchased for less than five dollars.
  • Microfiber rollers can be used again and again. Because they are easy to clean, as long as a microfiber roller is used on a smooth clean surface (without grit or debris) and is thoroughly cleaned after each painting session, microfiber rollers last for a long time.
  • Microfiber rollers absorb a lot of paint. Microfiber rollers are capable of holding twice their own volume in paint and can hold much more paint than the average woven paint roller or brush. This means less getting up and down to reload the roller.
  • Microfiber rollers allow for a smooth application of paint. It’s hard to find a paint applicator that gives as fine and smooth of a finish as microfiber does. For areas that require a glossy finish, microfiber is the best choice.Many areas of the home require a smooth paint finish to the point that there is no discernible texture or marks. These are the kinds of interior paint jobs that microfiber rollers excel at.
  • Microfiber rollers hold onto paint, which helps the painter avoid splatters. With woven paint rollers, paint can often start to mat the fibers on the paint roller down, allowing extra paint to roll off of them and splatter onto the floor or other areas.
  • Microfiber rollers are lint-free and do not deposit debris in the paint. Unlike some other rollers and paintbrushes, microfiber rollers don’t offload lint when they start to degrade, which means you won’t end up with debris-related imperfections in your paint.This requires that the microfiber roller be kept clean between uses, but a roller will not drop lint like a woven paint roller or stray hairs like a brush. You can get a perfectly smooth paint finish every time with the right application.

Best Times to Paint with a Microfiber Roller

The main concern when deciding what time to paint your house with microfiber rollers is the humidity, temperature, and direct sunlight.

If you haven’t begun to paint yet, you should definitely take these factors into consideration before you begin your project. In some cases, if you defer your painting job to an optimal time when temperatures are high, and humidity is low, your paint job will go much more smoothly.

Humidity 

Painting, in general, should be avoided when the humidity levels are high because the paint becomes exposed to high levels of water vapor. This interferes with its ability to bind with the surface effectively and also causes issues with prolonged drying periods.

For best results, painting with microfiber rollers should be undertaken under the following conditions with regards to humidity:

  • Humidity should be as close to 40% as possible–the higher the humidity past this point, the more difficult the job.
  • Paint jobs should not be rushed during periods of high humidity. If painting indoors during humid or wet periods, the painter must ensure that each coat of paint is fully dry before beginning the next coat.Because paint takes longer to dry in humid conditions, this could even mean waiting overnight between coats.
  • Make sure that rain is not in the forecast if you are painting outdoors. A sudden downpour will ruin all your hard work and cause diluted paint to be splattered onto other nearby surfaces.
  • Along with the paint’s direct exposure to humidity, moisture on the surface to be painted also causes significant issues with a clean application of the paint. The best humidity levels for painting outdoors are typically found in early summer and early fall, so if you can choose to do your painting projects during these times of the year, you should do so.Otherwise, you should wait for a day when the humidity is low, and rain is not expected for a few days following. For interior painting, winter is a good time of year to paint because the humidity tends to be low during this season too.

The winter can be a good choice for painting projects because the spring and summer are often a busy time of year and people are stretched too thin with other obligations for large projects.

Temperature

Temperatures need to be relatively high for painting projects in order for paint to adhere correctly. Painting should not be undertaken at a temperature of less than fifty degrees, and painting at higher than sixty degrees is optimal.

For most interior projects, such as household walls and ceilings, the temperature is less of a concern because most homes are air-conditioned and heated, keeping them at roughly seventy to eighty degrees at all times. These are the perfect temperature conditions for painting.

However, if you are doing painting outdoors, you should not paint in lower temperatures. One thing to take into consideration for interior painting is that even if the room is warm, the walls, especially those adjacent to the outdoors, maybe cooler.

To test the temperature of a surface, you can use a thermometer gun. If you do not have an appropriate thermometer available, try painting a test area in an inconspicuous place and see how well the paint adheres and looks once it’s dried.

How to Clean a Microfiber Roller

One of the greatest benefits of microfiber rollers is how easy they are to clean. If you use a little dish or hand soap to lather then microfiber roller and then spin it out underneath a running hose until the water runs clear, the microfiber should come almost completely clear of excess paint.

Washing a Microfiber Roller

It is vital not to leave paint soaked in the microfiber roller, as once the paint begins to set, this will cause the microfibers to mat up, and the roller will no longer be able to produce a smooth surface finish.

An important thing to remember is that even when a microfiber roller looks clean, it may still have excess paint in it. Be sure to rinse very thoroughly (three times minimum is recommended) and soak it for a time in water before wringing it out to make sure all the paint is removed.

Don’t forget that you should remove the roller sleeve from your paint roller before rinsing or dunking it in water. This can help prevent the metal parts of your roller from rusting.

Using a Roller Cleaner

There are paint roller cleaners on the market that are designed specifically to help wring out roller sleeves, typically via the use of a drill to spin the rollers out.

These cleaners can be used to great effect on microfiber rollers to help make sure they are free of excess paint and water. If you are wanting to preserve your paint rollers as long as possible, or do a lot of painting, it can be worth it to invest in this tool to make your life easier.

As for how to more effectively reuse rollers, we recommend our article here.

When in Doubt, Throw Your Microfiber Roller Out

Microfiber rollers are incredibly cheap, so if painting is not something that you do on a regular basis, it might be worth your trouble to simply toss your microfiber roller sleeves when the job is completed.

Washing a microfiber roller can lead to water being left in the roller between uses, as microfiber is extremely absorbent. This water can dilute your paint later.

Rather than cleaning your sleeve each session, keep paint wet on the roller between uses while you are in the middle of a painting project, take clear plastic wrap and wrap the entire roller sleeve until you paint again.

Once the entire project is completed, you can simply throw the roller sleeve away.

Setting up to Roll Paint with a Microfiber Roller

Before starting a project with microfiber rollers, be sure to gather all of your materials ahead of time. One of the main causes of accidentally kicked-over paint buckets and other painting mishaps is caused by having to trek back and forth across the painting area mid-session.

Care should be taken that the following steps are observed before you begin a painting project with microfiber rollers:

  • Clean the entire painting surface of dust and debris. For walls, a good idea is to wash the wall ahead of time to make sure that it has no dust or other debris on its surface, and then wait for the wall to dry completely before you begin painting.
  • Make sure that the floor is protected. The importance of this cannot be stressed enough. Everyone thinks they are careful until they knock over an entire gallon of interior paint on an unprotected floor.Be sure to lay down plastic painter’s sheeting across the entire floor and secure it in the corners with painter’s tape. If you are painting a ceiling, drape plastic sheeting down each wall and cover them to prevent runs and splatters.While most paints can be cleaned from hard surfaces while they are still wet, it’s a ton of hassle to have to do so.And if you have carpets, it’s doubly important that you make sure you don’t get paint on them, as they are absorbent you could cause a permanent stain.
  • Remove any pets and protect aquariums. Paint can be extremely toxic to aquarium fish, so if you are painting in a room with an aquarium, be sure the aquarium is completely covered in plastic sheeting, or if it is small enough, move it entirely.Birds are susceptible to the fumes generated while painting, so they should be removed from the area. Dogs and cats should also be kept out not because it isn’t safe for them, but because they are notorious for knocking over paint trays or walking through them.

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