Why Is My Paint Roller Leaving Streaks?

Painting your house is one of the easiest DIY projects around, but it certainly isn't without its pitfalls. If you're trying to repaint your room, you've probably encountered one or more occasions of your paint roller leaving streaks. You've probably wondered why this happens, so we researched this to find the answers for you.

Paint roller streaks happen for a lot of different reasons. Paint streaks can appear if you overload your roller with too much or too little paint. You may also be covering a greater area than your roller can handle. Streaks can also appear if you put too much pressure on the roller. These streaks also appear if you use the wrong roller for the surface you are working on.

Knowing the real reason why your paint roller is leaving streaks is important so that you can adjust and avoid these issues for your next project. In this post, we will be talking about why your paint roller is leaving streaks and ways how you can stop them. We'll also talk about the best paint rollers you can use, so keep reading and enjoy this post!

white color trail of the roller brush on colorful background, Why Is My Paint Roller Leaving Streaks?

Why Is My Paint Roller Leaving Streaks?

Male hand painting wall with paint roller.

If you've ever thought about changing the look of a room in your house, you've probably thought about giving it a fresh coat of paint to liven up the space. Painting is one of the easiest DIY projects you can do at home, even for a beginner. You will definitely save a lot of money painting your own walls instead of having a professional do it.

A paint job is pretty straightforward but it does require a little bit of practice and technique to make it look perfect. Fortunately, a lot of painting mishaps can easily be remedied but it's important to find the reason before you start making changes.

If you notice some paint streaks on the wall after the paint dries, the culprit is probably your paint rollers. Paint streaks can happen for a number of different reasons; here are some of them:

1. Too much or too little paint

This is one of the most common reasons for paint roller streaks—using too much or too little paint on the paint rollers. Paint rollers can carry only a certain amount of paint when you roll them on the tray.

Too much paint will cause the paint to pool around the edges and leave streaks when the roller moves. Too little paint, on the other hand, will cause streaking because the roller is running out of paint too often. The roller will try to compensate by using the remaining paint on its surface, which causes the streaks.

2. Exhausting all the loaded paint

Sometimes, painting the area even if you have run out of paint on the roller will cause streaks. When painting a large space, don't forget to reload paint on your roller every once in a while. When the roller is starting to feel a bit dry, load a bit more paint on your roller before you start on the next area. 

3. Heavy pressure on the roller

One of the things that beginners often make is putting too much pressure on their rollers when they paint. This causes the paint to leech from the roller's fibers and pool on the edges. This paint often leads to streaking when the roller moves to cover an area. Avoid this by using just enough gentle pressure when applying a layer of paint.

4. Wrong paint roller

When buying a paint roller, make sure that it is suited for the surface you have to work on. Using the wrong paint rollers for the surface you are working on will most definitely cause lines and paint streaks when everything dries. Make sure that your paint roller will work well with the kind of paint you are using, as well as the surface you are painting on.

5. Painting technique

Painting a wall looks easy, but it does require a little bit of technique to make sure the paint is laid down perfectly. Roller streaks often happen because of the roller moving in different directions just to cover the area. To avoid this problem, make sure to paint in a sweeping stroke, in an up-and-down motion. Don't forget to smoothen the surface after working on an area.

How Do You Stop Roller Streaks?

Painting of walls in a primer on white color repair in a house for painting walls

Roller streaks can easily be addressed by making sure you have the right tools and materials, as well as the technique down pat before you start working. Streaks often come from too much paint or too much pressure you put on when applying the paint, so make sure to adjust them accordingly. 

Before working on your project, make sure that you have the right roller for the surface you will be working on. A lot of people often just grab the first paint roller they see without checking if it will work for their project. Paint rollers have a nap or pile height, which allows the roller to carry as much or as little paint in its fibers. 

Depending on the surface you will be working on, the nap height should be able to carry just enough paint on it while you work on the project. A shorter nap height works well for untextured surfaces and most walls. A longer nap height is more suitable for textured surfaces because the fibers can go deep down and put paint on the textured surface.

Will The Roller Marks Go Away When The Paint Dries?

Paint roller in paint tray with white color in the tray on brown paper on wooden floor

Unfortunately, the roller marks or streaks won't go away when the paint dries. Depending on how bad the streaks are, there are a few quick fixes you can try before needing to repaint entirely.

If the streaks are not too visible, you can use sandpaper and a wet sponge to fix the marks. Let the paint dry completely and rub the surface using sandpaper. Use light pressure so that you don't rub off too much of the paint. Once you've completely removed the raised streaks, wipe them down using a wet sponge to remove the debris from the sanding.

Sometimes, the streaks are not visible because of the light. Make sure to check from different angles to see if there are paint streaks. If they are too obvious, you need to repaint the entire area to remove the streaks completely.

What Is The Best Paint Rollers To Use?

Decorator's hand painting wall with roller

We've talked about nap height and how it affects your painting project. We have listed down several paint rollers you can use and the surfaces you can use them on.

3/16 or 1/4-inch 

Get this 3/16-inch nap paint roller on Amazon.

Check out this 1/4-inch nap paint roller on Amazon.

The 3/16 or 1/4-inch nap paint roller is the shortest nap you can find on these tools. These rollers will work best on untextured plaster, drywall, or wallboard. It also does well on very smooth surfaces like metal and smooth wood, because the roller carries very little paint in its fibers.

3/8 or 1/2-inch

See this 3/8-inch nap paint roller on Amazon.

Grab this 1/2-inch nap paint roller on Amazon.

The 3/8 or 1/2-inch nap paint roller is the most common nap height you will find on many rollers in the store. This paint roller works for most surfaces because it carries just enough paint without being overloaded. Use this paint roller on lightly textured drywall, paneling, or smooth concrete. 

3/4 or 1-inch

Check out this 3/4-inch nap paint roller on Amazon.

See this 1-inch nap paint roller on Amazon.

For rougher, more textured surfaces, the 3/4 or 1-inch nap paint roller will work best for your project. This paint roller has longer fibers that absorb and carry more paint so that it evenly applies on these rough surfaces. Use this paint roller on textured plaster or stucco. This roller is also perfect for exterior applications like concrete, siding, or decks.

1 1/4 or 1 1/2-inch

Get this 1 1/4-inch nap paint roller on Amazon.

Check out this 1 1/2-inch nap paint roller on Amazon.

The thickest nap height of all paint rollers, the 1 1/4 or 1 1/2-inch nap is most suitable for heavily textured surfaces. This paint roller carries a lot of paint so that it can apply easily over the uneven surface of textured plaster or stucco. Use this roller for rough, unsanded wood, brick, stone, or corrugated metal. 

Wrapping Up

Seeing roller streaks on your wall after a long day of painting can be frustrating. Fortunately, this issue can be easily fixed with a few minor adjustments to your painting technique or materials. With these out of the way, you'll surely have a perfectly painted wall that looks like it was done by a professional.

Are you looking for more tips and trips for your paint project? We have a few articles that might interest you:

How To Make Rose Gold Color Paint [Which Colors To Combine & How Much?]

How To Keep Paint From Chipping


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