How To Properly Care for Brushes
If you wanted to build your dream car, you would try to use the best tools possible. Once you had those tools, you would want to treat them well. After all, if your tools aren’t in top condition, the car that you want to build won’t be either. The same is true of painting a room. If you want a quality paint job, you need to treat your tools with care. That means knowing how to properly care for your brushes.
Types of Brushes
There are two main types of brushes you will use when painting: natural and synthetic. Natural bristle brushes are made of animal hair, usually hog or badger. Their absorbent nature makes them a popular choice for oil-based paints, and they tend to be softer and more delicate than their synthetic counterparts.
Synthetic brushes have bristles made from man-made materials such as nylon or polyester. They are better for use with water-based paint since the bristles are less absorbent. You should use the same care when tending to natural brushes as you would with synthetic brushes. However, there may be slight variations in care, depending on the brush.
Washing the Brushes
Before washing a paintbrush, it’s always best to remove as much excess paint as possible for ease of cleaning. If you are using oil-based paints, warm soap and water alone won’t do the job. Instead, you will need to clean the brushes in a solvent such as turpentine. However, if you would rather not use turpentine, baby oil has also been known to help loosen paint from brush bristles. If you are using water-based paints, you can skip the turpentine or oil and move right to washing with soap and water.
When the paint is mostly off, put the brushes under the warm running water, with its bristles pointed down, and wash it with a mild soap until the water runs clear. If you are using a natural bristle paintbrush, it’s wise to apply an inexpensive hair conditioner on the bristles after the soap is gone, then rinse the brushes again. Never soak your bristles in water. You should hang the brush with the bristles pointing down to dry.
A Note on Paint Thinners
If you are using paint thinners like turpentine, do not pour the thinners down the drain. Pour the used thinner back into the container, then dispose of it properly. Either allow the thinner to dry out and place it in the garbage or take it to a hazardous waste disposal facility.
How you store a paintbrush largely depends on how long you will be storing it for. If you are taking a short break from painting, it’s perfectly all right to leave the paintbrush in the paint can with the bristles pointing down. Some modern paint pails come equipped with magnets so you can attach the paintbrush to the side of the can by the ferrule, though this isn’t necessary.
Several Hour Break
If you intend to set your brushes aside for several hours or overnight, professionals recommend covering the bristles. The simplest and most cost-effective option for this is to wrap the brushes, including the bristles and ferrule, in plastic wrap or to wrap the brush in a wet towel and put it in a plastic bag. Some recommend putting the brush in the refrigerator as well, but you should never put the brush in the freezer. You should also allow the brush to return to room temperature before the next use.
Long Term Storage
The best way to store paint brushes long term is by hanging them with the bristles pointed down, the same way you would hang them to dry. However, there isn’t anything wrong with storing them in a container made for this specific purpose. The one caveat is that a paintbrush should be completely dry before you put it in a closed container.
Washing Paint Rollers
As with brushes, storing a roller with paint on it long term will damage or even ruin the roller for future use. However, because of how rollers absorb paint, you will want to use some different strategies to clean the paint off the rollers. For instance, tapping the roller on the side of the brush won’t be enough to remove excess paint before you wash the roller. You will want to use a spatula or the knife side of a five-in-one tool to scrape the excess paint off the roller.
If you are using water or latex-based paints, you can simply wash your roller with warm water and soap until the water runs clear. If you are using oil-based paints, you will have to utilize paint thinner. The best way to go about this is by placing the paint thinner in three separate bins.
Place the roller cover on the roller cage into the first bin and roll it back and forth until the thinner is cloudy, then scrape the excess thinner off and pat it dry with a paper towel before putting it in the next container. Repeat for the remaining containers. You may need to allow the rollers to soak in the container for a minute or two. When you dry the roller, be sure to place it standing up on a towel or put a string through the center so that it can hang dry. Do not lay the roller on its side to dry.
Short To Several Hour Break
Because of their size, you usually can’t leave a roller completely submerged in paint. For this reason, paint is more likely to dry on the roller while you are taking a break. This can damage your roller, so you should always wrap your roller in plastic wrap when taking a break from painting. As with brushes, you can leave the wrapped rollers in the refrigerator but should allow them to return to room temperature before you resume painting.
Long Term Storage
Once a roller is completely cleaned and dried, you can store it long-term. You can store paint rollers in any dry area.
Being able to properly care for your brushes ensures you have the tools you need both for your current painting project and future ones. If you need other tools for your home improvement arsenal, such as varnish, primer, or organic paint, we have you covered.