The Paint Roller

Have you ever thought much about the simplicity of a paint roller?

The paint roller typically consists of two parts: a “roller frame,” and a “roller cover.” The roller cover absorbs the paint and transfers it to the painted surface, the roller frame attaches to the roller cover. A painter holds the roller by the handle section. The roller frame is reusable. It is possible to clean and reuse a roller cover, but it is also typically disposed of after use.

paint roller beside paint brush at paint reservoir
paint roller beside paint brush at paint reservoir (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The basic device was invented in 1940 by a Canadian, Norman Breakey.  Breakey was never able to produce his invention in large enough numbers to profit from it before others made small changes to the paint roller’s design and were able to market it as their own invention.

One of the others was Richard Croxton Adams who held the first U.S. patent on the paint roller. He developed it in his basement workshop in 1940 while working for the Sherwin-Williams Paint Co.

The well known science fiction writer E.E. “Doc” Smith, author of “Skylarks of Space”, in his book Spacehounds of IPC, which was published in a magazine serial in 1931, actually mentioned using rollers to spread a paste on the outside of a space ship.

Norman James Breakey was born February 25th, 1891 in Pierson, Manitoba.

Reference:  Brown, J.J. The Inventors: Great Ideas in Canadian Enterprise. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1967.


  1. And canadians like good poetry, too (thanks for visiting!)! Sincerely, Jonathan Caswell, from BY THE MIGHTY MUMFORD (Sorry—the Mumford is a river in my neighborhood…didn’t know about The Mumford Brothers at the time…they have good music, tho’).


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