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Picking Your Paint Tools

TOOLS - Tools are the important part of any job so painting is no exception. IF you are hiring a painter you may not be interested in this information, but if you are doing your own painting then grab a bottle of wine and keep reading!

BRUSHES– oh man… the never-ending debate about brushes. Do I spend $60 on a brush or go to the dollar store… the answer is no for both! For the love of God never ever use the cheapest brush you can find. Brush work is precise, and you will never get precise with a $2 brush. Conversely will a $60 brush make you a better painter than a $10 -$20 brush? Probably not. As a professional painter I have used an array of brushes and I always come back to a brush that is $15 dollars retail.

Pick a brush that has a bit of a bounce but not too much. When you pull the bristle across your hand, they should bounce back into place nicely. If they bounce back too hard you will probably end up with paint splatter and if they don’t bounce you are probably getting a brush with too big a bristle and it will leave you with heavy brush lines... not good.

If you can press the bristles into you hand, there is flex that is a good sign.

Are you painting with latex or oil? Latex bristles should be synthetic and oil brushes should be natural, they will also say on the label on the brush so don’t worry too much about that.

Are you painting walls or a fence? Wall brushes are nice when they have an angle tip so that you can get into corners and for most people it’s easier to get a nice edge. Fences or bigger areas that you plan on brushing get a blunt end brush or square tip because they hold more paint.

Size –well size matters; even in brushes. You can get artist brushes, but they would take a long time to paint a room, however I always like to have one stuck behind my ear just in case I can’t get a bigger brush into an odd spot! Typically, a 2 ½-inch or a 3-inch brush is recommended. Some people find the 3-inch can get a little heavy because it holds more paint so I would suggest starting with a 2 ½-inch.

ROLLERS– Just roll with it baby. We typically call rollers sleeves as they fit over the cage like a sleeve! First you need to consider what you are using a roller for. If you are rolling trim you may be just fine with a mini roller but that wouldn’t make sense for a whole wall!

Just like with brushes please don’t buy the cheap ones. The biggest problems with cheap rollers are they leave all their hairs behind on your wall and the fibers tend to collapse.

For walls, the best size is the 9 inch, they are the typical ones you are probably familiar with. The next thing to consider is the pile, the length of the fibers. The bigger the number the longer the fibers. The thinner roller on the left is good for smooth surfaces but doesn’t hold much paint. The heavier one on the right is great for heavy texture but be careful they hold a lot of paint and can get really heavy. Typically, you will be just fine with the middle one.

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ROLLER CAGES – Are you ready to rumble? There are a few different types of cages. Mini rollers typically are just a bar, kind of like a hook without the hook!

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SANDING SPONGES – Oh I like little and simple! Sanding sponges are the bomb! Just make sure you pay attention to the grit, I like medium as a general rule or a medium fine. The coarse ones are great for metal doors but can scar up a wall like it’s nobody’s business. When you are sanding a whole wall, I don’t recommend a sponge but use the one that can screw onto a pole… way easier!

CAULKING/GUNS – Caulkingnot cocking. Caulking is mainly done to hide the gaps in finish carpentry and makes the finished product look nice. Fortunately, they have made dripless guns which makes life so much easier than the old school ones where you had to flip a switch to stop the automatic flow of the caulking. Those took a bit to get used to!

When we are talking about exterior caulking there are two camps of thought. One camp says caulk everything and the other camp says caulk nothing. I tend to lean towards doing as little caulking as possible. If a house is built well the caulking isn’t necessary and is mostly for esthetic purposes. While caulking can have a 25 year warrantee doesn’t mean it will hold a gap closed for 25 years. When wood expands and contracts the caulking gets pulled apart and squished together leaving gaps that water, dirt and bugs can collect on. I first started questioning caulking about 15 years ago when Hardi board started coming up and their reps stopped us from caulking their boards and my conclusion is we should not caulk surfaces that move but there are people who agree with me and disagree with me. Do your own research and draw your own conclusions.

MUD– There is no wrestling in this mud. The number one mistake I see people make is using something other than drywall filler. Paint departments sell things like Polyfilla… don’t ask me what it is good for but it is not good for wall repairs. Think about it, you have a hole in drywall so use what drywallers would use!!! Polyfilla can seem to be smooth but may leave a mound on the walls and until you get paint on it and the light hits it it’s too late and you are stuck with a wall that looks like it has the chicken pox… not good.

One issue that can be problematic is not being able to see the mud spots on a wall after the mud dries. If the wall is blue you will see it just fine but if it’s white… will be a lot harder. Some people put a bit of color in their mud, I suggest using a light to shine on the walls to double check that all the spots are sanded prior to painting.

Always make sure your mud is clean and don’t put dried mud back in the container or when you go to use it again you will drag these little chunks of paint through the next mud job and that is super annoying.

MUD KNIVES – not to be confused with steak knives. I prefer knives that are flexible over knives that are stiff. I find they take excess mud off the walls better and leave a smoother nicer finish to sand. Keep an assortment of sizes so you have some for smaller and bigger jobs. I like to have two knives in my hand. One to hold a blob of mud and one to apply bits at a time to the walls. Play around and find what works best for you.

It’s best to not get knives wet or they will rust, if they so grab your handy dandy sanding sponge and sand off the rust.

LADDERS- Safety is all you need to know! Never, ever, never, never use a ladder that is unsafe. Falling off a ladder is not a good way to die.

There are so many types of ladders and pick the one that is best for the job and if it doesn’t feel safe… it’s not. If you feel nervous about being on the ladder, even if it is set up well, it is not safe.

The most challenging ladder set up is probably the extension ladder... the tall ladders used for high spots. The easiest method to make sure your ladder is safe is to lean the ladder against the wall, stand with your feet at the base and hold your arms out at shoulder length if you can touch the rung of the ladder without bending your elbow or leaning in your ladder is probably at a safe angle.

DROPSHEETS– If you value it, cover it! You can use sheets, poly or actual drop sheets just be careful they can be slippery especially if they are on hardwood. And remember, safety first!