Foam Paint Roller Vs Nap Roller: What to Choose and Why?

Foam paint roller vs nap roller

Got a painting job on your mind?

You may be a novice or professional painter or maybe you try to paint your home on your own, with a view to cut down your expenses.

Whoever you are and whatever may be the skills you possess, it can be put to good use only when you use the right roller for the painting. 

The fact is you have to choose the right kind of paint roller depending upon the painting project you are working on.

In general, foam rollers and nap rollers are the most common ones used for painting walls depending on the type of finish you need.

Apart from the roller, the type of paint such as glossy, flat, or semi-glossy will determine the outcome as well.


What is Foam Roller?


The name itself says, what it is made of.

Yes! These types of rollers are made of foam and are less expensive compared to traditional paint rollers.

Since it is made from special foam variety these are used in specific painting jobs.

In general, foam roller covers work wonderfully with glossy or semi-glossy latex paints due to their thin nature.

Due to their uniformity in absorbing paint, foam roller covers will not do justice to rough or uneven surfaces.

As a result, you will get patchy and uneven finish.

Sometimes, air bubbles get trapped in between foam roller covers and thus gives a botched look.


What is a Nap Roller?


Unlike foam paint rollers, the nap roller is made of strands of fiber material and is mainly connected to a handle.

The fiber can be either synthetic, natural or blended.

Natural fibers are made of either wool or mohair.

It’s best suited for oil painting as the wool absorbs a lot of paint and with just a single coat, you can get a good finish.

Synthetic fibers are made of nylon, Dacron, or polyester.

These works well with water-based or latex paints.

The handle length differs from long to small and similarly the roller size varies as well.

When buying make sure the handles are ergonomically designed to give good support without putting much pressure on your arms and wrist.

Or else, you will get tired very easily, especially while painting on ceiling.


Foam vs Nap Roller: Difference


The basic difference between foam roller and nap roller lies in the material they are made from.

While a foam roller is made of foam, nap roller is made of fiber (either natural or synthetic).

The usage of each type of roller will depend on different factors.

So, let’s take a look at them as well…

1- Nature of Surface:

If you are going to paint the interior walls or other smooth surfaces, it is ideal to go after foam rollers.

If you want to paint exterior walls or little harsh surfaces like ceiling, you can choose nap rollers.

2- Thickness of paint:

If your painting job involves the usage of thinner paints like latex, foam rollers are the ones to go for.

The absorption of the paint is better and you can apply the paint evenly with these.

In case you are using thicker and heavier paints like oil paints, nap rollers are the best to use.

Foam rollers fail miserably in this section as they absorb more of the oil paint giving an uneven finish.

3- Long term or short-term use:

Foam rollers are used only for short-term projects, mostly once.

And once the task is completed, they are thrown away.

Nap rollers on the other hand have a good life and can be used multiple times.

4- Cost- Effective:

Foam rollers cost less compared to the traditional nap rollers.

However, it is wise to keep-in-mind that quality gets compromised with pricing.

5- Trimming of Frames:

Foam rollers are specifically called “Trim Rollers” or “Picture Rollers” because they are useful in painting the trimmed frame areas and small moldings. 

Even though a small-sized nap roller can do this job, foam rollers are usually preferred for better performance.


How to Choose a Right Paint Roller Cover?


Roller covers are made keeping in mind the type of paint roller along which it will be used.

So mostly, the properties of paint roller apply to the corresponding paint roller covers as well.

Here are a few things you should look at when selecting the right roller cover.

1- Core:

The core material plays an important role when picking the right paint roller.

As the stronger core gives a good shape and support to the roller, it improves the overall quality of the painting.

The main thing is the roller cover should not come out due to loosening no matter, how many times you roll the paint roller while painting.

Keep in mind, cheap rollers use cardboard cores and it gets worn out easily in few uses. So, you should avoid using them.

Phenolic core with moisture or water-resistant feature is the ideal one to choose if you want to get long-lasting great results.

2- The Size:

Using a smaller nap for bigger rough areas will tear apart the fibers and vice-versa will give you an uneven finish.

So, you need to choose the right size of roller according to your project.

Nap roller cover comes in various sizes and depending on the surface you have to choose their size accordingly.

A size of 3/16 to ¼ inch is suitable for smooth surfaces like cabinets, metal, wood.

For a semi-smooth area, 3/8 to ½ inch size is ideal. ¾ to 1-inch sized nap roller gets the job done for painting semi-rough surfaces concrete or painted bricks.

For very rough surfaces plain bricks, 1 ¼ to 1 ½ inch is the best one.

3/8 to ½ inch is the most commonly used one for painting interior walls.

3- Quality Matters:

Obviously, good quality demands good price.

So, you don’t hesitate to shell out some extra money in buying a quality roller or roller cover.

Not only it will be evident in the output of your painting project but it also increases productivity.

Cleaning after painting gets a lot easier and you can move on the task with peace of mind.

Its longevity also lies in your hands depending on how well you maintain your paint rollers and covers.

The Bottom Line

In a nutshell, you can be sure that paint rollers are a good option for painting than paintbrushes.

Keeping the above things in mind you can compare well between foam roller and nap roller to select the right one accordingly.

Make sure you analyze the pros and cons of each before you choose the one to kick start your painting job.

Most importantly, choose the right paint roller based on the paint and surface.

Otherwise, it will affect the painting quality and you will get irked over fixing it again and again.

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