Embarking on a new paint project can be overwhelming, but choosing the right paint tools can make it easier. Whether you're updating the look of a room, adding decorative touches or painting for the first time, you can save time and money by investing in high-quality painting tools that best suit your project.
The key to selecting a high-quality brush is in the details. Look for paintbrushes with thick flagged bristles that are long and firm and spring back into shape when flexed. These bristles hold paint well and spread evenly for a smooth finish. Also check for multiple wood spacers between bristle rows, which hold more paint than single-spacer brushes. And don't overlook the obvious: Make sure your brush has tapered bristles and a securely fastened handle. In general, choose a natural bristle for oil-based paints and a synthetic bristle for latex or water-based paints. For latex, a nylon/polyester blend brush holds more paint, resulting in a smoother finish. A pure nylon brush tends to retain its shape better than polyester, making it a better fit for textured surfaces or fine finishes. For getting into corners, choose a smaller, tapered sash brush.
DIY tip: To prolong the life of your brushes, thoroughly clean them with soap and water after every use. To maintain their shape, hang brushes upside down when storing them.
Although they apply a thinner coat than brushes, paint rollers are ideal for covering large areas faster. First, select a roller frame that's comfortable and not too heavy to hold. For larger, more time-consuming projects, look for a roller frame with a comfortable molded grip, nylon bearings that spin easily and an attachable extension for hard-to-reach areas. Also invest in a mini roller frame for painting behind radiators and other tight spaces. When shopping for roller covers, choose a natural fiber for oil-based paints and a synthetic fiber for latex or water-based paints. Look for a heavy uniform fiber that doesn't shed and avoid cheap foam rollers with spongy textures because they can create air pockets that may leave tiny crates in your handiwork. For a high-quality woven fabric with a smooth finish, try white woven roller covers. For slightly rougher surfaces, look for semi-smooth roller covers with teflon.
Generally, choose a smaller nap size for smooth surfaces (3/8- to 1/2") and a larger size for rougher surfaces (3/4- to 1 1/4"). A standard 3/4" nap is usually fine for most surfaces.
Although not used as often as brushes or rollers, paint pads are helpful for inexperienced painters or unsteady hands when painting straight lines. Try an edging pad to create straight edges between a wall and ceiling or use a sash pad for narrow woodwork.
Decorative tools and special effects applicators
If you want to spice up your walls with rich textures or eye-catching patterns, here's a quick rundown of some of the many decorative paint tools used for creating special effects.
- Wall weave brush - its short, pure bristles produce a soft, cloudy effect.
- Brush combs - different size combs produce a cloth textured finish.
- Wood grain rooker - produces a unique wood grain look.
- Natural sea sponge - its delicate texture produces a soft, freckled print.
- Steel Wool - its rough textures produce a distressed, antique look.
For painting equipment that's best for power and speed, consider investing in a paint sprayer when you need to tackle an outdoor project in a short amount of time. For increased flexibility, choose a cordless sprayer. For optimal control, look for a paint sprayer with adjustable speeds and patterns.
DIY tip: Always wear safety goggles and protective clothing when using a paint sprayer.
When painting ceilings and other hard-to-reach places, a sturdy stepladder is an essential painting equipment investment. Look for a ladder with a shelf or a tray for safely storing your painting tools as you work. The ladder should also have slip-resistant steps and molded foot pads to ensure safety. Make sure it's lightweight, too, so it's easy to move around.
Now that you have your main paint tools, you'll need to keep your painting area covered with drop cloths and painter's tape. There are three main types of drop cloths:
- Poly - waterproof and the least expensive of the three, but slippery to walk on.
- Canvas - the most durable and expensive, but water-based latex paints might soak through it.
- Paper-poly combo - waterproof but not as slippery as poly or as expensive as canvas.
It's important to use this special tape instead of regular masking tape because it's less sticky and therefore won't damage surfaces or leave adhesive behind when you remove it. Use painter's tape to cover trim (door, window, ceiling), baseboards and electrical outlets.
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