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Picking the right nap...

Which roller cover do I pick? Look at the surface to be painted.


When you see a typical wall that has been rolled, does it look like the skin of an orange? That's because of stipple. The painter/roller left too much paint behind. Sadly, its the look most people think is appropriate on a rolled wall.


With a simple "rule of thumb," let's start at the beginning. An unpainted wall, or one that has only been sprayed, looks smooth, not like an orange peel. We want to keep that nice appearance. A 1/4" nap will do that for us. Unfortunately, most kits come with a 3/8" roller cover. The 1/4" roller, on a typical drywall or plaster wall, will give us the smoothest finish, little to no stipple.


As we add texture to our surface, we need to add nap to our roller. If our texture is no more than an 1/8" at its deepest point, we add 1/8" to our 1/4" roller giving us a 3/8" roller cover to achieve the best results. More than an 1/8", up to a 1/4"? Add 1/4" to our starting point 1/4" and you get a 1/2" nap. Keep going up to 1-1/4".


Hope this makes picking the right nap easier.

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Posted 2010-10-30T02:56:19+0000  by Paul Paul

Welcome Paul!


Thank you for joining our community and for your insight into the painting world. It seems that you are well versed with painting. This particular post was very informative and will help many people coming to this site. I can’t tell you how many times a day I get questions about what size nap to use!  


Would you mind posting some pictures of some projects that you have completed?



Posted 2010-10-30T13:14:38+0000  by Christine_HD_ATL

Ok. You make alot of sense, so here's my 'dilemna'


I have one wall that is brand new drywall. From what you've stated, I should use a 1/4" roller for this wall.

But the other 3 walls are 100-year-old plaster and look like an orange peel. What do I want to use to get as smooth of a surface as possible? It'd be AWESOME to get it as smooth as the fresh drywall will be, but that may be hoping for too much.




Posted 2011-08-31T15:31:57+0000  by jazzmraz

Hi Jasmine!


You know, if you have the time and desire to make those walls smooth, you can do it!


Recently, I replaced the entire first floor ceiling in a home and your question about smoothing the walls inspired me to publish this video ... just for you.


What you are about to see is not a demo, but a professional using a power sanding tool to smooth the seams on freshly hung drywall. This system uses a shopvac to capture the sanding dust and as you'll see, there is very little dust in the air. Even though you are capturing most of the sanding dust, you will want to use plastic to cover everything except the wall on which you are working.


Have a look:



This same system can be used on your 100 year-old walls to reduce or possibly eliminate the orange peel.


I would consult a professional drywall company in your area for a quote and also look into renting this tool and doing it yourself. You are likely to find that smooth walls are not out of your reach after all!!!


I also noticed your inquiry about nap.


Like the drywall professional in the first video, pros and DIYers often choose different tools.


My Store caters to DIYers as well as pro painters. In my experience, DIYers who try a 1/4th nap most often complain that, "It takes forever to paint" because the short nap does not pick up much paint. They report that they sometimes require three or more coats with a 1/4th nap and when they come back to The Store, they are ready to change to a 3/8th nap ... then report satisfactory, two-coat results.


I made this video recently to demonstrate the same point made earlier in the thread, but my starting point (3/8th nap) is based upon this experience with my DIY customers.




Be sure to notice that I recommend the white foam roller because it is the smoothest tool we sell.


The trick to painting with this roller is to keep the roller saturated with paint. Although it is small (4-inch and 6-inch), it is adequate for painting anything from furniture to full-sized walls. I used the 4-inch white foam roller to paint my dining room and it is the smoothest paint in the entire house.


So, don't give up on having smooth walls. You can do it ... even if you have to hire a drywall finisher to handle the first part of the project.


And remember, you don't have to use any particular tool to paint ... just the one that gives you the best results for you. Sometimes the smallest tool we sell is the one that will generate the best results.


In several earlier posts, I recommended turning your favorite music up really loud and having an extra cup of coffee before you begin. Go ahead and have a great time while you recapture the look you want in that room!!!


I hope this has inspired you!

Posted 2011-09-01T18:56:00+0000  by Pat_HD_ATL

Thanks Pat


Outstanding instruction once again.


I don't have textured walls, but your videos almost make me wish I did.



Posted 2011-09-01T21:21:31+0000  by ELV

I'm a little confused by what PatInPaint responded.


I understand the purpose of the whole sanding thing, but these are PLASTER walls, not drywall. Can I really sand them as I will the seams of the new sheet rock wall?


I guess my original question was a little misleading.

Since Paul posted about rollers and specific nap sizes, I was hoping to get an idea of what size nap to use on a plaster wall that looks like an orange peel. Remembering that plaster is VERY smooth and has a slight sheen to it, I also question what kind of finish paint (e.g. flat, satin, eggshell, etc.) I should use too (I was told woodwork should be a semi-gloss, but I don't know what to use on the walls). This room is what will be our nursery/kid's room.


I hope this isn't more confusing and someone will be able to help me out!






Posted 2011-09-09T16:39:47+0000  by jazzmraz

If you like the orange peel texture, keep it. You can also add that same texture to any new wall surface you add. This is typically done with a hopper gun and a spray texture. You can find orange peel texture in aerosol cans in the Paint Department, but I wouldn't recommend doing whole walls with them. As they are meant for doing repairs, the amount of surface area they cover can lead to a costly job if doing whole walls.


Typically, 3/8" nap would be fine for most orange peel textured walls. As for the finish, it all depends on the amount of sheen you want. Those plaster walls should be primed or use a self-priming paint like Behr Ultra. Both Behr Ultra and primer/sealers have sealing agents in them. This keeps the paint from soaking into the surface and leaves behind a film which paint can easily adhere. You will also notice better coverage of your paint on a primed surface for the same reason.


