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  • Writer's pictureTrent Trees

Let's Talk Paint Brushes and Rollers

Updated: Sep 15, 2020

You can have the best quality paint, but if you use the wrong paint brush or roller, you're going to waste time and money. You may be asking, what type of paint brush should I use? Paint brushes come in an assortment of sizes and bristles. So the answer depends on the project and type of paint you're using. For a smoother and uniformed finish, we recommend using a high-quality brush. Why? A high-quality brush holds more paint, applies it more evenly and gives a higher-quality finish, which will save you time and give you the results you want. Let's discuss the different types of brushes and roller covers, along with there uses.

Types of Brushes

  • Natural-Bristle Brushes are made with animal hair and are used with oil-based paints. A Chinese bristle blend with ox hair is a recommended brush by most professionals when using oil-based paint. This type of brush is softer and tends to be stiffer than synthetic brushes, which will allow you to apply the heavy oil paint smoother than water-based paints. This type of brush gives a better finish than a synthetic brush when using oil-based paint. FYI, do not use a natural bristle brush on rough surfaces or with water-based paint. It can ruin the brush.

  • Synthetic Brushes are nylon and polyester blends. These types of brushes work well with water-based, latex, and acrylic paints. Although a natural brush will give you a higher quality finish, a synthetic brushes can also be used for oil-based paints, stains, water-based paint.

    • Nylon Brushes are typically used for interior applications and give a smooth paint application. The bristles are more flexible and hold more paint. They're more sensitive to heat and humidity, causing the brush to damage easily.

    • Polyester Brushes are used with latex paints. These brushes are inexpensive, stiffer, don't absorb water. They hold their shape better, allowing for a more even finish.

    • Nylon/Polyester blend brushes are very popular due to their versatility and durability. These brushes work well with all types of latex paints. With proper care, they can last for years. The nylon gives the brush more durability and the polyester gives the brush its shape. Both combined gives you a more consistent and high-quality paint finish.

What Size Brush Should I Use?

  • 1" to 2" are best used for windows and trim

  • 2 1/2" to 3 1/2" are best for general purpose jobs, doors, and cabinets.

  • 4" and up are best for large, flat areas like walls.

Brush End Types

  • Square Brush is used primarily for applying paint over flat areas.

  • Angled Brush is best for easier application to window trim.

  • Chisel Brush is a slanted bristle brush to produce a straight line for trimming in corners and edges.

What paint roller should you use?

You can cover a lot of surface area in less time if you use a roller. Paint rollers are versatile and have a faster application. If you're painting a large flat area, like a wall or ceiling, rollers are the best options. Just like paint brushes, you have to select the right roller for the type of paint. The different types of roller material are natural fiber, synthetic fibers, and foam.

  • Natural Fiber Rollers Covers are made from lamb's wool materials. This cover is best used for oil-based paints.

  • Synthetic Covers are made with nylon or polyester. This material tends to reduce matting and makes the cover more effective with water-based latex paints.

  • Foam Covers are great for oil and high-gloss latex paint, particularly on porous surfaces.

  • Blended Covers like natural wool and polyester are great for multiple uses and different kinds of paint.

The surface area's type will determine the roller cover's thickness, called the nap or pile. The rougher the surface area, the thicker the nap should be used.

What Size Nap Should I Use?

  • 3/16" to 1/4" thickness is great for smooth surfaces such as interior doors, trim, and cabinets. They work well with semi-gloss, gloss coatings, both oil and water-based paints.

  • 3/8" to 1/2" thickness is great for semi-smooth surfaces such as drywall.

  • 3/4" to 1" thickness is good for stucco and semi-rough surfaces.

  • 1 1/4" to 1 1/2" thickness is ideal for rough surface areas like brick and masonry, cinder blocks, or chain-link fences.

If you're trying to determine the best paint brush and roller for your painting project, consider the surface's size, shape, and the surface roughness to be painted. Remember, the better the brush, the better the finish!

(Refs: Home Depot and This Old House:


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