All About Painting Tools
The key to a sucessful paint job is prep and having the right equipment. Learn about the different type paintbrushes, rollers, sprayers and more.
High-quality application tools are essential for an even paint finish. The tools you choose will depend on the size and type of job you are planning.
Paintbrushes are the most versatile and essential of all decorating tools. Ease of application and a successful finish are hugely affected by the quality of a brush. Remember, whether you choose natural or synthetic bristle brushes, a good brush is not cheap, and should have long bristles of equal length. It is normal for a brush to shed a few bristles when it is first used, however, this should not continue through the life of a brush.
Pure Bristle Brushes (image 1)
Good-quality pure bristle brushes are expensive but will last for years if they are cleaned well and stored properly after each use.
Fitches (image 2)
These are used for detailed work. The angled lining fitch is useful for straight lines.
Synthetic Bristle Brushes (image 3)
Although brushes made from pure natural bristle used to be considered superior quality, vast improvements have been made to synthetic bristle brushes and they are now used by most professionals.
It is ideal to remove all the furniture and floor coverings from a room before decorating. However, this is often impractical, so drop cloths and tape are used to prevent splashes and spillages damaging surfaces.
Tape (image 1)
Use low-tack tape to protect surfaces and help you create clean, straight lines where areas with different finishes meet.
Fabric Drop Cloth (image 2)
These sheets can be washed and reused, but large spills soak through. Plastic sheets are an alternative, but are easily damaged and slippery underfoot on floors.
Besides the more obvious painting tools such as brushes and rollers, there are other items that can be used to make the job easier, restore tools and provide the best finish.
Paint Kettle (image 1)
Decant paint into kettle so it is easier to carry and to keep debris such as dried paint on the brush from contaminating the main tin or tub.
Brush Comb (image 2)
Used to clean and shape brushes.
Dusting Brush (image 3)
Fine bristles remove debris from a surface before painting.
Paint sprayers can be used to cover large surfaces quickly, or for intricate areas that are very time-consuming to paint with a brush. Small hand-held airless sprayers are most suitable for DIY work, although much larger airless or compressed-air sprayers can be rented. Sprayers can be dangerous, so always read the manufacturer’s instructions very carefully. Wear any protective clothing specified and ensure good ventilation while you are spraying. For small jobs, it is better to buy aerosol paints.
There are several different designs of roller and frame. Large rollers can cover flat surfaces such as ceilings and walls quickly and efficiently, although be aware that very large rollers may be tiring to use. Mini-rollers are available for woodwork, although they tend not to provide as pleasing a finish as a brush. Rollers are best used with water-based paints. Cleaning a roller of oil- or solvent-based paints is difficult. It is best to simply throw away the sleeve and buy a new one. The best roller sleeves are pure sheepskin, although synthetic sheepskin also provides a good finish. Smooth, medium and rough sleeves are available, and should be chosen to match the texture of the surface being painted. Other sleeve materials may produce a rough finish or shed fluff.
Extension Pole (image 1)
Attaches to the roller-cage handle to extend your reach. Buy a pole that is compatible with your roller.
Radiator Roller Frame (image 2)
Used with mini-rollers. The long handle lets you gain access to wall surfaces behind radiators.
Roller Cage (image 3)
The cage holds the roller sleeve and is attached to a handle. Be sure when choosing a replacement sleeve that it fits the cage you are using.
Roller Sleeves (image 4)
These fit onto the cage. Rough to smooth textures are available.
Roller Tray (image 5)
A reservoir for holding paint that also has flatter, ribbed area adjacent to the reservoir, used for distributing paint evenly over the roller surface. The tray needs to be of the same width as your roller.
Mini-Roller Kit (image 6)
A miniature roller cage, tray and sleeve, designed for painting smaller surfaces and for using with a radiator roller frame.
These are designed to cover large, flat surfaces quickly and effortlessly. The flat pads have a painting surface composed of many tiny, tightly-packed bristles.
Paint Pad Frame (image 1)
Holds the pad and provides a handle.
Paint Pads (image 2)
Replaceable pads of different sizes are attached to the frame for use.
Mini Paint Pad (image 3)
Useful for more detailed work.
Paint Pad Tray (image 4)
Similar to a roller tray. Some designs have a wheel that distributes paint evenly onto the pad.
Use these special tools to create different paint effects.
Comb (image 1)
Several different tooth sizes create straight or curved lines of different widths.
Rocker (image 2)
Creates a wood-grain pattern in paint or glaze.
Natural Sponge (image 3)
Used to apply or remove paint to make mottled, cloudlike effects.
Stencil Brushes (image 1)
For applying paint over a stencil.
Softening Brush (image 2)
Smooth, fine-bristled brush for removing any hard paint lines.
Dragging Brush (image 3)
Extra long and coarse pure bristles create grained effect.
Stippling Brush (image 4)
Block-shaped brush with bristles of the same length, used for creating a velvet-like texture on surfaces.