Achieving great results on a paint job comes down to two main factors: first is the skill of the painter, and second is the quality and effectiveness of the chosen painting tool. This article is meant to shed light on the latter, and we present some of the more technical aspects of painting applicators, including brushes, roller-type applicators, as well as spray devices. We assume basic knowledge of paint applicators, which you can learn about in other painting articles.
Quality paint is a forgiving substance, and flows well, but improper technique or poor applicators can leave unappealing evidence in the form of excess or inconsistent texture. Your best defense against this is to know what kind of brush works best with what kind of paint. Pro house painters should also learn when to use small detail rollers (sometimes known as “hotdog,” or “whiz” rollers), and what type will perform best. Brushes made by Purdy, one of the most popular professional brands, come in many types designed for certain kinds of paint and uses. They vary mainly in the type of bristle material, and may contain several kinds of nylon or synthetic bristles. Through this use of materials, they can alter the feel and performance of a brush. For example, some are extra stiff, which is used for robust exterior paints; meanwhile soft bristle models are optimized for fine edging on interior painting jobs. There are also specialty brushes designed to perform best with stains, and others with enamel paints. The finer the required finish, the finer your brush should be. There are also brushes made to be especially cleanable, or hold maximum amounts of paint, which can be beneficial to the house painter when used appropriately.
Whiz rollers are another great tool to become accustomed to, because they offer excellent speed and paint capacity while allowing for fine finishes. They have a tapered end on one side which makes it easy to blend. The main considerations here are thickness of the pile, and the material it consists of. Cotton weave are the standard, usually in a 1/2″ or 3/4″ thickness, and offer good results for general purpose painting. If you are painting a finer finish, such as an enamel or gloss trim paint, a thinner roller can provide a better coat. Flock foam and microfiber rollers are materials that permit very even application of enamel paints, and are great for interior trim work. If you use too thick a roller for such paints, it can leave an undesirable texture, which is especially noticeable with glossier paints. And to maximize results, before using any roller it is recommended to wash it in water and dry thoroughly, as this will condition the fibers for paint, and also get rid of any lose fibers that may have been present.
House painters will eventually feel the urge to use a sprayer, as they can be both time-saving and achieve very nice finishes beyond the capabilities of traditional tools. The spraying technique eliminates the possibility of brush marks, and roller texture, But you can still end up with unwanted textures that result from spraying too thick or unevenly. It is firstly important to select the right spray tip, as they vary in size, and with the type of paint product to be used. It can also be necessary to back-roll the paint after spraying to smooth out the paint. This is usually the case on ceilings, as the freshly sprayed paint may want to drip. In this case, using an appropriate roller will allow for the best finish; a fine nap roller is great, and its small paint capacity won’t matter because the paint is already applied. The ideal method of spraying is onto a flat horizontal surface since it exploits gravity as the paint settles and cures. Spraying is therefore ideal for cabinet doors, and other removable substrates. Or if speed is the main concern, sprayers are excellent for lattice, fences, shutters and other challenging surfaces.
A house painter should also keep these various tools in different sizes, as the width of an applicator can become a burden. Too wide a brush and you can’t paint narrow trim; too small a brush and it will be more difficult to be consistent on larger surfaces. A final word of advice is to stay away from gimmicky paint pads and other so-called “breakthrough” time-saving products. There is a reason most painters stick to the classic tools of the trade: they work.