Back Rolling: Your secret weapon

By Mike Miller (

One of the most effective and lesser-known tricks that the professional painter uses is called back rolling. Back rolling is the act of using a roller to spread paint across a surface immediately after spraying. Back rolling pushes paint into cracks and wood grain, dramatically improving the finished look of the paint job.

The technique is effective when painting overhangs and exterior walls. When painting stucco, it is absolutely necessary, as the rough texture of the stucco prevents proper coverage by spraying alone. When back rolling stucco, the bigger the nap (thickness of the roller) the better (say 2″ lambs wool roller cover). For backing rolling wooden surfaces, a half or quarter inch nap will suffice.

Back rolling is most effective when two people are working together. This ensures that the paint is still wet when it is being rolled. One person sprays, while another back rolls. The primary job of the person back rolling, aside from rolling, is to make sure the person spraying applies a sufficient amount of paint. If you do not have a roller pole and do not want to buy one, try attaching your roller to a push broom pole.

I hope this tip was useful and helps you produce a beautiful and professional finish on your home.

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  1. Karl

    Normally backrolling is done with the first coat then the second is simply sprayed over top after drying. It is possible to get the required mil thickness with a double spray with backrolling (as you described), this depends on the coating being used and the substrate it is being applied to.

    Example- Many elastomerics will be applied this way. Normal house paint should have some dry time between coats.

  2. td

    Got a contract for 2 coats of exterior timeless paint. I Does about second coat. Painter says he sprays. Then back rolls then sprays. No time lapse between roll and spray. Is the legit? My thought is paint. Wait 4+ hours then do 2nd coat.

    Please share your thoughts.

  3. Anonymous

    I’ve painted many interior of homes with textured walls called knock down and smooth. This process forces the paint into the grain and cracks of the wood. Also on interior walls when you touch up a sprayed wall you can see the difference if you did not back rolled it. It’s always best to add a little water to the paint when doing touch up.

  4. Mike

    It Depends upon the surface being painted. For instance when painting or especially staining an exterior with wood / rough siding I would always backroll before the material would set up, that would allow me to move the excess material that was sitting on top and reapply to the other areas that were soaking it up. That would take the areas that were too thick and prone to peeling and move the material to the areas that were absorbing the material and we all know once a product Dries it will quit soaking in, so once again it all depends on the Type of siding. Every decent paint store will have a paint Rep that anyone can call for advice – When I have a large project I give them a call to see if they can give me a better price on my materials, and more times than not they are more than willing to help out, Especially if I’m willing to try a new “”more expensive” product.

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