Paint Applicators FAQs

Q. What type of roller should I use on different surfaces?

A. 1. Wallboard or smooth plaster - use a short nap 1/8 to 1/4 inch
2. Light-textured stucco or poured concrete - use a medium nap 3/8 to 3/4 inch
3. Cyclone fencing/wire fences - use long nap 1" - 11/2 "

Q. Does it matter what type of brush you use with any type of paint?

A. Generally, there are two types of paint brushes: those made of natural-hair bristles and those made with synthetic materials (usually nylon or polyester).

Natural bristle brushes are preferred for use with solvent-based (oil- or alkyd-based) paints, especially for enamel or finish work. Natural bristles are hollow and can absorb the water contained in a latex paint, causing them to swell and become soft and limp (similar to your own hair when it is wet).

Most synthetic brushes work well with both latex and solvent-based paints, but always check the manufacturer's recommendations on the brush. Some of the solvents used in solvent-based paints can break down the composition of a synthetic bristle - once again check the label.

Keep in mind, the same above rules apply to roller covers: synthetic vs. natural (wool).

Q. Which types of applicator applies paint the most efficiently?

A. In terms of time, the most efficient applicators are listed in order:

    • Sprayer
    • Roller
    • Brush

In terms of which is most effective in least amount of wasted paint listed in order:

    • Brush
    • Roller
    • Sprayer

Q. Is an expensive brush really that much better than a cheap one?

A. High quality or more expensive brushes have distinct advantages over the cheaper ones. First of all, a high quality brush will finish the job more quickly. This is because a top-quality brush has the ability to "hold" more paint in reservoir, which means you will spend less time "painting the can" than applying the paint to the surface. Also, a top-quality brush will have a tapered end, which means there are shorter bristles on the outside and longer bristles in the center. Tapered bristles give the painter more control over where and how much paint goes onto the surface. A top-quality brush will also not shed bristles like a cheaper brush, because of how firmly the bristles are seated in the ferrule (the metal band that attaches the bristles to the handle), and also determined by the material used as plugs in the ferrule. (Space plugs inside the ferrule that bond the bristles in the ferrule add taper to the bristles, and finally create "wells in the center of the bristles to hold paint.)

Q. What type of brush should I use if both oil and water base paints are being applied?

A. Nylon & polyester blend paintbrushes work well in both oil and water base paints.

Q. How many brushes do I need to purchase for a standard painting project?

A. Generally you need to buy two brushes. A 3" to 4" size brush for larger surfaces and a 1" to 2" angular brush for smaller surfaces, trim work, cutting in (trimming an edge or border with a brush, such as where a wall meets the ceiling or at the edge of woodwork) and touch up.

Q. What should I look for to determine if a roller cover is of good quality?

A. Run your hand over the cover to see if it sheds any lint. If it doesn't it's probably a good cover.

Check both ends of the cover to see if there is any fabric hanging over either end. Good quality covers are "beveled" and there should be no overhanging fabric.

Look for the seam in the roller cover. If you don't see one, then its probably a good cover. If you see any gaps in the cover or loose backing at either end, that means the cover is of inferior quality.

Q. How does a good quality brush benefit me and my painting project?

A. 1. Faster overall painting with less effort
2. No unsightly brush streaks
3. Less bristle or filament shedding
4. Easier "cutting in" for those tight areas
5. Outstanding finish appearance

Q. How does a good quality roller benefit me and my painting project?

A. 1. Levels the paint finish without shadows or valleys
2. Will not shed lint on the painted surface
3. Will not skid or track when rolling
4. Will not de-laminate during use

Q. How should I care for my brush so that it maintains its performance level use after use?

A. Clean immediately after use - paint thinner or kerosene with bristle brushes; soap and water with nylon/polyester brushes.

Use a brush comb to clean and straighten the bristles.

Do not soak your brushes for extended periods of time. They will lose their shape if you do.

If possible, store your brush by hanging it. Do not store a brush on its tips. This will curl the working tip of the brush, rendering it useless.

Ask a local retailer for answers to other questions or information.

Courtesy of the Paint and Decorating Retailers Association -