Why Does My Paint Roller Slide Instead of Roll? blog post

Why Does My Paint Roller Slide Instead of Roll?

Does your paint roller feel like it’s auditioning for Dancing on Ice? It’s sliding around like it’s practising its figure eights instead of giving your walls a smooth coat!

We’ve all been there! Even me! An experienced painter and decorator. Over the years, I have encountered various scenarios that would explain why your rollers are sliding all over the place instead of giving you the perfectly rolled walls you hoped for. Luckily, these issues have a solution!

In this article, I will go through all the reasons why your paint rollers are sliding instead of rolling and tell you how you can fix them. Also, as a bonus, I will tell you how to deal with roller covers sliding off the handle.

Let’s begin!

Paint roller sliding on wall instead of rolling as it should

Why Is My Paint Roller Sliding and Not Rolling?

There are various reasons why your paint roller slides instead of rolls.

Usually, it’s because you either didn’t attach the cover to the roller frame correctly, you’re applying too much pressure to the rollers, or there might be too much paint on the roller.

Let’s look at each of these in more detail and find out how you can fix these problems.

You didn’t attach the roller cover correctly

The roller cover (or roller sleeve) is the cylindrical material that attaches to your roller frame.
Attaching your roller cover correctly to the frame will prevent it from sliding rather than rolling.
Check whether you have made any of these common mistakes people make when attaching their roller cover:
• Not fully sliding the roller cover onto the frame.
• Using a roller cover that is not the right size for the frame. It should fit snugly on the frame.
• Not cleaning the roller frame before attaching the cover.
• You’re using a damaged roller cover.
How to fix it:
If you have made any of these mistakes when attaching your roller cover, remove the cover and correctly re-attach it. 
Here’s how to correctly attach the frame:
• Ensure the roller cover matches the size of the frame.
• Clean any old paint off the roller frame and handle. 
• With one hand, hold the roller frame firmly, and with the other hand, slide it onto the frame. 
• When the cover is securely attached, fiddle around with the cover until it’s evenly sitting on the frame.
• Test it out by dry rolling it on your walls to check it rolls as it should.

You’re applying to much pressure on the roller

Your paint roller will slide instead of roll if you apply too much pressure to the roller.

That’s because if too much pressure is applied, it can create too much friction between the paint rollers and your surface.

When you create too much friction between the two, the rollers slide instead of rolling smoothly across your walls and ceilings.

Also, the more pressure you apply to the roller, the higher the risk that the roller will veer off course and slide.

How to fix it:
Luckily, this one is an easy fix.

Instead of rolling like you’re trying to knead dough into submission, allow your paint rollers to do the work and glide across your surfaces.

You want to find the middle ground. If you apply too much pressure, the roller will slide instead of roll, and if you use too little force, the paint won’t move up and down your wall and ceiling.

The trick is to apply a small amount of pressure evenly across the rollers.

The surface is too smooth

One of the less obvious causes of paint rollers sliding instead of rolling is painting a surface that is too smooth.

It might sound counter-intuitive since painting on a smooth surface is the key to flawless finishes. But, when a surface is too even, it can prevent the roller nap from catching onto the surface enough to roll. So, it slides instead.

How to fix it:
To fix this issue, apply a primer to the surface before you paint.

You can apply a primer with either a brush or a roller. When you prime your surfaces, you create a slightly more textured surface, allowing the roller nap to have better contact with the surface and roll instead of slide.

Too much paint on the roller

When your paint roller slides instead of rolls, it could be because you have too much paint on your roller while painting.

When you have too much paint on your roller, you create a thick layer that reduces the amount of contact between your roller and the surface. Insufficient contact with the surface results in a roller that slides instead of rolls.

Also, it can be hard to control the direction of the roller if you have too much paint on your roller. So it’s more likely to veer off course and skid instead of roll.

How to fix it:
To fix this issue, follow my technique for correctly loading a paint roller:

1. Pour the paint from your tins into a paint tray.
2. Roll your paint rollers slightly into the paint to give it a good coating. You only want to dip it into the paint, not submerge it.
3. Continue rolling another part of the roller into the paint to coat it.
4. Repeat this process until you have good coverage on your roller. Your rollers should have no dry spots.

Low quality roller cover

If you bought the cheapest paint roller cover you could find, a low-quality roller cover could be why your roller is sliding instead of rolling.

That’s because low-quality rollers are more likely to get worn out, creating sliding issues.

How to fix it:
Invest in a high-quality professional roller and roller cover for your home improvement projects. You need to find a roller suitable for the type of surface you are painting and the interior paints you are using.

Painter and decorator holding a roller in his hand

How Do I Keep My Roller from Sliding Off the Handle?

There’s nothing worse than the roller sleeve sliding off the handle of the roller when you’ve almost finished painting a room. 
There are a few steps you can take to prevent the roller cover from moving as you paint:
  • Ensure you have correctly installed your roller cover onto the handle. I talked about how to do this in my point about how not attaching the roller cover correctly could prevent your paint from rolling.
  • Wrap the roller with a plastic sheeting to make the roller cover more snug to the roller and prevent it from sliding off.
  • Swap your roller for one with a cage frame. These frames provide additional support to the roller cover and prevent it from sliding off the handle.

Or, you can contact professionals like our painters and decorators in West London to paint your rooms for you!