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2 posts from May 2011

Friday, May 13, 2011

Advice from the Pros:

Cleaning Brushes and Rollers

Quality brushes and rollers are expensive, so it pays to take good care of them. Fortunately, water-based latex paints have taken most of the hassle out of clean-up--all you need is a few minutes and a little soap and water and you can return your applicators to as-new condition at the end of every paint job.

Start by brushing the excess paint out of the brush on a piece of newspaper or cardboard. Then rinse the bulk of the paint out under a faucet. Mixing a little dish soap with warm water in a container large enough to submerge the brush. Don't be afraid to work at a kitchen or bathroom sink, paint splatters will wipe right off without a trace. As the brush soaks in the water, work the bristles against the bottom of the container or with your hands to release any remaining paint, then rinse the brush under the faucet while squeezing the bristles. Repeat this process a few times until the brush releases all of the paint stored in the ferrule and the rinse water runs clear. Separating the bristles with your hand as you rinse will allow water to wash away the last bits of soap and paint from the brush.

If the brush was used previously and not cleaned properly, some of the bristles may be glued together in clumps with dried paint. Instead of throwing the brush away, use a brush comb (available at most hardware and paint stores) to separate the bristles and comb out the old paint while cleaning the brush as described above. Even when a brush has been properly cleaned, an occasional brushing is still a good idea to remove loose bristles and debris.


A brush comb is handy for removing dried paint.

After the brush is clean, shake it vigorously to remove excess water (best to do this outside) or a paint spinner, then store it in the box or sleeve that it was packaged in. This will help the brush hold its shape and keep it clean. If the original packaging is not available, wrap it in newspaper or a paper towel and hang the brush by the handle (most handles have holes) so that water can drain out of the ferrule. This will help the brush maintain is original shape. Never stand the brush on its bristles--this will deform them and ruin the brush.



Use a 5-in-1 tool to scrape excess paint from a roller sleeve prior to cleanup.

A roller takes a little more effort to clean than a brush and won't last as long, but the expensive ones are still worth saving and re-using. Begin by rolling out all of the paint that you can off the roller or scraping it with a 5-in-1 tool so that the sleeve isn't saturated with paint. The roller sleeve will be easier to clean if it is removed from the handle. Start by running the roller under the faucet to remove the bulk of the paint. Then place the sleeve in a container of warm soapy water and massage the nap to release the remaining paint. Repeat this process several times, rinsing the sleeve with clear water and squeezing it with your hands each time to remove all of the paint. If there's any paint left in the sleeve, the sleeve will be nappy, matted, and unusable after it has dried. After the final rinse, dry the sleeve with an old towel or chamois, or give it a whirl with a paint spinner to remove as much moisture as possible. Then store the sleeve in its original packaging or a plastic bag to keep it clean until you are ready to use it again.

Helpful Hint: If you are going to use the roller later in the day or the next day, simply wrap it in plastic wrap, put in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator rather than cleaning it.


A paint spinner can be used to quickly dry rinsed roller sleeves.
Slide the sleeve onto the spinner and spin it into a bucket or cardboard box.

These steps apply to water-based paints only. If you’re using solvent-based paints, brush clean-up procedures are similar, but you must use mineral spirits instead of water (most painters don’t bother cleaning roller sleeves when using oil-based paints). Mineral spirits must be disposed of according to local regulations and should never be dumped down the drain or poured out onto the ground.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Advice from the Pros:

Choosing the Right Roller


Like brushes, choosing the right roller makes all the difference. For very little extra, not only will you get a significantly better finish but the work and cleanup will be quicker and smoother. Seems like a no-brainer but almost everyone gets tempted by those cheap discount packs . . . which is fine if you want a cheap finish and give yourself extra work. The truth is, a good paint roller will cut hours off your painting time while leaving behind a smooth, even finish. Rollers come in different sizes, from small 'slim jims' (useful for painting the wall behind toilets and should not be used for large wall areas) to huge 18-inch setups, but 9 inch rollers are the most commonly used size.

Roller covers are made from a range of materials that have different 'nap' lengths; the type and nap size you need depends on your project. Choose a roller cover that won't leave lint or roller marks behind; don't even bother with the foam rollers--they're fine for testing paint colors, but on large surfaces they just create thousands of tiny air bubbles in the paint film that leave behind a 'cratered' finish.

Good roller covers have moisture-resistant plastic or phenolic cores that won't absorb water and lose their shape. They're also made with solvent-resistant glues, so that the fabric nap will stay bonded to the core instead of ending up on the wall (shed resistance should be listed on the label of any good sleeve). Avoid roller covers with untreated cardboard cores, the kind sold in those bulk packs, they will absorb paint, get soft, and lose their shape in no time.

If you're painting smooth new drywall or slab doors with high sheen paint, choose a roller cover with a short 1/4-inch or 3/16-inch nap. A short nap roller cover won't hold a lot of paint, but it will leave a very smooth finish with very little stipple, or texturing. For matte and eggshell paints on smooth, previously painted drywall, use 3/8-inch or 5/16-inch nap sleeves. The slightly longer nap will hold more paint with minimal roller stipple. A quality roller cover with a 3/8-inch nap is versatile enough to work with most paints on most surfaces.

For medium-textured plaster and similar surfaces, use 1/2-inch nap sleeves, but keep in mind that roller stipple will be noticeable. This is a good choice for previously-painted walls or ceilings that already have some texture to them. For rough surfaces like concrete block, most pros use 3/4-inch or even longer nap sleeves.

The denser the pile, the more paint the roller cover can hold without splattering. For best results, you're looking for a roller cover that will hold as much paint as possible, yet release it onto the wall with minimal splattering (these are often called 'High Capacity' rollers).  Lambswool or sheepskin roller covers are dense and extra-long, so they hold a lot of paint. They're good for textured walls, but won't leave a smooth finish on a smooth wall. For the smoothest finish on the smoothest walls, choose a micro-fiber or mohair cover. "Mohair" covers are also good for applying smooth finishes such as polyurethanes or varnishes.

Finally, get an extension pole along with your quality roller covers. The extension pole will allow you to roll from the ceiling to the floor applying a good even coat of paint.

Good frames and roller covers are worth saving, so they should be cleaned carefully after use with soap and water. With today's fast-drying paints, it's also good to know that roller covers can also be temporarily stored between coats without cleaning: Simply wrap the wet cover in a plastic bag, seal it up in another plastic bag, and store in a cool, dark space. Kept this way, the paint-filled roller cover will be good as new for several hours and even overnight.