March 2009: Toolbox

March 2009: Toolbox

A good paintbrush really is a good friend—if you treat it right, that is. Here’s what you need to know to care for your brushes as the long-term assets they are, and not as disposables.

You get what you pay for. After some use, a cheaper brush will have you picking stray bristles out of your paint job. And even brand new, it’ll make it tougher to get really nice results. Look for natural or synthetic bristles that taper near the end and look a bit like hair with split ends. And check that the metal band holding the bristles is nice and tight.

Break it in. A brand new brush should be examined for stray bristles (cut or clip them off) and slapped against your hand or a piece of furniture to loosen up the bristles.

Keep it wet. During your painting project, if you take a break (five minutes, overnight, whatever) keep your brush wet with paint. Plastic wrap will do the trick.

Send it to bed clean. Remove leftover paint with water (for latex paint) or paint thinner (for oil-based paint). Then rinse with soap and more water, reshape and store wrapped in a paper towel.

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