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The Best Paint Roller for Ceilings: Our Top 5 Choices

One of the most important parts of a home painting project is choosing the best paint roller for ceilings that you may need to paint in the process.

Part of any serious planning for painting your ceilings will include the selection of a paint roller that will allow you to comfortably reach the ceiling while at the same time ensuring complete and even coverage.

Read on for our recommendations on the five best paint rollers for ceilings, some tips for using a paint roller, and a look at other items you’ll need to do a great job on your ceilings.

The Best Paint Roller for Ceilings

Our Top Picks

Best Overall:
Wooster Brush R-959 Painter’s Choice

Best for Painting Popcorn/Acoustic Ceilings:
Purdy Colossus Polyamide Roller Cover

Best for Painting Smooth Ceilings:
Wooster R-273 Painter’s Choice


Best Overall

Wooster Brush R-959 Painter’s Choice

The Wooster Painter’s Choice line of paint roller covers is aptly named, which is why the R-959 made our list as the best overall choice among the best paint rollers for ceilings.

Wooster Brush R959 R959-9 Painter's Choice Roller Cover 3/8 Inch Nap, 6-Pack, 9 Inch, 6 Count (Pack of 1)

While the manufacturer recommends them for maintenance work, serious users praise them for their ability to hold paint and apply it smoothly.

Product Features

Designed for semi-smooth surfaces, the Wooster R-959 Painter’s Choice paint roller is 9 inches wide and features a 3/8-inch nap, and is ready to handle your household painting job, particularly as a best paint roller for ceilings.

The R-959 is sold in a pack of six roller covers, but users have reported that the individual rollers are easily cleaned for multiple uses.

Pros

  • Holds paint well and applies it smoothly
  • Economically priced
  • Can be used multiple times

Cons

  • Shedding may be a problem
  • Nap may tighten quickly under some uses
  • May fit too tightly on some rollers

Best for Painting Popcorn/Acoustic Ceilings

Purdy Colossus Polyamide Roller Cover

The Purdy Colossus makes our list of best paint rollers for ceilings that have “popcorn” or other rough surface issues because its 1-inch nap (the length of the roller’s fibers) is specifically designed to cover even “extra rough” surfaces.

Purdy 144630095 Colossus Roller Cover, 9 inch x 1 inch nap

Additionally, this paint roller cover can be used with all latex and oil-based paints, making it a versatile option for painting your ceiling.

Product Features

The Purdy Colossus is composed of polyamide, a synthetic polymer noted for its durability. In addition, the Purdy Colossus can be used to apply paints with a variety of sheens, including flat, eggshell and satin. And in addition to drywall, it can be used on stucco and masonry.

Pros

  • May cover surface in single coat
  • Works well on brick surfaces
  • Easy cleaning

Cons

  • May not fit all roller handles
  • Lint shedding may be an issue
  • Paint absorption may not be optimal

Best for Painting Smooth Ceilings

Wooster R-273 Painter’s Choice

Available in both 7-inch and 9-inch widths, the Wooster R-273 Painter’s Choice is our choice of the best paint roller for ceilings with a smooth finish. Specifically designed for that purpose, the Wooster R-273 features a 3/16-inch nap to more than adequately cover smooth surfaces.

Wooster Brush R273-9 Painter's Choice Roller Cover, 3/16-Inch Nap, 9-Inch

Product Features

Constructed of shed-resistant fabric, the Wooster R-273 paint roller also features versatility, and can be used for successfully applying a broad range of paints, including enamel paint and semigloss or gloss finishes.

Pros

  • Good value for the price
  • Rinses well for reuse

Cons

  • Too thin to hold much paint
  • May be a problem to get paint in cracks

Purdy Marathon Paint Roller Cover

The Purdy Marathon paint roller cover, designed for use on semi-rough to semi-smooth surfaces, features exceptional paint-release characteristics, and clearly deserves a place as a best paint roller for ceilings.

Purdy 14B861100 Marathon Roller Cover Pack, 9 X 1/2 inch

Product Features

Usable with all latex and oil-based paints, and with flat, eggshell and satin finishes, the Purdy Marathon is 9 inches wide, and features a 1/2-inch nap.

Pros

  • Great value for the price
  • Good choice for large projects
  • Excellent paint retention

Cons

  • Don’t match up for attachment to every Purdy-branded roller frame
  • May shed some lint

Wooster Super/Fab Paint Roller Cover

Constructed with a proprietary yellow fabric, the Wooster Super/Fab paint roller was a cinch to be included on our list as a best paint roller for ceilings. A major reason is that the special fabric in the Wooster Super/Fab resists matting, which means its exceptional paint coverage is also smooth.

Wooster Brush R740-9 Super/Fab Roller, 1/2-Inch Nap, 3-Pack, 9-Inch

Product Features

Featuring a 1/2-inch nap, the 9-inch Wooster Super/Fab is an ideal choice for painting semi-smooth surfaces. Beyond its special fabric, this entry on our list of the best paint roller for ceilings is also ruggedly constructed, with the fabric mounted atop a polypropylene core that will resist cracking.

