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Paint Brush Troubleshooting

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There are a million different paint brushes to choose from when you're gathering supplies for painting. Flat, angled, natural, synthetic - there are only a few of the many types of brushes you may come across! Rather than taking a guess and hoping for the best, let's take a look at all of the different types of brushes available on the market.

Natural Bristle Brushes - These types of brushes are best used for oil-based paints. They're also a good choice of clear coats or stains. The split ends and natural fibers of the animal hair soak up the paint more than synthetic fibers and helps to create an even coat. Natural bristle paint brushes are generally more expensive than synthetics, but with proper cleaning and storage, these brushes will last many projects.

Synthetic Brushes - While natural bushes are best for oil-based paints, synthetic brushes and synthetic blend brushes are a great choice if your budget doesn't allow for the natural brushes.

Polyester is the best synthetic brush for water-based paints. It is very durable and doesn't soak in moisture.

Nylon is another great choice for water-based paints. Note: We don't recommend a nylon brush for heavier finishes like shellac or lacquer.

Some synthetic brushes also come in a Nylon/Polyester blend. These are a great "jack of all trades" brush, and can be used for both water-based and oil-based applications.


Now that you've got an idea of what each brush is best for, let's talk about angles! Wooster has this wonderful chart to compare brush sizes with their uses:

(Image from Wooster)

While brush tips with angles do have specialized uses, whether or not you want to use an angled tip brush for a job is mostly painter preference. 


Brush Care - While it's easy to think of paint brushes as one-time-use products, brushes can last years and many projects if you properly clean and store them each time. 

Brushes used in water-based paints simply need to be cleaned in hot soapy water as soon as you're finished with painting. Be sure to clean until the water runs clear.

Brushes used in oil-based paints and finishes should be cleaned according to the manufacturer's instruction. That may include using mineral spirits or turpentine to clean the brush.

In either case, once the brush is free of paint, hang the brushes to dry is possible. If unable to hang to dry, laying flat is a good way to ensure the bristles do not curl. Never dry or store a paintbrush on vertically on it's bristles, it causes the bristles to curl and bend, and can create problems the next time the brush is needed.

If you've accidentally let paint dry on a brush, don't throw it out just yet! It may be worth saving.

For water-based paints like acrylic and latex paints -  There are two methods of cleaning dried paint off of brushes. One uses vinegar and the other uses fabric softener.

For oil-based paints - Soaking the brush in solvents like turpentine or mineral spirits is your best bet. 

For more information, check out this article.


If you're in need of more assistance choosing the best paint brush to get the job done, don't hesitate to contact us! 

Happy Painting!

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