Paintbrushes: The Good, The Bad, and How to Make them Behave

Today I have the skinny on paintbrushes, they all look alike, but they don’t behave alike! Pretty Handsome Guy and I have painted our fair share of rooms, especially dated brown trim moulding. One thing we learned early on is that buying a good brush was key to making a difficult job more manageable. When we first moved in and were cheap didn’t know any better, we bought the least expensive store brand brush we could find. What a mistake! Those brushes barely held up to one room of trim. The bristles frayed and the paint brushes lost their chisel shape.
Case in point:

(That being said, the same thing can happen to a good quality paint brush if you don’t clean and care for it properly. More on that later.)

But, if you spend a little more to buy a good quality brush and take good care of it, you can use that brush for years!!!

Above you can see the cheap store brand used maybe 2-3 times.
A brush we have owned and used for 8 years!
And a brand new never used Purdy brush.
(I encourage you to click on the picture to see it enlarged!)

 Close up of the layers of paint on that 8 yr. old Purdy!

Recently Purdy contacted me and asked if I wanted to try one of their brushes  and maybe blog about it. I said sure, but I felt a little guilty. Why? (Whispering: Well, because we already have an arsenal of Purdy brushes in our painting supplies. When it comes to brushes, that is all we buy.)  Okay, this is where I need to tell you that –  yes, Purdy sent my a free brush and 5-in-1 painting tool to try out. But, did they pay me? No. And, did they ask me to write a positive review? No. So, I am being totally honest with you when I say that I do like their brushes. That being said, I have not tried some other high quality brushes. The only thing I do wish was different about Purdy brushes, is that they would develop an ergonomic handle for their brushes. After an hour of painting trim my hand always cramps up.

I haven’t bought any ergo handle type brushes, but I have seen this brush from Proform Technologies:

I might just have to try one of these next time.

Okay, so I sold you on buying a good brush, and you were shocked by the price tag. Now I want to show how to care for that brush so it will behave for you (and you won’t have to replace it anytime soon.)

Be sure to clean your brush before the paint can dry on your brush. If you can’t wash it immediately, go ahead and leave your brush in a jar of water (or mineral spirits or turpentine for oil based stains or paint).

When you are ready, here is how to properly wash your paint brush:

1. Rinse out as much paint as you possibly can.

2. Bend the bristles against your palm or the bottom of your sink.
Repeat on the opposite side.
3. Gently separate the brush to expose the core
and rinse any paint out of the inside of the brush.
4. Squirt some dish or hand soap in your palm.
Working in a circular motion, mix the soap in your hand with your brush
until a big lather forms.

 

5. Then rinse all the soap out bending the bristles if needed.
6.Repeat steps 2-5 until the water runs clear. 
7.Squeeze all the paint out of your brush using your fingers like a squeegee.
Then hang your brush upside down to dry.
I used large paper clips to make these hooks that hang over the sink.

If you are using an oil based paint you will want to substitute mineral spirits or turpentine for the soap and water. I also try to keep the brushes I use for oil paint or stains separate from my latex brushes.

Happy painting for years to come!

Comments

  1. Thx ~ I just bought my first Purdy on the suggestion of another blogger. I can't wait to use it this weekend :)

  2. Never Enough Thyme Creations says:

    I have always said, if you love your brushes, they will love you back tenfold! I always buy the best brushes I can afford ( usually Purdy)! Some I have had for over 10 years and they are still spreading paint like butter, but I won't dare share them with someone that may not love them like I do!

  3. Ann Marie @ Twice Lovely says:

    I was just like you, buying the cheapo brushes until my furniture refinishing started making a little moolah, so I decided to give the Purdy brushes that are all the buzz a try. I'm forever sold on them. As far as an ergonomic Purdy brush, I haven't yet tried it, but I've heard the Purdy Cub brush is the easiest on the hand. It's got a short stubby handle. You should give it a try!

  4. katie @ the copper coconut says:

    I don't know if you already knew this, but Purdy is having a giveaway everyday of $100 gift certificates. You can submit here. http://www.youcansavethewalls.com/

    I did it and won! I love, LOVE Purdy brushes!

  5. Stacey@stuffbystace says:

    What a helpful post! Thanks for sharing…I'm planning on painting a dresser soon and will try Purdy out! :)

  6. I love Purdy Brushes! They are the best. I also like the Wooster brushes, about a step down from Purdy, I have had good luck with them! Thanks for the info, always handy!!

  7. Momma Rhyne says:

    Never thought of the hanging paintbrush idea. Usually mine just lean. Great idea!!

  8. Aspiring Millionaire says:

    Thanks for this! I plan on painting my house in a few weeks so this will come in very handy!

    Also I gave you an award on my blog
    http://www.aspiringmillionaire.com/2010/10/blog-awards.html

  9. Anita @ GoingALittleCoastal says:

    I totally agree that a good paint brush is key. You will get less paint brush marks in your finish. I have some Woosters too that I like but I do need a new one and would love to try the Purdy!

  10. My husband (a manager at Sherwin Williams) always says to put the brushes back in the cardboard-ish wrapping they are sold in to dry in order to keep the shape. Works like magic and they are already put away – no revisiting the clean up later!

