Consumer Reports

Picking The Right Paintbrush For Your Home

Remodeling is not cheap. So when it comes to trimming costs, a lot of people choose to save money and do some of the painting themselves. To do a good job, Consumer Reports says to start with top-rated paint, then pick the right brush for the job.

You can pay anywhere from two to ten dollars for one. Does spending more make a difference? Consumer Reports tells you what to look for, to get a brush with greatness.

Consumer Reports paint experts advise that you first match your brush to the paint you plan to use. For latex paint, choose a synthetic brush made with nylon. Don’t use a natural bristle brush, which can soak up too much water and turn mushy. However natural bristles are the perfect choice for oil-based paint. The bristles should be nice and stiff, to make sure they spread the paint evenly, and then you want to tug at it to make sure the bristles don’t fall off because you don’t want to find any of those bristles in your paint. Some more expensive brushes have bristles of varied lengths, resulting in a tapered edge for detailed work. Some brushes have little split ends, called “flagged,” that help spread the paint even more smoothly.

What about width? Small, angled brushes - from 1 to 2/12 inches - are best for trim. For cutting-in around doorways and ceilings, use a 2/12 inch angled sash brush. The angle allows you to make a sharp line, and access corners. And for painting wide, flat surfaces, like walls or siding, a 3 to 4 inch flat brush will do the best job. And the thicker the brush, the more paint it will hold. That means better coverage and less work for you.

While size and material are important, comfort is key. Pick them up, and use them like you were painting. You want to find out if it’s well-balanced, and what’s easiest for you to control. Once you do find that perfect brush - take care of it. Consumer Reports says that keeping paint out of the metal part of the brush - called the ferrule - will help the brush last longer because it will be easier to clean. So don’t dip past the middle of the bristles. And always store the brush in its original wrapper to keep the bristles in shape.

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