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Best paint rollers: top tools for a professional finish at home

Get a handle on the best paint rollers to use for DIY tasks big and small with our roundup of the best tools for the job. 

By Alice Cruickshank | Last updated May 1, 2022

Best paint rollers

Time for a lick of paint to spruce up your lounge, bathroom, kitchen or garden fence? A quality paint roller can totally transform your decorating skills. But where do you start? Short, medium or long pile? Microfibre or smooth? And what's the best width to go for? Choosing the best paint roller for your needs can feel like one extra task you don’t need, particularly if you’re undergoing major renovations. 

Don’t worry, we’ve got you. As a quick guide: a 9" (23cm) roller is the most common size, and this versatile tool is useful for most tasks. Choose a medium pile for emulsion, and a short pile for gloss paints. A long pile is best for any outdoor or textured walls. And for ceilings? Look for a roller with an extendable handle. 

Here’s our guide to the best paint rollers to buy in 2022 (as well as some handy tips on how to achieve the best finish). 

1. Best overall paint roller: Stanley 126103 Max Finish Roller Set

Stanley paint roller

Price: £11 | Buy now from Amazon

"I have a Stanley roller that's nice to hold" - recommended by Mumsnet user, PickAChew

Stanley is a reliable brand for all things DIY and this roller and paint tray set is a solid all-rounder. The medium-sized roller is useful for most spaces and surfaces, and suitable for use with all emulsion, varnishes and wood stains. The microfibre pile holds more paint, and minimises splatter.  Reviewers state that the Stanley roller set is hard-wearing and good quality, which means it should serve you well for decorating the whole house. However, you’ll probably want to invest in some brushes or an additional small roller for detailed areas and behind radiators.

Key specs

  • Size: 23cm
  • Pile length: Medium
  • Paint tray included: Yes

2. Best budget paint roller: Coral 43101 Task Partner Paint Roller Kit

Coral paint roller

Price: £4 | Buy now from Amazon

Let’s face it; a paint roller is not the most exciting thing to spend your hard-earned cash on. Thankfully, this handy twin-pack from Coral is an absolute bargain at under £4. The lightweight roller handle is arm-friendly, and the rollers are incredibly secure. The dense pile clings on to paint for great coverage, and means that less time is wasted re-dipping. Although this set does come with a tray, reviewers state it is a little flimsy, so you might prefer to buy a better-quality paint tray separately. 

Key specs

  • Size: 23cm
  • Pile length: N/A
  • Paint tray included: Yes

3. Best quality paint roller: Hamilton Perfection Five Piece Roller Kit

Hamilton paint roller

Price: £16 | Buy now from Amazon

The Hamilton brand is a favourite with professional decorators, and this handy five-piece kit is surprisingly affordable. Included is a short, medium, and long pile roller, which means you can paint any type of surface successfully. The rollers are also designed to prevent shedding (the enemy of any smooth surface!). The wooden handle is more substantial than others, and should last well. 

Key specs

  • Size: 23cm
  • Pile length: Short, medium, long
  • Paint tray included: Yes

4. Best paint roller set: Hynec All in One Paint Roller Set

Hynec paint roller set

Price: £30 | Buy now from Amazon

There’s almost no painting scenario you can’t cover with this extensive roller set from Hynec. The Complete All In One kit contains a 9'' (23cm) roller frame, three 9'' roller frame sleeves, a 9'' paint tray, a 4'' (10cm) roller frame, five 4'' roller frame sleeves, a 4'' paint tray, a 2'' (5cm) paint brush, a 1.5'' (4cm) paint brush, a 2'' filler knife, a paint can opener, a paint sleeve cleaner, a 1L paint kettle, a paint stirrer, four pairs of gloves, dust sheets and masking tape. All that’s left to buy is the paint!

Key specs

  • Size: Various
  • Pile length: N/A
  • Paint tray included: Yes

5. Best paint roller for ceilings: Wickes Professional Roller & Extendable Pole

Wickes paint roller

Price: £17 | Buy now from Wickes

"I bought one of these a few years ago; makes painting walls and ceilings (with an extension pole a.k.a. broom handle) a doddle!" - recommended by Mumsnet user, Knittedfairies

A long roller is a must-buy for ceilings, and this version from Wickes is extendable to suit a variety of situations. The roller poll has a total length of 1.4m, and the medium pile 9” (23cm) roller is suited for emulsion on most surfaces. Some reviewers mention this roller is a little heavy due to its size. 

Key specs

  • Size: 23cm
  • Pile length: Medium
  • Paint tray included: No

6. Best paint roller for a smooth finish: ProDec Advance Short Pile Microfibre Woven Paint Roller

ProDec short pile paint roller

Price: £4 | Buy now from Amazon

A short pile roller takes in less paint than its fluffier counterparts, which make this type of roller well-suited to smooth walls, including drywall. The ProDec Advance roller promises no 'orange peel' or roller texture, and works especially well with gloss and satin paints. This roller is available in both 9” (23cm) and 12” (30cm) lengths, though you’ll need to purchase the roller handle and tray separately.

