Have a painting project to do? Chances are you have some old paint brush in the garage somewhere. Before you decide to just use what you have, or go out and maybe buy the wrong one, consider theses points.
Selecting the proper brush will ultimately make your finished project smoother and more even. You will yield a better overall coverage, and maybe most importantly, you will require less effort, less time and ultimately, less money.
If you are using a latex or similar water-based paint your brush should be a synthetic filament material. A natural brush (which is actually animal hair) will absorb the water from the paint. For oil-based paints, enamels, stains, and the like, you will want an all natural bristle brush, although there are quality synthetic filament brushes that will do the job as well.
If you are going to use a synthetic brush for both oil base and water base paints, it is mandatory that you thoroughly clean the brush in between. Oil and water do not mix; in fact they repel each other. If the brush is not completely cleaned you will not be able to paint a smooth surface without lines where the two paints meet. Even a small, subtle amount of residual paint can make a tragic difference.
Unfortunately, there is no brush that does it all. Your project may require a number of brushes, but in the end it will be well worth the additional expense incurred. And with proper care, cleaning and storage your brushes can be used over and over again.
First, you must be sure the brush is the right one for the paint you are using, as discussed above. Then you must determine the size of the brush. Some common sense will prevail here - the larger the surface the wider the brush and so on. Finally, you must match the brush to the surface you will be painting. The rougher the surface, the more durable the brush filaments must be.
You will regret the result of using a large brush on its edge to paint in smaller, hard to get at areas. The paint will not cover as well and you will shorten the length of your brush.
As to cleaning your brushes there are a few points you will want to consider. Do not soak your brushes in hot solvents or commercial brush cleaners. Excessive soaking will significantly decrease the life span of your brush. Instead, take the brush you have been using in oil base paints and clean in a solvent of thinner and comb it back into place. Be absolutely sure that every last bit of paint has been removed.
Whether you have been using a bristle brush or a synthetic brush, extended soaking in water can be very damaging. In the case of the bristle brush the bristle will absorb and swell with the water (exactly the same reason you do not want to use a bristle brush with a water-base paint). In the case of a synthetic or non-porous brush it should not be soaked in water because it will result in cracked handles and loose or rusty nails. Again, it is imperative that every drop of paint be removed.
If you are having a hard time removing paint from your brush, vigorously spin or shake the brush to help get the water or thinner in the tighter areas. However, pounding the side of the brush against a hard surface will ruin the brush - knocking and twisting the bristles or filaments out of place.
Failure to completely clean a brush will result in a phenomenon known as "fingering" in which the filaments or bristles clump together. Allowed to dry in this manner and the brush will never work properly again.
Finally, when your brush is thoroughly cleaned, comb the bristles or filaments with a brush comb, made exclusively for this purpose. No, any old wire brush will not do as well! Hopefully you have kept the wrapper your brush came in and you can store it right in there. The brush should be hung up, or laid on its side, but never stood up on its bristles.
Although it may seem like a lot of work, securing and caring for the proper tools is an essential part of any project. The end result makes it all worthwhile.