“Naps” and nap length are one of the things that new painters always have questions about – and for good reason! When shopping for paint rollers, it’s quickly apparent that they come in a variety of lengths – longer and shorter naps. But which one is right for your home, and how do you know? Allow us to help out with a brief look at the common nap lengths, and what sort of surfaces they’re designed for.
1/4-inch Naps and How to Use Them
Naps that are a quarter of an inch or smaller — some go down to 3/16ths of an inch; although this isn’t quite as common — may seem too thin for many projects. However, they can excel at creating a very smooth paint layer with little to no texture. Of course, this means that they work best with especially flat surfaces, like brand-new drywall, sanded surfaces, etc. If you can run your finger along a surface without feeling bumps or ridges, this is probably a good nap length to use.
However, note that these naps don’t hold much paint, for obvious reasons! Painters who want to complete a job especially fast will sometimes choose longer naps for even very smooth surfaces, although this does affect how the paint looks.
3/8 to 1/2-inch Naps and How to Use Them
This is a very common type of nap length. Here, the nap is a little longer, which allows it to reach into small crevices and ensure that rougher surfaces still get a full layer of paint. The average walls and ceilings in a home can benefit from this nap length: Think textured drywall, wood, acoustic tiles, and common paneling, among other everyday surfaces. This nap length is reliable and easy to use.
3/4-inch Naps and How To Use Them
These naps and even longer (yes, nap length can even go beyond an inch in some products) are specifically designed for very rough surfaces where shorter naps would struggle to apply enough paint to reach everywhere. These naps work best if you are painting something like stucco, rough siding, brick, or corrugated metal – as you can imagine, they are typically used for outdoor surfaces instead of inside.
Additional Naps Tips
Remember, paint rollers also come in varying widths, although a foot is most common, and shorter widths are used for more specialized projects. Also keep in mind that there’s a reason you buy rollers in packs: A well-sealed and stored roller can last a few days at the most. A roller left out overnight may not even be usable the next day. Prepare for replacements if necessary.
Finally, keep in mind that roller cages and extenders are also important components. Make sure they are made to fit the rollers you buy, and try to find the most lightweight versions you can.
More questions about naps or other technical painting decisions that you need to make? Tar Heel Painters can help you make the right painting choices! We offer a variety of painting services for both residential and commercial projects, and we’ll be happy to talk to you about your current painting plans.