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Choosing the right paintbrush for the job
13 May 2020

Painting is a significant final stage in every construction project. Getting it right can accentuate the qualities of your work and show it in the best light. However, getting paintwork wrong can lead to expensive call-backs and customer dissatisfaction. It takes a good deal of careful preparation and execution to achieve a perfect finish. Selecting the right paintbrush is the key to producing paintwork so good it has that effect of looking sprayed on.

Handle: Be sure that your brush has a comfortable handle to avoid any muscle cramping and discomfort over long periods of use. If you can’t grip the brush comfortably, it will show in your brushstrokes. Perfect brushstrokes will set you on the route to a good finish so opt for unfinished handles which offer a better grip than their counterparts.

Cheaper brushes with plastic handles are good for applying oils or products that are harder to clean.

Ferrule: This is the metal section that connects the bristles to the handle. When choosing a brush, look for one with a wooden or cardboard spacer (called a plug) in the ferrule which divides the bristles into two sections. The plug (there can be more than one) holds the paint and enables it to flow to the tips of the bristles.

Bristles: Synthetic bristles are the favourite these days as natural-hair bristles swell when used with water-based finishes rendering them unusable. All-nylon brushes are too flexible while all-polyester options are too stiff and so it is best practice to opt for a blend of both.

Your brush should be able to change shape when being used in difficult spaces. It should, however, always return to its original shape afterwards. Brushes that are tipped (shaved to a sharp point) are great for spreading paint effectively.

Shape is the most important factor and this is determined by the ferrule design. When the ferrule has square corners, the bristles hold less paint than ferrules with rounded corners. The square corner ferrule design is perfect for cutting or for small surfaces that don’t need a lot of paint.

An oval ferrule design allows for large volumes of paint making it a great choice for covering large areas where precision or cutting isn’t required.

Width: Brushes are sized in 1/2-inch increments, from 1 to 4 inches. Choose the right size brush for the task at hand. If it is too big, you won’t be able to do exact cutting. That being said, selecting a brush that is too small will take up valuable time and leave brush streaks in your finish.

Angled-bristle brushes are better for cutting and edges while straight or flat-bristle brushes are best for painting large, flat surfaces. Straight brushes tend to leave fewer bristle marks. Surfaces that are smooth and clean are also less likely to show brush strokes.

Dip the brush either halfway or two thirds of the way into the tin and gently tap on two sides of the can. Wiping the brush on the rim will deposit most of the paint back into the can and will mean the paint isn’t evenly distributed on the paintbrush.

Properly cleaning your paintbrushes will improve their longevity. If you have to buy fewer paintbrushes, you can spend more on each one and get better paint finishes. It is important to never let paint dry on the brush. If you want to take a break while painting, get a paint tin magnet which attaches to the side of the tin and allows you to suspend the brush in the paint.

Get as much of the paint off the brush and onto your painting surface as you can in order to minimise clean-up. Fill a bucket with 3.5 litres of water and press the brush down onto the bottom. Loosen the paint by gently squeezing the bristles. Rinse the brush and shake the excess water out. Ensure that the bristles have fully dried before you start painting again.

Always dispose of your paint and cleaning solutions responsibly. Do not throw them out without conducting the proper research into safe disposal. Instead, contact your local council to find out the correct way to dispose of harmful or toxic materials in your area.

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