As for what's appropriate for a kid's room, flat enamel is an excellent choice if you don't like a lot of sheen or if you don't mind a bit, then consider satin. Both finishes are very durable and can be used anywhere in the home. At the same time, some people don't like semi-gloss on trim, doors, etc. Consider satin for that if that fits your taste. Semi-gloss is traditionally used for doors, trim, baseboards, etc because it's the hardest interior finish (read that as durability). If you want more shine, then go with High Gloss, just keep in mind that High Gloss is not as durable as Semi-Gloss and can sometimes feel a bit rubbery (new word?) or vinyl like. That's because it is generally an interior/exterior paint. Any paint going outside has to be able to handle extreme changes in temperature (expansion and contraction) that you typically don't experience inside.

Posted 2011-09-09T21:53:09+0000  by Paul

Hi JazzMraz!


Please don't be confused!


We're here to help!


In your original question, you said: I have one wall that is brand new drywall ... But the other 3 walls are 100-year-old plaster and look like an orange peel. What do I want to use to get as smooth of a surface as possible? It'd be AWESOME to get it as smooth as the fresh drywall will be, but that may be hoping for too much.


And you followed by saying: I understand the purpose of the whole sanding thing, but these are PLASTER walls, not drywall. Can I really sand them ...


Smoothing plaster is a fairly common practice ... stay with very fine sanding disks and you should be able to get the two surfaces much closer in appearance.


Finally, if you would rather create a texture on the new drywall that will match the plaster, follow-up and we'll discuss how.

Posted 2011-09-27T18:34:22+0000  by Pat_HD_ATL

I think I'd like to have it match the plaster, since it is the only wall on the entire floor that is drywall.


I didn't know I could do this the other way round-I'm excited to hear how-to!





Posted 2011-10-10T16:15:22+0000  by jazzmraz

Excellent Jazz!


Let's get you a project list to work from!


Here are several items you will need:

1) Mixable bags of plaster and any additives you will mix into the plaster as binders, texturizers, and colorants;

2) Zinsser 123 Primer;

3) Flat trowel and toothed trowel, size should match the pattern of your existing three walls;

4) Additional texturizing tools, like sea sponge, aluminum foil, steel wool, etc. (be creative); and

5) Latex Paint ... used to seal the wall.


You should pre-test mixture rate, additives, spreading and texturing techniques before beginning. Gypsum plaster has a fine, natural texture which may be enough to match your existing walls. Create test boards and display them next to your existing walls so you can see how closely they match ... making adjustments to the mix until you feel confident your mix will re-create the look on the existing walls.


Make detailed notes to ensure you can re-create your matching mix on the full project.


Start by inspecting the sheetrock wall to ensure the seams are all smooth. Then use a stud finder to locate the studs and mark them with a pencil. Before you prep the area with tape and plastic, add several additional sheetrock screws into each stud. This will provide secure support for the additional weight you are going to add to the wall.


Once tape and plastic are secure, prime the walls using the Zinsser 123. A second coat can be applied in about an hour.


While the second coat dries, mix your plaster into a spreadable consistency ... following your pre-test mixture rate.


Stir in additives until they are evenly distributed in the mixture. Keep a bucket of fresh water on-hand. Regularly stir additional water into the mixture to keep additives evenly distributed and prevent it from hardening. Also use the water to keep your tool free of build-up.


Start in the center of the primed wall and begin troweling small squares, overlapping about one-inch and working outward in alternating directions toward the taped edges. Allow the first coat to dry.


When spreading the second coat, follow the same steps but begin using your texturing tools to create the finished appearance you selected during the test. While spreading, your plaster will begin to loose moisture quickly, so spread enough second coat (about four feet by four feet) and begin re-creating the look-a-like texture of your original walls on that area.


Overlap about one-half inch and begin on you next four-foot square ... and so on 'til done.


Another option, if you only need a very light texture, finish the second coat, lightly re-wet the wall with a mister, and then apply your texture.


Sand any uneven or course areas using a mouse sander with a high number sandpaper (220-grit or higher). Vacuum sanding dust and wipe walls thoroughly before painting.


Your tape may have to be removed (to prevent it from binding into the plaster edge) and replaced 24- to 48-hours later when you use latex paint to seal the walls. Use Zinsser 123 to prime before painting.


Finally, texture is a unique thing. Traditional horse hair plaster is made by adding horse hair when mixing. Others will use a slightly damp, course-surface sea sponge to create small areas of texture. One of my "crafty" DIYer customers suggested using bunched-up aluminum foil to create texture. And the list goes on and on.


The final point on texture is that each person uses their hand to create a unique "one-of-a-kind" texture. So, you may not be able to create an exact match, but be creative when selecting your texturizing tool(s) ... and clean them periodically to ensure your pattern is consistent.


NOTE: While not an expensive project, the labor in this project is significant. You will need patience, creativity, and several days to complete. If you have any doubts, you might consult a professional wall finisher before beginning.

Posted 2011-10-11T13:18:08+0000  by Pat_HD_ATL



This is AMAZING!! It sounds like exactly what I was looking for!

Thank you SO much.


Good thing is, my father-in-law is a master carpenter so he and my husband will be doing the work (I cannot be home while they finish the walls since I'm 35 weeks pregnant [-: )


Thank you so much for your help. I will try to remember to come back and post photos once it's all done-I have the entire process so far documented (starting with finding out the original plaster wall had to come down).




Posted 2011-10-12T18:15:19+0000  by jazzmraz
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