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How To Use a Paint Brush

Painting is pretty simple and for that reason many people never learn the proper technique for using a brush. Sure, you can get the paint onto the wall, but the proper technique will improve your results.

The basics of how and when to use a brush are covered here. We also have articles covering more advanced techniques. Get professional results, check out our tips from the pros.

Angled Sash Brush

The Basics of Painting with a Brush

First of all, you must use the proper type of brush for the paint. If you are painting with latex (water-based) paint, then you will need a synthetic bristle brush. If you use a natural bristle brush, it will absorb water, becoming bloated and floppy. If you are painting with oil based paint, then you can use either a synthetic or natural bristle brush, but natural bristles are preferred.

Before you start painting, dip your brush in water (for latex) or thinner (for oil) and then shake out any excess moisture. This helps to keep paint flowing from your brush.

Dip your brush only deep enough to cover one-third to one-half of the bristles with paint. Dipping deeper overloads the brush and yields sloppy results. Tap the brush against the can to shake off excess paint.

Paintbrushes are most often used for painting trim and cutting in precise edges. Rollers or sprayers are typically used for large areas. Of course, you can paint an entire wall with a brush, it just takes more time.

Hold the brush with your thumb on one side and your fingers on the other. Your fingers should be on the ferrule; the metal band that holds the bristles. Hold the brush lightly or your hand will become quickly fatigued. Angle your brush to about 45 degrees to the wall and press the bristles firmly enough so that they just begin to flex.

Paint in long, even strokes. Spread the paint, getting most of the paint out of the brush and then go back over the area to even out the coverage. With each new brush load, start at the wet edge and paint toward the dry. Go back over the area to fully blend your strokes.

Long straight strokes will yield neater results than painting in multiple directions. Also, don't keep going over the same paint for too long or it will begin to dry and the brush strokes won't have a chance to level out.

Read about the proper technique for using a paint roller.

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