How to

How to use a paintbrush

Using a paintbrush might look easy, but DIYers know there are a few tips and tricks that make all the difference when it comes to getting a professional finish.

It takes time to become good, accurate and fast with a paintbrush. Have patience with yourself if you’re just starting out. Work on your quality first, then on speed. This will save you from learning bad habits and having to redo sloppy work.

“First of all, choose the right paintbrush for the job,” says Resene paint expert Murdo Shaw. “Size does matter – a bigger brush holds more paint and is good for larger areas, but it can get quite tiring on your wrists if you’re using it all day.”

The most popular brush sizes are 50-63mm. It’s a good idea to pop into your local Resene ColorShop and try a few out. Ask for help if you need it, because there are some important things to consider when you’re choosing paintbrushes. Think about your strength and experience, the type of brush you need, the size of the project, the surfaces you’re painting and the type of paint you’re using.

Choose a brush that feels comfortable for you to hold. Different family members may have different preferences so you may find you need a couple of sizes to suit if there is more than one person doing the painting.

Dip one-third to one-half of the length of the bristles in your paint container, then remove excess paint by tapping the brush on the side of the paint pot.
The best way to hold your paintbrush is with your first two fingers and thumb, and try not to grip it too tight. This wall is being painted in Resene Double Stack.

When you’re ready to start painting, and while your paintbrush is still clean, work the bristles back and forth across your fingers to remove any dust, dirt, or loose bristles. If you’re using waterborne paints, you can lightly moisten a natural bristle brush with water first to help you apply the paint more evenly.

Hold the brush with your first two fingers and thumb, not too tight or too loose. Dip one-third to one-half the length of the bristles into your paint container, removing excess paint by tapping the brush on the side of the container. Avoid dipping the entire length of the bristles in the paint as this will push paint into the ferrule of the paintbrush, which can cause it to clog up. Plus you’ll likely end up with paint drips making it harder to get a smooth finish.

Paint with the tip of your paintbrush, not the sides. Hold the paintbrush at about a 45-degree angle to the surface and work mostly with your wrist rather than your arms and shoulders. For the best results, try and get a good flowing motion with long brush strokes.

A smaller brush is better for more detailed areas and finer ‘cutting in’ – painting areas where rollers can’t reach, such as where walls meet ceilings or floors. When cutting in, use the brush on its vertical edge. When you’re painting larger areas, use your brush horizontally.

If your brushstrokes become stiff, sticky, or non-flowing, you may need to thin the paint a little. Use the thinner recommended on your paint containers or Resene Hot Weather Additive for most waterborne paints.

When you need to take a break for lunch, between coats or overnight, wrap the brush in a reusable plastic bag. This will help keep the paint fresh so you can pick up painting where you left off.

About MasterStroke by Resene
MasterStroke by Resene is here to help you master your paint and decorating DIY projects. Brush up on your skills with advice, tips and ideas from our trusted experts.

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