Choosing the Right Paint Brush for Decorating
Decorating: Paint Brushes and Rollers
For good results in painting you need a good brush, and the quality of a brush depends on its bristles.
Natural bristle, from the pig or boar, is the best. The natural taper gives the brush its shape; the rough surface of the bristles holds the paint; and the split ends, or `flags’, help you to apply the paint in a smooth, even coat. The synthetic material nearest to bristle is nylon.
Your choice of brush will probably depend on how much you are prepared to pay. It might be as well to buy a cheaper brush for priming and a better quality one for top coats. But since all new brushes shed hairs, use them for undercoating before using them for a final coat.
General-purpose paint brushes
You can do most indoor painting jobs, apart from ceilings and walls, with three sizes of brush: 50, 25 and 12 mm (2, 1 and 1/2 in) widths.
If possible, keep one set of brushes for white paint only and another for colours. No matter how well brushes are cleaned there is a chance that a brush once used for colour may contain old pigment which will bleed into white paint.
The brush sizes for ceilings and walls are 100 and 150 mm (4 and 6 in). Good quality brushes in these sizes are expensive, but they will last a lifetime if well looked after. Most amateurs will find the 100 mm brush useful and quite adequate for large surfaces. The 150 mm brush is rather unwieldy in unpractised hands.
Special paint brushes
A fitch brush is useful for the difficult job of painting window-frames. With a little practice, the angled tip can be used to paint very straight lines.
If you do not wish to buy a cutting-in tool, a well-worn 12 mm brush can do almost as good a job.
The crevice or radiator brush is a versatile brush for getting into tight corners; the wire handle can be bent to any angle.
The small crevice brush is best for painting behind pipes. The round head enables you to apply paint in any direction.
The dusting brush is simply a soft brush used to clean the surface to be painted.
Rollers do a much quicker job than brushes, especially over large areas, and often produce a superior finish, but they do tend to use more paint. The use of a roller will often limit brushwork to those tight corners where the roller cannot reach.
Medium or long-pile rollers are especially useful on rough surfaces such as exterior roughcast walls.
You can buy rollers covered with a variety of materials including lambswool, mohair, synthetic fibre and foam. Short-pile mohair or synthetic fibre coverings are best used for oil-based gloss and eggshell finishes, medium and long-pile for emulsion paints. Replacement coverings are available for some rollers.
After use, rollers and tray should be cleaned with paint solvent or, if emulsion paint was used, washed in warm soapy water. Allow them to dry before wrapping in paper for storage.
Wrap the tray in heavy paper after greasing it slightly to prevent rust. Clean it thoroughly before you use it again
Mohair paint pads are more economical in use than rollers and are particularly suitable for flat narrow surfaces such as window frames and skirtings. They can be used with emulsion and oil-bound paints, but it is recommended that the largest pad be used only to apply emulsion.
Scrapers, knives and containers
Use a 75 mm (3 in) wide stripping knife for stripping paint off flat surfaces, and a triangular or combination shave hook for mouldings and difficult corners.
Most plaster cracks can be filled using a filling knife or a stripping knife. The blade on a filling knife is the more flexible of the two, and generally the filling knife is the more suitable.
For big jobs, such as painting walls or ceilings, it is convenient to pour the paint, as you need it, into a container. The best type is the polythene paint kettle, which is light and easy to clean.
The more traditional galvanised kettles are about the same price, but cleaning them is more difficult; burn out dried paint by setting light to it with meths.