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Paintshop: Preserving “Bob the Painter’s” Brushes

My father, “Bob the Painter,” died suddenly in 1993. He left behind a huge inventory of painting and decorating products, materials, supplies, tools, and portable equipment.

 

Included were thirty-nine (39) paintbrushes, most of them Purdy or Wooster.

 

. 13 China bristle – for oil-base/alkyd base paints

. 12 synthetic/nylon bristle – for water-base or latex paint products

.   7 lacquering brushes

.  7 faux finishing brushes

.  5 boxes of disposable (cheap) brushes – for building up primers/sealing

 

A tall and skinny, hand-crafted wood cabinet housed over 31 assorted artist brushes.

 

All paintbrushes were in very good-to-excellent shape. Bristles dense and springy, solidly embedded by “plugs” in tight-fitting metal ferrules; and firm, flagged/frayed ends.

 

All brushes were well-maintained, very clean, and no paint/residue build up anywhere.

 

Four China bristle brushes set in a small amount of solvent solution in Dad’s metal brush carrier. And, three or four artist brushes lay in a tray containing “fresh” water.

 

I was amazed – still am – at his attention to tool maintenance. His paintshop in our huge garage always looked in disarray. Yet, in a flash, he could find whatever he needed. Or, he could tell me exactly where to find something.

 

Recently, an e-mail appeared from the contractor to whom we sold most of Dad’s paintshop inventory. He said that his son had taken over the business in 2008. And, most of my dad’s paintbrushes were still being used.

 

That meant that the contractor and son had been doing a great job of maintaining those brushes, too.

 

In 1993, I kept at least nine of Dad’s paint and finishing brushes. I pulled them out last week-end. In an obscure spot on the handle of each brush a year had been etched.

 

On one China bristle brush: 1975; on another: 1986. On one synthetic/nylon bristle brush: 1984; on another: 1992.

 

The latter one may have been the last paintbrush that my dad ever purchased. It’s a 2-inch, angled sash with chisel tips. It’s like new and still in its Purdy holder. Even though I know that I’ve used that brush hundreds of times since 1993.

 

Great, well-made paintbrushes last. In fact, they get better and better with age. Just like some people and pets that I’ve known, too.

 

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Treat your paintbrushes better than your girlfriend or wife;

And they will support you well throughout your life.

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Take care. Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

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Painting It: Choosing the Right Paint Brush

Many people believe any brush will do. On the contrary!  You will find that, in order to paint effectively, there is a specific paint brush for every need.

 

Generally, there are two types of brushes: the nylon/polyester, which is used to apply waterbourne paints and coatings, example: latex, and the China Bristle which is used to apply petroleum based solvent type materials, example: enamel.

 

 Some examples of brushes used with specific materials

 

  1. Oil based Varnish and Polyurethane: 3 inch white China bristle (preferred).

 

  1. Water based latex, acrylic clear coat: 1-4 inch nylon/polyester, 2½-3 inch (preferred).

 

  1. Oil/alkyd/enamel paints/coatings: 1½-3 inch black China bristle; 2½-3 inch (preferred).

 

  1. Epoxy/Urethane paints: 2½-3 inch black China bristle.

 

  1. Shellac-alcohol based coatings: 2½- 3 inch black China bristle.

 

  1. Ammonia based coatings: 2½ -3 inch nylon/polyester.

 

*Selecting a paint brush based on the material being used is half of the equation. One must also consider the surface or object you intend to paint.

 

Typically, you can base your selection on the size or detail of the project. Painting walls or ceilings requires a different brush than painting window trim.

 

A few examples which illustrate that fact

 

  1. Painting a Wood Door. Use a 1½-2 inch angular brush. These brushes are designed for trimming around hinges, edges and recessed panels.

 

  1. Painting a Wall or Ceiling. Use a 2½-3 inch angular brush or a 3-4 inch square brush. Use these brushes for large open flat areas with little or no detailed trim work.

 

  1. Painting an Ornamental surface. Use a 1-2½ inch angular brush, or selection of artist brushes depending on intricacy of surface or object.

 

  1. Painting Furniture. Use a 2 inch square brush with a narrow ferrule. Select a brush with fine bristles to reduce brush strokes.

 

Helpful Hints to Remember

 

  1. Always use the recommended solvent to clean your brushes. If you do not, your brush may be a one-time use only tool.

 

  1. Store brushes in a hanging container. Or lay flat with bristles wrapped in newspaper, or in the original brush protector.

 

  1. Load China bristle brushes with linseed oil to keep softened.

 

  1. Load nylon/polyester brushes with soap to keep soft.

 

  1. When cleaning paint brush bristles, use a fine wire brush to remove paint.

 

  1. Buy good quality brushes. Consider them an investment, especially if you’re a painter by trade. I recommend Purdy, Wooster and Sherwin-Williams brands.

 

A Painter’s paint brush is an essential, basic tool, like a wrench used by a mechanic. To continue to use it: keep it clean and use it as recommended.

 

One of the best paint brushes I ever used was a brush owned by my father. The brush was thirty-five years old. And, it was made by Purdy.

 

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SPECIAL THANKS: To all of the trade painters, who have been emailing or calling with requests and suggestions for “Painting with Bob.”

 

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Copyright 2015. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

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