Selecting the right paint roller for the job ensures you achieve an ideal painted finish. Not all paint rollers are created equal for every job. You might be overwhelmed on the paint roller aisle with all the various options, but knowing what to look for will help you determine which paint roller is right for your project. Follow this guide for the best paint roller for cabinets and furniture.
I began painting and refinishing furniture before Pinterest and Instagram ever existed…yes! I am that old. Only in my early 40’s but Pinterest and Instagram didn’t exist when we bought our first house, when we bought our second house or gave birth to our two children. They were 4 and 5 years old before we had Pinterest to tell us how to throw a birthday party! And yet we survived.
While I feel I know a thing or two about painting furniture and cabinets (prior to Pinterest) there’s a lot of new paint formulas, paint rollers, paint brushes and painting equipment that make the refinishing process easier. Throughout the years I have adjusted and adapted to using the best painting techniques one can use to achieve a smooth finish. It isn’t just about selecting the right paint, it’s equally as important to chose the right tool to apply the paint.
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When I finally found the perfect shade of blue paint for our bedroom dresser I knew I needed to ensure the tools I used to paint with were the best I could use.
Paint Roller vs. Paint Sprayer
A paint sprayer is going to give you the best finish; rather as close to a factory finish as you can get. However, not everyone has the budget for a paint sprayer or has the place to use one. We recently purchased one for our property, but for my previous furniture and cabinet painting projects I have used a roller and a brush.
If you examined the paint finish on my bedroom dresser or my black buffet extremely closely, it might not be 100% as smooth as a paint sprayer could get it. Since nobody is going to be examining my furniture with a magnifying glass, a roller and brush will work just fine.
However, if you have the choice between using a sprayer or a roller, you should definitely use the paint sprayer for the best and smoothest finish overall.
Best Paint Rollers for a Smooth Finish
When it comes to painting cabinets and furniture there are two paint rollers that offer the smoothest finish that I have tried and tested. My research has also led me to believe the two I am going to share with you are the best you can use at this time.
The two best paint rollers for a smooth finish is a High Density Foam Roller with a Rounded Edge and a Lint Free Low Nap Roller, but I will say that even though both of these are good rollers one wins the prize for the smoothest finish.
Foam Paint Roller
Let’s start with the foam paint roller. This is an ideal roller for a smooth finish and I have used it multiple times and on our bathroom cabinet paint project and they turned out fine, but I think they could have been a little smoother.
The rounded ends of the foam paint roller keep roller marks from occurring in the painted finish. A foam roller leaves a smooth, streak-free finish on your cabinets and furniture. However, you must be aware and leave a wet edge to roll into otherwise you may experience roller marks.
Cons of the Foam Paint Roller
While a foam roller is a good, a lint free low nap roller is better and the best. The longer the nap the more surface is sticking to the furniture and the shorter the nap the smoother the finish.
A lot of people think that no nap (a foam roller) would produce a smooth finish but a foam roller produces flashing. What is that you might ask?
Flashing is when paint is applied or dries unevenly and the finish appears to have different sheens or textures once dry. It is essentially overlap marks from where the roller left off painting and they are not easy to avoid or get rid of. Believe me…I know. I have been the victim of flashing…from a roller that is.
The Best Paint Roller
My favorite roller for furniture is the Purdy White Dove 1/4″ nap. Up until a few months ago I was using the ever faithful foam roller but it had issues which caused me to research a different roller. I gave the Purdy Roller a try and it was WAY BETTER than the foam roller I was using by far. It is the best paint roller for furniture.
The Purdy roller gave the smoothest finish ever and I’m not joking. Another alternative to the Purdy White Dove roller is Mohair roller for cabinets and the Sherwin Williams Mohair roller is another great and best choice. Each are both awesome, will produce a smooth finish and trust me…they beat foam roller hands down!
