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Home Painting Information
When it comes to painting projects around the house, many Americans become consumed with selecting just the right hue, finding the perfect faux finish, and then starting the masking and taping. But experts say one of the most important ways to ensure a successful paint job is by using the proper brushes and rollers.
Knowing what type of bristles to use, the proper brush size, how much nap your roller should have for a specific surface, and what effects varying qualities of brushes and rollers have on the painted surface are all key.
"You can buy the most expensive paints available, have the colors mixed accurately, prepare the surfaces perfectly and still end up with a disappointing painted surface because you used the wrong brushes or rollers to apply the paint,
says Lou Manfredini, Ace’s Helpful Hardware Man, in one of his consumer tips at http://www.acehardware.com .
Homeowners often make the mistakes of trying to save money by buying cheap brushes and not taking care of their tools in between jobs.
"The biggest mistake that consumers can make is to buy inexpensive tools or reuse old tools that have not been taken care of,
says Ron Hudas, product manager for paint company Dutch Boy, http://www.dutchboy.com .
Poorly made rollers can shed their pile on the wall during the painting process, Hudas says. And cheap brushes can shed filaments, which drag through wet paint, ultimately leaving unsightly marks.
"The finished appearance and durability of a quality paint is only as good as the application process used to apply it,
Kathy Henry, spokeswoman for paint company Glidden ( http://www.glidden.com ), echoes those sentiments.
"Cheap brushes don’t hold enough paint, leave heavy brush marks, and bristles fall out into the paint that has just been brushed on,
Henry says. "What a mess.
Brushes are made with either natural or synthetic bristles. The natural brushes, made with animal hair, are best used with solvent-based paints. (Editor’s note: Solvent-based paints are gradually being phased out because of their volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. The newer latex paints perform just as well.) The synthetic counterpart, made from nylon, polyester or a combination of the two, may be used with oil or latex paint.
When you’re painting with latex, experts say to use just the synthetic brushes -- the natural brushes are too absorbent. The animal hair becomes limp when wet with water -- just like your own hair would.
"Natural bristles are hollow and can absorb up to 40 percent of their weight in water, causing them to swell up and become soft and limp,
Henry says. "For this reason, natural-bristle brushes are not appropriate for water-based (latex) paints. A nylon/polyester brush is the best overall choice and should be used on latex.
Both the Paint & Decorating Retailers Association and the Paint Quality Institute say a good-quality brush will provide faster painting with less effort, wont leave brush streaks, won’t shed, allows for easier cutting in for tight areas and provides the best look.
Flat brushes are designed for large areas, like exterior siding or decks. Trim brushes are cut at an angle, allowing for crisp lines. Chisel trim brushes are angled for extra precision, Manfredini says. Stain brushes are shorter, wider and have flatter bristles than a normal flat brush. This design allows for less dripping.
Lowe’s tells visitors at http://www.lowes.com that obtaining a smooth finish depends on the bristles. And experts say the size of the brush matters, too, based on what you’re painting.
"The right size and shape should be chosen for the particular job,
Henry says. "A large, 4-inch brush is great for painting the side of the house, but you would want to use a 1-inch angled brush for trim work. Obviously, it would be difficult to use these brushes interchangeably. Most jobs, both interior and exterior, require several brushes of varying widths and shapes.
Hudas says you should expect to spend the same amount of money on a quality paint tool as you spend on a better-quality gallon of paint.
Many homeowners and professional painters like to use rollers when they have a large area to paint. Rollers hold more paint and cover the walls more quickly than a brush.
Like brushes, rollers come in two varieties. Natural rollers, made of mohair or lambswool, are best for oil-based paints. For latex paints, Lowe’s says you should use only synthetic materials -- natural rollers are too absorbent. Either type of roller can be used for solvent-based paints.
Another variable in the roller is the nap, or pile, which is the height of the roller’s painting surface, ranging from 1/16 of an inch to 1.5 inches. For smooth surfaces, a short-napped roller does the best job. For rougher surfaces, like masonry, a longer nap ensures the most satisfying results.
"When selecting a roller, pay close attention to the pile. A short pile should be used on walls and floors, while longer piles are necessary for rougher surfaces,
The PDRA says for wallboard or smooth plaster, you should use a nap of 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch. For light-textured stucco or poured concrete, a medium nap of 3/8 to 3/4 of an inch is recommended. And for cyclone fencing and wire fences, a nap of 1 inch or more is the best.
The PDRA recommends these steps to test the quality of a roller:
. Run your hand over the roller. Look for one that doesn’t leave any lint on your hands.
. Look at the ends. Is there fabric hanging over the edge? Good covers are beveled; there shouldn’t be any overhanging fabric.
. Is there a seam on the roller cover? There shouldn’t be. Gaps may indicate inferior quality.
The PDRA says using a quality roller means the paint finish won’t have shadows or valleys, the roller won’t shed lint on the painted surface, won’t skid or track when rolling, and will not delaminate during use.
Glidden spokeswoman Henry says using the wrong-sized roller is one of the biggest mistakes a homeowner can make.
"Using long-nap rollers, which can hold too much paint, makes it difficult to evenly distribute paint on the wall,
Henry says. "The long-nap rollers are for use on rough surfaces.
Using an extender on a roller makes it easier to reach the higher part of walls -- and ceilings. If you plan on using an extender, you’ll need to find a roller equipped with a screw-in extender.
Sometimes a power roller is useful for larger projects.
"These tools are designed to pump paint directly from the can or a special reservoir to the cover of a paint roller,
says Francis Donegan in the book Paint Your Home: Skills, Techniques, and Tricks of the Trade for Professional Looking Interior Painting (Reader’s Digest, 1997). "Because you don’t have to continually stop painting to load the roller, you can finish a job relatively quickly. Still, you must keep the roller moving to avoid drips and runs.
Caring for Brushes and Rollers
Experts emphasize taking care of paintbrushes and rollers if you plan on using them again and hope for successful paint jobs in the future.
Clean your brushes immediately after you use them. The PDRA recommends paint thinner or turpentine with natural-bristle brushes, while soap and water should be used for nylon and polyester brushes.
Brush combs work best for cleaning and straightening the bristles. Don’t soak brushes for too long or they’ll lose their shape. And try to hang your brushes when it comes time to store them. If you don’t want to hang them, save the cardboard sleeve they came in and store them in those. Don’t store brushes on their tips -- this will cause the tip to curl, rendering the brush useless.
Michele Dawson is a freelance writer based in Elk Grove, Calif.