Best Rollers for Polyurethane

June 17, 2023

Applying Polyurethane coat on hardwood floor with quality foam roller for more even finish.

One of the best tools for applying polyurethane is the roller. Rollers come in a wide variety of brands, textures, and dimensions, and your choice, of course, would partly depend on the type of finish you would like to achieve. For example, if you want a smooth finish, you can go for a soft roller, and it is perfect for applying polyurethane on flat surfaces.

Rollers, however, are not equally made. Some rollers might work well on flat surfaces, while some might not fare well on coarser surfaces. Their sleeves also feature different textures. So, it will help if you carefully choose the rollers you will use for polyurethane application to ensure a quality application. 

The Most Recommended Rollers for Polyurethane 

Given the myriads of roller options at hand, you might get a bit confused and eventually choose a roller of less quality. To zero in on the best one, you need to know the following most recommended rollers for applying polyurethane:      

1) Mister Rui Foam Paint Roller

You should check out the Mister Rui Foam Paint Roller if you want the best rollers for polyurethane application. This one is highly dense, perfect for absorption and even application of polyurethane. This roller leaves an evenly smooth finish, especially on a flat wood surface. Moreover, you can use this with oil-based and water-based formulations. 

This roller can hold lots of polyurethane, allowing you to apply polyurethane nicely, leaving no or little trim lines afterward. Its spring also rolls with ease, allowing for a quick polyurethane application. 

Moreover, its inner tube exhibits commendable smoothness and stability. It also comes in a six-inch size, allowing for an effective and efficient application of polyurethane. Thus, you will indeed find this roller a breeze to use.

What We Like:

  • Hold much polyurethane
  • Allows for a smooth and even finish
  • Works the edges well with one flat end
  • Comes in a package of 10 rollers

What We Don’t Like:

  • Difficult to wash being dense

2) Purdy White Dove Roller

Another excellent roller option is the Purdy White Dove Roller. It is a value-for-money option, perfect for applying various coating types, including primers, latex, stains, clear, and oil-based paints. Using this roller, you can lessen splatter and cover your load well. You can also expect an evenly finish afterward. 

The manufacturer of dove roller has ensured that the rollers they roll out offer high standards by using high-quality materials. Besides, with the roller’s free-spinning motion, you can minimize splatters when applying polyurethane. 

This roller is also efficient in covering larger areas quickly. However, Purdy White Dove Roller might be more pricey than the other rollers, but you get what you pay for with this roller.

What We Like:

  • Perfect for use on rough and flat surfaces
  • Ideal for all finish types
  • Easy to use and reuse
  • Offers a lint or streak-free finish

What We Don’t Like:

  • More pricey than other rollers

3) KUPOO Foam Paint Roller

Another excellent roller for polyurethane is the KUPOO Foam Paint Roller. It features denser foam, and you will find this roller perfect for polyurethane application. Compared to brush, it can easily cover a large surface area, allowing you to perform the polyurethane application quickly. 

This roller is a four-inch roller, perfect for painting cabinets, metal, doors, furniture, and other flat and rough surfaces. This roller boasts a steel frame and chrome plating for additional durability and rust resistance. 

This roller kit also comes with replacement covers for easy swapping out. Its frame is also ergonomically designed, and its handle is lightweight. You will surely get a consistent finish from this roller.

What We Like:

  • Wrought in high-density foam
  • Covers a large area with ease
  • Provides consistency and even finish

What We Don’t Like:

  • Not advisable for oil-based polyurethane application

4) FOAM PRO 184 Foam Paint Roller

The FOAM PRO 184 is perfect for polyurethane application, and it is an excellent option if you’re looking for the best roller for polyurethane. You can also use it for applying other finishes like varnishes, primers, paints, and stains. Using this roller, you can expect a spray-like and lint-free finish. Moreover, it is perfect for staining and painting cabinets, molding, and furniture. 

The FOAM PRO 184 is a four-inch roller that lets you quickly cover edges and corners. You can create a clean finish without a streak. Additionally, you can reuse this roller for other painting tasks. It comes with a design for reducing drips, and it is easy to clean afterward. You can use it many times for your other staining or painting projects.

What We Like:

  • Made of high-density foam
  • Doesn’t leave behind lint or streak
  • Reusable and washable

What We Don’t Like:

  • Not recommended for paint with epoxy

5) FoamPRO 164

Another great option if you are looking for an excellent foam roller is the FoamPRO 164. This one is made of high-density foam, perfect for applying oil-based polyurethane. It comes in various sizes (2″,4″, 6″), so you got comprehensive size options if you opt for this roller. 

The FoamPRO 164 is your best option if you’re engaged in a smaller finishing project. It is perfect for refinishing wood tables and kitchen cabinets. Moreover, it is easy to maneuver around between narrow edges and spaces, providing a smooth finish to a flat surface. 

Besides, this foam applicator can absorb polyurethane well, allowing you to complete the project well. You can also reuse this roller and its frame.

What We Like:

  • Made of high-density foam
  • Comes in various sizes
  • Perfect for small finishing projects. 
  • Reusable

What We Don’t Like:

  • Not ideal for tung oil application

Why Should You Use Rollers When Applying Polyurethane?

