02 October 2010

PIY Pointers: Get more mileage out of your brushes

Good morning all!  I hope you're having a lovely Saturday.

Today on Paint-it-Yourself Pointers, we're talking about how to squeeze a few more miles out of your old paint brushes.  It's such a great feeling to work on a project with fresh new brushes.  But the reality is that no matter how fastidious a brush cleaner you are - it's inevitable that your beloved brush will start to accumulate paint residue.  Plus I find the less you spend on a brush, the quicker this tends to happen.

This is my all-time favourite brush in my toolbox.  It was given to me about 7 years ago by my uncle, a paint rep for Sims, just prior to his passing.  Sims is a great brand so not only is it a quality brush, it has a lot of sentimental value.  Since I use it so much, it has developed a lot of build-up over the years, despite my best cleaning efforts.

Most build-up accumulates primarily on the outside bristles.  This can affect your project by thickening the stroke marks in your final finish.  So my trick is to pull back the gunkiest pieces and snip them off with scissors, getting as close as you can to the base.

This removes the worst sections and leaves cleaner, smoother bristles underneath.  Give the brush a rinse to make sure you get any stray bristles out of the brush, as there's nothing worse than finding bristles in your paint job.  And keep in mind, this is just a little fix to extend your brush use - there does get to a point where you have to say goodbye and replace them.  But why not push it as long as you can and save some $$?

Also, I use separate brushes for primer, as the adhesive component makes them extra hard to clean out. I  also use a cheaper brush for primer, since those don't tend to last as long and finish is not as big of an issue.

What's your trick for extending your brush life?  How do you avoid the inevitable gunk up?


  1. i wash my brushes with warm water an dish soap (with latex an acrylic paints). i take all the bristles in between my hands and scrub vigorously rolling my hands back an forth with the bristles between them. this helps a lot! with my pil-base primer brushes, i wrap in saran and stick in the freezer. the i just take it out and thaw for a minute before i reuse it again. i use the same primer brush usually about 6 months or so!

  2. I haven't painted a lot of furniture but lots of walls and lots of canvases. So brushes I know. I totally agree with using a different brush for primer and for paint. Primer is such a pain to clean. It's also a good idea to keep separate brushes for oils and acrylics (or latex).A great tip my high school art teacher gave us to clean brushes was using sunlight brand dish soap. It's great for cleaning oils and acrylics!

  3. ... However with oils you'll probably still need a bit of varsol or paint thinner to start.

  4. great tips in the post and from the comments! :)

  5. As I think I have mentioned to you before, I glad-wrap (plastic food cling wrap) all my brushes and keep them in the fridge. They seriously last months and months like this :)

    xx Karen

  6. I admit it, I'm the one that would do a project and be too lazy to clean the brush and just throw the brush away. But! Now, older and somewhat smarter, I clean my brushes the old fashioned way. Seems to work for me ;)Alyssa

  7. this was good for me to read because i just throw mine away :)


Thanks so much for stopping by, I love reading all your comments! If you have a specific question, please email me at lhume1@mts.net. XO Lenore