Can you use a roller with gloss paint?

Gloss can be a tricky paint to achieve the perfect finish with, when using a brush it is common to end up with lines in your finished paint. For this reason, you have obviously wondered whether you can use a roller with gloss paint? After all, rollers often allow even novice painters to achieve a nice smooth finish when using emulsions, but just how possible is this with gloss. Well ponder no longer, I have gone out and bought a foam roller set as well as some water-based gloss. I have tested painting some scrap MDF with a roller and gloss to see exactly how it turned out.

Water-Based Gloss

I am going to run this experiment with both a water-based gloss and then an oil-based gloss to see if the type of gloss has any effect on the end result. This first test has been done using the water-based gloss, scroll further down for the oil-based gloss test.

Getting the gloss onto the roller

The gloss goes onto the roller really easily, that might be because I am using a water-based gloss which does tend to be runnier than their old based siblings. But so far no problems at all, the gloss will go onto the roller with no problems at all, so far so good.

Gloss paint on a foam roller
Gloss paint on a foam roller

Painting the MDF

So now it comes time to put our first coat of paint onto the MDF, lets see how the roller gets on. Well, the paint went on really easily, so you can paint gloss with a roller but it now all depends on the finish quality as to whether you should or not.

Painting gloss onto mdf with a foam roller
Painting gloss onto mdf with a foam roller

After two coats

So now I have put two coats of gloss onto this wood using a roller and I am starting to notice some problems with using a roller to paint gloss. You can see in the photo below all the lumps and bumps in the surface, it isn’t applying anywhere near as smooth as it would with a brush. Lets see if a few extra, thicker coats can fix that.

MDF after two coats of gloss with a roller
MDF after two coats of gloss with a roller

Third Coat

So below you can see the MDF after the third coat of gloss applied using a roller. This is straight after I had painted it, I took this image as you can really see all the little bumps in the surface of the paint. Let’s see if they get any better as the paint dries.

MDF after third coat of gloss
MDF after third coat of gloss
Water based gloss with a roller result
Water based gloss with a roller result

So, not brilliant. You can see that there are tons of bubbles in the bottom corner which have dried into the finish. Then even looking away from the bubbles there are lumps and bumps everywhere in the finish, with water-based gloss at least I would say this hasn’t worked. Time to see how an oil-based gloss gets on.

Oil-based Gloss

So it’s time to see how oil-based gloss gets on, will it fare any better than water-based gloss? I think it will do better to be honest, oil-based gloss is a lot thicker and tends to smooth itself out, I think this will work well when using a roller but lets do the test and find out for certain.

Leyland Trade Oil-Based Gloss
Leyland Trade Oil-Based Gloss

I am again using Leyland trade gloss, so the gloss is from the same brand and both are wood and metal gloss. I did this to try and keep the differences as small as possible, this should be as similar as a water-based and oil-based gloss can be.

First Coat

So putting the first coat on you can feel the difference straight away. The oil-based gloss is a lot thicker but it still rolls on well. Then after being applied it starts to smooth itself out. You can see the first coat results below, not perfect but a lot better than the water-based gloss, lets see how it looks after a second coat.

One coat of oil based gloss applied with a roller
One coat of oil based gloss applied with a roller

Second Coat

I think the second coat will make a real difference here and might actually make this method useable, so lets get to it.

two coats of oil based gloss applied with a roller
two coats of oil based gloss applied with a roller

And there we have it, a much better finish than using the water-based gloss. While not perfect, and still containing a few little bumps overall I would say the finish is “not bad”. I do think you could probably achieve a better finish with a brush and a lot of patience but is it good enough? yes, I would say so.

So can you use a roller with gloss paint?

Yes, you can. I would certainly advise using an oil-based gloss as in my test it didn’t work at all with a water-based gloss. The finish was not perfect but definitely of a passable standard when using an oil-based gloss.

Similar Articles

If you are looking at glossing more items then we have a whole section of the website dedicated to gloss, find all of the articles below.

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Sam Wood

Wood by name, wood by nature. I am a fully qualified, time-served, award-winning joiner with an NVQ Level 3 in Carpentry and Joinery as well as an HNC in Construction. Beyond my joinery qualifications, I have also earned a degree in building surveying. I believe these qualifications make me perfectly positioned to provide expert advice on many different areas of DIY as well as share all of the tips I have picked up in over a decade working on building sites!

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