You can also use a brush to apply polyurethane; yet, many would recommend using rollers instead, especially if you are applying water-based polyurethane, moisture-cured polyurethane finish, and some oil-based products. Rollers allow you to make multi-directional strokes to achieve an excellent finish. 

You will find rollers more convenient when applying polyurethane on large wood surfaces like wooden floors. What is remarkable about the roller is that it makes the application of polyurethane easy and faster compared to a brush. Moreover, you can avoid over-applying polyurethane if you use rollers to ensure an even polyurethane application. 

When you use the roller to apply polyurethane, you can see that the coat dries quickly because the roller thinly and evenly applies polyurethane. However, one disadvantage of the roller is its inability to cover crevices and corners well. Besides, it is more expensive than a brush.  

It will be best to look for a high-density roller and something soft. Purchase something made of fiber, lambswool, or four-inch foam for optimum results. Rollers, however, come in different sizes, including 12 to 36 inches. So, you got a variety of size options to choose from.

Factors to Consider When Buying a Roller for Polyurethane

Aside from knowing the most recommended rollers, it will also help if you know the important factors you must consider when choosing a roller for polyurethane:

Cover Material

As you search around for the best rollers for polyurethane, you will soon discover that rollers feature different fabrics and sizes. They also come in various sleeve edges. Those with wool covers, for example, can absorb polyurethane and provide a better finish afterward. Besides, you can cover a larger surface area with it even if the size of the roller is small. Additionally, wool sleeves are ideal for solvents and provide more sheen to the wood surface.

On the other hand, a foam cover can work well with many formulations. It can provide an impervious coating with every stroke of the foam roller. Besides, the foam sleeves allow for better absorption of liquid and give a better and even finish without any streak. 

Synthetic roller covers, however, work well with various formulations. Yet, it might not be the perfect one for polyurethane application. The good thing is that synthetic roller covers are washable and longer-lasting. 

You can also find woven-covered rollers. These woven covers allow for an excellent finish when used on rough surfaces. These roller covers also offer neat application and vary the application in more ways.


Another factor you need to consider is the length of the roller. Rollers, of course, come in different sizes. You can get, for example, a mini roller which is perfect for use on tight spaces and small area applications. You can use this mini roller for covering corners and edges. Yet, it is not advisable for larger area applications. You can go for a long stick and wider roller on a larger area.

Roller Frame

Another factor to consider is the roller frame. The roller frame should be sturdy and durable enough to make it work for a longer time. It should also have an excellent design to tightly secure and hold the sleeve. 

It should also allow for the free spinning of the roller when you apply polyurethane. Moreover, it should lessen the risk of straining your hands and muscles. It should also be easy to wash and clean for reuse. With such features, you can achieve a better workflow with fewer splatters.

Nap Size

One factor that determines the evenness and uniformity of finish is the nap size of the roller. You can go, for example, for the thin nap fit for achieving a more even finish.

Resistance Capability

As you search around for the best roller, you will soon find that rollers feature double-layer sleeves with a wool cover. Their core, likewise, has highly resistant fabric. This highly resistant fabric prevents the waterborne urethane and solvents from saturating the inside of the roller. 

With such resistance to solvents, you can expect better texture and durability for the covers, allowing for quicker cleaning time.

Clean and Even Finish

Any roller that offers a fine finish is a quality roller. Thus, when selecting a roller, look for something that provides a fine finish. Select something with roller sleeves that provides a spotless finish without splatters. It should also be capable of delivering a bubble-free finish.

Frequently Asked Questions

Knowing the most recommended rollers for polyurethane and the important factors to consider can lead to the right rollers for polyurethane applications. Nevertheless, it will also help if you know the following FAQs about rollers for polyurethane to ensure that you will zero in on the right roller for polyurethane:

Is It Okay to Apply Many Polyurethane Coats?

Yes, it is acceptable to apply many layers of polyurethane using the roller to cover the whole surface and edges and sides of the wood. In doing so, you can prevent wood bulging over time due to the sipping of moisture underneath the wood surface. Yet, the wood surface may also manifest bulging if you apply too many coats.

What is the Recommended Number of Layers for Polyurethane?

If you want optimum results when applying polyurethane, you should stick to three layers, especially if you are applying oil-based polyurethane. It will also best to combine the first coat with mineral to produce a barrier between the finish and the wood. This first coat will serve as a sealer. You can use a bristle brush for this purpose. Afterward, you can utilize your roller for the subsequent applications of polyurethane.

Which Roller is Best for Achieving an Even Finish?

It will be best to go for thin nap rollers if you want to achieve an even finish. Go for something with 1/4″ nap size. You can also opt for foam or wool sleeves to get consistent and even finish. 

Will the Paint Roller Do an Excellent Job in Applying Polyurethane Finish?

Yes, you can use a paint roller when applying polyurethane. It could give you an even finish, and it is perfect for polyurethane application. Moreover, you will get a streak-free finish using a paint roller.


Although nothing can beat the fine brush precision when applying polyurethane, nothing will also beat the roller in completing a large project quickly. So, if you are still thinking about which you will use for your larger projects, you should not overthink. Instead, go for a roller when applying polyurethane. 

You only need to find the roller type ideal for polyurethane application. Of course, the abovementioned most recommended rollers will help you narrow down your options to the best options. Coupled with your knowledge about the essential factors to consider when selecting a roller, you can indeed zero in quickly on the best roller for polyurethane application.

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