How to Remove Paint Roller Marks

You just finished painting your wall and you noticed something: paint roller marks, individual lines that overlap to show the progress of your paint job. And good grief they’re really noticeable. Did you do something wrong? Not at all.

The roller marks you want to so badly rid your walls of have a name—they’re often referred to as “holidays.” It’s where the paint didn’t quite adhere to that portion of the wall, or stucco, or didn’t adhere at all. And chances are you probably didn’t notice them until after the paint dried. That’s quite the bummer because more work is involved to get rid of them.

So, how do you remove paint roller marks? Here’s how.

How to Remove Paint Roller Marks

How they show up is simple: you thought you’d save paint by pressing the painter roller a little harder into the wall, squeezing a bit of paint out. Unfortunately, that just doesn’t work as well as you think it does. To be fair, the logic is sound, but to be frank, you’re still going back to get more paint.

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Hiding paint roller marks isn’t exactly a science, nor is it a mystery. All you do is apply more paint. That’s really all there is to it. You applied, what, a single coat of paint? It’s pretty common for paint roller marks to appear after a single coat of paint. After all, applying the first layer usually involves you going this way and that way to paint the walls.

We advise you to avoid using a paintbrush to paint over the roller marks, especially if you are doing this for a living in someone else’s home. Brush marks over roller marks are incredibly noticeable, unsightly, and bad for business if the owner’s take issue. Stick to using a paint roller to apply a second coat of paint.

But wait there’s more! Before you paint again, here’s a few tips to painting you can take with you. There’s more to using a paint roller than slipping a cover over the paint roller and calling it a day. Believe it or not, the kind of cover you are using matters.

Tips To Prevent Paint Roller Marks

If you are doing the painting for your own home, you probably never stopped to think about the kind of rollers you were using, or the very fine art of painting. There are a handful of tips to keep in mind to not only paint properly, but also to prevent paint roller marks.

1. Change the paint roller cover.

You never thought paint roller covers matter, that different fabrics were just for show. In fact, the different thickness actually do, and it may be the source of your issue.

Otherwise known as “naps,” stopping by your prefered hardware store and taking a look at the paint roller covers, you’ll notice that there’s various thicknesses. Each thickness best serves particular surfaces like smooth and rough. If you use the wrong paint roller nap, you can be left with holiday marks, or paint roller marks.

There’s four main sizes of paint roller naps. From thinnest to thickest: foam, 1/4″, 3/8″, and 3/4″. The smoothest surfaces are best painted with foam or 3/8″ nap rollers for drywall. The roughest surfaces will require thicker naps like 3/4″ because the fibers have an easier time getting paint into the small crevices like masonry and stucco. If you tried painting a smooth wall with a 3/4″ nap roller, you’ll create small pockmarks.

Generally speaking, the rougher the surface, the thicker your nap roller should be.

2. Primer paint is a must in most situations.

Have you ever painted a wall and noticed a porous effect, where tiny gaps in the paint appeared? And no matter how many times you paint that spot, they reappear again and again. What’s going on? Well, the paint is having a hard time adhering to the surface. To prevent this from happening, you need to use primer.

The last thing you want is a surface soaking up paint, specifically porous surfaces like wood, drywall, and masonry. By applying an adhesive layer—that is the primer—you seal the porous surface, which allows paint to more easily stick to the surface. Easy peesy!

Unfortunately, it can take a considerable amount of time to dry, depending on the surface and paint primer (View on Amazon) you use. Consult our guide on understanding primer and how to use it.

3. It’s okay to dip your roller into more paint. You can and should.

If you are painting a wall, and you are going to great lengths to squeeze more paint out of your roller, just stop immediately. There is no need to do that, and in fact, you are causing paint roller marks doing that. Sure, in the moment it may seem like you painted properly but once the paint dries, you can easily see the holiday marks as clear as day.

Here is a tip: when you start to push on the paint roller for more paint, that is when it is time to dip the paint roller into more paint. You will have to apply several coats to remove paint roller marks anyways, you might as well do it now.

Never Leave Roller Marks!

Leaving roller marks can make your paint job look horrible. A nicely painted home is more impressive and it can make you more proud to call that home yours. Painting your home is just one way of improving it but there are many more.

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Should you sand paint roller marks?

This question comes up pretty often. It’s often seen as a method for ridding your walls of paint roller marks. On the surface, it sounds like it would work, but in practice it does not. The only time you should sand over a paint roller mark is if you are removing drip marks. And if you do, don’t forget to clean the surface before applying more paint.

Bottom Line

To condense everything: add another layer to remove paint roller marks, but make sure you are using the right nap roller for the job; smoother surfaces use thinner nap sizes. Don’t use a paint brush, nor sandpaper to remove holiday marks. Brush strokes are easy to see, and sandpaper should only be used to fix mistakes, not paint roller marks.