Creators Syndicate

Dear James: I am getting ready to paint my children’s bedrooms. I went to the home center and there are hundreds of brushes to choose from. What are the best types of brushes or rollers to use to paint the walls and trim? — Eric W.

Dear Eric: Just a quick coat of paint is the easiest way to improve a room. Your kids are going to love it. Let them choose the color to avoid any complaints from them later. Now that they have chosen something, it’s your turn to choose your tools.

Walking through the painting aisle at your home center can be overwhelming. Actually, most rows of brushes in the racks can be grouped into just a few categories making your buying decisions easier.

The two basic types of brushes are natural and synthetic bristles. Natural bristles are made from animal hair, usually hog’s, and should be used with oil-based paints, shellac or alkyd paint. The natural hair of these brushes assures a smooth job by creating split ends in the bristles that hold more paint.

Synthetic brushes are made typically from nylon, polyester, or a combination of the two. These are generally less expensive can be used with both oil- and water-based paints.

Higher quality brushes will have a natural taper with the longer bristles at the center. The shorter bristles should never end less than 1/2-inch from the tip of the longest bristles. Be sure to inspect the bristles of the brush well before purchasing. The tips of a natural bristled brush should have split ends. Synthetic bristles should look fuzzy.

Tap the aluminum band on the paintbrush to see if any bristles will fall out. This band is called the ferrule and it should be tightly wrapped around the brush handle. Less expensive brushes will lose their bristles and a rusty ferrule may discolor the paint when dipped into the can. The ferrule should be attached with small screws, bands or rivets instead of just slip-fitted into place.

For painting around wood trim use a sash brush. This is a brush that is about 1-1/2 inches wide and has angled bristles. The angled cut sash brush gives you an advantage when trying to paint around the trim. For other areas use a 4-inch brush for larger coverage. Brushes larger than 4 inches are often too heavy and cumbersome to handle easily.

Rollers are a good way to save time but they also use more paint. If you have a wall with no windows or doorways, a roller is a good choice. Rollers come in natural and synthetic materials and ones with beveled edges gives the best surface finish. Also check to make sure the roller has no visible seams.

If you are going to paint again with the same color the next day, wrap the paintbrush with aluminum foil and seal it well. A new product is a plastic paint brush cover that seals around the bristles and the handle for use the next day.

Keeping your painting equipment clean will ensure that it will last for many years. Use paint thinner to clean brushes covered with oil-based paints and soap and water for water-based paints. Be sure to wear gloves when cleaning with paint thinner.

Wipe off as much paint as possible from the ferrule and the handle. Allow the brush to soak in a few inches of the cleaning agent. Combing the paintbrush with a wire brush from the ferrule outward helps remove paint from the bristles. Be sure to reshape the paintbrush after cleaning and store it in its original wrapper.

Send your questions to Here’s How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit