Last updated: August 20, 2021

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Do you need to paint walls, walls, surfaces or buildings in general? Then a very interesting option is to use a foam roller. Foam rollers are widely used in painting, but they have the right specifications for which types of paints and surfaces they are ideal for.

This is what sets them apart from wool rollers or other tools such as brushes or guns. Not sure which is the ideal tool for your needs or how to choose a foam roller? Then stay with us! In the following paragraphs, we will explain all the necessary details to remove all your doubts!


  • Foam rollers are used to paint smooth, wooden or metal surfaces. There are also some special types of paint that are supported by them. Always check whether you need a foam or wool tool.
  • There are foam rollers in various lengths and diameters, as well as a sub-division between polyester, polyether and hybrids.
  • According to the material and the size, prices can vary quite a lot.

The Best Foam Paint Roller: Our Picks

Foam Paint Roller: Shopping Guide

How do you know if a foam roller is best for your painting job? What are the specific issues surrounding each roller and each tool? We will now bring you all the details you need so that you can paint whatever you want like a professional, impressing all your friends and family and being able to take real pride in your service!

Foto de homem agachado em frente a recipiente com tinta amarela com o rolo de espuma dentro.

There are foam and wool rollers and each has its own applications (Source: / Pexels)

What is a foam paint roller and what is it used for?

The paint roller is the most popular way to make paintings on surfaces like walls. You've probably used one or at least seen someone making use of one. This is because the contact surface is larger, which allows more paint to be applied with fewer movements. The agility and speed of the work are important, especially if it is to paint, for example, an entire house.

There are two most common materials for paint rollers: wool and foam. Each one of them has its own benefits and applications that make them more indicated. So before making the purchase you need to know which type is best for your needs.

Although very widespread in our lives, paint rollers are a relatively new invention. They came about in 1938, thanks to Canadians Morris and David Welt. David went to a shop that printed cards and saw how the machine worked, with a roller that put ink on the paper. So he thought the same could be done for painting walls. Once on sale, it didn't take long for the accessory to become very successful

Foam paint roller or wool roller?

Wool rollers are more common than foam rollers. They can be made of sheep's wool or synthetic wool, and this also influences the indications for use. Generally speaking, the ideal application for them is with solvent-based paints and materials such as acrylic and PVA.

It is also better to opt for a wool roller if the surface is more rough or textured. The multiple grooves existing in this material allow all the small corners of these walls or walls to be filled in. Foam rolls are smoother and absorb more paint. This is why they are best suited to smooth surfaces.

Whether it's a non-textured wall, a metal wall or a door, if there aren't many relief changes, the work will be easier with foam paint rollers. As for the types of paint, there is a division related to the foam material: polyester, polyether or mixed. The first ones are more used with oil-based paints or enamels, such as varnish, for example. The second ones are water-based. The third ones are the most versatile, but more expensive.

Never use a foam roller with corrosive materials, such as Thinner. The chemical reaction will not be good and soon your tool will be deformed and damaged.

Wool roller Foam roller
Material Synthetic or sheep's wool Polyester, polyester or mixed
Suitable for Rough and textured surfaces Smooth surfaces
Paints Solvent-based, acrylic or PVA Oil-based or enamel

What are the advantages of using a foam paint roller?

Because it is smoother and more uniform, the foam paint roller retains more paint than the wool roller and applies it more efficiently. The finish will always be superior precisely because of this difference in application. Another factor is that there is less paint waste, because of this retention and efficiency of application.

Thus, the transfer is much greater. This is the main advantage over other tools such as paint guns. All this, of course, provided that the application is done properly, respecting the indications for the surface to be painted and the type of paint used.

Imagem de rolo de espuma com tinta azul ao lado do balde de tinta.

A foam roller costs from £4 and, if well looked after, can last a long time. (Source: stux / Pixabay)

Buying criteria: Factors to compare different foam paint roller offers

In addition to the questions about materials that we have already explained, there are some other factors that may be important when buying a foam roller. We have separated those that we believe are the most important:

  • Length
  • Diameter
  • Presence of support
  • Resistance and durability

Below, we explain each of these factors.


The length of a paint roller is related to two factors: agility and thoroughness. The longer it is, the easier it is to cover large surfaces, since each pass will occupy a more respectable area. The job will be finished more quickly.

If what you need to paint is smaller and full of details, the ideal is to choose a very short roller. This way, the finish will be superior, as it will get into more complicated places and the paint application will be more concentrated. So, remember, large and smooth surfaces require longer rollers, small and detailed surfaces, shorter ones.

Imagem de pessoa segurando rolo de espuma grande com tinta branca.

Depending on the space you will be painting, you will need a larger or smaller roller. (Source: vitkalova / Pixabay)


For the paint absorption to be greater, the diameter also matters. He must not fail to be proportional to the length, but higher measures in this regard represent less waste and greater agility in painting.

A roller with a larger diameter will absorb more paint each time it is dipped into the can. This way, there will be fewer stops to refill it. Besides, it will drip less and lose less content, making your work easier in many aspects.

Presence of support

Unless the foam of your original roller has broken and you already have a support, be careful: you must buy one that comes with this extra piece made to make the object easier to handle. A roller needs to have a good support for handling.

If you don't read the specifications carefully, you may just end up with the foam arriving at your home with no way to hold it. Unless, of course, you like inventions and improvisations!

Imagem de rolo de espuma ao lado de tinta azul.

It is important that the foam roller has a good support so that you can use it. (Source: Anete Lusina / Pexels)

Resistance and durability

We have already explained what types of materials each roller is recommended for. And we said that using foam together with corrosives like thinner is not a good idea. However, some of them claim in the specifications to have extra strength.

Among the materials cited is, for example, resistance to turpentine, traditional solvent used in painting. If you want to work with stronger materials, always read carefully if the roller you choose promises resistance to it or at least claims to be more resistant than other models.

(Source of the highlighted image: Tookapic / Pexels)