Where to start? I always like getting the hard part out of the way first so we begin with the brush. The painter has only a few basic tools at his disposal – the brush and the roller being the most obvious. Most DIY folks make the mistake of buying a cheap brush – or even worse, a very hard to use an expensive brush. With most low VOC paints, brush selection is critical. Too firm and your wrist will wear our quickly and the paints will be difficult to apply. Too soft and you can’t get the paint to disperse from the brush to the wall well. Personally, at the age of 41, I like a softer and smaller brush. You won’t get the mileage out of this type, but your wrist will thank you at the end of the day.
A good consumer grade brush is the Wooster Silver Tip. I personally use the 2 1/2″ angle sash. It is a good, all-purpose brush that will serve you well for most painting you do around the house. These brushes will run you about $9 each and will not last more than a few projects as the soft bristle are made to “wear” as you use it (the theory is that this keeps the tip sharp as you use it.) It works well enough that this painter with over 20 years of experience uses them when he paints. You’ll be amazed at how much skill is in the brush!
Now a note about cutting in. A good painter can cut an average bedroom wall area – ceiling, base, door casing, windows, etc. – in about 30 minutes or so. This only achieved through much practice. As an amateur, I would double to triple this time. Below are some of the tips I can offer you:
- Don’t look at the end of brush where you are cutting – focus just slightly ahead and trust your hand and brush to find the line. There are both biological and psychological reasons this technique works. When I was a kid looking at the stars at night with my dad, he told me to look just to the side of where I wanted to see the stars and sure enough, they would appear all around where I was looking, but not where I was focusing. Also, this keeps you from getting obsessed with the cut line. Remember typing class in high school – our teacher would slam the book closed if he caught you looking at the paper in the typewriter instead of at the paper we were transcribing.
- Don’t overload or underload the brush. Too much paint and you will have a hard time getting it all evened out. Too little paint and you will have a hard time getting a good, solid line. When you load the brush, just dip the bottom 1/3 of the bristles into the paint and gently smack the end against the sided of the can a few times. If the paint strings or drips out of the can – too much. If you are left frustrated because you can’t get a good 2 to 3 feet of line – too little. This takes practice and patience. Be a student up front and find a comfortable medium. Once you get this down, it will be second nature to you.
- Keep your brush clean and wet. You may need to clean your brush midway in the job. If you feel the brush is getting too unruly, just stop and clean it. Make sure you spin it out and let it dry before reusing it, though – the last thing you want is a drippy, wet and messy brush! If you must quit for any amount of time keep the wet end in paint or wrap it in plastic. Do not let the tip dry out, this will make the brush hard to use until you clean it or it may even make your brush unusable altogether.
Remember to have fun – painting can be fun if you set aside the time and make yourself knowledgeable about your work. If you find yourself in too deep, there is no shame in giving us a call. We finish up DIY projects all the time!