I painted my black buffet with a foam roller and my blue dresser with the Purdy White Dove roller and you could tell the difference. The Purdy roller did so much better at leaving a smooth painted surface and I will never go back to a foam roller again.
How to Get a Smooth Finish with a Paint Roller
The best way to paint furniture without leaving marks is to follow some simple procedures to ensure you leave a smooth finish. These steps here come after your furniture has been prepped and ready for painting.
- Clean the furniture – Wipe down your furniture with a damp cloth to remove any dirt and debris.
- Sand during painting – to help smooth out your paint you will want to sand in between coats to remove any drips or textures.
- Avoid heavy pressure – Lightly applying your paint will help maintain the smoothness of your work and it’s always better to apply multiple light coats than one thick coat.
- Finish each section before it dries – To help prevent overlapping. paint each individual surface one at a time and be sure to finish the entire section before it dries.
How to Paint Furniture with a Paint Roller
1. Cutting In
Cutting in is using a brush to paint the corners around your furniture before you roll your entire piece. You likely will need to cut in with paint on your furniture or cabinets. Cutting in helps fill in surface areas you can’t get with a roller. If you don’t cut in you will likely end up with a hard paint line and some not so pretty texture.
2. Roll the First Coat
Now that you have cut in it’s time to roll! You want to lightly move your roller with even pressure and moving in the same direction the entire time. Be cautious to no over do it. Watch the edges of the furniture to ensure you aren’t leaving big mounds of paint on them.
Once you have the first coat of paint on it is time to STEP AWAY FROM THE ROLLER!!!!
The biggest mistake that people make when they are painting a smooth surface is that they fiddle and touch and try to fix every imperfection.
The drying process has begun once you have painted it and if you over roll it or even brush it you will add texture to your overall finished paint job. You do not want to do that!! If you notice a spot you missed, leave it for the second coat. If you see a drip, wipe it immediately but only if the paint is still wet.
So much can be fixed between the first and second coats, don’t make your job harder by fiddling with it. There will be a little bit of texture that you see while the paint is drying. It will settle and it’s best to just leave it alone.
3. Touch Up by Sanding Drips or Texture
You might have some mistakes after cutting in and rolling the first coat, but we are going to fix them now. Using a 220 grit sanding sponge you can gently sand away the issues. Use light pressure with the sanding block and then wipe that spot down with a damp microfiber rag to remove the dust so you are ready for the next coat.
4. Roll the Second Coat
Once the first coat has dried it’s time to roll on the second coat of paint. This is where the magic happens. Roll on the next coat just like you did in step #2 using light and even pressure. Once your second coat has been applied leave it alone and step away. You might see texture from the paint but it will settle and even out especially if you are using a good quality paint which I share below. Keep reading!!!
Best Paint for Furniture
You might be wondering, “now that I have the best roller; what about the best paint?”
Not all paints are created equal and you want to chose a paint that is high quality and made for painting cabinets and furniture. Regular latex paint is not designed for hard surfaces such as a dresser or kitchen table; it is designed for walls. You don’t want to use wall paint when it comes to painting furniture.
Just running into the paint store and telling them what sheen you want and dashing home to paint your cabinets is not the best approach. There is wall paint and then there is furniture paint that will produce a harder more durable finish.
My favorite furniture paint is Benjamin Moore Advance or Sherwin-Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel or as I call it Emerald. These paints are formulated for hard surfaces and you don’t need a finish top coat and when using the right roller you can achieve a completely smooth finish.
Words of Advice for Painting Furniture with a Paint Roller
You can paint a piece of furniture with a paint roller and achieve gorgeous, long lasting results. The blue dresser in our bedroom turned out lovely and is holding up to opening and closing the drawers on a daily basis. The bathroom cabinets in our previous home turned out smooth and sturdy. The best roller for painting cabinets and furniture, along with the right furniture paint, will produce smooth and glorious results. Don’t be afraid to try painting a piece of furniture yourself; you can do this!
I would love to hear about your furniture painting adventures in the comments below!
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