5 On Your Side

Use right size, bristle type to brush paint like a pro

Posted June 1

Whether you're remodeling your home, or just looking to freshen it up, painting is one way to save money.

There are many options, though, when it comes to picking the right paint brush.

Whether you're painting inside or out, on wood or metal, the right brush will help you get the best possible results. There are also certain brushes for certain paints.

A synthetic brush made with nylon is best with latex paint. Don't use a natural-bristle brush because it can soak up too much water and turn mushy.

But those 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," said Consumer Reports' Enrique de Paz.

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 more smoothly.

For 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.

For painting wide, flat surfaces, such as walls or siding, a 3- to 4-inch flat brush will do the best job.

The thicker the brush, the more paint it will hold, which means better coverage and less work.

Comfort is also important.

"Pick them up, and use them like you were painting," de Paz said. "You want to find out if it's well-balanced, and what's easiest for you to control."

The right brush has everything to do with helping you paint pro.

WRAL's 5 On Your Side says to keep your brush in good shape by not dipping past the middle of the bristles. Also, use the original wrapper to keep the bristles in shape.

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