Power Paint Roller Simplified (You Had Me At Hello)

worker using a power paint roller
Really no a need for a lot of words on these great tools: paint power rollers do not need much getting used to. Easy to set up and start rolling. How it works is shown below.
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Am I dreaming? — Ah…power paint roller. (Looking for paint sprayers? See our post on them).

As pros, we use the best, and that means a special roller attachment to an airless sprayer, and you’ll see that below. But what you are probably looking for is the home-owner model. Read our post on how to approach painting a room, and on how to easily clean up.

Where do my opinions on paint power rollers come from?

From experience with many machines, plus I cruise the ‘paint chat’ forums, I boiled it down to what you see here. There is not much quality out there, I’m sad to say. We pros cannot afford machines that clog and break.

  • Wagner (company website).
  • Graco (company website).
  • Power roller reviews and electric paint roller reviews are found elsewhere, but most are sales articles. We have compared them and used them, and we recommend 3 units for 3 budgets, including the Wagner power roller, as well as a professional grade power paint roller that you can afford. Tip: buy the best automatic painting roller you can afford (then sell it !!)
  • Final word: keep it clean—even when you are on a short break, wrap it in plastic with a wet rag inside! Thank me later!

Wagner Smart Sidekick

  • At about $100, it is the only decent choice under $300
  • Parts very easy to find
  • Cordless version below
  • Under $100

Airless Power Roller (attach to sprayer)

Budget airless: Graco Magnum 

  • Decent value all-around at about $300
  • Parts very easy to find
  • Listed by Graco as “DIY”
  • Roller attachment (below) costs about $100

Finally the best, high budget work-horse 

  • The Graco 390 — pros love it. About $1000
  • Buying online is cheaper, but paint stores don’t like to service machines they did not sell, so scope them out!
  • Same or better than more expensive Graco models
  • Parts and extras are very easy to find
  • Roller attachment (below) costs about $100

Power paint roller extension

Power roller attaches to either of the above Graco units. This is the money maker. Cha-Ching! Cost is about $100. Will last forever if you keep it clean.

There is one more system call the Graco Jet Roller that sprays paint on the wall and the attached roller picks it up and spreads it like a normal roller. Don’t be fooled. The above extension is under $100 ant the Jet roller is over $300, and both still need the pumps mentioned above.

Special roller covers are the same price as non-power roller covers but have a special design to allow the paint to come from the middle out. They last and last, but we keep new ones on hand in case we accidentally trash one. Any brand of pressure roller system cover will work as with any unit above.

Graco 1/2″ nap           Graco 3/4″ nap

Roller covers for power roller
Roller covers for power roller have little holes in the cylinder for the paint to be pumped through


(See my post on how to easily clean a roller cover)

The painting tool reviews on our site cover many other accessories you’ll need such as brushes and drop cloths and so on.

We have other tool reviews also.

Honorable mention: the Wagner pump ‘smart’ roller. Never used it, cannot vouch for it, but it seems like a nice low-cost alternative. Suck 22 ounces of paint with the siphon and pump it out through the cover like other power roller covers. Does the cover shed lint? Can it be used with any company’s cover (like our favorite Graco)? I watched the commercial so you don’t have to. Not impressed, but if you try it let us know what you think! It has modest ratings online.


I’m happy for you that you are investing in a powered roller system: power paint rollers are worth the investment. Even most pros don’t spend more than $400-$500. We keep them clean and oiled and boy-howdy are they the little money-makers: Ow-za!

Any unit shown above is the best on the market today for different budgets. Bottom line: an electric power paint roller is worth it.

The Smart Power Roller system from Wagner power roller seems to be unavailable at the time of publication, but if they come back, we’ll add them (let us know if you see them).

Automatic paint roller systems, electric paint roller systems, airless paint roller and so on will cut your time enormously and last a long time if you care for them. The video below is a complete guide to power roller (sprayer) care.

I wonder what the old-time painters would say if they knew you could have a paint roller that holds paint in the handle: real power paint methods with these cool paint roller. Even if you just paint one room per year, you cannot go wrong with the best paint roller system—the best electric roller outclass the rest. Paint power: cool.

All our tool recommendations are here.


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