May 14, 2013

Wagner Smart Power Roller System - Review

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If you've ever been to this site before, you know my thoughts on the act of painting. I truly loathe it. Of all the different things I've done in the construction world, it's by far the worst. I'd rather put on a roof in the middle of August than paint a single ceiling. The only way I can really deal with painting is if I paint angry. I put on Funhouse and Raw Power and turn the volume way up. If I didn't do that to get all fired up, I'd pass out from the drudgery and boredom of it all.

So months and months ago, Wagner contacted us and asked if we wanted to check out their Smart Roller System. Since my recently gutted house hardly had any paint on the walls and with the addition was coming along nicely, I said "yes, I have the perfect testing ground." So they sent it. But then I ended up changing my work schedule all around and the roller system sat in a box by my desk for a seriously long time (sorry Wagner and thanks for the patience). But things finally progressed to the point of painting, so last weekend, I spent about 15 hours with the Roller Max in my hand and, oh boy, it's a doozie.

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The concept is simple, it's a little pump system that delivers paint directly to the roller. It comes with a base unit that secures the paint can while a little tube sucks the paint out and up the hose where it leaks out the into the roller. The rate of flow can be adjusted between 1 and 9. There is also a splatter guard and a smaller roller that can be used for edging and tricky little spots like in between ganged up windows.

When I first heard about the the tool I thought that it sounded kinda gimmicky and a little too good to be true. My experience with it contradicted both those thoughts; it's not a gimmick and sometimes good things are true. This thing is great (but not perfect) and in certain situations it can save you bundles of time and leave you with a very nice finished product.

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So normally when I roll out a ceiling, it's a freaking disaster. The snow blindness of the white on white makes me lose my mind and I work each roller-ful of paint until the thing is screaming for mercy from me pressing it against the ceiling so hard. I don't like stopping to re-fuel the roller because I lose my place in the ceiling. The Wagner roller changes all of this. Now, you can be painting as long as you can keep your arms over your head. I absolutely flew through the work with the Wagner in my hands. And I never lost my place or had to adjust my eyes back up to the ceiling.

It's also great because you can constantly tweak the flow of paint. If the consistency is getting a little low, just tap the button to juice up the roller and away you go. This allowed me to always have the coverage that I wanted. Too much paint...roll it around some more. Too little paint...hit the button. Simple enough so that even I could handle it.

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It's also really easy to tote around the jobsite. The base unit has a little handle that doubles as a roller stand when it's time to go and take a break. The handle, combined with the long hose, were enough to get me around with no problems. The hose could be a little more flexible. A few times it ended up twisting around like an old phone cord, but after a few seconds of untangling, it was fine again.

The edging roller comes with a cap on one side that has three small brushes, presumably to clean up the edge as you roll. I didn't have too much success with this piece and opted to flip the cap piece down and just roll the edges at a slight angle. I was doing ceilings first, so I didn't really care if some paint got on the walls. I don't think I'd use this feature if I was trying to be really precise because it didn't seem to get the paint close enough to the edge.

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Because the paint is pumped up through the handle, the unit is not compatible with a standard roller extension (i.e. a broom handle). It comes with an 18-inch extension which is good for low ceilings, but a bit of a pain for taller ones. I could comfortably handle the low finished basement at 7-feet, but was straining with the addition ceilings at 9-feet.

The clean-up process also needs to be addressed. It ain't quick, that's for sure. First, you need to purge the system of paint and then you need to clean the individual parts. Because it has a perforated core to allow the paint to soak through, the roller head is part of the system and needs to be cleaned after each use (unless you're doing the same color the next day and you just wrap it in Saran wrap). Have you ever tried to clean a roller head? It's like the little item can somehow hold 1/2-gallon of paint. I ended up taking everything out and working it all over with a garden hose. Even then, it took a while until everything was clean. I can't imagine using an oil paint in this thing and having to deal with thinner for the clean-up.

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I also want to note that while in use, the Wagner is a really clean system. I didn't use the splatter guard, because there wasn't anything in the way of splatter. There were also no drips to deal with. The paint that is splattered on the base unit in the pictures is because I was using the tool with a 5-gallon bucket of primer and just had it propped up over the bucket with the hose in the mixing hole and it kept falling off and splattering paint everywhere. I should have just gotten an empty gallon paint can and dumped the primer in there in order to properly use the Wagner system, so that one's my problem, not theirs.

But any complaints aside, this is a great tool and one that will save you tons of time and lessen the emotional strain of painting. If you're just going to do a small room, it's probably not worth it, but if you've got a lot to do, it really makes sense. It's a cool system and I've never been so happy while painting (even though I still did listen to Funhouse and Raw Power).

At Home Depot

...and if you have a large painting project...
Funhouse at Amazon
Raw Power at Amazon

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Posted by Doug Mahoney at May 14, 2013 7:13 AM

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Recent Comments

me too. I'm my own worst enemy, as much as I try not to, I always get a little too carried away with the prep work. I would love to be able to just open a can, stir and roll out a room, but I can't. I always waste a day filling in everything with 20min easysand,caulking, and spot priming. I hate any sorta job that has dry time and set up.


Posted by: Kevin at May 16, 2013 7:15 PM

I'm totally with you. Loathe painting, especially ceilings. Good to know that it doesn't have to be a suck fest.


Posted by: jeff_williams at May 16, 2013 10:23 AM
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