TOOLS OF THE TRADE
"Use the right tool for the job" is an old tradesman's saying and it is certainly true of painting. If you are going to do the painting yourself it's worth spending a little to get the basic tools that will help you do the job properly. They will pay for themselves when you think of the time you are saving!
Brushes and Rollers
Choosing the right brushes and rollers for each job will help you get better results faster. Our Complete Brush and Roller Guide has all the advice you'll need.
A good step ladder is a must. Aluminium ladders are lightest and the
easiest to move around, but they are usually the most expensive. Steel and
wooden ladders will do the job. A flat top or clip on tray will help hold tools and paint cans, giving you an extra hand to hold on with. An extra ladder and a trestle plank is a luxury that will save you many trips up and down the ladder. You might like to consider hiring them.
Light canvas or calico sheets are the easiest to work with and will last the longest. Light plastic sheets are inexpensive but should be used only for covering furniture. They are slippery, do not absorb paint, and may be dissolved by some chemical strippers.
A good supply of rags will help you clean up as you go. For water based
paints keep a damp rag handy, for oil based paints moisten your rag with turps.
These can be bought, or you can make one. An old 4 litre paint can works
well, especially if you take out the rim with a good can-opener (tap down
any sharp edges with a hammer). A paint pot will allow you to carry a
smaller, lighter quantity around. And if an accident does happen you'll spill
a lot less.
THE RIGHT BRUSH
It's easier to produce a professional result if you use the right brush for the job. With brushes, as with most tools, there is no substitute for quality.
Avoid cheap brushes with short, sparse bristles. The best brushes use
premium quality natural bristles. A quality brush with good bristles holds more paint, makes paint application smoother, reduces spattering and provides an even, streak-free finish.
To check a brush feel the pack of bristle. It should feel full and slightly resilient. The greater the bristle pack, the better the paint holding capacity and the smoother the finish.
Although cheaper brushes will not last as long as premium grade brushes they are quite adequate for situations where finish, quality and brush life are not critical.
Different brushes for different paints
Acrylic paints are best applied with a long bristled, full bodied brush.
Oil based paints, undercoats and primers require a medium bristle length, solidly packed for effective control.
Rough wood, brickwork and cement render may be more practically painted with a synthetic fibre brush. A bristle brush will do the job just as well, but will wear faster. Spraying is often the most effective way to paint these surfaces.
Choosing the right width
Best for small jobs and touch-up work such as toys, chairs and timber trim.
Suitable for furniture, small panels, window frames, trellis, mouldings, shutters and downpipes.
Good for small to medium size work such as doors, screens, railings, table tops and cabinets.
A handy size for outdoor furniture, cupboards, gutters, eaves and doors.
For medium to large areas such as fence posts and rails, floor boards,
steps, skirting and fascias.
100mm and above
The most suitable size for large flat areas such as floors, ceilings, roofs and fences.
Long handled cutter brushes
Specially made for door and window frames and ceiling/wall corners. The chisel edged tip ensures accurate cutting in while the long handle helps control the stroke with balance.
With tools, as with most things, you usually only get what you pay for. Quality products from a top manufacturer will do a better job for longer. A comprehensive list of brushes and rollers appears in the Tools of the Trade section.
These are available in a range of sizes and shapes and the right one will make the job easier and faster. Look for one with a curve or profile that comes closest to matching any mouldings you may have. Keep fixed blade scrapers sharp with a file. A sharp scraper is a fast scraper!
Disc sanders are rough, difficult to use and are not recommended for most interior work. Similarly, belt sanders are apt to take off more than an inexperienced operator may wish. They are excellent for. large areas, but handle with care! Orbital sanders, whether 1/2 sheet, 1/3 sheet or palm sized are ideal finishing sanders for this kind of work. Random orbital sanders are slightly faster in most cases and can save a lot of time and effort.
Sandpaper is available in a number of forms and grades. They are often used, grading from rough to smooth, on the same job, but don't expect very fine sandpaper to take out scratch marks left by very coarse paper. Generally speaking, the grades of papers are used as follows
Coarse or very coarse paper
For fast removal of old coatings and deep surface imperfections.
Medium grit paper
To remove coarse sanding marks, shallow depressions, scratches or blemishes and to round off sharp corners.
Fine grade paper
Prior to applying finish coats and for sanding undercoats, primers and varnishes.
Very fine paper
For extra smooth surfaces and light sanding between finish coats of paint or varnish.