Paint rollers are great assets especially when you want to paint large areas in a small amount of time or paint areas that are out of reach such as ceilings.

When you want to start a new paint project, you may want to find out how to use paint rollers properly without any splatter or dripping.

This is quite technical because paint rollers often cause paint to splatter, which can lead to paint stains on your furniture and carpets.

The easiest and most vital technique is to apply the right amount of paint with each stroke of the paint roller and also use the right amount of pressure when using the roller.

These techniques and more are what you will learn in this article, and by the end, you will know the DIY techniques for painting with rollers without spilling or splattering paint and how to stop paint splatter when using a roller.

How to Stop Paint Splatter When Using a Roller

How to Stop Paint Roller Splatter

It is fairly easy to stop paint splatter when using a roller, simply because the tips to follow are easy and straightforward.

However, many DIYers and even professionals proceed directly to painting totally ignoring these tips and for this reason, a mess is created during and after the painting project.

The simple tips to follow are;

Tip 1Use the appropriate cover
Tip 2Choose the right paint
Tip 3Choose the right roller nap
Tip 4Use Correct Paint Application
Tip 5Use the right amount of paint
Tip 6Paint Thin layers.
Tip 7Keep the roller facing the same way.
Tip 8Use Paint shields.
Tip 9Use roller screens.
Tip 10Use Paint Trays

Use the Appropriate Cover

There are different roller covers, there are some with short fibers and some with long fibers.

Roller covers with short fibers are apposite for preventing paint splatter, not just that they will help you roll evenly and give your painting job a professional finish when you are done.

  • Woven or synthetic paint roller covers are suitable for painting interior walls and ceilings.

Its fabric does not shed too much and they create a smooth and even finish.

  • A lambswool roller cover is preferable for oil-based paint and glossy latex paint. The only downside to the roller cover is that it tends to shed more wool compared to the others.
  • For fine furniture and other woodworking projects, foam roller covers are the best. However, they should not be used for textured surfaces, they may cause splatters.

Tip: Always be sure to remove the lint on your new paint roller, you can do this by either washing the paint roller in warm water before using it or

Covering the paint roller with adhesive tape and removing the tape, the lint will automatically come off with the tape.

Choose the Right Paint

The saying “You get what you pay for” is applicable when you are painting with rollers and do not want to get paint splatter.

Using premium paint with higher viscosity in contrast with cheap thin paint will greatly help you in this project.

Cheaper paints have less quality and will not properly adhere to the surface you are painting it on.

This will be disadvantageous, especially when painting your ceiling. For ceilings, ceiling paints have been specifically designed for them, so the problem of splattering can be easily avoided.

In addition to this, you have to make sure you choose the right roller for the appropriate paint.

Using rollers designed for latex paint to paint oil-based paint can cause drips and splatters.

Choose the Right Roller Nap

The roller size, nap, and covers contribute a great deal to stopping paint splatter when using the rollers.

The surface you are painting will usually determine the nap size of the roller.

For standard interior paint projects, a 3/18 inch to ½ inch nap is appropriate, while for the likes of decks or fences which are rougher surfaces, a ¾ inch to 1-inch nap size is preferable.

Roller Nap SizePreferred Surface
3/16” or ¼”Smooth wood, wallboard, metal, drywall, untextured plaster
3/8” or ½”Walls, ceilings, lightly textured dry, lightly textured wood, smooth concrete, acoustical file.
¾” or 1”Decks, concrete block, stucco or siding decks, textured plaster.
1 ¼ “or 1 ½ “Heavily textured plaster or stucco, rough wood, corrugated metal, and bricks.

Use Correct Paint Application

In spite of the fact that the wrong roller nap size and cover cause paint splatter and spills, wrongly applying your paint with the roller is an equally major factor when using rollers to paint.

  • Roll Slowly

The most common wrong application is painting too fast. Even though paint rollers make the painting job faster and save more time, you should roll the paint too fast, this unavoidably causes the paint to splatter.

  • Apply minimal pressure

This is equally vital because pressing down on the roller while the paint will force the paint out and result in a splatter.

  • Apply a coat at a time

After you have ensured that the paint you are using is thick enough, do not apply multiple coats on a part of where you are painting.

Too much paint will be on a particular side and the paint will begin to drip.

  • Start rolling from the middle

After applying each coat, you need to use even strokes to even it out. Starting your rolling from the middle of the surface you are painting helps you do this easily.

However, starting at an edge will be difficult, because paint rollers are too big to fit in edges and this will cause paint to splatter and even leave roller marks.

  • Use paint brushes for edges and corners

As I said, it is not advisable to force rollers into corners or edges, it will result in splatters.

It is best if you use brushes for technical stages like this to avoid paint splatters.

Choose the Right Amount of Paint

One of the most common causes of paint splatter and drips is overloading the roller with paint.

It inevitably causes excess paint to drop off the roller while it is being used.

  • Lightly dip the roller in the paint and roll it over on the paint to get just enough amount of paint on it.
  • To ensure any excess paint is removed roll the roller along the dry side of a paint tray or screen to remove any excess paint.
  • Squelching and dripping of paint are sure ways to notice that there is too much paint on the roller.

Paint Thin Layers

This may make your job a little longer, but it is better to paint two to three thinner layers than to overload the roller in order to paint the roller in a single coat.

Do not be afraid to follow this route as it will ensure you stop paint splatter from spilling while painting.

 Keep the Roller Facing the Same Way

While using rollers to paint, another important trick pros use in order not to splatter paint all over is to keep the roller facing the same way.

For instance, if you started painting with the metal bar facing to the left, make sure you keep painting in the same exact direction.

You see, roller naps as very similar in function to brush bristles, when you push them in one direction, they lie down in that direction.

