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
- Oil based Varnish and Polyurethane: 3 inch white China bristle (preferred).
- Water based latex, acrylic clear coat: 1-4 inch nylon/polyester, 2½-3 inch (preferred).
- Oil/alkyd/enamel paints/coatings: 1½-3 inch black China bristle; 2½-3 inch (preferred).
- Epoxy/Urethane paints: 2½-3 inch black China bristle.
- Shellac-alcohol based coatings: 2½- 3 inch black China bristle.
- 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
- Painting a Wood Door. Use a 1½-2 inch angular brush. These brushes are designed for trimming around hinges, edges and recessed panels.
- 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.
- Painting an Ornamental surface. Use a 1-2½ inch angular brush, or selection of artist brushes depending on intricacy of surface or object.
- 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
- Always use the recommended solvent to clean your brushes. If you do not, your brush may be a one-time use only tool.
- Store brushes in a hanging container. Or lay flat with bristles wrapped in newspaper, or in the original brush protector.
- Load China bristle brushes with linseed oil to keep softened.
- Load nylon/polyester brushes with soap to keep soft.
- When cleaning paint brush bristles, use a fine wire brush to remove paint.
- 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.