The Best Rollers for Water-Based Polyurethane: Review & Buying Guide

By Mego Kimani •  Updated: 05/27/23 •  7 min read

Water-based polyurethane is a popular choice for finishing wood surfaces because it is durable, easy to apply, and dries quickly. However, choosing the right roller is crucial for getting a smooth, even finish.

This article will review some of the best rollers for water-based polyurethane and provide a buying guide to help you make an informed decision.


What is water-based polyurethane?

Water-based polyurethane is a clear finish applied to wood surfaces to protect them from wear and tear and enhance their natural beauty. It is made from a mixture of polyurethane resin, water, and other additives and is applied as a liquid that dries to form a hard, protective coating.

One of the main advantages of water-based polyurethane is that it is much easier to apply and clean up than oil-based polyurethane. It dries quickly, has low volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and is safe to use in well-ventilated areas. It is also available in a range of sheen levels, from matte to high gloss, so you can choose the shine that best suits your needs.

Types of rollers for water-based polyurethane:

Several rollers can apply water-based polyurethane, including foam rollers, microfiber rollers, and paint pad rollers. Each type has its own benefits and drawbacks, so choosing the one that best suits your needs is important.

Foam rollers:

Foam rollers are made of a soft, spongy material that is well-suited for applying water-based polyurethane. They are easy to use, do not leave any marks or streaks on the surface, and are very effective at evenly distributing polyurethane.

However, foam rollers do have some limitations. They tend to hold less paint than other rollers, so you may need to refill them more often. They also tend to shed foam particles, which can get stuck in the finish and ruin the appearance of the surface.

Microfiber rollers:

Microfiber rollers are made of a synthetic material that is known for its ability to hold a large amount of paint. They are also very effective at distributing the paint evenly and producing a smooth, lint-free finish.

However, microfiber rollers are not as effective at applying water-based polyurethane as foam rollers. They tend to leave more marks and streaks on the surface, and the finish may not be as smooth and even. They are also more prone to shedding fibres, which can get stuck in the finish and ruin the appearance of the surface.

Paint pad rollers:

Paint pad rollers are made of a flat, absorbent pad mounted on a handle. They are designed to hold a large amount of paint and apply it evenly and are especially well-suited for large surfaces.

However, paint pad rollers are not as effective at applying water-based polyurethane as foam rollers. They tend to leave more marks and streaks on the surface, and the finish may not be as smooth and even. They are also more difficult to control, especially on curved or irregular surfaces.

Factors to consider when choosing a roller for water-based polyurethane:

When choosing a roller for water-based polyurethane, there are several factors to consider, including the roller’s density, material, and compatibility with your roller frame. Here are some additional considerations to keep in mind:

Density:

The density of a foam roller refers to the amount of foam used in its construction. High-density rollers are made of more foam, which makes them more resistant to collapsing and better able to hold a large amount of paint. They are also more effective at distributing the paint evenly and producing a smooth, even finish.

However, high-density rollers are also more expensive and may be harder to clean. Low-density rollers are made of less foam, which makes them softer and easier to clean. However, they may not be as effective at distributing the paint evenly and may leave more marks and streaks on the surface.

Material:

The material of the roller cover is also important to consider. Foam rollers are typically made of either closed-cell or open-cell foam. Closed-cell foam is more durable and resistant to shedding, but it is also more expensive. Open-cell foam is softer and less expensive, but it is more prone to shedding and may leave more marks and streaks on the surface.

Microfiber rollers are typically made of synthetic fibres designed to hold a large amount of paint and produce a smooth, lint-free finish. However, they may not be as effective at applying water-based polyurethane as foam rollers and are more prone to shedding fibres.

Compatibility with roller frame:

It is also important to choose a roller that is compatible with your roller frame. Most roller frames are designed to hold either 9-inch or 14-inch rollers, so select a roller that fits your frame.

In addition, some roller frames have features such as built-in paint reservoirs or lock-n-load systems that make it easier to apply the paint. These features may be worth considering if you use the roller frequently or for large projects.

Price:

Finally, consider the price of the roller when making your decision. Foam rollers and microfiber rollers are typically more affordable than paint pad rollers, but they may not be as effective at applying water-based polyurethane. Higher-quality rollers may be more expensive, but they may be more durable and produce a better finish.

best rollers for water-based polyurethane

Here are 3 foam rollers that are well-suited for applying water-based polyurethane:

Purdy White Dove Roller:

Best Overall
PURDY 9 x 3/8-Inch Roll Cover, 3-Pack
$18.70

The Purdy White Dove Roller is a top-of-the-line choice for applying water-based polyurethane. Its dense, white fabric is resistant to shedding and lint, which helps to produce a smooth, even finish and minimizes the risk of imperfections.

One of the key benefits of this roller cover is its ability to hold a large amount of paint. This not only makes it more efficient to use, as you won't have to refill the roller as often, but it also helps to ensure a consistent and even application of the polyurethane. The dense fabric can absorb and distribute the paint evenly, producing a professional-looking finish.

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04/12/2024 09:54 pm GMT

In addition to its performance, the Purdy White Dove Roller Cover is also known for its durability. Its high-quality construction ensures that it will last for many uses, making it a cost-effective choice in the long run.

Purdy White Dove Roller:

Overall, the Purdy White Dove Roller Cover is an excellent choice for those who demand the best performance and results when applying water-based polyurethane. Its dense fabric, high paint capacity, and durability make it a top pick among professionals and DIYers alike.

Wagner Spraytech 9155 9-Inch Foam Roller:

Budget Pick
Wagner Spraytech 9inch-by-3/8-Inch Perforated Roller
$7.77

One of the key benefits of this foam roller is its compatibility with most 9-inch roller frames. This allows you to choose the roller frame that best suits your needs and preferences and makes it easy to switch between frames as needed. The roller is also compatible with various paints and coatings, making it a versatile choice for various applications.

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04/12/2024 10:23 pm GMT

The Wagner Spraytech 9155 9-Inch Foam Roller is a versatile and reliable choice for applying water-based polyurethane. Its high-quality foam is resistant to shedding and lint, which helps to produce a smooth, even finish and minimizes the risk of imperfections.

In addition to its performance, the Wagner Spraytech 9155 9-Inch Foam Roller is also known for its durability. Its high-quality construction ensures that it will last for many uses, making it a cost-effective choice in the long run.

Overall, the Wagner Spraytech 9155 9-Inch Foam Roller is an excellent choice for those who want a versatile and reliable roller for applying water-based polyurethane. Its high-quality foam, compatibility with most 9-inch roller frames, and durability make it a top pick.

Conclusion: Best Rollers for Water-Based Polyurethane

Water-based polyurethane is a popular choice for finishing wood surfaces because it is durable, easy to apply, and dries quickly. Choosing the right roller is crucial for getting a smooth, even finish, and there are several types of rollers to choose from, including foam rollers, microfiber rollers, and paint pad rollers.

When selecting a roller for water-based polyurethane, consider factors such as the roller’s density, material, and compatibility with your roller frame. You may also want to consider the roller’s cost, as some rollers may be more expensive than others.

By considering these factors and researching, you can choose the best roller for your needs and achieve a professional-looking finish on your wood surfaces.

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Can you apply oil-based polyurethane with a roller

Mego Kimani

Hi there, my name is Mego Kimani, and I am the owner of Woodmeter, a website dedicated to wood finishing. At Woodmeter, we offer a comprehensive resource for woodworkers and DIY enthusiasts, providing information on everything from achieving the perfect finish to product recommendations and technique guides. Our goal is to empower our community with the knowledge they need to create beautiful, long-lasting finishes on their projects, no matter their skill level or experience.