Forcing them to go the opposite direction will force the nap top change direction and in doing so, you will splatter paint as you go.

Use Paint Shield

Of all the tips given so far, this is to me the most important.

The paint shield works amazingly well when preventing paint splatter.

The fact that it is translucent makes you see the paint while rolling.

To use a paint shield, simply;

  • Fix the paint shield on the roller before you begin painting.
  • Adjust the paint shield, by placing it on top when dipping the roller in paint.
  • If you are painting a wall, carefully put the paint shield in your direction so it will not bump to the wall.
  • For ceilings, simply put the shield under the roller to protect yourself and your floors.

You can also use a paint shield to protect the paint from dripping on the floor during breaks when you stand on the roller.

 Use Roller Screens

Compared to paint trays, roller screen works better for reducing paint splatters.

On top of that, there is no need to refill roller screens repeatedly as one does with a tray.

These roller screens stand vertically in a 5-gallon bucket.

  • Simply pour a gallon or whatever size of paint you intend to use into the bottom of the bucket and dip the roller in it.
  • To push out the excess paint, and to avoid splatters when apply to the surface you are painting, roll the roller up the screen.

Tip: Use a bucket with a lid so that you can always cover the paint when taking breaks without spilling it.

It will also help you preserve leftover paint so it won’t dry out.

Use Paint Trays

If you are unable to get roller screens, no need to fret as paint trays can also work well.

A typical paint tray is about the same breadth as the roller so it does not collect excess paint on the end of the roller.

Excess paint on the roller ends may result in splatters when applied.

Paint trays also have ramps or slopes with raised edges, which helps to roll the roller up and squeeze out surplus paint that may be on the roller.

When using paint trays, try not to overfill the paint tray and only fill the reservoir at the base of the ramp to prevent the roller from absorbing too much paint.

Refill the tray as often as necessary if needed but don’t be tempted to overfill the bucket.


As effective as the tips above are, they still do not ensure perfection when painting with rollers.

This is why the best way to stop paint splatter is to prevent and prepare for paint splatters.

How to Stop Paint Splatter When Using a Roller?

How to Prepare for Paint Splatter When Using Rollers

Preparing for painting with rollers is just like preparing for other painting projects, you are to simply;

Tape-Down Surfaces

If you are painting walls with a roller then you definitely want to tape down the windows and other surfaces that are prone to paint splatters.

Carefully lay down a wide strip of painter’s tape onto the windows or any other surface you are painting.

Lay Down Drop Cloths

To protect the floors while painting, the best option is to lay down drops.

This is especially important when painting ceilings because, in the case of paint splatters, it falls directly to the ground.

Tip: If you intend to paint your walls and ceiling at the same time, do ensure that you paint the ceiling first before painting the wall.

This will make sure that any paint that splatters on the wall while painting the ceiling will be easily covered when you are painting the wall.

The reverse will mean that you may ruin your wall paint.

Protect Furniture

You also want to protect your furniture while painting with rollers.

To do this, simply cover the furniture with drop cloths or a tarp.

Wear a Hat

Wearing a hat is exceptionally vital when painting your ceiling.

The most important asset to protect when a painting is you.

Safety Precaution

Remember, when painting with rollers or embarking on any painting project, ensure you follow safety precautions.

Wearing masks, safety goggles, gloves, and overalls are sometimes necessary, and this is because most paints contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which are hazardous and can cause skin and lung irritation.

Should you wet a roller before using paint?

There is divided opinion on whether or not you should wet a roller before using paint. Some say that wetting the roller ensures even coverage and a smoother finish, while others say that it can cause the paint to drip and run.

Ultimately, it is up to you to decide what works best for your project. If you are unsure, you can always test out both methods on a small section of wall to see which you prefer.

How to Remove Paint Splatters and Spills

If you are like me and you dared to paint with rollers without any preventive measures and you spill some paint on your floors or windows.

Do not worry, with the few steps I will show you now, you will safely remove any paint spill or splatter.

Items Needed

  • Microfiber cleaning rag.
  • Warm water.
  • Isopropyl Alcohol.
  • Dry Cloth.


Step 1-

  • Pour a little drop of alcohol or any other solvent on a microfiber cleaning rag and place it on the spot of the paint splatter.

The alcohol will begin to dissolve the paint in about 5-10 minutes.

Step 2-

  • Scrub the paint vigorously with the rag, and do this until the paint is completely removed.

Step 3-

  • Soak the clean rag in warm water and rub off the alcohol.

If the paint spills on the windows, you may need a glass cleaner when removing the paint from the glass.

Alcohol is also a very potent solvent that can be used to thin paint.

Final Thoughts

Of all the tricks given so far to stop paint splatter when using a roller, it is the one about using a paint shield that is the most effective, however, to me it is better to be safe than sorry.

Irrespective of whether you are a newbie in painting or a professional, the best way to stop paint splatter when using a roller is by observing all the precautionary measures.


Why does paint splatter when using a roller?

Paint splatters when using a roller for a few reasons.

  • Firstly, if the paint is too thin it will run off the roller and onto the surface below.
  • Secondly, if the roller is not properly loaded with paint, it will also drip and splatter.
  • Finally, if the roller is moving too fast, the paint will again splatter. All of these factors can be controlled by the user, so it is important to be aware of them when painting.

How do you paint a roller without making a mess?

There are a few things you can do to avoid making a mess when painting with a roller.

  • First, you can put a drop cloth or some old newspapers down to catch any paint that might drip off the roller.
  • Second, you can put some painter’s tape around the edges of the area you’re painting, to make sure that any stray paint doesn’t end up on the walls or floor.
  • Finally, you can try to use a roller with a smaller diameter, so that there is less paint on the roller to begin with and less chance of it dripping off.