Pros

  • Good on textured walls
  • Don’t leave fibers behind

Cons

  • May not pick up paint as well as some users might want
  • May “sling” paint while rolling

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Paint Roller for Ceilings

As you look to buy the best paint roller for ceilings for your DIY project, one thing you should consider is its potential for reuse. In general, it should be possible to use a paint roller cover for as many as a half-dozen times.

The reuse of a paint roller cover will, though, require deep cleaning between each use. To clean a paint roller, wipe away as much excess paint as you can, then put the roller cover into a bucket of warm and soapy water.

After the roller has soaked for a time, squeeze it thoroughly, rinse it and allow it to dry before its next use.

As you’re looking for the best paint roller for ceilings in terms of your own DIY project, pay particular attention to the online descriptions, if you’re buying them online, or be sure to read the packaging if you’re shopping in your local home improvement store.

The online descriptions and the packaging can be helpful guides to your decision on a paint roller, letting you know things like the types of projects they are designed to tackle.


How to Use a Paint Roller for Ceilings

When you’re using a paint roller for a DIY ceiling project, the first thing you’ll need to do is choose the proper nap for your roller cover. The nap of a roller cover is a measure of the length of the separate threads that comprise the cover.

For smooth ceilings, you should use a roller with a nap of 3/8- to 1/2-inch. If you’ll be painting a textured ceiling, or a ceiling with another type of uneven surface, you’ll need a roller with a nap of 3/4- to 1 inch.

Painting a Textured Ceiling

To avoid dripping, don’t over saturate your roller cover with paint. Paint from the edges of the wall inward to the center. You should plan to finish the ceiling in one session of painting to ensure that stroke marks don’t appear.

If your ceiling needs a second coat of paint, apply it perpendicularly to the direction you took with the first coat.


Additional Recommended Items for Painting Ceilings

In addition to your roller, a quality primer, and paint designed specifically for ceilings, there are other things you’ll need to ensure that your DIY ceiling painting project goes well. Listed here are a few of those things to help guide you in your ceiling painting effort.

Roller Frame

The roller frame comprises a handle with a “cage” to hold the roller cover in place while allowing it to rotate freely as you apply your primer and paint. For painting ceilings, you’ll want a roller with a threaded end to allow the attachment of an extension pole, which will eliminate the need for using a stepladder.

Painter’s Tape

One of the essentials for painting a ceiling is painter’s tape, which you’ll apply along the top of the walls or atop crown molding if that is how your room is designed. Painter’s taper serves two functions — protecting the walls or crown molding from roller strokes and leaving a clean line between wall and ceiling.

Extension Pole or Ladder

Depending on the height of your ceiling, you may also need either an extension pole for your roller or a ladder, to ensure that you can reach the ceiling effectively enough to apply proper pressure for your paint application.

Paint Roller Extension Pole

Work Lights

Also, because you’ll be taking down any ceiling light fixtures prior to painting, you should plan on having alternate sources of light available to illuminate your workspace. Equipment rental businesses will routinely have workspace lighting options available for short-term use.

Canvas Dropcloth

While painting your ceiling, you’ll need to protect the floor of your room from drips from your paint roller — or worse, an accident in which a can of paint or primer, or some other material, is accidentally kicked over.

Canvas is thick and durable enough to protect your floors from even the heaviest spills. Canvas dropcloths are available in various sizes from painting supply stores and home improvement stores.


FAQs on Paint Rollers for Ceilings

As you contemplate a DIY project to paint a ceiling in your home, you likely will have a number of questions regarding paint rollers for ceilings. Read on for answers to a couple of questions you may have about using paint rollers on your ceiling.

What size paint roller should I use?

Paint rollers for ceilings and other uses come in a variety of lengths, with 9 inches being the standard. That’s probably going to be the best length for your project, but if you will be covering a large area, you might want to consider a 12-inch roller cover.

For tight spots, you can find paint rollers in 2-inch, 3-inch, 4-inch, and 6-inch sizes.

What material should be used in my paint roller?

As you look at paint rollers for ceilings and other uses, you’ll discover that they are made of one of three types of material — natural fiber, synthetic fiber, or foam.

Natural fibers are great to use with water-based latex paint, and they’ll work on both smooth and textured surfaces. Synthetic fiber rollers also can work on rough or smooth surfaces but may be a better choice for painting walls than for painting ceilings.

Finally, foam rollers work in a narrower set of circumstances than either natural or synthetic fiber rollers but are generally good for use on porous surfaces.


Wrapping up the Best Paint Roller for Ceilings

We hope that this post has educated you on the need to choose the best paint roller for ceilings. As a reminder, our top choice as the best paint roller for ceilings is the Wooster Brush R-959.

Looking for more information about painting ceilings? Check out our post on How to Paint Pop Corn Ceilings.