How to choose the right paint brush


Does this sound familiar? You want to re-do a room and the budget is a tad or two tighter than it could be. You know the importance of working out a decorating plan to keep you on track and you've spent umpty-dozen hours doing just that. You've decided to start by painting the walls a fabulous color, and you even found a great sale on paint. So you make a quick run to the home store to pick up a paint brush and - whoaa! Why are there so many choices for paint brushes? How are you supposed to decide which brush is right for your job? Should you buy the brush with the feathery bristles or the one with the slanted bristles? The "professional-quality" brush that's so big and heavy that you'll likely need a sling for your arm after half an hour of painting? Or do you go the budget route and pick one of the cheap brushes piled in a bin at the end of the aisle? You say you'll skip the brush and use a roller? That's good, but you still have to cut in around the doors and windows and trim, and now we're back to brushes.

Since we have to work with brushes, let's learn a bit about them. The first point to consider is the type of paint you are using. Latex (water-based) paints need synthetic brushes, such as nylon or polyester. Alkyd (such as oil-based) paints need natural bristle or polyester. You can use foam brushes with either kind of paint, but you may not be pleased with the effect.

How about those feathery bristles? Are they important or just a way to charge more for the brush? Those split ends ("flagged" is the term the paint guys use) actually serve a purpose. A quality brush has a high percentage of bristles with flagged ends, which is important for holding and spreading paint. The better the flagging, the more paint a brush will hold and the fewer the brush marks left on the painted surface.

Also, look for a brush that has tapered bristles, slightly longer in the center than at the edges. This helps lay the paint down smoothly and evenly.

The reason it's important to use quality brushes is that, compared to those cheapie economy brushes in the bargain bin, they apply paint in a thicker, smoother film, which provides maximum hiding and uniform sheen. Lower quality brushes often leave ridges in the paint where dirt can collect (yuck) and mildew can grow (double yuck); paint with brushmarks in it can even fail earlier in the "thin spots" which means painting more often.

And that multitude of sizes? That's because different sizes are for different purposes. A 4" brush with tightly packed bristles in a 3/4" to I" thickness is best for general exterior painting, while a 3" brush serves most general interior painting purposes. A 2" brush can be used to cut-in corners for interior work. An angled sash brush, 1" to 2 1/2" wide, is ideal for painting both interior and exterior trim, window frames and moldings.

The bottom line is that, while most of us know that we can extend the life of a paint job by using a top quality paint, we may not realize that we can get a more durable and better-looking paint job by using the right type and quality of brushes

The bottom-bottom line? Buy the best quality paint brush you can afford. Then let the painting begin.

Here's some related information:

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