I'm painting two rooms with a latex paint, over previous paint. First time painter, but lots of DIY experience. For the life of me, I can't possibly keep a "wet edge" as all tutorials describe. I get edge drip immediately, my paint dries way too fast to smooth it over, there's no way to have an almost whole wall wet for smoothing lines.

Let me describe my process.

Paint mixed, viscosity seems fine. I load my 9" / 23cm roller (synthetic, short nap) in the tray, I roll excess paint off it on the tray rake. My tray has a heavy criss-cross embossed pattern on the rake, which leaves the texture on my roller, it's either criss-cross on roller, or paint dripping off roller.

Then I take the roller to the wall. One vertical roll, one direction, floor to ceiling - my roller is now getting a little "tacky", while I see the rake texture transferred to the wall. So now I try to roll all over the texture to smooth it out, but it leaves the paint much drier. As soon as I'm done smoothing, I'm seeing lots of edge marks from the roller. So when I'm finally done smoothing THOSE over, I'm running completely dry, and the paint on the wall is also dry by then, no "wet edge" at all. Worse yet, as I'm smoothing, my roller starts to pick up paint, so I'm left with bald spots. Also, I often see my roller touching the wall more on the edges than in the center, it's as if I was using two rollers on one stick.

So what's going on here? Why am I running out of paint so quickly? Why does the roller always leave edge drip marks? Why does its center lose its "touch" so fast? Do I have a cheap roller sleeve? Should my roller sleeve have tapered endpoints, while it's completely straight from end to end? Am I using a wrong type of tray? Should I thin my paint more? Should I have "wetted" the walls somehow before painting them?

  • 1
    Have you tried painting a smaller area (like 1/2 of what you describe)? I think that might fix a lot of your woes. Commented Sep 21, 2023 at 12:16
  • What if I do? I'll have a maybe well-painted, completely dry rectangle, ready for horrible overlap with the next rectangle I'll paint... Commented Sep 21, 2023 at 12:50
  • 3
    You asked for advice then want to argue about why that won't work.? Good Luck.
    – RMDman
    Commented Sep 21, 2023 at 13:01
  • 2
    It makes no sense that your paint would be tacky within seconds unless you live in an oven. Show us a photo of the roller.
    – isherwood
    Commented Sep 21, 2023 at 13:53
  • Have you considered buying a humidifier?
    – popham
    Commented Sep 28, 2023 at 5:09

4 Answers 4


1- use quality paint, it makes a difference

2- use quality applicators (rollers, brushes). Cheap applicators = poor performance

3- load the roller with more paint

4- work smaller areas

Your words: "One vertical roll, one direction, floor to ceiling". This is your biggest problem and would be a red flag to any experienced painter. You should be working smaller areas, like 3'x 4' or 4' x 4', at a time. The size of the area you should work with each roller load is determined by the roller load; if you are running-out dry then you've stretched the roller-load too far. Don't try to "conserve" paint. When a paint can says, for example, that it will cover up to 400 sq.ft./gal. it means that you should use no less than a gallon for that size area; no less, and likely more. You say you are using a "short nap"; consider a thicker nap roller, it sounds like your roller doesn't have enough paint on it.

Prepare your materials, tools, and work area such that you can paint an entire wall in one session without stopping (you don't want to be stopping to move furniture, move tarps, move lights, open/stir paint cans, etc.)


I'm not a pro painter, but have painted plenty of "stuff" in a number of years.

First thought is that your roller cover is too thin for the job. But Your process of trying to roll from the ceiling to floor in one line is a bit odd to me. (again not a pro)

I have found that rolling in a " W " pattern works best.

Start by cutting in at the ceiling and a corner and working down. However I don't try to get the wall from ceiling to floor. Just an area I can reach and then move over. Work from the top down. Don't worry about the wall being wet from start to finish.

Keeping a wet edge is good but I have found the process works best if the edge is rolled so there isn't a definitive "line" of heavier paint along the edge. That line will show on the wall when the paint is dry. To prevent this line roll over any lines with a lighter pressure. This is more important than worrying about the edge being "wet".

Also you need the roller cover to be the correct nap. Running out of paint on the roller too quick? The cover is probably to thin. Too much splatter and/or edge lines? The cover is too thick. The cover must also be proper for the type of surface on the wall. 3/8 nap is good for most walls. 1/4 for smooth walls and 1/2 nap is reserved for walls with a heavy texture. However if a roller cover is not working try another nap. You may have chose wrong for that particular wall.

I have found that most paints do not need to be thinned. However if I'm using a paint for a touch up that has been in the can for awhile, a little thinning is helpful.

Finally, don't panic if the paint looks uneven. During the drying process, latex will look awful. Give it time to dry completely before condemning it.

