Looking After the Tools of Your Trade: Care of Painting Equipment

Looking after your painting equipment, particularly proper maintenance of paint brushes and rollers, will save you hassle and ultimately improve your bottom line. If looked after properly, your painting equipment can last for years and years. As such, it makes sense from both an economic and an environmental perspective to look after your tools of the trade.

Looking After Your Brushes

Quality brushes can be expensive, so it makes sense to extend the life of your brush as long as possible. Luckily, the right methods of paintbrush maintenance will help your brushes last the distance. The correct brush care might seem like extra work for no pay, but your efforts will be rewarded when your investment brings you year after year of service.

As an important note before we begin, it’s always best-practice to consult the manufacturer’s advice on cleaning your equipment.

Latex and Water Based Paints: A Step by Step Guide to Washing Your Brush

  • 1.Rinse the bristles out with warm water around the outside of the brush.
  • 2.Then, dip the brush into a small container partially filled with warm, soapy water. Do not use detergents if you are cleaning natural bristle brushes.
  • 3.Gently but quickly, swirl the brush around in the water, ensuring that it does not touch the bottom or sides of the container. This will remove the majority of the paint from your brush without causing any damage to your bristles.
  • 4.Rinse out the water from the washing container and repeat until the brush is paint-free.

TIP: You can also use a painter's comb to carefully remove paint residue from the inner brush. Use this comb while you run warm water down the outside of the bristles, so as to reshape the bristles before drying.

Some Do’s and Don’ts of Washing

  • Painters ought to prevent liquid from creeping down into the ferrule (the metal that holds the bristles to the handle) of the brush. For this reason, do not blast water straight down into the bristles during washing.

  • Being gentle with the bristles will give your brush more longevity. While rinsing, take care not to smash the bristles around or bend them sideways.

Drying Your Brushes

We recommend letting your brushes dry hang from their handle. Many painting brushes have a small hole in the handle that you can use to suspend them upside down. If your brushes lack this, you may be able to drill a hole into the end of the handle yourself.

The Do’s and Don’ts

  • Avoid violently shaking the brushes after washing to remove excess water. Gently tap the extra water off and let the rest drip-dry.
  • Do not let brushes soak in water for an extended period of time. Even if the ferrule does not touch the water, the bristles can still soak water up into the ferrule and cause it to loosen.
  • After washing, use your hands to adjust the bristles and ensure that they are going to dry in their proper shape.

Correct Brush Storage

You should always store brushes face down: hanging so that there is no pressure on the bristles, allowing excess liquid to drip off. If you leave your brushes pointing downward, such that the bristles are resting on a surface, this will result in damage over time, and the bristles are likely to curl.

If you leave them pointing upward after washing, this may also result in damage due to water, mineral spirits or paint leaking down into the ferrule.

Correct Use of Brushes

To ensure optimal longevity of your brushes, consider adhering to the following best-practice recommendations whilst painting:

  • Do not stir your paint with the paintbrush.
  • Try to keep paint from coming up near the ferrule or handle.
  • Prevent paint from hardening in your brushes during use.
  • Before painting, slightly wet the bristles of your brush with water rather than use a completely dry brush.
  • During breaks in painting, wrap the brush in a damp cloth to prevent paint from drying and accumulating in your brush.
  • Avoid using a brush that is too wide in an area that is too narrow. If you try to jam a large brush into a small space, you might cause “fishtailing” of the bristles.
  • Always paint with the tip of the brush. Using the sides will push paint into the handle and cause bristles to move sideways, potentially damaging them.

Looking After Your Rollers

Cleaning is the most important element of care for your paint rollers. Importantly, paint should never be allowed to dry on your rollers. We recommend removing the roller cover sleeve from the frame immediately after you’re done painting. Consider the following tips:

  • You can get rid of excess paint using a wire roller cleaner.
  • Additionally, you can wash the roller cover in warm soapy water.
  • Hang roller covers upright to dry, as drying them flat can cause the development of flat spots which will affect paint application later.

Appropriate storage of rollers consists of the following:

  • Only store roller cover sleeves once they are completely dry. 

Store in a dust free environment, such as clean cabinets or boxes.