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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 with Budget Cuts: Your “Paint Shop” Brushes

Seventy-five percent of the time, I used my own brushes to paint surfaces at the hotel. Most of the brushes were manufactured by Purdy.

 

Consistently, they handled perfectly, performed well, and produced – left behind – the fine surface application finish that I wanted and needed. Consistently, they met all standards for a top quality paint brush.

 

Our “Paint Shop” owned many paint brushes.

 

However…

 

The good quality brushes – Purdy, Wooster – had bristles missing, or too many split ends from wear, versus “flagging”. Also their edges were worn unevenly. And, dried clumps of paint melded multiple natural bristles together up near the “ferrule” (metal section that holds the bristles).

 

A sign of a good brush: “Flagging.” That refers to split ends that were manufactured on or in individual bristles, then housed within the brush’s “ferrule.”

 

The poorer quality brushes had bristles made of synthetic fibers, such as nylon. Most had bristles that were very worn, “fuzzy” at the edges, and poorly maintained. Overall, their low level of maintenance equated with their low level of investment at purchase time.

 

The other engineering staff members, that did painting touch-ups on my days off, used brushes from the “Paint Shop.” These maintenance techs did the best they could do with what they had to work with.

Sometimes, I had to go back later, and repaint the surface(s) they’d done. Management’s complaints were always about the appearance and coverage of the touched-up surfaces. They were never aimed at the techs themselves.

 

When number-crunching necessitates the purchase and use of less than Purdy or Wooster caliber brushes, try these tips. Especially for your “Paint Shop.”

 

1. Brushes to purchase.

 

Brands: Linzer, Branford, Arro Worthy, Merrit, Bestt Liebco, Proform.

Types: China (natural boar’s hair) bristles, Nylon/polyester.

Bristle compositions: China bristle, nylon/polyester, synthetic.Brush thicknesses: ¼-inch to 1-inch. Standard brush widths: 1-inch to 4-inch.

 

TIP: Thickness determines the volume of paint that the brush will hold. The width of brush to use is determined by the size of surface, object, or area.

 

NOTE: Nylon/polyester combination bristle brushes are a good “paint shop” choice. They can be used with both water-based and oil-based products. Exceptions: Urethane, polyurethane, epoxy products.

 

2. Which brushes to use with what types of product.

 

Nylon brush:                        Paint product(s): Latex, all water soluble finishes (clear acrylic).

Nylon/polyester brush:   Paint product(s): Latex, oils, alkyds.

China (boar) brush:          Product(s): Oils, varnishes, polyurethanes, epoxy, stains.

 

TIP: Most manufacturers label their brushes about uses – types of products to use.

 

3. Which brushes to use on what surface(s).

 

China (boar) brush:              Surface(s): Wood, metal, masonry, gypsum board (eg. drywall).

Nylon brush:                            Surface(s): Wood, masonry, gypsum board (including drywall).

Nylon/polyester brush:      Surface(s): All surfaces.

Low nap roller:                       Surface(s): Synthetics, plastics, etc.

 

NOTE: Which brush to use depends on the surface to be coated, and product to be used.

 

4. How to clean and maintain which brushes.

 

China (boar) brush:            Cleaning agent(s): Mineral spirits, lacquer thinner, methyl/ethyl ketone.

Cleaning method: Soak, wire brush bristles, “spin out.”

Nylon brush:                           Cleaning agent(s): Soap and water.

Cleaning method: Soak, wire brush bristles, rinse, “spin out.”

Nylon/polyester brush:     Cleaning agent(s): Soap and water, or solvent cleaner.

Cleaning method: Soak with appropriate solvent, wire brush bristles, rinse, “spin out.”

Custom brush:                       Cleaning agent(s): Follow manufacturer’s instructions for brush.

Cleaning method: Follow manufacturer’s instructions for the brush.

 

TIP:  Always check primer/prep, paint or finish label for the proper clean-up method and product/solvent to use.

Example: If the label says “Use lacquer thinner” to clean up tools, use it. Also, that means use on brushes with natural bristles only.

 

 
5. Four ways to recycle brushes too worn for regular use.

 

  1. Clean and use as a surface duster.
  2. Use for one to three small projects, then throw away the brush.
  3. Use brush for hard-to-reach places, where bending bristles won’t matter.
  4. Use for solvent cleaning or degreasing.

 

6. When to retire and replace which of your “Paint Shop” brushes.

 

All “PAINT SHOP” brushes. Replace: When bristles have lost their flexibility, are worn unevenly, and/or fall out. Also, replace when dried paint comes out into freshly applied paint or finish, painted surface shows a lot of brush marks, etc.
 

TOP TIP: Retire a paint brush from active service before the brush’s finish retires your good reputation as a painter and decorator.

 

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“Brush your surfaces with a fine finish! Finish your surfaces with the best brush you can afford!”

 

Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

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

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