Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Selecting the right paint brush

how to select the right brush for painting furniture

Between all my furniture painting projects over the last few years and many, many years of watercolour and acrylic art painting, I've done my share of selecting and buying paint brushes. Here are my thoughts on selecting a good paint brush for your furniture painting projects.


how to select the right brush for painting furniture

I know there's a few people who say just use cheap paint brushes and throw them out after your project but most professional painters, or even DIY enthusiast, will tell you to spend the extra money! It may cost $10 more for a good quality brush but you are already saving a lot of money by making over your furniture rather than buying something new. 

You are much better off spending $18-25 AUD on a good paint brush that will last and last, especially as your choice can be the difference between a job that looks average and one that looks fantastic. Generally a higher quality and more expensive brush will hold more paint, streak and show brush marks less, give a better finish and last longer, if you take care of it.



how to select the right brush for painting furniture

The reason it is important to use quality brushes is that, compared to cheap brushes, they apply paint in a thicker, smoother film, which provides maximum coverage and sheen uniformity. When you use lower quality brushes they will often leave deep ridges in the paint where dust and dirt can collect and worst case mould can grow. I know there are certain paint techniques such as a chalk paint or duchess satin French finish where you may want a textured finish but generally you will want to minimise visible brush strokes.

When buying brushes for furniture painting, check for the bristles for the following:
  • have split ends, to create a finer, more even finish;
  • have a definite flex at their tip, to enable them to spring back into shape;
  • they are shorter on the outside and longer in the centre, to provide more control over where the paint is applied;
  • measure at least half as long as the width of the brush. 
  • Give the bristles a gentle tug or tap the metal ferrule of the brush. If more than one or two bristles can be pulled out, the brush is probably poorly constructed. 
If a brush is well made and well cared for, it will last for years, so make sure you can use it comfortably. Make sure the brush feels comfortable in your hand.  I love the feel of wooden handles but this is definitely just a personal preference. Pick up the brush and hold it in your hand before you buy it, make sure you like how it feels.

My preference is for a metal ferrule and a wooden handle. 


I also have a range of brush sizes. Smaller brushes, called trim or sash brushes, are used for small, tight spaces. You can also buy small Angled Sash Brushes that have a tapered edge. These are great at getting into corners and grooves.  I love using angled sash brushes for painting moulded ornate carvings.  

how to select the right brush for painting furniture

Likewise, wider brushes (called paint or wall brushes) are designed for painting large flat surfaces such as the top of a buffet or for large wardrobe doors. However be careful about using too big a brush. As you increase the width of the brush, you compromise control and precision.

I have also a round brush that I use for applying a wax top coat. These brushes make it very easy to apply a thin coat of wax and to get into crevices without the wax clumping. If you are going to use wax for your top coats a specific waxing brush is a good investment. I clean my wax brush in hot soapy water after use. It comes up looking brand new each time.


how to select the right brush for painting furniture
how to select the right brush for painting furniture

I have brushes that I have been using for 4 years now and I paint a lot! Buying good quality at first may seem like a big outlay but it will save you money in the long run and also will give you a better quality finish. I'm also opposed to the impact to the environment of the "buy cheap and throw it away" mentality. 

A lot of American bloggers recommend Purdy brushes In Australia, Purdy brushes are not available. I use the Monarch brand (manufactured by Australian Brushware Corporation which is one of the world’s largest manufacturers and distributors of paint brushes and painting accessories, operating in Australia, New Zealand and United States of America.) I have found them to be very good. I love the feel of this paint brush in my hands as well as the finish it gives - and they clean up very well. You can buy these at most good hardware stores. (this is not a sponsored post, I'm just letting you know what I use and like).




If you have any questions about brush selection or would like to see a blog post about another aspect of furniture painting then please leave me a comment below. I hope you find this helpful.


