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How to Choose the Right Paint Brush for the Right Job

By Edited Jan 23, 2015 1 0
How to Choose the Right Paint Brush for the Right Job
Credit: Opensource

If you want a professional looking paint job, it is crucial to use a quality paint and the right type of brush for your specific task.

Brushes are made from natural or synthetic bristles. When purchasing either, you should look for quality brushes because they apply paint in a thicker film which will leave a smoother finish that can cover up imperfections in the wall.

Lower quality brushes do the opposite. They tend to create streaks that leave unsightly brush marks or slight grooves where dirt and dust can collect over time, ruining the look of the wall.

Quality brushes will cost double or triple their cheaper counterparts, but they will produce a better finish.  

Types of Synthetic Brushes

Synthetic brushes come in various types of materials such as nylon, polyester or a trademarked brand called Chinex.

Nylon brushes are soft and create a feathered look. Polyester brushes are firmer than nylon and are used with heavier, thicker paint. When purchasing a brush, the firmness rating is indicated on the wrapper.

Chinex is a synthetic bristled brush that can be used to apply acrylics or oil based paints. One of its distinguishing features is that it is easier to clean than other types.  

Tips for Choosing the Right Brush

How to Choose the Right Paint Brush for the Right Job
Credit: Opensource

When you go to Home Depot or Lowes and enter the paint aisle, you are likely to be overwhelmed. There is a brush or roller for every possible scenario. However, focus on the following descriptions or attributes.

Split or flagged ends – this type will produce a much finer finish on any smooth surface. The description simply indicates that they are more flexible at the tips of the bristles.

Tapered bristles – this type has bristles that are slightly longer in the center which helps create a smoother coat.

Dimensions – look for one that is at least half as long as it is wide. For example, if you are looking for a 3 inch wide brush, the length of the bristles should be 6 inches. This allows it to hold more paint and drip less.

Which Brush Should I Use with an Alkyd (oil based) Paint?

Natural-bristle brushes should be used only when applying alkyd or oil-based paints. But here is where quality comes into play again. Make sure you purchase one with tight bristles that will not shed during the job. If you have ever had to try to pick out bristles in rapidly drying paint, you know it is not fun.

There are also certain types of synthetic bristles that can be used with oil based paints, just be sure to read the manufacturer’s description first.

Which Brush is Best for Latex Paints?

Most professional painters use a synthetic brush with latex paints. Natural bristle brushes will absorb the water from the latex which turns them limp and difficult to manage.

Polyester brushes are the best type of synthetic brushes to use with latex. They tend to hold their shape better than other versions. They also provided stiffness in all types of paint.

A blended nylon polyester brush also works well with latex paints. 

Best Brush for Painting Trim

The best brush to use for painting trim around doors, windows or baseboards is a 2 or 2 ½ inch angled sash brush. This type is about the same size as the trim so it will cover most of the area in the first pass.

Typically, longer, flagged bristles worked best for this type of job because they hold more paint within the bristles and will not drip as much.

Best Paint Brush for Cutting In

For cutting into areas of the wall near the edges that a roller cannot reach, you will need an angled or sash brush. A 2" brush can be used to cut-in corners and for all interior painting.

Do not use a foam brush for this task. You are just going to make the job more difficult. The angled nature of the brush is best suited for this task.

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How to Clean Paint Brushes

When you are finished with the day’s activities, it is important to clean the brushes thoroughly

How to Choose the Right Paint Brush for the Right Job
so that you can continue to get the quality look you want throughout the project. Unless you are painting just one room, a painting project is likely to go on for days.

Clean them as soon as you can after you finish the day’s activities so that the paint does not dry on the brush. Dried paint is much harder to remove.

If you are painting with an oil based paint, clean them with paint thinner to remove excess residue. When cleaning oil based paint, I like to fill a plastic cup with thinner, then soak the brush in it, pressing down to rub out the paint. Next, I  soak it in water with dish washing detergent.

If you are using a latex paint, paint thinner is not required. Simply run water over the brush to remove paint residue, then soak in soapy water.

The best place to clean either is outdoors because it can create a mess. Also, I like to press it into concrete to wring out the water and paint remnant before putting it under running water again.

After all of the paint and soap have been rinsed out, shake the water out and wrap it in old newspaper and secure with a piece of painter’s tape. This will help keep its shape. Some people like to store them in its original cardboard sleeve to help maintain its shape.

Best Way to Store Paint

Just as important, you should take care to store the paint for use until the next time. If you are going to be using the paint can the next day, it is ok to simply apply the original lid tightly. When you open the can for your next painting session, be sure to stir it for about 30 seconds to make sure you will achieve the same paint sheen as you start painting.

Once you finish your project, you will likely have leftover paint. Most people overestimate the amount of paint they will need and it sits around the garage or storage building for years.

Most home improvement stores will take recycled paint, but some of the larger chains only take it during certain times of the years. Old paint can be recycled, even if it has been mixed with other colors so do not throw this paint away in a landfill or worse, poor it down your drain.

Paint can last for years if it is stored properly. If you think you will be doing other parts of the house with the same color, or would just like some of the same color for touch-up jobs, it is a good idea to keep at least a half a gallon.

To store it properly, cover the top of the can with a plastic wrap and let it cling to the sides. You may want to use two layers if using a thin product.

Next, tap the original lid tightly back on the can. Make sure you tap all around the lid. When you store the can, place it upside down. This little trick works better than you think it might.

Label it with the color name if it has been obscured and put the last date of use on the side.

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