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Tools for applying paint

Paint brush

Brushes are available in a variety of sizes and qualities. They are the most versatile applicators, as by using several sizes, they can cope with most painting requirements. Cheaper brushes often lose their bristles easier, which can be annoying and time consuming when odd bristles have to be removed from a surface -and at the same time their impressions can mark the drying paint surface. There are brushes suitable for applying emulsion to a large surface (such as a wall), 8 inch (200mm) or 6 inch (150mm) brushes are popular sizes to use. Others are more suited to oil based paint and varnishes (such as woodwork), 2 inch (50mm) is popular and 1 inch (25mm) and 1/2 inch (15mm) brushes are suitable for edges and corners.

Never load the brush with too much paint - only dip approximately one third of the brush-head into the paint pot. Use the side of the pot to wipe off excess paint, this will stop the paint leaking into the brush head and dripping from the handle. Always apply oil paint in vertical strokes, followed by light horizontal strokes to even out the cover. It is particularly important to lightly finish with vertical strokes when using oil-based paint as marks can show when the surface is dry. If using emulsion paint, apply in horizontal bands and aim to finish a wall or section before stopping for a break, to avoid colour variations.

Cleaning the brushes afterwards

To keep brushes in the best condition, they should be cleaned thoroughly and stored correctly. Firstly remove excess paint with a stick or the back of a knife. Also, use of a cloth or old newspaper helps to remove paint. The next step depends on the type of paint used:

  1. If water based paint was used, clean with warm, soapy water, followed by rinsing in clean water.
  2. If oil based paint was used clean with white spirit instead of water. When clear of paint, clean with a hot water/detergent mix, followed by rinsing in clean water.

Make sure the bristles are free of paint all the way through to the brush head. Shake vigorously when clean to help the drying process and reshape the bristles. Hang up the brush, bristles downwards, to dry completely. To store wrap in cling film or tin foil, which can be held in place with either an elastic band or sticking tape.

If the paint job has to be completed the next day, store the brush in a pot, can or jar containing:

  1. water based paint - warm, soapy water
  2. oil based paint - white spirit

Roller

Rollers are popular tools for painting walls and ceilings. They cover surfaces very quickly and are particularly suitable for uncomplicated sections. Brushwork is still advisable around the edging as they will finish off more precisely. The popular size for a paint roller is 7 inches (175mm). The sleeves covering the rollers are made from sheepskin, short pile and long pile woven wool, foam or moulded PVC. It is worth holding the roller and test The plastic-foam rollers are the cheapest, but they can often leave tiny air bubbles on the surface after rolling with either water or oil based paint - but are worth considering if a high finish is not important. They are not as durable as the others and often splash. However they are good general purpose rollers which can be used on a variety of surfaces. A short pile is the most suitable type for oil based paint and for smooth surfaces, while long piled sleeves are more suited to rough textured surfaces, because the shaggy pile works its way into the crevices of the design. Sheepskin sleeves are also excellent on rough surfaces, these are more expensive but very hard wearing. Extension handles are available with some rollers to help when painting ceilings. If an extension is unavailable, try taping the roller to a pole. Some have a built-in reservoir to reload paint. Small, narrow rollers are available for limited areas, such as behind a radiator or pipe. Load the roller by dipping the sleeve into the tray and rolling it along the ribbed tray to ensure an even distribution of paint. Try not to push too much paint on the roller as it can splash when you start to use it, possibly on surfaces which are not to be painted. Cover the surface by pulling and pushing the roller in all directions to give an even distribution of paint. If using oil paint it is important to always finish by rolling in one direction only, as marks can show when the surface is dry. It is preferable with oil paint to roll in the direction of the prevailing light within the room, to give a professional finish. Rollers are also available for textured coating. The design allows only the raised areas on the roller to pick up the paint. However they are not easy to use and it can prove difficult trying to match the pattern. It takes a long time and patience to master the technique for a high quality finish.

Cleaning the roller afterwards

First remove unused paint from the roller, by rolling over old cloth or newspaper.

Remove the sleeve and if water based paint was used, use water to clean. Then clean with water/detergent mix. Wash and clean the sleeve holder in the same way. Do not leave the sleeve soaking in water.

If oil based paint was used, clean with white spirit instead of water. When clear of paint, clean with a hot water/detergent mix. Wash and clean the sleeve holder in the same way. Allow them to dry naturally before storing.

Pad

Different sized pads are available in rectangles or squares, with short mohair surfaces bonded to foam strips. They are inexpensive and are often sold in sets. The most popular size for applying paint to walls or ceilings is 8 inches (200mm). Extension handles are available with some pads to help when painting ceilings. If an extension is unavailable, try taping the pad to a pole. Smaller pads are also available for limited areas, such as behind radiators or pipes, but a brush will also suffice for awkward areas. Load the pad from its tray and move it across the surface to ensure an even distribution of paint. Keeping the pad flat, move it across the surface in any direction applying the same pressure for an even distribution of paint. It is particularly important to lightly finish in a vertical direction when using oil-based paint, as marks can show when the surface is dry.

Cleaning the pad afterwards

First remove any excess paint on the pad by banging onto an old cloth or newspaper.

If water based paint was used, use warm, soapy water to clean the pad.

If oil based paint was used, clean with white spirit instead of water. When clear of paint, clean with a hot water/detergent mix.

Spray Guns

Spraying is an efficient way of painting a large area in a relatively short space of time, such as the outside wall of a building. Spray guns are expensive to buy, consisting of a paint reservoir, nozzle and an electric compressor. They have limited use around the home and can be hired from a hire shop but check with them the size and suitability for the type of paint you intend to use. They can supply a variety of sizes suitable for numerous projects. They are more suited to outside work as there is so much preparation required for use indoors. Windows, doors and flooring should be masked or covered before the start. It is also sensible to wear a mask and goggles before commencing. If spraying inside, make sure there is plenty of ventilation and if possible use an extractor fan to aid aeration. Always keep the gun facing directly onto the front of the wall and move it up and down, keeping the movements parallel to the surface. If the paint starts to run, the gun is probably too close to the wall. Always try a small test area first to become confident with the equipment and to check the consistency of the paint spraying, also the ideal distance away from the wall to spray for the best finish.

Cleaning the spray gun afterwards

Remove any unused paint from the container.

If water based paint was used, fill with water and spray until it emerges clear. Dismantle the machine and clean the different parts with a damp cloth.

If oil based paint was used, clean as above, but use white spirit instead of water. When clear of paint, clean with a hot water/detergent mix.

Aerosols

For a small job, aerosol cans could be used, but they can be very expensive. They are pressurised containers which force paint onto the surface through a fine spray jet. If a surface is highly textured and difficult to paint an aerosol should be considered.

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