How to Choose the Right Paint Brush
To meet all your painting requirements you’ll have to get several brushes. A set of flat paint brushes is a must for gloss work; you’ll need a 25mm (1 in) wide brush, a 50mm (2in) wide brush and also one which is 75mm (3in) wide. These should enable you to cope with most situations, but if you intend doing lots of fiddly, very precise work, get a 12mm (1/2in) brush as well. A radiator brush will be useful too; it takes time getting used to but saves you the trouble of removing the radiators when you want to paint the walls.
If you don’t intend to do a great deal of painting you can make do without a cutting-in brush. Given care and patience, you can achieve the same results using a 25mm (1 in) flat brush. But to complete the set, buy a wall brush, though you must make sure it’s not too big. While it may seem that the larger the brush, the faster you will get the job finished, in practice, brushes larger than 100 or 125mm (4 or 5in) wide are too tiring on the wrist to use for any length of time.
Regarding quality, unless you’re going to do a great deal of painting it’s not worth investing in really top-quality brushes.
Professional quality brushes in mint condition may not, in fact, be suitable; for example, a flat paint brush of this quality has very long bristles so the brush can hold a lot of paint, increasing the time during which you can work before it needs to be reloaded. But a professional decorator would not normally use a brush like this for finished glossy work; instead he would break the brush in (ie, wear down the bristles slightly) by using it to apply undercoats before using it for gloss paint. For the occasional decorator, therefore, a brush with a shorter, cheaper bristle is preferable. However, don’t make the mistake of buying too cheap a brush, unless you intend to throw it away when you have finished.
Check that the brush you buy has a reasonable thickness of bristles in the head. (If you open up the bristles, you’ll often find a wooden wedge bulking out the head but this is not necessarily a bad thing unless the wedge is very large.) Purely synthetic bristles are all right for wall brushes but they tend not to make a very good brush for gloss work. Finally, make sure the bristles are secure and that the brush has a firmly fixed ferrule. A few loose bristles are inevitable, even in a good brush, but a poor brush will moult at an alarming rate when you run your fingers through it. Many top-quality brushes will have the bristles bonded securely into the ferrule with two-part, which forms a solid block and minimises bristle loss.
• Before using a brush, especially a new one, ‘flirt’ the bristles through your fingers and ‘strop’ the brush head in the palm of your hand, to remove any dust and loose bristles.
• When loading a brush, never dip it into the paint too deeply or it will work up around the base of the bristles, dry, and shorten the brush’s useful life. Make sure only the end third (or less) of the bristles enters the paint.
• Soak a new fibre roller sleeve in soapy water for a few hours before you use it. Then run the roller (without any paint) over the wall to dry it out. This will make sure you get rid of any loose fibres from the sleeve.
• Never overload roller and never work it too briskly across the surface you are painting. If you do, paint will fly oft in all directions, spattering you and areas you don’t want covered in paint.
• Hold a brush round the ferrule rather like a pencil, when using it. This gives more control than if you clench your fist round the handle.