We are concerned with the CFD simulation of annular rotor-stator cavities using the general purpose second-order finite volume method (FVM) solver OpenFOAM® and Large Eddy Simulation (LES) methods. Simulations of cavities with smooth surfaces are conducted at various Reynolds numbers, and the properties of the mean turbulent flows are validated against experimental and numerical data available in the literature. Comparisons show that second-order accurate FVM approaches can produce high-fidelity simulations of rotor-stator cavities to an acceptable accuracy and are therefore a viable alternative to the computationally intensive high-order methods. Our validated second-order FVM model is then combined with the parametric force approach of Busse and Sandham [“Parametric forcing approach to rough-wall turbulent channel flow,” J. Fluid Mech. 712, 169–202 (2012)] to simulate cavities with a rough rotor surface. Detailed flow visualisations suggest that roughness-induced disturbances propagate in the downstream direction of the rotor flow toward the outer wall of the cavity. The outer wall subsequently provides a passage to transport said roughness effects from the rough rotor layer to the smooth stator layer. We demonstrate that rotor-stator cavity flows are sensitive to even small roughness levels on the rotor surface alone.