How to Avoid Roller Marks When Painting

Updated May 18, 2024 | Posted Jul 24, 2023 | Professional insight, Product Advice | 0 comments

There is nothing worse than going to the effort of redecorating a room, only to encounter defects in your finish such as flashing, picture framing, and roller marks. As a professional Decorator of over 20 years, I’ve learnt how to avoid such defects. I thought I’d put a blog together on how to avoid roller marks when painting. If you’re experiencing problems, then this may help.


What Causes Roller Marks?


Roller marks can be caused by several different things. It may be that the paint you’re using is very porous, so you don’t get very long to spread it out before it dries. Or if the paint is drying quickly, it may be that you aren’t keeping a ‘wet edge’ when you’re rolling, so there is a thicker build up on the overlaps of your roller strokes.

However, the most common cause of roller marks is when your roller leaves a slightly different texture on the upward stokes as it does on the downward strokes, and that difference is visible after your paint has dried. The proper term for this is ‘flashing’, and there are things you can do to avoid it.


How to Avoid Roller Marks When Painting


Step 1 – Choose a Good Quality Roller

The most obvious advice I can give you on avoiding roller marks is to use a good quality roller and use an appropriate paint (I’ll get into both in the following sections), but there are other things you can do.


Step 2 – Choose the Correct Paint

Some paints contain a crude polymer that doesn’t seem to settle down. Others drag on application. Either of these can cause roller marks. You’ll always achieve a better finish with certain paints than you would others (I’ll go into options on the next section).


Step 3 – Dilute your paint

If you want to avoid roller marks, then you should dilute your paint slightly, particularly when using trade products. Diluting too much may mean you need to apply an extra coat to get a solid colour, so go easy. However, diluting it (usually with water when rolling emulsion paint) will make it easier to apply and spread, thus cutting down on roller marks.


Step 4 – Get Your Technique Right

You should also look at your technique if you’re having problems with roller marks. Get loads of paint on your roller, start at the top of your wall and roll all the way down all the way up in single movements. Really spread the paint out, so you’re applying a generous coat, but getting rid of any texture in the paint.


The Best Paint Roller to Use to Avoid Roller Marks


A good quality roller is your single best weapon in your fight against roller marks! You need something that is easy to manoeuvre, holds plenty of paint, and doesn’t leave orange peel. I’m going to give you two recommendations, each suit different types of paint.


The Purdy Colossus

I love the Purdy Colossus! It’s one of my favourite rollers of all time. You will need to de-lint it before its first use, but it holds a fantastic amount of paint and allows you to lay-it-off with ease. Go for the 9-inch, and make sure you use a pole with it.

I use this type of roller when applying any paint with a low-sheen level, or that drags. It’s great with contract matt or vinyl matt emulsion paint products because it allows you to skim over a surface.

Axus Silk Touch

This paint roller is fantastic for avoiding orange peel in your finish. Its tightly wound microfibres mean there is very little texture in your paint at all. It still holds a good amount of paint, and it’s easy to spread it out. One of the advantages of this paint roller is it distributes paint evenly and with a steady flow, regardless of whether you’re at the end of your stroke, or the beginning. Click here to see current prices.

The Best Type of Paint to Use to Avoid Roller Marks


What if I told you that you can avoid roller marks when painting by simply changing your paint? It’s true! Some paints are hard to apply, and they have a high sheen-level, so it’s difficult to avoid roller marks. Or they drag like mad due to a lack of polymer binders, which can be even worse! What you need is a low-sheen paint that just glides on! A trade product is preferrable. I can give you a couple of recommendations, but there are a few paint products on the market that will do the job.


Dulux Diamond Matt Paint

Dulux Diamond Matt isn’t exactly the cheapest paint on the market, but since reformulating it recently, it’s certainly one of the best, especially if you are trying to avoid roller marks.

Opacity in colours is fantastic (you may need a third coat when using this paint in white).

This product ticks all the boxes for avoiding roller marks when painting. It has a low sheen level and excellent flow. The finish is gorgeous too, and on top of that, it’s durable! If you don’t mind paying a little bit extra for your paint to guarantee a better finish, then this is the one for you.

Tikkurila Anti-Reflex

This is more of a ceiling paint, but it has been specially developed to avoid defects such as flashing, picture framing and roller marks.

It was recently voted “The Best Emulsion for Ceilings” amongst Professional Decorators on Decorators Forum UK.

This is gorgeous on any ceiling, but it comes into its own on large, light-critical surfaces. I guarantee you will not see any roller marks with this paint! Just get plenty on! Nice thick coats of Anti-Reflex is the way to go.

Final Thoughts


Well, I hope that has given you the insight you need on how to avoid roller marks when painting. To sum up, use good paint and a proper roller. If you go with one of my recommendations, then I don’t think you will have any issues. Happy painting!!

Updated May 18, 2024 | Posted Jul 24, 2023 | 0 comments

About the Author

About the Author

Mike Cupit has been in the decorating industry since 2002 and has mostly worked as a Trade Decorator in the domestic sector (peoples’ homes). Self-proclaimed “product geek”, Mike has a passion for paint and decorating tools. Mike now spends most of his time testing paint products and tools, comparing them to similar products on the market, and blogging about the industry in general.
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