• Natural bristle – made with animal hair; hog hair is best. Natural bristle brushes are best used with oil-based or alkyd paint. • Synthetic brushes – made with nylon, polyester or a combination. They can be used with oil or latex paint. For latex paint, you should only use synthetic brushes. For oil-based or alkyd paints, you can use either synthetic or natural bristle but it's always a good idea to check the manufacturer's recommendations. You can accomplish most paint jobs with a larger 4-inch brush for coverage and a smaller 2-inch brush for trim work and cutting in around corners.
A smooth finish depends on the bristles so be sure you're getting a quality brush:
•Look at the tips of the bristles. A good natural-bristle brush is flagged, having split ends on the tips. The good synthetic ones have fuzzy-looking tips.
•See if the bristles are trimmed to a tapered chisel-shaped end, not flat.
•Tap the ferrule (the aluminum or stainless steel band) and make sure that no bristles fall out. The ferrule should be tightly wrapped and secured around the brush handle. Cheap brushes will lose their bristles. A rusty ferrule can also discolor paint if dipped into the can.
Handle styles will vary from wider sizes to fit palms to small pencil-sized ones for precision work.
Disposable brushes are an inexpensive alternative that can be discarded after the job is done, eliminating clean up.
•Dampen a synthetic brush before use. Paint will be less likely to dry on the brush.
•Don't overload a brush with paint. The application will be smoother and less wasteful.
•Paint with the brush at a 45-degree angle to maximize the bristle's surface area.
•For a better finish, paint from the area just painted towards the unpainted area. Painters call this "wet to dry".
•Dip the bristles one-third of the way into the paint; any deeper will waste paint. Tap the side of the brush on the inside of the can to remove excess paint.
•If you need to stop for an hour or so, position the brush in the paint to cover the bristle tips. For longer interruptions, wrap the brush in aluminum foil or plastic wrap and put it in the freezer for oil-based paints. If you're using latex, the refrigerator will be fine.
•Before cleaning, remove remaining paint by stroking the brush back and forth on newspaper. Before storing, remove paint with the proper thinner.
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