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Paint and Finishing Brushes
There is great variety in paint brushes. Learn more here.
The lowly paintbrush: We've known about it since preschool days. Paintbrushes were great fun in kindergarten, too, though for a lot of us they've become less enjoyable as the universe of painting tasks has grown by leaps and bounds. For anyone who lives in an antique, wood-frame house, the paintbrush is rarely out of mind or far from reach.
The paintbrush is, like so many simple tools, more complicated than it seems. The shape of the wooden handle, for example, is comfortable and efficient—and not by accident, because it has evolved over many centuries to its present contoured shape. It suits the working hand, the fingers and thumb holding the broad end (the stock), the other end fitting into the fork formed by the thumb and forefinger. The paint-absorbing filling isn't merely clamped in the metal ring (the ferrule) that connects the brush to its handle. Before the ferrule is wrapped around the handle and brush, the filling is dipped in a setting compound, oftem made of epox, that binds the bristles together.
Actually, the word bristles is sometimes the wrong one. Bristles occur in nature: They are the hair of hogs. But many brushes use other materials, both natural and synthetic.
The best brushes consist of individual filaments that, like a hog bristle, taper toward the end, then split, forming what are known as flags. The flags help hold the paint and to spread it evenly. Some synthetic bristles, in addition to tapering and splitting, are textured as well.
Buying Brushes. I'm no longer surprised at how much the best brushes cost. Having learned a long time ago that for high-quality jobs they are essential, what I'm now surprised by is how long good brushes last and how much easier they are to use than cheap brushes that seem to self-destruct halfway through a job.
Before you buy a brush, inspect it carefully. The bristles should be flexible, but stiff enough that they spring quickly back after you spread them between your fingers. Make sure there are no manufacturing defects, like a poorly attached ferrule or uneven trimming of the brush tip.
A quality brush will, if properly cared for, last from one job to the next. It will spread the paint more easily and evenly, carry more paint from the bucket to the surface being painted, and is less likely to leave telltale bristles behind to mar your perfect paint job.
There are all kinds of brushes to choose from. Among those you're most likely to need are these:
Flat Brushes. When we think of a paintbrush, it is the traditional flat brush that we usually have in mind. It's used to paint all sorts of surfaces with paint or varnish, whether these be walls or trim or objects. Flat brushes come in an array of sizes, from as little as half an inch wide to four and five inches across. The widest are usually called wall brushes, narrower ones varnish brushes.
The proper use of a flat brush involves more than dipping the brush in the paint and brushing it onto the wall. There are a couple of small tricks that make painting a more efficient process.
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