Monday, 26 October 2015

A Study of Paint Rollers

Introduction to Paint Rollers - A brief history of how the paint roller evolved in India
Micro fiber Roller - European Handle
The evolution of the roller has followed the path of evolution of paint in India. Not too closely though. There have been times when the paint technology was far ahead and the roller lagged far behind. As time progressed and paint graduated from lime wash to distempers and emulsions, the transition of brush to roller was a slow one. This was partly due to unavailability of certain roller products and technologies but majorly due to habits of painters and their reluctance to invest in their trade. Painters were usually part time. The finish of emulsions were not up to the mark due to the use of brushes. To counter this, painters began using cheap foam rollers on wet paint after brush application. The finish was better but still not satisfactory and the paint jobs took longer to complete. This system worked for many years until painters began experiencing problems with application of high sheen emulsions. Around the same time, painters also began facing problems with manpower. The modern cloth roller thus began finding acceptance and quickly replaced the brush as a tool of application. This roller not only provided uniform deposition of paint but also reduced the time taken to paint. After some initial resistance - again due to the painters habit and reluctance to invest in trade - the cloth roller is widely used today. 

Variety of Rollers

. Cloth Vs Foam - Cloth rollers are mats of woven or knitted fiber pasted onto plastic tubes and mounted on to handles. The pasting is done in a spiral fashion so as not to leave any marks on the painted surface. Foam rollers are pieces of foam, cut in uniform cylindrical shapes and mounted onto handles.
. A wide variety of sizes are also available. Width x Diameter - 2 " x 1", 4" x 1", 6" x 1", 6" x 2", 7" x 2", 8" x 2", 9" x 2".
Polyester Roller - Cage Handle
. A Wide variety of materials area also available in cloth rollers : Polyester, Acrylic, Micro Fibre, Poly Amide, Natural Hair and Blends of the above. The material is either warp knitted or woven.

Criteria to choosing a roller

With so much variety there is often a confusion as to which roller to choose. The following criteria will make the choice objective :

. Foam Vs Cloth :
 Low density foam rollers pick up a large amount of material and splatter paint onto the surface and are not suitable for application of paint. This leads to a lot of wastage. They can only be used to remove excess paint or smoothen unevenly applied paint. High density foam rollers pick up less material and cause less splatter when placed onto the surface to be painted. They can be used to apply paint. The problem with foam rollers is that they tend to break after usage. They are also very difficult to clean, as the material is absorbed into the entire thickness of the foam.
Cloth rollers on the other hand provide uniform paint deposition and splatter free painting. They are easy to clean as paint is absorbed only into the mat of the material which is on an average only about 0.5" in thickness.

. Pile / Nap of a Cloth Roller :
The roller pile is the length of the fiber. The longer the fiber, the more material it can hold. Also a larger pile will help the roller cover larger surface undulations. But a longer fiber also means a rougher finish. Rollers meant for rough surfaces such as rough plastered exterior walls have a larger pile.

. Material of a Cloth Roller :
Polyester is the cheapest material but has low paint pickup.
Acrylic is a bit more expensive and has better paint pickup.
Micro Fibre is a bit higher in cost and has excellent paint pickup.
Polyamide fibre has equivalent paint pickup and cost to micro fiber but has much longer life.

. Woven Vs Knitted
Woven fibers pickup more material than knitted fibers and also deposit material more uniformly.

. Handles - Cage Style Vs European Style
Cage handles are more expensive than european style handles but have better grip on the roller.

. Lint Free Rollers do not leave behind any fiber on the painted surface. These are generally more expensive.

Considering the finish required, the surface being painted and the paint being used, a suitable roller can be chosen using the above criteria.
Happy Painting!!

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