What makes a good quality brush? There are a number of things to look for when you are deciding which brush to purchase for your furniture painting project. The amount and type of filaments found in the brush, the materials that make up the ferrule and the handle play and important role in determining the quality of the brush.
Typically this is true. I always say “If it sounds to good to be true.... it is”. So don’t be fooled, remember, looks can be deceiving. Educate yourself before you make your purchase so your know exactly what your getting.
How much filament does the brush have?
One way to measure the quality of a brush is by the amount of filament or bristles. Inspect the brush by seeing how thick the ferrule is. If it is thin, it will only hold a small amount of bristle or filament therefore it will only load a small amount of paint (for ease of explanation accept the term bristle to include both synthetic and natural product in the body of the brush).
Squeeze the bristles together and see if it is truly as full as it appears. Some brushes have spacers. If you separate the bristles you can quickly identify if the brush has a spacer in the ferrule. When a brush has a longer bristle, a spacer is necessary to angle the tips of the bristle together to maintain its shape. However, some brushes have oversized spacers in the ferrule that make it appear as though it has more bristles than it does. A low amount of bristles will hold less paint thus producing a smaller brush stroke. This will cause you to break your stroke across larger surfaces and cause inconsistent brush marks to develop.
Cottage Paint’s Clay paint has a thick consistency , so we had an oval brush designed that is loaded with bristles. Go ahead and squeeze this baby and see how full it is!
The bristles are shorter so it does not require a spacer. The shorter bristles add firmness to the body of the brush allowing it to easily move the heavy paint across the surface. This firmness will also allow the brush to push the paint into ornate detailing without separating.
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Type of bristles used in the Brush
We have both synthetic blends and Natural Hog's hair brushes available. The benefit of using synthetic blends is that the bristle does not absorb the water and will not lose its shape or firmness. The same cannot be said about a hog's hair bristle. As the natural hair absorbs the water in the paint it becomes “floppy” and less firm loosing its shape as it begins to swell. Natural hair bristles have the added benefit of split ends that make for a soft release of the paint thus reducing brush marks. This blend uses two synthetic components to try and replicate this characteristic. While the thicker polyester bristle, which is the darker of the two, gives strength to the brush, the soft thinner tip acts as the split end which extends beyond the length of the firmer bristle.
This offers the perfect combination, a firm brush when applying and spreading the paint with force and a soft brush when applying the light final stokes which will reduce brush marks.
Quality of the Ferrule
The ferrule can be made from a number of materials such as tin, nickel, brass and stainless steel. The best quality ferrules are made with brass or stainless steel and pinned with 3-5 small nails. This material will not rust when submerged in water. Inside the ferrule is where the bristles are attached to the brush. In the best quality brushes, Epoxy glues are used to hold the bristles securely so they are less likely to fall out and get stuck in the paint. Epoxy will not deteriorate in water, unlike some components used in cheaper brushes.
The best handle to use in a brush is a varnished wooden handle. The woods used in good quality brushes are Beech and Rubber wood because they are nonporous and will not swell when in immersed into liquid. Other materials such as plastic or painted porous woods are used in cheaper brushes and are not as comfortable to hold or eventually start to crack and swell. The handle design will determine how comfortable the brush is to hold. Some handles are long, some are short, some have smooth contours and others have sharper edges. These factors are not related to quality as much as they are a personal preference.
It is recommended to use a small roller for painting a large surface followed simultaneously with a soft tipped brush (see instructions on how to paint large surfaces). Microfiber rollers work wonderfully. Whereas the typical woven fabric roller, “rolls on then pulls off” as you reverse direction due to the nap in the fabric. The new microfiber “rolls on then rolls on” even when you reverse the direction because there is no woven nap in this fabric. Microfiber is a single strand memory nap similar to a shag rug. This applies more paint evenly which offers better coverage.
The cheap brush manufactures do a great job of making the brushes “look ” like a good quality brush but there is a huge difference in quality. Yes, you can use an inexpensive brush but you will be continuously picking hair off the surface because the lower quality glues do not hold the hair in place. The ferrule will rust because it is made of tin. Unfinished porous wood that is used to make cheaper handles swell and crack releasing even more hairs into the paint.
There is very little hair in the brush due to the oversized plug found in the ferrule. This causes the bristles to separate leaving brush marks in the painted surface and resulting in poor coverage.
There is always a good use for even the cheapest brush. These brushes are great when “Dry Brushing” multiple paint layers. Use the cheapest one you can find. It will separate and create lines in the finish. Just what you need when dry brushing! The hairs do not stick in the paint because there is hardly any paint being applied, hence the word “Dry Brushing”. These brushes can be used in decorations once you retire them. Pinterest has a number of great ideas.
Is there a difference between a wall brush and a furniture brush?
A wall brush has less bristles that are angled and longer, whereas a furniture brush has more bristles with a straight edge that are shorter. A wall brush is used for painting with thinner consistency of paint and to cut in corners so the angular sash is best. A furniture brush needs to spread thicker paint across a smooth flat surface and then needs to get into all the nooks and crannies so a thick flat oval brush is best.
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