June 17, 2009

Wagner TurboRoll - Review

Wagner_turboroll2.jpgThe Wagner TurboRoll isn't the first self-feed paint roller, but it's the first (we've seen, at least) that uses the same vacuum system found in a syringe to both store and release paint. It's an interesting idea and one we looked forward to testing out. Is it effective? It is more trouble than it's worth? Is it a gimmick? We gave it a good run it out in order to answer these questions.

The TurboRoll consists of a roller, a little fill port, a long tube which is the stem of the tool, the handle, and the plunger. The handle has a forward and reverse on it which feeds the plunger through the tube forcing paint to the roller. The TurboRoll also has a manual override, so if the automation is for any reason not practical, you can toggle back to 'old school.'


Putting the TurboRoll together was a snap. Taking all of about five minutes, the pieces easily screw or click together. We were expecting something much more difficult, but nope, really easy. Wagner also includes a quick start guide if, for some reason, the simple process is too much for your mental bandwidth.

Filling the tool with paint is where things get interesting. The TurboRoll comes with a plastic lid that fits snugly on a paint can and has a port hole where this special straw fits through. When placed on a can of paint, the straw is pressed to the bottom of the can and because of notches in the bottom of the straw, the paint that is drawn up the straw always comes from the bottom of the can, so you'll never have to readjust the straw to access the paint. It's worth noting that the lid fits around the outside edge of the can, so if you're using an old can of paint with a lot of build-up in the lid ridges, you should still have no problem.


At this point, we moved the plunger all the way forward and then stuck the fill port over the straw, making an airtight seal at the connection. Then, we reversed the plunger and as it moves, the paint got suctioned into the tube. Just like having blood drawn. It's strange to watch actually.

Use and Abuse
So then we set up a few sheets of plywood and pressed the plunger forward. The first thing we noticed was how much paint disappeared into the roller without any sign of it on the roller. But soon enough, the paint began to spot out of the roller, and then within moments the roller was completely covered (but not to the point where it was soaking and dripping).

turboroll_roller.jpgThen we got to painting and here is where we began to really be impressed with the TurboRoll. The roller left a very even path of paint and when it began to run out, one small push of the plunger had it going again. So we painted and painted and painted only stopping for a moment here and there to stick the TurboRoll back on the straw and suck more paint into the tube, a process that took maybe 30 seconds.

When we had painted enough that we were satisfied we'd seen the tool hit its stride, we started the clean-up process. The TurboRoll manual says to get a bucket of soapy water (we were using a latex paint) and, once the roller is removed, to suction the water into the tube a few times, then remove a part, suction water in a few more times, remove a part, suction water in a few more times, etc, until the whole thing is cleaned. We found that the described process got things about 95% clean and with any paint project, if you want to reuse anything if you stop short of %100 you're going to end up throwing everything out.

So we ended up finishing the clean-up process with a garden hose and a few extra 5-gallon buckets, just to make sure that all the parts were thoroughly cleaned, especially the roller (which is not the same as a roller you can get at any store). Then, we put everything in the sun and within an hour or two it was all dry and ready to be packed away.

After our cleaning experience, we would shy away from using the TurboRoll with oil paints, just because of the sheer volume of thinner that you'd need as well as the mess we made. Water, we can hose off the driveway, thinner, not so much.

Final Thoughts
So the bottom line on the TurboRoll is that we really liked it due to the negatives it takes out of using a paint roller. Even with the extended clean-up time, the time and hassle saved during painting is a tremendous benefit. There's the obvious benefit of not having to continually stop in order to roll more paint on the roller, but there is also another major plus that we hadn't considered until we used the tool, and that's the lack of paint-filled containers to kick over while you're working. When using the TurboRoll, you only need a single can of paint with the lid and straw, and the lid fits tight enough that if you do kick it over, you've got a bit of time to get it upright again before you've got paint everywhere. When you're normally rolling out paint, there's the paint can (with the lid off or resting on top), and then the roller pan, a nice paint-filled shallow plastic container that just begs to be stepped on.

The TurboRoll is obviously heavier and a tad more awkward than the standard roller, but we had no trouble maneuvering it around. The controls are simple (two buttons; plunger forward, plunger back), and there is also a manual override so if your batteries run out, you can keep going.

The TurboRoll costs about $50 and to us, it's worth it if you're going to be doing a bunch of painting and you're willing to put some time into a thorough clean-up process.

At Amazon.com

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Posted by Doug Mahoney at June 17, 2009 5:23 AM
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