  11. A final rinse in vinegar will get any last bits of paint off of the brush and make it last even longer. Or last as long as yours do for those of us who don't do as good a job rinsing out the last bits of paint :)

  12. Hi Brittany,
    Thanks for the info on Purdy brushes.
    I didn't know the brand but I'll research them now.
    I must say when I first arrived in Canada I was shocked at just how rubbish the cheaper paint brushes in the DIY stores were. Even the cheapest brands are still pretty good in the UK.
    I have some that are still going strong after 10/12 years. I've been buying my brushes from the website of UK brush company KENT… who's brushes are fab..
    They are a very old company and they have the royal warrant, which means they are brush suppliers to the Queen… although I'm sure she has a little man who comes in to do her painting for her.. ;o)
    Jo xx

  13. Amanda@The Hand Me Down House says:

    Love, Love, LOVE this post, Brittany! I'm such a bad paint brush owner and throw them away when I'm done instead of taking the time to clean them up — this post has given me some inspiration to save a few bucks each time I do a project and clean them properly. :) Plus — I LOVE Purdy brushes too — they're my fave!

  14. Thanks for posting all of this information! I especially loved the part about hanging the brush to dry – such an obvious thing, and yet I had never thought of it.

    I determined to find an easy to way to hang mine, using stuff I already had. I always clean out my brushes in the laundry sink in the garage. Right above it is a wooden box attached to the wall – I keep some of the dogs supplies in there, because its right near the back door. I found several large C-hooks in my box of hardware odds and ends, so I drilled a few quick pile holes and screwed the C-hooks right into the bottom of the box. They work perfectly – thanks for the inspiration!

  15. Great post. I was just cleaning my brushes by just running water and scrubbing with my hand but now I know some tips to get them really clean and clean the proper way and hanging them as well. Great tips! Purdy brushes are awesome too. :)

  16. Sandy Hartzler says:

    Love those Purdy brushes too. My tip. Use Murphy Oil Soap to clean out latex/acrylic paint. It is petro-based so the paint literally ‘melts’ out and the brush gets really clean. Rinse, take it outside and whip it down in a quick motion to remove the water. Then brush the bristles flat with a vegetable scrubber. Cut a piece of brown paper bag, fold a 2 inch piece down at the top of the paper at an angle for the Purdy angle brushes. Put the tip of the brush right into that crease then fold the sides over and secure with a rubber band around the metal (NOT the bristles) hang upside down like you showed, and your brush will be perfectly chiseled and ready to go. I’ve also used mine for years using this clean up method. P.S. I AM a professional painter that started out like you…..loving to see what paint can transform into a thing of beauty. I do a neat job, and have more requests than I can handle.

  17. Whitney Breck says:

    Thank you SO much for writing this! I feel like so many people just throw their brushes away because they can’t clean them properly. Despite heavy painting around our 70′s panel-infested house, my cheapness has still kept me from buying the Purdy brush I so desperately need.
    Do you have any suggestions for when the paint does dry on your brush during long stints of painting? Or is it best to just take a break and wash it every hour so that too much doesn’t accumulate?
    Thanks for this post!

  18. Loving your post on painting! I’ve painted many rooms after someone has done it poorly and it’s such a hassle to fix a botched job :-(
    One trick I use to make cleaning my brushes faster an easier is to use a plastic comb to remove the paint while rinsing/cleaning with solvent and again to remove water/solvent when they’re clean. Comb gently from the heel of the brush (where it meets the metal) to the tip. This removes the paint quickly and helps keep the bristles from getting roughed up (especially important with natural bristles). It also removes more paint from the heel, where a build up of dried paint can cause the “shaggy dog” problem and cause brushes to loose their shape. Winning Colours is a great product for removing latex paint from brushes (or floors, carpets, etc) and it’s earth friendly :-)

    Oh! & Try cutting the handle of your brushes shorter to make them easier on your hands and easier to use in tight spots!

  19. I know this is an older post but I came upon it while doing a little research for our mudroom re-do…. I just wanted to share that after a long day of painting I do soak my brush in a cup of white vinegar to remove any dried paint residue and it works well to really get the top of the bristles cleaned. Also I keep a can of all those little tubes of hair conditioner (from dying my hair at home. Who does that?….) near my utility sink and after washing and rinsing the brushes I rub a little conditioner through the bristles and rinse them throughly and then squeeze them out and hang to dry. They are silky and smooth for the next use.

  20. Can you stand one more suggestion on cleaning paint brushes? I attended a craft show and had some time to kill while waiting a demo on just that subject! The person doing the demo has written 2 books, one on wallpapering and one on painting. (Sorry, I don’t have his name or books any more but I learned a great trick from him…) He suggested Calgon Water Softener.. dilute it a little with water.just soak them in it for a while. Then use a small toothbrush or something similar…Paint almost floats off the brush. Squeeze it together at the tips when it is clean and (preferably) place it back in it’s cardboard sleeve. (If you don’t have the sleeve I wrap mine in a piece of paper and put a rubber band over the shank, not the bristles.) I have had one brush for over 30 years and it is still good! Thanks for sharing all your tips…your blog is interesting and I refer to it a ton! Hugs, Joy

Trackbacks

  1. [...] of trim paint. I prefer Purdy brushes because they last for years! See my post on cleaning brushes HERE to see how I protect them from wearing [...]

  2. [...] wipe any excess paint off the end and then keep the brush end submerged in water until you can properly clean the brush. After the brush is clean, squeeze out excess water and re-shape the tip so it will dry to a [...]

  3. [...] Patch Plus Primer can be painted over after 30 minutes. Use a good quality paint brush or roller. I’ve been using a Purdy 2 inch brush for 2 years now and while the handle is rusted, the bristles look fantastic. I always rinse my brush in warm water then wrap it in Glad Press N Seal. Brittany also has a great tutorial on keeping your paint brushes looking new. [...]

  4. […] inside.) Unfortunately, you’ll probably still need to wash your paint brushes. But, if you clean your paint brushes correctly, they should last you a decade or […]

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