A fresh coat of paint can transform the atmosphere of a room completely. Unless you hire a pro painter to do the job for you, the only costs you need to worry about are for the cans of paint and painter’s tape. Oh yeah, you also need a reliable paintbrush.
If you’ve ever thought of taking up a painting project, you probably never thought twice about the paintbrush. They’re brushes attached to a plastic or wooden handle, rightThere’s absolutely no point in us writing this article, rightRIGHT?!
Wrong. The right paintbrush for a certain job can help improve the overall look after the paint has dried. Also, the right brush can help you complete your tasks more effectively and/or quickly.
Paintbrush Buying Guide
Believe it or not, there’s a lot more to picking the right paintbrush than just looking at the price tag. In this section, we’ll discuss what things you need to consider if you want to pick up a paintbrush or a set for various painting jobs.
What Are You Painting?
There are different brushes for different painting tasks. There are brushes made to paint large surfaces like walls, to paint furniture, and to paint intricate trimmings. You should know what you’re going to paint before picking up some random brush.
Shape and Size
Brushes come in a wide range of different shapes and sizes. The first thing to look at is the shape of the brush.
The brush’s bristles can be flat, angled, or bulb-shaped with a point (bright paintbrush). A flat brush’s wide strokes are great for painting large, flat surfaces such as walls or the face panels of shelves and cabinets. An angled brush has longer bristles on one side and smaller bristles on the other. The angles design is better suited for detail work like window trim and ornate designs on furniture. A bright paintbrush’s bulb-like bristles are designed to paint curved surfaces (e.g., crown moldings). Each stroke with a bright paintbrush will leave an even streak of paint along the curve.
The size of the brush, normally measured in inches, also plays a role in how well it’ll suit your painting task. 1- to 2-inch brushes give you better control for detail work. 3- and 4-inch brushes are great for painting flat surfaces like doors, shelves, and cabinets. If you’re painting a large surface like the wall of a room, we recommend going with a 4-plus-inch brush to finish the job quicker.
There are two types of paintbrush bristles – artificial and natural materials. The most common artificially made materials used in paintbrushes are nylon and polyester. As for natural bristles, they’re made of animal hair from badgers, oxen, horses, and squirrels. Assuming you have no internal dilemma regarding the use of animal hair in paintbrushes, there are reasons to choose one over the other.
Artificial bristles are the more popular choice since they can better retain their shape for years. They’re not high-maintenance, so keeping them clean and dry will prevent the bristles from curling or becoming damaged in another way. Nylon or polyester paintbrushes are also better at applying water-based paints and latex since the bristles won’t absorb water and lose their strength and shape.
Natural bristles are typically more expensive and require a ton of care to preserve their usefulness for longer. They’re also the better choice when applying a topcoat and enamel paint.
Handle, Ferrule, and Heel
The anatomy of the paintbrush is just as important as the materials used to make the bristles. The paintbrush’s handle is made of plastic, wood, or synthetic materials, the latter being the easiest to maintain and clean. You also need to consider the size and thickness of the handle since you’ll be gripping it all day.
The ferrule – the metallic band that encircles the bristles and connects them to the handle – are typically made of either steel or stainless steel. Painting requires being in constant contact with water and other wet substances, so stainless steel would be the preferred option since it won’t rust and will last longer than steel.
The heel of the paintbrush – the top portion of the ferrule – shouldn’t clamp the bristles in such a way that the bristles bend unnaturally. This is the usually the weakest point of a paintbrush and is prone to bending. With proper maintenance, you can prevent the heel from warping and rusting.
How to Maintain Your Paintbrush
Most people who purchase paintbrushes choose a brush solely based on price. They, unfortunately, treat their brushes like disposable tools that are good for one or two different jobs, and after that, it’s straight to the garbage.
If you know what you’re doing and what types of paint you’re using, you can extend the life of your paintbrush significantly. Professional painters who take the time to maintain their brushes properly can get value out of them for years and years.
For Water-Based Paints
Water-based paints are usually easy to clean off the bristles of your paintbrush. After each painting session or when switching between colors, rinse as much of the paint off as possible from the brush (bristles and handle). Rub some soap or shampoo in the bristles until frothy and rinse until clean. If there are any stubborn paint stains stuck to the brush or bristles, simply repeat the process, using a bit more soap or shampoo. When the brush is thoroughly cleaned, dry the bristles with a paper towel or soft, clean cloth.
For Oil-Based Paints
Oil-based paints may require the help of a solvent in loosening the paint from your brush. First, rinse any residual paint off the brush giving the bristles a thorough soaping or shampooing. Rinse again and then put the brush head into a cup containing an oil-based paint solvent. Let the bristles rest in the solvent for as long as the manufacturer recommends. Rinse the solvent off and dry the bristles completely with a clean cloth.
Rest Your Paintbrush Vertically!
More often than not, paints, oil finishes, and varnish won’t ruin your brush’s bristles, but rather the way you store them. If you keep the brushes bent at an unnatural angle for too long, they’ll retain their shape, rendering the brush unable to be used for detail work. Either place the brush horizontally on a flat surface or hang it on a nail using the hole found in the brush’s handle.
A paintbrush can play a huge role in how quickly and effectively you can complete a painting task. There are brushes made for different jobs, depending on how large a surface you’re painting and how intricately detailed the surface is. In this article, we’ve talked about the most important factors to consider if you’re looking for a paintbrush for giving a new coat to walls, furniture, and fixtures.
These factors include the shape, size, bristle material (artificial or natural), and various components of a paintbrush that need careful consideration. We’ve also shared a few easy ways you can keep your brushes in tip-top shape for longer.