  • It's already dry. Straight ahead looks nice; at an angle there are streaks of texture all over. Commented Sep 21, 2023 at 12:52
  • 2
    Looks like you need to repaint it. Did you expect us to answer and cure the wall for you before it dried?
    – RMDman
    Commented Sep 21, 2023 at 12:58
  • 2
    @SinustheTentacular Seems that you just need to add a second coat.
    – Cheery
    Commented Sep 21, 2023 at 14:43
  • @cheery: several bad coats won't make for a good coat overall, I'm afraid. Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 13:16
  • 1
    @SinustheTentacular You are asking for help but already seem to know all the answers. Carry on.
    – Cheery
    Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 13:40

These days I only paint with an airless sprayer, but spent decades painting with roller and brush (I'm a carpenter, not a painter.)

All of my paint woes can be reduced to two issues:

  1. Buy the best quality paint available.
  2. Buy the best quality rollers and brushes available, and select the appropriate nap thickness to match the texture of the wall.

A better hammer will not make you a better carpenter, but better paint and tools will make you a better painter.

With that out of the way:

  1. Make sure to prep the walls before you paint them, including using a good quality primer.
  2. Many thin coats are always better than a single thick coat.
  • 1
    Big +1 for quality of paint and tools. For me, this makes all the difference. For a structural paint on my ceiling, I was using cheap applicator and got a quarter of it done in entire day. Next day I bought the best one I could get, and finished it within an hour. Since that, I never skimp on trowels, rollers, brushes etc.
    – Mołot
    Commented Sep 21, 2023 at 14:43
  • Agree that the quality matters. I have only purchased quality tools for so many years it skipped my mind in my answer.
    – RMDman
    Commented Sep 21, 2023 at 20:25
  • It does if it's an Estwing.
    – Mazura
    Commented Sep 28, 2023 at 4:49

"my roller is now getting a little "tacky""

You can't keep a wet edge if it isn't wet. You don't get 8' on one dip.... If it's too much you roll some over to where you're going next.

"Why does the roller always leave edge drip marks?"

Because you have to roll the whole thing in the pan, then tip it sideways and rudely roll each edge to smash them back into submission. The edge opposite the armature of the roller has less pressure on it, and is less likely to leave lines - the arm should be pointing where you're headed for that, because you'll see that once you're keeping a wet edge, you can go back over at least the last row, if not two or three.

And when you do that you don't roll back and forth, you pick either up or down for smoothing, like you're petting one of those weird pillows, otherwise the optics are different and you'll get 'rows'.

Sometimes it's the other side without the arm that's worse; pick whichever one is better.

"my roller touching the wall more on the edges than in the center"

You're pushing way too hard with way not enough paint. It's an applicator not a squeegee. Let it put the paint on the wall, not you pushing it out of it. It could be held with two fingers but that would get old.

If you see a line because you lost your wet edge and it sort of dried there, wipe that whole line with a wet rag, or just your finger if it's still wet enough. Work backwards one row and then continue. "as I'm smoothing, my roller starts to pick up paint" : lost wet edge, go back one space. And you get one try on that; if it picks up again it's done and has to get another coat later.

"I get edge drip immediately" - don't get it all over the edges of the roller. Wipe with rag if you do. Do not dip it in the pan; skim the top and bring it back over the grid. Then roll that onto the cover until the grid is clean, then 'sideways treat' the edges as mentioned. Then roll it a few times regularly to clean the lines off the grid so they don't dry there and start to crap up the paint.

Do it fast enough on the wall that it splatters you. Then you know how fast to go, which is slightly less than that. Go any slower and then it doesn't work no mater what... Unless it's raining or you turn off your AC.

A roller can be too wet to do smoothing. There's a sweat spot of it taking off excess paint and distributing what's there uniformly. If you had just dipped it to do that last 2 feet you couldn't get on an 8' wall, then it's prob still too wet; roll some over to the next row. Then hurry up before that dries.

  • Smoothing is done 3 or 4 rows at a time once you learn how to keep a wet edge, and after every single row you do. That means every row will have been smoothed 3 or 4 times having been rolled x number of times. That's how you coat a wall and keep it all wet, four lateral feet at a time.
    – Mazura
    Commented Sep 28, 2023 at 4:58
  • Only thing left is how to lift off a roller off a wall, or collide into it, w/o leaving excess. Which my words can't explain how to do. .... "Gently!"
    – Mazura
    Commented Sep 28, 2023 at 5:02
  • 12 foot ceilings, you might have to work one row at a time. Anything less than that... go, man, go! And don't mess around with anything larger than a 12" roller.... or smaller than a 9.
    – Mazura
    Commented Sep 28, 2023 at 5:07
  • painting large surfaces with an 18" or 24" roller is a dream - and a paper mill had a LOT of large surfaces - for other reasons we could not use our sprayers (very high pressure, dangerous as it would puncture the skin...)
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Sep 28, 2023 at 5:23
  • With the double armature; what a pita. But a warehouse that I can't spray.... yea maybe. That's paint pump time though, and a day laborer's job because that gets heavy real quick with 12' of pole on it.
    – Mazura
    Commented Sep 28, 2023 at 5:27

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