Key specs

  • Size: 23cm, 30cm
  • Pile length: Short
  • Paint tray included: No 

7. Best paint roller for emulsion: ProDec Twin Medium Pile Woven Roller

ProDec medium pile paint roller

Price: £8 | Buy now from Amazon

A medium pile roller is ideal for applying emulsion, due to its decent absorbency, while still providing a smooth finish. This ProDec set offers two roller heads, as well as a handle and a paint tray. These rollers will work well on both smooth and semi-smooth surfaces, so you can use them to paint outside as well as inside. The paint tray is also made from recycled plastic for some bonus eco points. 

Key specs

  • Size: 23cm
  • Pile length: Medium
  • Paint tray included: Yes 

8. Best large paint roller: T Class 91505 Ultima 12" Triple Sleeve Set

T Class paint roller

Price: £18 | Buy now from Amazon

"I loathe paint pads, much prefer the results from a combo of brushes for the edges and big fat rollers. You can get 12 inch large diameter rollers and they make painting large surfaces a dream. Very effective at covering large surfaces quickly" - recommended by Mumsnet user, Mum2jenny

If your approach to painting is: ‘let’s get this done as quickly as possible’, then a 12” (30cm) roller is a must for speeding up the process. While you’ll definitely want a brush or a mini roller for the corners and other detailed areas, this triple pack of 12” roller heads will help you paint large walls in a flash. The micropoly material is designed to give the smoothest of finishes with minimal spatter. A double arm roller frame and paint tray are also included. 

Key specs

  • Size: 30cm
  • Pile length: N/A
  • Paint tray included: Yes

9. Best mini paint roller: Harris 4129 4" Mini Gloss & Emulsion Roller Set

Harris mini gloss paint roller

Price: £7 | Buy now from Amazon

"The Harris ones are good" - tried and tested by Mumsnet user, PickAChew

"Get a small long handled roller for down the back of radiators" - advice from Mumsnet user, Jitters22

No home painting kit is complete without a compact roller for corners and behind radiators. This set from reliable painting brand Harris includes both a gloss and emulsion roller sleeve, as well as a handle and paint tray. This handy mini roller is also useful for touch-ups and even woodwork. 

Key specs

  • Size: 10cm
  • Pile length: Short, medium
  • Paint tray included: Yes 

10. Best paint roller for outdoor walls: ProDec Five piece Masonry Roller and Brush Set

ProDec masonry paint roller

Price: £10 | Buy now from Amazon

The texture of outdoor walls requires a long pile to get into all the nooks and crannies, and this bargain set by ProDec is designed to do exactly that. Included are two heavy duty woven rollers suitable for smooth and textured masonry, a roller handle, a paint tray, and even a handy paintbrush for those tricky areas. The roller handle can be added to an extension pole to make painting at height even easier, and the paint tray is made from 100% recycled plastic.

Key specs

  • Size: 23cm
  • Pile length: Long
  • Paint tray included: Yes

Are paint rollers better than paint brushes?

There’s a reason professional decorators use paint rollers over brushes for the majority of the work: in short, it’s faster, neater, and easier. The porous texture of a paint roller is designed to hold on to plenty of paint. And the large surface area and rolling motion creates a much speedier painting process. Rollers are also ergonomically designed, so they're generally much more comfortable to hold for long spells than brushes. 

However, a paint brush does have some advantages. If you’re after precision be it at the corners of your walls, or to paint intricate areas like small panels, then a brush is a valuable tool. You'll generally want to have both a roller and a paint brush to best complete your home decorating project.

What size of paint roller do you need?

Each size of roller has its own advantages. A 9" (23cm) roller is the most common all-rounder as it provides a generous surface area without sacrificing precision. A 12" (30cm) roller is useful for painting large walls in a flash, although more care is needed at corners and edges. A small roller - often around 4" (10cm) - is brilliant for precision jobs, like reaching behind a radiator. 

How can you get a smooth finish with a roller?

Painting using a roller can be daunting at first, but there are a few simple things you can do for the best results. Be sure to use a light pressure. A common mistake is to push down hard, but it should be the paint doing the work rather than your arm strength. Keep your roller wet, rather than rolling until it is completely out of paint, and always paint one wall at a time rather than switching between them. To avoid stripey walls - also known as lap marks - be sure to roll the full height of the wall, rather than stop and start. 

What’s the best paint roller to buy?

We weighed up the benefits of the top paint rollers on the market, considering value for money, quality, and versatility, and decided that the Stanley 126103 Max Finish Roller Set is the best paint roller to buy. 

How we chose our recommendations 

Because we know nothing beats a recommendation from other parents who have decorated themselves, we started by reading the Mumsnet forums for Mumsnetters’ preferred paint rollers. We then considered the brands professional decorators use themselves, and read best-buy lists from across the internet. We then decided which paint rollers were best suited to specific needs. 

Why you should trust us 

We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.