Taking Proper Care Of A Paint Brush

It's amazing how poorly people treat their paint brushes. I've been in the painting business for over 25 years and during that time I have seen some funny looking brushes. However, when you are paying $25 to $50 dollars for a quality brush, then brush abuse is no laughing matter. Poor care of your paint brush will drastically shorten its life.

Described below are some procedures that a house painter or homeowner should follow when using, cleaning and storing brushes.

  • First you need to consider the type paint you are going to be using before choosing your brush. Will you be using oil or latex paint? Do you know if you should use a Nylon or a Nylon Polyester mix, or China Bristle brush for the paint you have purchased? Always use the right brush for the type of paint you are going to use. Never use a Nylon brush in oil base paint. If you use a Nylon brush in oil paint, the oils and chemicals in the paint will permanently change how the brush bristles feel. Once you are through using it in oil then you will need to clean the Nylon brush in mineral spirits. After cleaning the brush in mineral spirits you will find it doesn't have the same spring to its bristles. They become limp. So always us a Nylon bristle brush in latex paint
  • The Nylon Polyester mix brush is often used in latex or oil paints and is usually advertised that way. It's a pretty good choice for a all purpose brush, but as most contractors will agree it doesn't have quite the feel and properties in latex paint as you get from high quality Nylon brush. The same holds true for the China Bristle brush in oil paint. China bristle just feels, and spreads paint better in oil than other type brushes. There are two qualities the Nylon Polyester brush has going for it: You need to buy only one brush and the balance between stiffness and softness is good with your higher quality Nylon Polyester mix brushes.
  • Another quality you will find about China Bristle is that it always cleans more throughly than Nylon or Nylon Polyester after using in oil paint. This is a valuable brush tip, because it will save you time at the end of your project. The Same holds true for Nylon in latex paint. If you have ever us A china bristle brush in latex then you know what I am about to say. Nylon always cleans better when used in latex than China Bristle in latex paint. It is hard to get latex out of a China bristle brush.
  • Never use China Bristle in latex. It will ruin the brush. Never us Nylon Bristle in oil. It will also ruin the brush. Some Nylon Polyester brushes can be used in both.
  • Never leave a brush sitting in paint for an extended time. Within an hour or two, paint will start to harden around the bristles of the brush next to the metal retainer and will make it much harder to clean. Some people will leave their brush sitting in a bucket of paint to keep it moist. Paint will wick up the bristles of the brush only so far. Beyond that, the paint will start to harden if left an hour or two in paint. Wrapping a brush with plastic and then sealing the plastic with tap is the best way to keep the brush from drying out while your away for several hours. This will prevent air infiltration and slow down the drying process of the paint. If you are going to leave the paint brush longer than three or four hours, then you need to clean the paint brush.
  • Be thorough with your cleaning. Always clean the brush until the water is clear. With China Bristle, clean until the mineral spirits turns clear. This means you will need to frequently empty and refill the bottom of the pail you are using with mineral spirits. Continue to clean the brush until the mineral spirits turns from cloudy to clear. Do not leave paint in the bristles near the metal bristle retainer. Use your fingers or a brush comb to work out the paint in these areas. Between cleanings bump the brush on the sole of your shoe. Bumping the brush will force more diluted paint out from deep in the bristles and bring it closer to the surface to be washed away with fresh water (or spirits for oil brushes). Continue this process until the brush is completely free of paint.
  • Always us a brush comb to straighten the bristles of the brush before storing. This will realign the bristles so that they do not dry in the wrong position. A misshaped brush is a horrible brush indeed.
  • Be sure and store the brush back in the cardboard packaging called the "keeper". The keeper is the package most brushes are wraped in. It's important because it will allow the brush to dry and hold its shape. Brushes stored in the keeper helps preserve the life of the brush. House painters understand the importance of keeping the paint brush aligned properly.

Most house painters take pride in their paint brushes. They understand what a pain it is to use a brush that has been abused. This is the tool of the trade. Buy quality tools and take care of them. They will give you in return, good service that you can be proud of. Low quality brushes and low quality care usually are indicative of the quality of work.

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