Fiona

22 comments:

  1. Great post Fiona, I couldn't agree more about spending the money on a good quality brush. I cringe when I see/read about people saying it doesn't matter, just buy a cheap brush and chuck it out afterwards. Don't think those sorts of people care very much about the quality for their work! So lazy. I've just spent half an hour cleaning the oil based primer out of my spray gun so I could put my top coat into it. I've made an investment in that, and thorough cleaning is vital to protect that, and for a good quality job from the gun.

    I've never used foam brushes but they just look nasty to me.

    I am quite partial to the Shurline brushes, also a wooden handle. My favourite brush to paint furniture with is a trim brush.

    I have been known to (shock horror) chop the handle off a brush when it gets in my way when doing shallow shelves etc, I hated doing it but it had to be done!

    I only have little wax brushes, for detail work. I need to get a big soft one and I also need to keep my wax in the fridge, it keeps melting in the heat!

    Well lunch is done and didn't I have alot to say today lol, back to the workshop for me, hope you are having a good day :)

    xx Karen

    ReplyDelete
  2. another great informative post. I also hate the let's use cheap crappy brushes and throw them away attitude. Fiona, I love your attitude to quality and the environment and that you share information so generously.
    Have a great day
    Jodie

    ReplyDelete
  3. I agree with you 100% if you add up all the money you spend on the cheap throw away ones, you actually save buy buying one good quality one anyway. No brainier to spend the $20 and get a great finish.
    Good post Fiona
    Ness xx

    ReplyDelete
  4. i'm thoroughly enjoying your posts on brushes....great info, much needed!
    thanks
    Bec x

    ReplyDelete
  5. thank you for all this wonderful info. I love these posts and I echo the commenter above about how you share your information so generously. It is much appreciated. thanks and keep them coming!
    regards
    tanya

    ReplyDelete
  6. Have just found your blog and love it. Read most of the old posts and will continue to catch up today. Just a small question, can you use this painting method on highly lacquered furniture

    Regards
    Paula

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hi Paula - thanks so much, yes you can use those painting tips to polish highly lacquered furniture. You will want to sand with a medium grit sandpaper to create a slightly rough surface for the primer to stick. I would also suggest using Zinsser as your primer. Give enough time for the paint to dry and cure between each coats. good luck with it and thanks for stopping by
      cheers Fiona

      Delete
    2. i mean to paint highly lacquered furniture!

      Delete
  7. Hi Fiona, I don't often post comments on blogs but I wanted to say thanks for this. It's excellent information and as an artist myself I thoroughly agree. I have brushes that I have been using for 20 years and they were well worth the initial outlay.
    thanks
    Jennifer

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks so much for your help

    Paula. If it works will send you a pic

    ReplyDelete
  9. You get what you pay for when selecting brushes. i have brushes that are forty years old and still do a great job. Proper maintenance is the key. Great post!

    ReplyDelete
  10. What a great idea! Please share it on a terrific linky – Design Décor Tuesday. www.designdecortuesday.blogspot.com. See you there! ☺

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi Fiona
    Where can you get the round wax brushes in Victoria please?

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Fiona
    Where can you get the round wax brushes in Victoria please?

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hello - the brush in your last pic - is that one you own? I have been reying to find one like it - the brushes at Bunnings are only the longer bristled ones, like the 5th pic in your post. Im about to order from Dandelion Wood, so im hoping they are very similar.
    Thanks
    D

    ReplyDelete
  14. That should say *trying :)
    D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hi D, that brush is from bunnings -around $18. it's a round headed brush and the link is in the post above that photo. cheers fiona

      Delete
  15. Most informative post ever! Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hello,
    Oil paint brushes are available online as well as in different art materials shops. One can see a variety of brushes advertised which are of different types of hair as well as different sizes.
    http://www.rossartsupplies.com/

    ReplyDelete
  17. Not sure if you have seen but you can buy Purdy brushes at Masters. Great quality.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for taking the time to comment! (Sorry if you have trouble commenting, I'm trying to sort it out)