By Grainger Editorial Staff 4/29/20
Before you start work on a project involving paint and paint tools, you should know your options. Choosing a tool for your painting job depends first on the type of paint you are using, and second, on the surface you plan on covering. Here's a guide to the different types of brushes, rollers and paint pads and when it's best to use each.
Paint brushes feature either natural bristles made of animal hair or synthetic materials. Some jobs call for synthetic brushes while others get done more efficiently with brushes made of natural materials. Here's a quick rundown of the types of bristle or brush material that work best for various jobs:
The size and shape of your tool will also affect the outcome of your project. Brushes come in widths ranging from 1 to 5 inches, and should be chosen depending on the width of the surface you are painting. Popular Mechanics recommends choosing a brush slightly narrower than your surface to avoid dripping paint.
The shape of the brush's bristles is also important: square-cut bristled brushes are great for applying paint onto flat surfaces, but when it comes to painting into corners or along narrow edges, a sash brush is a better choice, because its bristles are cut at an angle and provide better control Sash brushes come in handy when "cutting in," or painting clean, straight lines along the perimeter of a wall, ceiling, molding, or any other surface.
Rollers are ideal for large-scale projects and come in a variety of widths for the size of the surface you are painting. Rollers are beneficial because they can cover a large area quickly and evenly, even if the surface has not been primed. Rollers are especially useful when painting floors, ceilings and walls. Rollers can also be used repeatedly with the purchase of replacement roller covers.
Paint roller covers can be made of synthetic or natural fibers. And like brushes, the type of paint roller cover you choose will depend on the paint you are using and the surface you are covering. Choosing covers made of synthetic materials, foam, microfiber, or natural fibers like wool will make a difference when working in different environments.
Consider the length of the hair on a roller, sometimes called the nap or pile, when making your choice. The nap on a roller cover comes in widths of 1/4-3/4 of an inch, and, according to Glidden, covers with a tighter nap produce smoother finishes. Wooster notes that, as a general rule of thumb, the rougher the surface to be covered, the longer the nap you want on the roller sleeve. Smooth surfaces like drywall may require a nap of as little as three-sixteenths of an inch, while rough or extra-rough surfaces, such as brick, stucco, or corrugated metal, could require a nap as thick one-and-a-half inches.
For painting smooth surfaces like ceilings, paint pads, or edgers, work great. Paint pads are rectangular and have short, densely packed bristles for smooth coverage. Pads are easier to use on ceilings and are cleaner because they don't cause a spray like rollers do. Like brushes and rollers, paint pads and handles come in different sizes for different jobs. Use this tool for painting straight lines and at an angle, like when covering walls, ceilings, and wall trim.
There are a variety of sizes of pads available, depending on the type of job you're doing. There are handles of varying lengths available for different applications—for example, when 'cutting in' on high window frames or the corners of ceilings, it's advised to use a longer handle in order to avoid strain. Packaging for paint pads usually includes a paint tray, which allows for the right amount of paint to be applied to the applicator and reduces dripping.
No matter the project, you should make your tool choice based on the type of paint you're using, the amount of coverage needed, and how quickly the job needs to be completed. Now that you know more about the types of brushes, rollers, and pads that work best for different applications, you can choose the right one for the job.
The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.