Visit any painting store and you’ll encounter a ton of brushes to choose from. There are brushes ranging in size from super tiny to 4″ for all sorts of purposes.
The first thing to learn about brushes is price does matter, a cheap brush will NOT perform the same as a more expensive professional brush; a good professional brush will carry more paint, spread that paint more evenly, and last longer with proper cleaning and care.
Choosing which category of paint brush you’ll be looking for will depend on what kind of paint you’ll be working with and here we’ll be discussing the most common interior paints. There are paint brushes for alkyd/oil based paint and brushes for latex/acrylic paint, it’s typical to see the paint brush’s intended use listed on it’s package.
If you’re just starting out painting you’ll get the best results from using a 2 ½” or 3″ angled sash brush for cutting-in walls or general brush work in larger areas and a 1 ½” to 2″ angled sash brush for trim work and hard to reach areas.
With experience comes a liking to a certain brushes and you’ll find a lot of varying opinions on what’s best, occasionally I’ll use a 2 ½” angled sash brush for both cutting-in walls and painting trim work. Expect to spend $20-$30 for a decent brush. My favorite brands are Corona and Purdy.
A brush is made up of different parts:
- The handle
Usually made out of hard wood, cheaper brushes typically sport plastic handles. There are a few different styles of handles that differ from the standard, to name a few; beaver tail, rat tail, and stubby. Different handles weight the brush differently and work better in certain situations, trying to cut-in in hard to maneuver areas the stubby brush can come in handy.
- The filaments (aka bristles)
Brushes are made using different material for their filaments, natural filaments are used on oil or alkyd paint brushes and synthetic filaments are used on paint brushes for latex or acrylic. Using the wrong paint with a brush you can damage the filaments and get poor painting results, an oil brush with latex paint will make the paint job look like you applied it with a rake whether you’re loading your paint brush correctly or not!
You’ll want to make sure the bristles are tapered and form an even line when pressed against a surface, this is important for straight & easy cutting-in. If you look closely you’ll see the end of the bristles are ‘split’ this is called flagging and it allows the brush to lay the paint on the surface easier.
- The ferrule
The ferrule is the piece that connects the handle and the bristles made out of nonferrous or stainless steel on better quality brushes. Inside of the ferrule there are spacers set in-between rows of bristles, this provides space for the paint to accumulate allowing the brush to hold paint.
Once you’ve found a brush (if you’re looking for a brush read ‘Paint Brushes: Picking a brush.’) the first step is learning how to load paint into your paint brush. It may seem obvious to some but the important part of loading a brush is to make sure you’ve got enough paint to properly paint the surface. Without a loaded brush you’ll be dry-brushing which is not only a waste of time but also hard on the brush and can leave an undesirable finish. A properly loaded brush will allow you to cut-in easier, finish brush work faster, and provide a better quality paint job.
Pour the paint!
Let’s start with a basic empty paint can. First, pour about 2” of paint into the can.
Dip, dip, dip!
Next, dip and re-dip your brush in a stabbing like motion, by stabbing the paint with the brush the filaments will spread open and paint will be absorbed into the brush, try not to stab the bottom of the can. Do this a few times and your brush will quickly load up. Now you’ve got your brush full of paint; gently tap the brush against the inner surface of the can (just above where the paint is) removing the excess paint. The majority of paint is held inside of the brush out of view.
Once you’ve got the hang of loading the brush, you can change the way it carries the paint by gently scraping some of the outside paint off using the inner edge of the can. You don’t want to put much pressure on the brush when your scraping it, think glide not scrape. This can be handy when you’re cutting in by removing extra paint from the side of the brush that’ll be making the cut-in line, or if you’ve overloaded your brush you can squeeze a little bit of the paint out of it. It takes experience to get the feel for how much paint you’ll need for different situations. If you’re brushes filaments are starting to separate and ‘finger’, or you’re no longer spreading paint easily chances are you haven’t been loading your brush enough.
Next “Paint brushes” post we’ll take a look at general brush work and cutting-in.
Paint that house!