Water-based paints are sometimes referred to as latex paints. Water-based paints are popular because they are easy to apply, dry quickly, have low fumes and you can clean up your tools with soap and water. Water-based paints are appropriate for living areas that are not subject to much abuse, such as bedrooms, living rooms and hallways. Roller covers made from synthetic fibers are most commonly recommended for applying water-based paints, according to the Ace Hardware website.
Oil-based paints were originally manufactured using natural oils, such as linseed oil. But 21st Century oil-based paints are more properly referred to as alkyd paints, because they are made typically with synthetic resins, called alkyds, instead of oil. Oil-based, or alkyd, paints are more durable than water-based paints and may be preferable in areas that get high traffic, such as kitchens and bathrooms, or on trim work. Roller covers made from natural materials are preferable for applying oil-based paints, according to the Sherwin-Williams website.
Roller Cover Materials
Synthetic roller covers are typically made from nylon, polyester or a combination of both materials. Roller covers made from synthetic materials tend to hold their shape and resist matting. The fibers will not swell when wet with paint. Synthetic roller covers are most often recommended for latex, or water-based paints. Natural fiber roller covers are usually made from lambswool or mohair. These roller covers do a good job of spreading alkyd, or oil-based paints as well as varnishes and stains. Natural fiber roller covers tend to swell and mat when used with a water-based paint.
Blended Roller Covers
You can buy roller covers that are made from a blend of natural and synthetic fibers, such as lambswool and polyester. Blended roller covers combine the pick-up properties of natural fibers with the long-lasting properties of synthetic fibers. Blended roller covers are multi-purpose rollers that can be used with either oil-based and water-based paints.