How to Choose and Use a Paintbrush

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Choosing and Using the Right Paintbrush

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The following 10 pointers on how to choose and use paintbrushes are crucial to a seamless, low-stress painting project.

  1. Don’t spend less on a brush than the cost of a gallon of paint. (The term throwaway brush should not be in your vocabulary.)  It may be tempting to buy a cheap brush but trust us. There is a huge difference in a quality brush.
  2. Use natural-bristle brushes for oil-based paints. Nylon or polyester filament brushes are best for latex paints. 
  3. The length of the exposed bristles or filaments should be at least equal to the width of the brush. Longer, fatter brushes pay off in fewer trips to the pail, because they lift more paint than short, thin brushes.
  4. For large areas, use a three- or four-inch brush. In the long run, a three-inch brush is less tiring and can be used in more places than a four-inch brush. Paint smaller trim with a two-inch angular brush.
  5. Your brush is only as good as the tips of its bristles or filaments. Never stand a brush in paint or in storage. Instead, hang it from the handle hole.
  6. Never use your brush as a stirring stick.
  7. Never scrub your big brush edgewise on the overlaps of clapboard siding. Not only will this ruin the brush, but sealing the overlaps can lead to peeling paint when moisture is trapped behind the siding and forces its way out through the boards.
  8. There’s no need to drown your brush in paint. Dipping it halfway into the paint pail is sufficient. Some painters only dip the first inch or two as you don’t want to gunk up the brush with excess paint.
  9. Don’t scrape your brush against the side of the pail. Instead, tap the inside of the pail with both flat sides of your brush to release any excess paint. 
  10. Choke up on your brush handle, holding the brush as close to the bristles without actually touching them; this increases accuracy.  Hold towards the unpainted surface at about a 45-degree angle. Stroke the paint from the dry area through the wet edge of the previous stroke, then smooth it with a backstroke.

Now, how much paint should you buy for your project? See our article, β€œHow Much Paint Do You Need?”

About The Author

Tom Dvorak

Tom Dvorak, a civil engineer, also writes for Family Handyman about DIY home improvement. Read More from Tom Dvorak

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