This is one aspect of do-it-yourself work where you cannot afford to skimp on materials. You will not achieve professional results by using cheap brushes that shed their bristles as you work, or cut-price rollers that disintegrate before the job is finished. Invest in the best quality equipment your budget allows if you are serious about your work.
Paintbrushes come in pure bristle, synthetic fibre and even foam versions. The last guarantees that you will not be left with brush strokes, and they are inexpensive enough to discard when you have finished. All natural brushes shed a few bristles in use, but cheap brushes are the worst offenders. Usually, these have fewer bristles to start with and they are often poorly secured. Regard pure bristle brushes as an investment; you can reuse them repeatedly, and many professional painters claim that their performance improves with age.
Synthetic brushes, usually with nylon bristles, have the big advantage of being moult-free, and they perform well with water-based paints. A more expensive version, made of polyester and nylon, is particularly easy to handle and said to give a superior finish.
Tool box essentials
Serious painters will need a range of brushes: slimline, 12 and 25mm (A and fin), for fiddly areas, such as window frames; medium sized versions, 50 and 75mm (2 and 3in), for doors, floors and skirting (base) boards; and large types, 100mm (4in), for quick coverage of walls and ceilings. You might like to add a few extras to this basic kit: – A cutting-in (sash) brush, specially angled to cope with hard-to-reach areas, is particularly useful if you are painting around window frames. It comes in 12mm, 18mm and 25mm versions.
– Work new brushes across your palm to dislodge any loose bristles.
– Use an extension pole with your roller when painting ceilings.
– Imagine you are holding a pen when using lightweight brushes; this gives maximum control.
– A radiator brush, available with a plastic or metal handle and designed to reach the wall behind a radiator.
– Special-effects brushes, from stubby stencil brushes to mottlers, which allow you to create the distinctive look of woodgrain, and a range of artist’s brushes for adding detail.
If you are new to decorating, you may find that a paint pad is easier to handle than a brush. It gives a speedy and even finish, is light to handle and works particularly well with acrylic paints. Experiment with a single pad first before investing in a kit, to make sure you are happy with the tool.
Each pad consists of a layer of fibre on top of a layer of foam, which in turn is attached to a plastic handle. Use paint pads in conjunction with a paint tray. If you purchase a kit, a tray will usually be provided.